Black History Month 2024 Tribute: Week 3

Greetings everyone!

I hope you have enjoyed the first two sets of puzzles for this year’s Black History Month tribute. You can revisit them (Week 1, Week 2). This week I will present a set of seven puzzles, one of which is a composition by Theophilius Thompson. Bear in mind, these puzzles are not only for the sake of showing the position, but also providing a chance to highlight these players and their contributions.

This week we look at players from all corners of the Earth… Africa, North America, the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe. While many will recognize the impressionable Emory Tate, few may have heard of Raphaelle Dacalor, former women’s champion of France, or Regina Riberio, 8-time women’s champion of Brazil. We also feature a position from 7-time Jamaican champion, Shane Matthews and another from 2002 Olympiad gold medalist, Robert Gwaze.


Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Black History Month Tribute… Chess Puzzles (Week 3)

Theophilus Augustus Thompson (USA)

Born in 1855, Thompson was a chess problemist

I have written about Theophilius Thompson many times here. It has been like solving a puzzle as no one seemed to know what happened to him. After many years, I received information from the  African American Resources, Cultural Heritage Society of Frederick County (AARCH) from his hometown of Frederick, Maryland. They informed me of the missing piece.

Apparently, there were two African-American men named “Theophilus Thompson” in Maryland. For years, we thought Thompson abruptly left chess to raise a family in Anne Arundel County and died at the ripe old age of 93. That was a different Theophilus Thompson. It turns out that the chess player Thompson died in Frederick at age 26 from tuberculosis. Long gone, but not forgotten as he was honored in 2020 with a sculpture called, “An Elusive Kinetic Portrait.” The mystery has been solved. Now solve one of his puzzles!

Mate in two
Chess Problem: By Theophilus Thompson (1873), #10

IM Robert Gwaze (Zimbabwe)

IM Robert Gwaze. Photo by Jerry Bibuld
IM Robert Gwaze at 2002 Chess Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia
Photo by Jerry Bibuld

Robert Gwaze rose through the African scene winning the 1998 African Junior Championship (earning the IM title) and later the African Championship in 2007. Sandwiched in between was his spectacular performance at the 2002 Chess Olympiad (Bled, Slovenia) where he scored a scintillating 9/9 and won the gold medal! He was the talk of the tournament and became the pride of Africa. In the position below, he reached the position against Ethiopia’s Mekitew Molla at the 2000 Chess Olympiad (Istanbul, Turkey).

Mekitew Molla – IM Robert Gwaze
2000 Chess Olympiad (Istanbul, Turkey)
Black to Move (after 26.Qg1)

Raphaelle (Bujisho) Delahaye Siebrecht (France)

Raphaelle Delahaye at 2002 French Women's Championships
Raphaelle Delahaye at 2002 French Women’s Championships.
Photo by Europe-Echecs

Hailing from the Bastia region of France, Delahaye has participated in several past Championships (1993, 1995, 1998, 1999) winning clear 1st in 1995 with a sizzling 9-2, and placing joint 1st in 1998 with Christine Flear at 8-2. She has also represented France in international competitions: European U20 Girls (1992) and World’s U18 Girls (1994). Despite her strikingly elegant looks, she plays like a skillful predator stalking its prey. Delahaye crushed Ukrainian IM Vladimir Okhotnik while still in her early teens and later reached a peak FIDE rating of 2245 in 1996.

~The Chess Drum, 31 August 2002

Raphaelle has a younger brother Benjamin Bujisho, who is an IM.

Delahaye Raphaelle – Milliet Sophie (24…Ke7)
French Women’s Championship (10)
White to move (after 24…Kd7-e7)

IM Shane Matthews (Jamaica)

Jamaica is one of the most active federations in the Caribbean and has a long tradition of exciting chess. Many of the players chose a more theoretical side with many opening wars. Shane Matthews earned the named “The Magician” by creating spectacular wins even when facing inferior positions. The seven-time Jamaican champion earned his IM title late in his career by winning the 2.3.5. Subzonal and became only the second Jamaica to earn the rank.

Shane “The Magician” Matthews

In the game below, he faced one of the up-and-coming players (at the time) in Equitable Brown but showed why he is worthy of his nickname. This position came out of a Sicilian Dragon.

