Black History Month 2024 Tribute: Week 2

Greetings everyone!

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, February 12th marks the 23rd anniversary of The Chess Drum. It has been a long journey, but a very interesting one. At midnight, I hit the “enter” key to make “” live and the beat has been going ever since. In these years I have seen many sites come and either abruptly leave or fade away. Keeping a web platform is very challenging because of the changing audience and also the work that needs to be done to keep the site relevant.

I will have a video tribute tomorrow commemorating the 23rd year, but this post will continue the Black History Chess Puzzle tribute! Today there are four puzzles, but I will reveal the answers in the video tomorrow. 🙂


Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Black History Tribute… Chess Puzzles (Week 2)

GM Maurice Ashley (USA)

The first puzzle is a tribute to Maurice Ashley who needs little introduction. It dawned on me that some of the younger players may not remember Maurice as a player, but he certainly did play and won consecutive Foxwoods tournaments. I met Maurice in 1989 at the U.S. Open in Rosemont, Illinois just outside of Chicago, and hung out a bit in between rounds.

FM Maurice Ashley analyzing with R.O. Mitchell (and his seated opponent) at the 1989 U.S. Open at the Rosemont Hyatt near Chicago. Kimani Stancil, then the Maryland High School Champion, looks on. Next year, Mitchell would win the 1990 U.S. Junior Open and earn his National Master’s title. He passed away in 2007. Stancil went on to earn his Ph.D. in Physics from MIT in 2002. Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

I have a story about meeting Maurice and the important summer I spent in New York. We had long phone calls and exchanged ideas about how we were going to make a mark in chess. This meeting turns out to be prescient. Years later, Maurice is in the U.S. Hall of Fame!

GM Maurice Ashley – NM Steven Winer
White to Move (27…Rh8)
Chicago Open 2000

GM Amon Simutowe (Zambia)

Photo by Jerry Bibuld

GM Amon Simutowe is pictured above in 2001 during his rise as a teen sensation out of Zambia. He set many national records winning the national championship at age 13. He went on to create a stir at the 2000 World Junior beating Pentala Harikrishna and placing joint second. He became the first player in sub-Saharan Africa to win the coveted title.

IM Amon Simutowe – IM Thomas Roussel-Roozman
Internet Chess Club, 2007
White to Move (after 33… Nd8-b7)

FM Morris Giles (USA)

NM Charles Lawton analyzing with Morris Giles
at the 1982 Midwest Masters Invitational with FM Michael Brooks watching. Giles was a lifelong Chicagoan died tragically after being struck by a tow truck in 2012.
In chess, Morris Giles was an oddity. In a game where some Masters become drunk with their own self-importance, Morris carried himself like a statesman. His humble demeanor and soft-spoken voice belied his direct and ferocious style of play. He was a no-nonsense player whose daring forays over the board were both exhilarating and refreshing. A product of the so-called “Fischer Boom,” Morris made his rise in the 80s by competing against the strongest players in the Chicago area until he became one of them. He rose rapidly and soon became respected for his consistency and sharp style. However, one would never know of his exploits since he did not seek attention. He was a private person who enjoyed his solitude and reflection. Perhaps the contrast of his personality and his playing style made him such a difficult opponent to figure out. Giles was dominant in the 80s before retiring from chess and leaving a legacy of artful games. Those of us who are products of Chicago chess remember Morris Giles and while he was missed during his retirement and subsequent demise, the example left by his exciting games and gentlemanly demeanor will live on. If a lamb and a lion can coexist, they must have learned from Morris Giles. While he was humble as a lamb, he had the heart of a lion.

~Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

FM Billy Colias – FM Morris Giles
Illinois Class Championships 1985
Black to Move (after 30.Qc2-f2)

FM Warren Elliott (Jamaica)

IM Jomo Pitterson and FM Warren Elliott with two budding Jamaican stars.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

An eight-time champion of Jamaica, FM Warren Elliott is now working hard in training the next generation of chess talent. An admirer of Veselin Topalov, he plays in an aggressive style employing openings such as the Benko Gambit. However, Elliott shows he knows how to finish the endgame.

Salah Asaad – Warren Elliott
2000 Chess Olympiad (Istanbul, Turkey)
Black to Move (after 39.Nc4)

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