GM Pontus Carlsson

GM Pontus Carlsson has told The Chess Drum that he was at a tournament in Spain where the others did not believe he was a chess player. After not taking him seriously, he promptly won all of the games. He overheard one of the players saying “The Black guy is playing good!” One thing is for sure… no one was surprised that Carlsson won the blitz tournament at the Prague International Chess Festival.

Many may wonder how active Carlsson has been. Before the COVID outbreak, he played in the 2018 World Blitz in St. Petersburg and the 2019 World Blitz in Moscow. He entered blitz tournament in Prague as the second seed and proceeded to win his first 10 games including a win over top-seed GM Vojtech Plat. He ended the impressive performance drawing with FM Tomas Vojta.

Results: https://chess-results.com/tnr563761.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=11&turdet=YES&flag=30

Carlsson has been busy in the last year addressing issues surrounding racial discimination. The protests last year brought to the forefront a number of issues that are being addressed by many social and civic organizations.

While is not as active on the tournament circuit, he has spent time with his organization Business Meets Chess & Kids, an initiative he launched some years back after traveling to several African countries. He also conducted a U.S. tour. More recently, he has invited Malawian Chess President Susan Namangale to participate and offer encouragement in online workshops.

Business Meets Chess & Kids
https://businessmeetschessandkids.com/

The anticipation was high and many eagerly awaited the moment when over-the-board (OTB) chess would return. The Continental Chess Association (CCA) announced that they were be hosting a full slate of tournaments for 2021 year, but for the Chicago Open, there would be restrictions. David Hater mentioned in his report on uschess.org that were varied impressions on the conditions at the first CCA tournament in over a year.

Wheeling Westin

While most players were appreciative that OTB chess had returned, there was a split between those who felt the event went too far with COVID restrictions, and others not enough. Masks were required and social distancing was encouraged, with most players accepting these as necessary regulations. On the bright side, everyone played at their own six-foot table, so playing conditions were very spacious! (link)

GM Dariusz Swiercz during 2019 Chicago Open. This tournament would turn out much better! Photo by Daaim Shabazz

It is interesting that the 15-month break from OTB chess had cause organizers to implement measures that were long overdue. It would seem that sanitized chess pieces and regular hand-washing would be normal in an activity where germs are exchanged constantly.

Playing one game to a table is yet another improvement, but of course, it is limited because of space. A total of 559 players participated for the $100,000 prize fund. Despite these conditions, several Grandmasters (including winner Dariusz Swiercz) made the trip from St. Louis.

Swiercz (2649), who famously won the 2016 Millionaire Chess Open, started the tournament off with four wins and then +1 in the last five rounds for the victory and 7/9. Following are a few of his wins…

However, the final winner was in doubt as GMs Olexandr Bortnyk (2598) and Christopher Repka (2497) along with International Master Robby Kevlishvili (2495) had a chance to enter the winner’s circle, but none were able to break through. All ended on 6.5/9.

IM-elect Justus Williams
Photo by Justus Williams (Facebook)

Phenom Awonder Liang (2592) stumbled in the second round losing to IM-elect Justus Williams (2328), but got a key win over Alexander Shabalov (2528) to finish 6/9, as did Williams. Here is the Liang-Williams encounter.

Another player to watch was Hans Neimann (2546) who earned the GM title earlier this year, but was long a fixture in top scholastic events. He has now joined the upper echelon of U.S. chess and takes down a legend.

It seems interesting that Shabalov is one of the oldest players on the circuit. It wasn’t long ago that he was a budding star trotting out his Latvian brand of attacking chess. The four-time U.S. Champion later admitted because of computers, it is not possible to play in that style. Today, he has become more universal and has added to his longevity. His 5.5/9 in a pack of young lions was a respectable result.

There were some notable performances for readers of The Chess Drum community. National Master and streaming sensation Jimmy Canty III (2210) got a 50% score in the tough Open section. He was slowed by a series of draws to young upstarts, but got a chance to measure himself in the first round against GM Liang.