NM Shane Matthews – Equitable Brown
2002 Jamaican National Championship
White to Move (after 17… e6-e5)

WIM Regina Riberio (Brazil)

Regina Riberio is a Brazilian chess legend. Riberio played in her first national championship in 1980 and won a total of eight times (1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2003, 2006). She has represented Brazil’s Olympiad team ten times and holds the title of Women International Master (WIM). She was featured in The Chess Drum’s “Chess Crackers” segment in 2006 and interviewed with The Chess Drum at Tromso Olympiad in 2014.

Regina Riberio at the 2006 Olympiad in Turin, Italy
Photo by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

Interview with Regina Riberio at the 2014 Chess Olympiad (11:40 minutes)

WGM Rena Graf – WIM Regina Ribeiro
1997 Groningen Open – Groningen, Netherlands)
Black to Move (after 21.Nd7-e5)

IM Emory Tate (USA)

FM Emory Tate showing Kudrin-Tate at 2000 World Open. There were easily 30 people watching. This photo was taken standing on a chair. The audience remained at rapt attention up until the last move. As he rose to leave the room, thunderous applause broke out! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

As an Emory Tate biographer, I can say that many Tate games can be featured in a set of puzzles of Black players. He had an attacking style, but what was amazing was his ability to create unique patterns. Some of the positions he got were so strange and he essayed many unique ideas.

The Emory Tate Variation… 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6 4. a4!? a5 5. Ra3!?
has scored some sensational victories. (story)

Yes… this was Tate’s creation regardless of what others would say. Many will not credit him and that is another story. Clearly, his contribution lies in his passionate zeal for chess and the idea that he wanted to share his unique ideas and show the beauty of chess. Many took him to be egotistical. While Emory was indeed a proud man, he was so much more than the Alpha male he personified. He was very relatable and would stop by an analysis between two beginners and give a quick lesson.

Emory Tate on the move at the 2001 World Open
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

His charisma was one of his strong points and his analysis sessions were like theatrical productions. He irritated Grandmasters whenever he displayed his spectacular wins to the public. Many GMs did not take too kindly to their worst moments being broadcast so openly. In the book, The Chess Artist by J.C. Hallman. During an analysis session between two African-American masters Glenn Umstead and Ronald Simpson, he gives a spot-on description of Emory.

Among the watchers was Emory Tate, a flamboyant member of the Black chess sub-subculture. Glenn admired Tate. He had shown me one of Tate’s games in Chess Life a year back, and we had spoken to him briefly the day before. Neither tall nor wide, Tate was nevertheless a kind of super-aggressive man, dominant in his element, with wide, wild eyes and a manner that suggested amphetamine enhancement. Tate had a tendency to think quickly and translate his thoughts into words at once. His whole being seemed derived from speed chess.

Tate has watched the analysis of Simpson-Umstead from a distance. When he finally suggested a line, he did it in grandiose fashion, stepping no nearer to the board but assuming the floor.

“Takes! Retakes, takes, takes! Bg7, rook up, pawn takes, and Black’s cooked!”

The watchers were stunned at the outburst, but no one looked at Tate, They all watched the board, eyes attempting to follow whatever line he had described. Anticipating criticism, Tate went on:

“If Kg3, push! Takes, takes, takes, takes! Rh3! and the same thing. Thank you for the game. Analysis courtesy of Emory Tate, five-time U.S. Armed Forces Champion! Good night!”

~J.C. Hallman, The Chess Artist

Emory could’ve been anything in life… a physicist, a lawyer, an engineer, an actor, or a career soldier. He chose chess… and we benefited from that choice! Unfortunately, Emory never got much notoriety until he passed away. Before his death, there were only articles and games on The Chess Drum. After his death, a flood of tributes poured onto various websites. His sons have certainly resurrected his memory in a big way and recently have been involved with the book project, The Final Attack with FM Todd Andrews.

A bonus puzzle! Here are two positions showing how he can see geometric patterns so clearly…

FM Emory Tate – Macon Shibut
2004 Atlantic Open, Washington, DC, USA
White to Move (after 25…Bg5-f6)
Tate simultaneous exhibition (vs. Luke Zhao)
Fremont Chess Camp
White to Move (after 24…g5)

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