Dr. Kimani Stancil: America's Newest Master?

In American chess there are some coveted goals aspired by most players, but the one that appears to be the most common is earning the title of National Master. Of course, it is a very hard road to the title because as one's ratings climbs, wins are more difficult to get against stronger players and one gets fewer points by beating weaker players.

At this point, there are not a lot of players earning the title and the problem is even more acute in the African-American community. The 1980s represented the boom of "Black Masterdom," but this was followed by a drought in the 1990s where less than ten players have made it (
William Lopes was the last in 1998).

Dr. Kimani Stancil

Dr. Kimani Stancil

Dr. Kimani Stancil has unofficially broken the six-year drought. It has been a long time coming for the former scholastic standout who in 1989, participated in the Denker Tournament of Champions for high school state champions. His quest for the coveted title entailed a long road taking him through the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Stancil, who earned his Ph.D. from M.I.T. in 2002, possesses a thirst for visualizing ideas… perhaps a common trait for mathematicians and physicists.

When one talks to Stancil, he makes an immediate impression with his depth of thinking and incisive ideas. When analyzing games, he is crisp with his analysis and rarely (if at all) looks at his scoresheets for reference. In addition,  he also revels when engaging in blindfold analysis. His games at the 2004 World Open were bursting with energy and produced many brilliant tactical positions. These positions are the subject of this month's "Chess Crackers" feature and in honor of his magnificent accomplishments. Congratulations Dr. Stancil!

See Stancil's Games in "Chess Crackers"
Maurice Ashley analyzing R.O. Mitchell's game (with his seated opponent) at the 1989 U.S. Open in Chicago. Kimani Stancil looks on. R.O. Mitchell came from nowhere to win the U.S. Junior Open in 1990. After winning his Master's title, he disappeared from active play. Stancil, also a young star in this picture, earned his Ph.D. in Physics from MIT in 2002. Copyright © 1989, Daaim Shabazz.

Kimani Stancil looks on while Maurice Ashley (standing left) makes point to R.O. Mitchell. Both Stancil and Mitchell were competing in the Denker Tournament of Champions at the 1989 U.S. Open. Mitchell would later win the U.S. Junior Open in 1990.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 8 July 2004