In the under-2300 section, Aakaash Meduri (2130) scored a solid +2 result (including a win over Chicago Chess Blitzer teammate Daniel Muhammad), finishing in the prize money. Muhammad (2207) and James Neal (2174) of Iowa both scored +1 or 4/7.

Stephen Jennings (under-1900) and Kameron Tolliver (under-2100) won their sections. Jennings shared joint 1st with Danilo Bucal. Photo by Nathan Kelly from 2018 CCB event.

There were a couple of fantastic results. In the under-2100, Detroit’s Kameron Tolliver (2029) crushed the field with six wins in a row before clinching the section with a draw with Tony Davis (2072) of Arkansas. Davis, a nine-time Arkansas champion, finished 2nd with 6/7.

Tony Davis, 9-time Arkansas champion
Photo by Brian Chilson

Also in the under-2100 section, Jimi Akintonde (2083) also performed well with 5/7. Jessica Hyatt (2058), the highest-rated African-American female player, finished with 4.5/7. In the under-1900, Stephen Jennings (1824) overcame an early loss scored points in his last five rounds. He defeated co-winner Danilo Bucal (1799) in the last round to split 1st and 2nd. In the under-1700, Dominic Johnson (1652) got 5.5/7 for a share of 4th while CCB member Malik Brewley (1690) ended on a respectable 4.5/7.

Winners for the 30th Annual Chicago Open:

U2300: Caleb Denby, 6.5/7
U2100: Kameron Tolliver, 6.5/7
U1900: Stephen Jennings and Danilo Bucal, 6/7
U1700: Mohammad Khan, Theodore Epstein, and Aaron Marian, 6/7
U1500: Louisa Zhang, 6.5/7
U1250: Nathan Melnikov, 7/7
Mixed Doubles: Badakhand Norovsambuu and Max Zinski; Nura Baala and Aditya Gupta,10.5/14
Blitz: FM Aydin Turgut, 9/10

Chief Director: Boyd Reed
Assitant Directors: David Hater, Steve Immitt, Jeff Wiewel, Jeff Smith, Tracey Vibbert, Terry Winchester, Chris Baumgarter, Adam Rubinberg, Harold Scott, Gary Janssen, Danny Rohde, and Steve Plotnick

Link: www.chicagoopen.net
Crosstables: http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html

Ramón Mateo

Ramón Mateo

Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

For many years, the name Ramón Mateo has been a trailblazer of Latin American and Caribbean chess. In the U.S., his name was also known due to his time living in New York and playing in the parks. However, what is clear is that Mateo (meaning “Matthew”) has not gotten the attention that one deserves. He became the country’s first Grandmaster in 2008.

A winner of many international tournaments and a Dominican legend, he continues to show his excitement for the chess building content for his YouTube channel and running his chess academy. A very charismatic figure, he is a favorite interview subject on Spanish language sites.

Over the past 20 years, The Chess Drum has covered many Latin Americans, the first being Cuba’s Rogelio Ortega, former national champion of Cuba. Incidentally, this website reported a visit to the Rogelio Memorial tournament in Havana and saw firsthand the tremendous passion of the chess players there.

Since last August, The Chess Drum has been communicating ICCF Correspondence International Master (IM), José Guillermo De La Rosa Solórzano. A native of Cuba, De La Rosa made mention of the overlooked “Afro-Cubans,” including a number of Grandmasters. The discussion has picked up steam with the passing of GM Román Hernández of Cuba who was bestowed the Grandmaster title in 1978.

De La Rosa, who is also a pastor, posted an interesting discussion on Facebook about this topic and recently conducted a short interview with Mateo. The Dominican GM speaks on his ancestry and chess exposure in the African Diaspora.

Ramón Mateo in his younger years!

