The Making of a Champion

New In Chess, the world's premier chess magazine, is known for high quality articles, in-depth analysis and incisive interviews. In the past few years, conversations about Black sports personalities have become commonplace. New in Chess (2001, No. 7) posted a short letter on Black chess players, and it also highlighted the Wilbert Paige tournament. In this article, it reads,

"The other day one of the regulars suggested that perhaps what we need is a black World Champion. Or even better, a black girl claiming the highest title! Wouldn't the media love to see a couple of Williams sisters in the world of chess?"

Years ago when organizing historic theme tournaments in New York,
GM Maurice Ashley made the following charge:

"Make no mistake about it; we must stop nothing short of the World Championship title. But the longest journey begins with one single step. What is the first step? More National Masters, more Senior Masters, some International Masters (for crying out loud!), and inevitably a handful of Grand Masters. Unrealistic? Not at all!"

In the recent French Open, both Venus and Serena Williams demonstrated why they have become the epitome of excellence. Now the #1 and #2 tennis players in the world, they will become role models for many young Black women striving to reach the highest heights in their respective fields of endeavor.

The possibility of a Black World Chess Champion rests solely on the  idea of collaboration and teamwork (e.g., the Williams sisters). Imagine how useful it would be to have the strongest possible training partner. Perhaps one can understand why
GM Vassily Ivanchuk was unnerved when he found out that Bulgaria's GM Veselin Topalov was assisting GM Ruslan Ponomariov in the Ivanchuk-Ponomariov Championship match! Dreaming about being World Champion, or even a GM means little unless one is unselfish and seeks assistance from others.

Serena and Venus Williams. Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/Allsport.

The New in Chess article made mention of the historic significance of the Wilbert Paige tournament, and of IM Amon Simutowe. For the past year, the 20-year old Zambian has actively sought his final GM norm for the coveted title. In some of the tournaments, his play has been listless while in others you can see flashes of greatness. In an interview with The Chess Drum, the young IM mentioned the need for a trainer. So far this has not been forthcoming.  GM Ashley plea for more masters is an admirable challenge. However, if there are no resources available to help talented young players, or collaborative efforts, it would appear that young players will have to have a sibling as a training partner to succeed.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 12 June 2002