Fact Sheet (Masters)

Walter Harris, 1st African-American National Master Frank Steet, 2nd African-American National Master
Walter Harris on the March 1964 cover of Chess Life
and Frank Steet on the June 1965 edition

North America


  • Who was the first African-American National Master? Walter Harris (August 19, 1960 at 18 years, 11 months)
  • Who currently holds the age record for the youngest African-American National Master? Brewington Hardaway (earned November 19, 2019 at 10 years, 6 months, 28 days)
  • Who was the first African-American FIDE Master? Ervin Middleton (1985 at 33 years)
  • Who was the first African-American International Master? Maurice Ashley (1993 at 27 years)
  • Who was the first African-American Grandmaster? Maurice Ashley (March 14, 1999 at 33 years, 8 days)

Numbers (includes foreign federation)

2001 Wilbert Paige Memorial

(Players and Commentators)

Seated (L-R): IM Amon Simutowe, NM Grace Nsubuga, GM Maurice Ashley (commentator), FM Ronald Simpson, IM Michael Schleifer, FM Stephen Muhammad. Standing (L-R): NM Jerald Times (commentator), NM Ernest Colding, IM Watu Kobese, FM William Morrison, FM Kenny Solomon, NM Norman Rogers, NM Elvin Wilson (commentator). In this photo, both Simutowe (2008) and Solomon (2015) became Grandmasters. Muhammad became an International Master. As of 2022, two players in the photo are now deceased: Schleifer (2009) and Simpson (2013). Photo by Daaim Shabazz


  • How many active federations are there in Africa? The continent currently has 50 federations out of 54 countries.
  • Which Africa country has the highest FIDE ranking? Egypt at #47
  • Who was the first Grandmaster of Africa? Slim Bouaziz of Tunisia (1993)
  • How many Grandmasters are there in Africa? 15 (13 Saharan, 2 Sub-Saharan)
  1. Slim Bouaziz (TUN-1993)
  2. Hichem Hamdouchi (MAR-1994)
  3. Slim Belkhodja (TUN-2002)
  4. Ahmed Adly (EGY-2005)
  5. Bassem Amin (EGY-2006)
  6. Aimen Rizouk (ALG-2007)
  7. Essam El-Gindy (EGY-2008)
  8. Amon Simutowe (ZAM-2009)
  9. Samy Shoker (EGY-2014)
  10. Mohamed Haddouche (ALG-2014)
  11. Kenny Solomon (RSA-2015)
  12. Abdelrahman Hesham (EGY-2016)
  13. Bilel Ballahcene (ALG-2018)
  14. Adham Fawzy (EGY-2019)
  15. Amir Zaibi (TUN-2020)


  • Who is the world’s first Black Grandmaster? Roman Hernandez of Cuba (1978)
  • How many Black Grandmasters are there worldwide? More than 10
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