Why do we not know more about players of African ancestry in Latin America? Simply put, the chess world is dominated by English content and most in these countries do not read Spanish-language websites on a regular basis, if at all. It becomes easy to miss these stories. However, with the efforts of De La Rosa, it becomes an important bridge in the chess world. One of the unfortunate realities is that many do not see the need in highlighting race, but are fine with highlighting gender and nationality. All of these demographic factors make chess very rich in experiences and accessible to a wider audience.

Mateo is a seven-time Dominican champion and has the distinction of winning national championships 31 years apart (1979 and 2010). His long service to chess is not overlooked and the chess world should support his life-long efforts. Subscribe to his YouTube channel! He is engaging and continues to show his passion!

GMI de Ajedrez Ramón Mateo

GM Román Hernández

Román Hernández Onna passed away early this month on June 1st from a lengthy illness. The Cuban Grandmaster and former national champion was 71 years old. As a pioneer, Hernandez had a long résumé before he ventured abroad and faced some of the world’s elite competition. Recently, The Chess Drum featured his contributions to chess.

Born November 23rd in 1949 in Santiago de Cuba, Hernandez gained notoriety by defeating Mikhail Tal and Bent Larsen, both elite players of their day. Having represented Cuba at the Olympiad eight times, first in 1970 and last, in 1990, he scored.

After spending decades as a professional, Hernandez became known as a coach of young prospects and earned the title of Coach Fide in 2014. By some accounts, Hernandez is credited with helping to strengthen the country’s international reputation in chess. Here is a sample of his career.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Román Hernández Onna was one of Cuba’s leading chess players. He won Cuban Chess Championship in 1982. One of the his greatest successes in the international arena was in 1977 in a strong chess tournament in Las Palmas, where Román Hernández Onna shared the 4th place with Mikhail Tal and Walter Browne behind Anatoly Karpov, Bent Larsen and Jan Timman, and won parties against Larsen and Tal. In the same year, he also shared the 2nd place with Oscar Panno and Ulf Andersson in Biel Chess Festival behind Anthony Miles. His other chess tournament successes include: 3rd place in Kecskemét (1975, behind Károly Honfi and Ratmir Kholmov), shared 2nd-3rd place in Bogota (1978, behind Efim Geller), shared 3rd-4th place in Quito (1978), 2nd place in Havana (1978, behind Silvino García Martínez) and the first place in this city in 1983, as well as two third place in the ‘Premier’ tournaments in Capablanca Memorial (1999 and 2003).

Here is the miniature win against Tal in an Accelerated Dragon. Truly an embarrassing performance by the World Champion, but a win against Tal is never a trivial matter.

The Chess Drum has featured many Afro-Latino players, but one of the unfortunate realities in the chess world is that much of the content is geared toward the English language. Because of this, a large amount of chess content does not reach the critical masses. There are a number of sites on “ajedrez” (the Spanish word for chess), but quality information often goes unreported in English sites. This is particularly true with Cuba being one of the strongest chess nations, but without such reporting on the quality players.

GM Roman Hernandez Onna

GM Roman Hernandez (center) analyzing
Photo by MI ICCF José Guillermo de la Rosa Solórzano

There were a number of tributes given to the Cuban legend. In fact, the University of Cuban Sports made a very interesting admission on the ancestry of GM Hernandez.

“Chess Grandmaster Román Hernández Onna passes away. Our university mourns the physical loss of chess player Román Hernández Onna. Born in Santiago de Cuba on November 23, 1949, he is the world’s first black Grand Master (GM). Román graduated from International Master (IM) in 1975 and Grand Master in 1978. It is a unique case in Cuban chess since his IM and GM standards were completed in competitions held in foreign lands. Our condolences extend to all your family and friends”. (link)

