The Black Stars are Rising!!

In the past year, there has been an increasing amount of success amongst players of African descent. Here's what's happening:

In the U.S. where norms are very hard to come by, four IM norms have been earned in the last eight months (two by
NM Norman Rogers, one by FM Stephen Muhammad, and  FM William Morrison's second). Contrast this with past years, and it is a meteoric rise in the quality of performances in Black chess. Never has there been more talk about earning GM and IM titles than in the past few years. Of course, GM Maurice Ashley has blazed the trails with his earning of the GM title in 1999, and has made such an idea believable. In addition, it has become more of a reality to play for the U.S. Championship!!

In the Caribbean, there has been renewed enthusiasm in countries such as Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad as the have carried the torch amongst the English-speaking Caribbean. The Bahamas, once very active in international events, is seeing a resurgence and have instituted a number of programs for the youth.
IM Kevin Denny has assumed a leadership for Caribbean players and is supported by rising stars such as FM Warren Elliott who has been active in supporting youth chess in Jamaica.

On the continent of Africa, much has happened besides the meteoric rise of IM Amon Simutowe. There has been an explosion of activity due to the tremendous efforts put forth by chess directors such as Lewis Ncube (Zambia), Daniel Nsibambi (Uganda), and Patrick Wanda (Botswana). In these countries there appears to be a bright future due to enthusiasm shown by the youth. African nations are continuing to collaborate, but desire  more experience against strong competition. IM Watu Kobese and other strong players have to travel long distances to play in strong tournaments and the lack of titled players dampens chances for sponsorships.  However, with the recent surge in chess… help is on the way!

These three regions are crucial to the success of chess in the Black Diaspora. It is interesting to note that
Marcus Garvey, an early 20th century "Pan-Africanist," called his shipping fleet "The Black Star." This ship was used to establish trade ties between Blacks in North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa! With the reach of the Internet, more cross-continental chess collaboration will perhaps result in the Black Star rising again!

Posted by The Chess Drum: 2 March 2002