Olympiad

  • In 1970, at 4th board in the 19th Chess Olympiad in Siegen (+7, =7, -2)
  • In 1972, at 4th board in the 20th Chess Olympiad in Skopje (+6, =7, -2)
  • In 1978, at 2nd board in the 23rd Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires (+0, =9, -2)
  • In 1980, at 1st reserve board in the 24th Chess Olympiad in La Valletta (+1, =1, -3)
  • In 1982, at 4th board in the 25th Chess Olympiad in Lucerne (+3, =2, -2)
  • In 1984, at 1st reserve board in the 26th Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki (+3, =2, -1)
  • In 1988, at 2nd reserve board in the 28th Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki (+4, =3, -0)
  • In 1990, at 1st reserve board in the 29th Chess Olympiad in Novi Sad (+2, =3, -1)

Team Chess Championships

  • In 1963, at 1st reserve board in the 10th World Student Team Chess Championship in Budva (+2, =3, -3)
  • In 1969, at 3rd board in the 16th World Student Team Chess Championship in Dresden (+5, =2, -6)
  • In 1971, at 1st reserve board in the 1st Panamerican Team Chess Championship in Tucuman (+1, =0, -1) and won team silver medal
  • In 1972, at 2nd board in the 19th World Student Team Chess Championship in Graz (+3, =7, -0)
  • In 1976, at 3rd board in the 21st World Student Team Chess Championship in Caracas (+5, =4, -1) and won team bronze medal.
  • In 1989, at reserve board in the 2nd World Team Chess Championship in Lucerne (+1, =4, -1)
  • In 1991, at 1st reserve board in the 4th Panamerican Team Chess Championship in Guarapuava (+3, =0, -1) and won team and individual gold medals

Román Hernández

For those who are descendants of Africa, there is an excitement in seeing success from within the Diaspora. While there is a lesser-known awareness of Afro-Latino chess players, this group has certainly made its own set of contributions.

From the tradition of trailblazers like the legendary Jose’ Raul Capablanca to former national champion Rogelio Ortega to the younger Cubans excelling at home and abroad, Hernandez demonstrated that players from small federations could compete with the elite.

Looking at the Spanish-language sites, it is easy to see he was highly regarded in the Americas. It is imperative that we make more of an effort to learn and read Spanish, or making English translations available to benefit from the coverage of overlooked chess personalities.

Hernandez given a tribute by International Arbiter Uvencio Blanco

“In addition to his recognized humility, he is one of the American chess players with the greatest culture and understanding of chess.”

Daaim Shabazz, GM Román Hernández… Afro-Cuban trailblazer, The Chess Drum, 20 February 2021.

Fallece el Gran Maestro cubano de ajedrez Román Hernández,” TopHoy.com, 2 June 2021.

ChessGames.com: https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=41936
Games of Hernandez-Onna: https://www.thechessdrum.net/

Note: These are games up until 2008. Looking through this collection, Hernandez played a number of legendary competitors including Josef Pribyl, Jan Hein Donner, Aivars Gipslis, Istvan Bilek, Andras Adorjan, Yuri Balashov, Kenneth Rogoff, Evgenij Ermenkov, Vlastmil Hort, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Walter Browne and so many others. He also played Tunisia’s Slim Bouaziz, the first Grandmaster of the African continent.

Malawi Malawi Malawi

Susan Namangale
President of Malawi Chess Federation

This past year has been one with a bit of intrigue as the continent of Africa seemed to increase chess activity online. There were a number of staged “cage matches” and many federations organized friendly matches. Social media groups were abuzz about the prospects of African chess and the possibilities post-pandemic. One discussion that often surfaces is how the rest of Africa will break the stranglehold Egypt seems to have on the region’s supremacy in chess. Will the 2021 continental championships show a bit of intrigue as the sub-Saharan activity seemed to be lively?

Leading up to the championship there was great anticipation for the African Individual Chess Championship (AICC). After one year of combating the coronavirus players from around the continent assembled to vie for qualification spots for the 2021 World Cup tournament.

The AICC took place in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 18th to 28th May 2021. The country was the site of the 2007 Africa Junior Championships and they would look to increase their chess profile. From all accounts, the organization was stellar and the pandemic protocols were in place to ensure a safe event. Malawi Chess Association President Susan Namangale gave her assessment:

“The tournament surpassed our expectations, considering that it was only confirmed two months ago. We had a total of 93 players from across the continent, there were no appeals, and all participants seemed enthusiastic.”

Twenty-one nations were represented with Egypt bringing the big guns fielding four Grandmasters, including 2700-rated Bassem Amin. As expected, host Malawi had the most participants (in both sections combined) with 18 along with Nigeria (12), Senegal (11) and Kenya (10) in double-digits. Continental President Lewis Ncube gave these historical comments about registration at the Opening Ceremony:

Video by Khisho Chess Africa TV

In 20 years of coverage at The Chess Drum, Egypt is still at the top of the food chain of African chess, but is the gap really closing? By all accounts, the games showed that there is some improvement in the overall quality of African chess. In the end, it was the Egyptians again who rose to the occasion in the Open Section, taking the top four positions.

A victorious Ahmed Adly presented the championship trophy by Minister of Youth and Sport Ulemu Msungama with Egyptian Ambassador Maher Ely-Adawy (left) and President of African Chess Confederation Lewis Ncube (right).

A victorious Ahmed Adly presented the championship trophy by Minister of Youth and Sport Ulemu Msungama with Egyptian Ambassador Maher Ely-Adawy (left) and President of African Chess Confederation Lewis Ncube (right).

The Egyptian quartet was led by Ahmed Adly who won his 4th championship (2005, 2011, 2019, 2021), Bassem Amin (2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018) Adham Fawzy (2019 African Jr. champ) and Hesham Abdelrahman (2016). All will qualify for the 2021 World Cup to be held in Sochi in July 6th-August 6th.

(Note: In a new twist for World Cup qualification each of the federations in the top 100 will have a chance to nominate a player to compete in the 206-player tournament. See regulations)

Here are Adly’s games from the tournament:

Egypt
National Anthem

Despite, Egypt’s dominance, the favorite son of the host nation saw their national champion FM Joseph Mwale place 5th with 6/9 along with fellow Malawian Chiletso Chipanga. Others scoring +3 were Zambia’s IM Gillan Bwalya, Angola’s IM David Silva, South Africa’s FM Daniel Barrish and Algeria’s GM Bilel Bellahcene. The France-based Algerian was left off the medal stand this year and suffered and upset loss to Mwale. This sent shock waves through the tournament hall and the local media.

Joseph Mwale on his way to upsetting Algerian GM, Bilel Bellahcene

A moment of pride for Malawians as Mwale received his well-deserved commendation. Namangale looks on.

A moment of pride for Malawians as Mwale received his well-deserved commendation. Namangale looks on.


I am very excited about this win. Everyone I have talked to is excited. This is history, it’s rare for someone of Joseph’s ranking to beat a grandmaster. I truly cannot express just how happy I am. My team has made me proud.

~Susan Namangale


African Individual Chess Championship - Standing (Open)

Results: http://chess-results.com/tnr560476.aspx?lan=1&art=0&flag=30
PGN Games: https://www.thechessdrum.net/games/AICC2021-open.pgn

The women’s championship had eight players from host Malawi and five from Senegal including national champion Nadezhda Marochkina, originally from Russia. South Africa and Kenya were represented by three women. While the numbers were up in this year’s edition, there were key players missing from the field. Shrook Wafa (four-time and defending champion) was unable to make the trip, but her sister Shahenda Wafa would be a main competitor and top seed. Would the Egyptians hold onto the title?

As it happened, South African women’s champ Jesse February broke through the pack in the 6th round scoring a key win over Wafa after the Egyptian blundered. Here games are presented below (except round five).

Because she scored 4.5 in the last five rounds, it appears that her win in the penultimate round gave her enough cushion to draw in the last round and clinch the title in the event of tiebreaks.

South Africa
National Anthem

One of the questions we raised to a WhatsApp African chess group is when African ladies will begin to play for general titles rather than the “W” titles. This appears to provide women incentives to gain accolades, but it does not encourage higher achievement. This does little to give the impression of equality in chess and the gap will persist.

African Individual Chess Championship - Standing (Women)

Results: http://chess-results.com/tnr560477.aspx?lan=1&art=0&flag=30
PGN Games: https://www.thechessdrum.net/games/AICC2021-women.pgn

OTB chess resumes!

Chess & COVID-19

Over-the-board (OTB) chess resumes as things are beginning to normalize as far as social interactions are concerned. The COVID-19 virus is still wreaking havoc in parts of the world including India, one of the top chess countries in the world. However, medical authorities have begun loosening restrictions on masks and social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

Chess organizations had already started to host in-person tournaments as the Tata Steel tournament (won by Jordan van Foreest) and World Candidates tournament (won by Ian Nepomniachtchi) went on without a problem. There were many small OTB tournament this year with mask requirements… not adhered to strictly by some players.

The World Championship will take place in Dubai, UAE this fall with Magnus Carlsen defending his title against Nepomanichtchi. In addition, the Olympics and the Olympiad are set to take place. Apart from this, smaller tournaments have increased as the Continental Chess Association (CCA) has announced the holding of its Chicago Open with a limit of 800 participants… one game per table.

Wheeling Westin

Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel, Wheeling, Illinois
Home of the Chicago Open

Masks required – entry is limited. We expect to play 1 game per table, and will need to close entry if capacity is reached. We are not yet sure what that capacity will be, but estimate about 800 players.

While online chess realized a surge in activity, players were ready to resume OTB play. Bill Goichberg has already announced a full slate of tournaments including the marquee event, The World Open. He has stated that masks will be required. So far there is no limit posted on the number of participants. The key point in this transition is to ensure the safety of the participant which will include avoiding crowds by the pairing charts. More from the CCA…

COVID precautions: Masks required, temperature checks, no spectators, no eating in tournament area (drinks OK). Players are urged to receive pairings by text or email; some sections have different starting times to minimize crowding before rounds begin.

Hand sanitizers have become a fixture at chess tournaments. Photo by Kevin Pryor (Florida Chess Association)

Latest guidelines from the Center for Disease Control say that those fully vaccinated can go without masks indoors and do not have to abide by “social distancing.” Yet it is hard to distinguish the maskless who are fully vaccinated and those who are not. There are also those who never wore masks and do not believe the virus is dangerous. To complicate matters, there is news of infections of those fully vaccinated, but with minimal symptoms.

What does all this mean? It means that players should still take precautions at tournament sites and follow hygienic guidelines for disinfecting chess pieces after each game and perhaps limiting large crowds in the event that there are those who simply don’t understand the danger. Some vow to continue wearing the mask since the information from medical organizations seem to be changing frequently.

Chess is an inherently social experience and we all look forward to resuming play this summer. The COVID-19 outbreak has changed chess in that there are more options and some organizations may offer multi-site tournaments where one can choose to play at the physical site or virtually.

Are you ready? Let’s get it on!

Danielle Little

Danielle Little, Young Royalty Chess Academy

If it is true that little is sometimes better, Danielle Little has executed a vision that has evolved over her decade of chess activity starting in upstate New York. The Buffalo native started chess as a preteen and almost immediately started engaging in “chess activism.” Last year, Little started the Young Royalty Chess Academy designed to instill the virtues of chess into local youth.

Little uses chess as a vehicle to teach decision-making, strategic planning, and analytical thinking skills that studies have associated with the game. She also drives home the point that the game is not as much of a mystery as the public believes. This has been echoed by many community chess organizations and sometimes it is the smallest steps that make the most progress.


“With chess, there’s a lot of connotations and ideas that it’s only for smart people, or you have to have some crazy IQ- it’s not that at all, you just need the right teacher.”


The movie, “The Queen’s Gambit” certainly drew attention to chess and Little noticed a surge of activity during the pandemic. Young Royal Chess Academy was named the “2020 Black Business of the Year” by BBB-accredited minority business directory, That Brown Bag. Her academy has been involved in outreach activities and was featured in the Buffalo Showcase Recap to celebrate Black economic empowerment.

Young Royalty Chess Academy (Danielle Little)

Chess has become a new platform for empowerment through harnessing intellectual capital. Training one’s mind to realize full potential has been one of the greatest challenges in society, but there is an increasing role for using chess to train one’s mind, and Danielle Little plans to show us how it’s done.

Danielle Little, Young Royalty Chess Academy
http://youngroyaltychessacademy.org/
youngroyaltychess@gmail.com
(Facebook, Instagram)
(716) 446-6190

National Master Tani Adewumi
Photo courtesy of Facebook (Kayode Adewumi)

The star has continued to rise for Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi who earned his title of National Master at 10 years 7 months and 29 days. The story of Tani broke on these pages a few years back when his family decided to emigrate to the U.S. from Nigeria.

When Tani earned 96 points to vault over 2000 last March, it was a forgone conclusion that he was on course to attain master-level. With the support of his family and guidance from his coach, National Master Shawn Martinez and Angel Lopez, he was able to thrive in a place that is historically thought of as the “Chess Mecca”.

This past weekend, he won the CCFC G/30 Club Championships in Norwalk, Connecticut to net a handsome 58 points and earn the title of National Master.

Here are a few of his wins…

Most have been able to follow Tani’s progress due to the publicity he has received. When he wasn’t playing at the Marshall Chess Club, he was hobnobbing with the likes of former President Bill Clinton and famous chess personalities. He visited the St. Louis Chess Club and met commentators Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley, and Jennifer Shahade. He even got a chance to play Hikaru Nakamura in a highly-publicized game of blitz.

There was the concern that all of the initial exposure would put entirely too much pressure to achieve his lofty goals. Seeking to become the youngest Grandmaster in history, he has worked extremely hard at improving and actually had time to write a biographical book, My Name is Tani… and I Believe in Miracles.

Now sitting at an official 2223, he will prepare for Qualifiers May 8th-9th, and if he qualifies, SuperNationals held online June 12th-13th. National Master and “Teacher of the Year” Jerald Times weighed in on the feat by stating, “Tani accomplished this task in three years which measures 119 events. It is quite an accomplishment and shouldn’t go unnoticed.”

This shows incredible passion at an early stage. If Tani wants to earn the title of Grandmaster there needs to be a plan that will involve playing in strong tournaments and getting an appropriate trainer to suit his skill set. At this point, he is young enough, ambitious enough, but needs to establish the proper environment.

Now that he has reached National Master he will proceed to play in the strongest sections and play will be more consistent among his more experienced opponents. His parents Kayode and Oluwatoyin along with his brother Austin will be supporting his rise. New York may have unearthed another gem. The work begins!

Puzzle Rush vs. GM Hikaru Nakamura

Video by Hikaru Nakamura

KasparovChess.com is back! The first “Kasparov Chess” chess portal created in 1999 and included “KC magazine,” current news from around the globe, interviews, an event calendar, a discussion board, and a wealth of resources. At that time, Kasparov’s site was one of the leading content providers for chess as other sites begin to emerge. Garry Kasparov has decided to join the fray with the relaunch of an online platform. The new platform is a partnership with the French media conglomerate Vivendi.

PARIS, April 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov and global media company Vivendi announced today the launch of Kasparovchess.com. The site is a new multimedia content platform for chess lovers of all skill levels launched by Vivendi, through its subsidiary Keysquare. Built to offer features for all players, whether they are enthusiasts or beginners, including thousands of chess puzzles, online matches, in-depth tutorials, articles, documentaries, and even an exclusive masterclass with Kasparov himself.

Back in the “dotcom era,” chess websites were in their infancy as were chess servers. The Internet platform was rapidly growing into an attractive to place to do anything from buying hard-to-find books, to selling old personal items online to finding a game of chess. Of course, pioneers like the Internet Chess Club (ICC) and Free Internet Chess Server (FICS) were attempting to fulfill an increasing demand in this digital marketplace.

KasparovChess.com

Fast forward to the 21st century, mainstays such as chess.com, chess24, lichess.org joined the ICC in offering online chess communities. The market has become highly-competitive (or perhaps complementary) with chess streaming via Twitch represented a so-called “boom” in chess activity. While the “Queen’s Gambit” was a huge success, its impact built on the momentum that had been building up over the past decade. We may not be finished yet.

On April 15th, Kasparov announced his venture with Vivendi which has a membership structure of $13.99 monthly and a yearly subscription of $119.99. It is seeking to fill a unique niche in a competitive market with his own “Master Class” series and guest lectures by top-level Grandmasters. It also has coverage of news of diverse nations similar to his earlier initiatives in Kasparov Chess Foundation. In looking at a demo version of the site, it has a little of everything. The foundation centers on interviews, podcasts, puzzles, and instructional videos, but there is also a playing option.

KasparovChess in 2021
KasparovChess in 2021

Back in 2000, I had been searching for information on chess in Africa and the Caribbean for years and came across kasparovchess.net articles written by Mark Rubery. There were articles about Nigeria’s Odion Aikhoje, South Africa’s Watu Kobese and Zambia’s Amon Simutowe. Aikhoje had bagged the gold medal at the Elista Olympiad in 1998. Two articles on Simutowe helped to start me on my search for the Zambian player. Kobese was interviewed and led to a profile on these pages.

Kasparov Chess in 2000

As the site began to gain a steady viewership, there was an expansion of functions including a chess server. At the time, ICC was the leading chess server and ChessBase also had a fledgling platform. However, the site began to expand quickly and the momentum seemed to die along with many other dotcom experiments. An image of the first version was posted in December 2001. Twenty years later, the shift in the industry has moved to live streaming and video channel content. KasparovChess new initiative hopes to bring something new to the table.

St. Lucia St. Lucia St. Lucia

Tris-Ann Richards
President of St. Lucian Chess Federation
Photo courtesy of Tris-Ann Richards
(St. Lucia Chess Federation)

The island of St. Lucia has turned over a new leaf after their Annual General Meeting on Thursday, April 15th. During an online meeting, members of the St. Lucia Chess Federation (SLCF) elected their Executive Board. The relatively-new member of FIDE continues to gain momentum a year after being admitted to FIDE, the world chess body.

At the 90th FIDE Congress in 2020, St. Lucia ushered in a new era when they were welcomed into the community of chess federations holding membership in FIDE. Just before the pandemic brought chess activity to a grinding halt, St. Lucia joined Cayman Islands, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis as new member federations during the meeting.

On an island of roughly 183,000, St. Lucia had been active previously holding chess activities as early as 2005 when they launched a pilot project under the Chess-in-Schools (CIS) initiative involving 25 schools. This was supported by National Community Foundation (NCF). During this time, the then-President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was touting Chess-in-Schools as a catalyst for chess growth. However, these activities were not sustained over time.

More recently chess has returned with the formation of the St. Lucia Chess Federation in 2018 and joining FIDE in 2020. During the first administration, Andy Alexander assumed the Presidency and led the federation to its membership in FIDE. Both British Grandmaster Nigel Short and Jamaica’s Ian Wilkinson QC were instrumental in helping the federation establish credibility. In addition, chess got a boost from positive pubic relations, and Tris-Ann Richards, a Jamaican-born transplant, gave chess a pleasant face.

On April 15th, Tris-Ann Richards assumed the Presidency of the St. Lucian Chess Federation. Richards who started out playing chess in Jamaica will continue to seek popularization across the island and will continue her “Chess With Tris” which can be followed on Facebook. NCF and the Peace Corps are local organizations that have signed on to help the chess revolution in St. Lucia. The Chess Drum community congratulates Ms. Richards on her election victory and look forward to assisting your leadership.

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