The Talking Drum
featuring Ahmoad Ware


"The Talking Drum" segment will profile a different chess player each issue. This issue's subject features a rising star on the U.S. horizon. A few years ago, this young man took the U.S. scholastic scene by storm by finishing an equal second in the supernationals tournament. Although I had read about his success in the July 1997 Chess Life, I first met Ahmoad at the 2000 World Open tournament (Philadelphia, USA) where we played a round of spirited blitz chess and analyzed some of games we'd played from earlier rounds. It is evident to me that this young titan has a bright future in chess, if he desires. 

Ahmoad Ware at the 2001 World Open

Ahmoad Ware


Nineteen-year old Ahmoad Ware hails from Buffalo, New York and is the middle of three sons of a chess-playing family. Learning the rules from his father (James Ware) at the age of five, Ahmoad immediately saw action in his debut at the old St. Kolbe Chess Club in Buffalo and scored a miserable 0-5.  After this demoralizing defeat, his interest in chess faded, but he returned to the sport a couple of years later at age 7.

When I asked him about his first rating he stated, "My very first rating. . . I will never forget. It was 948." Ahmoad realized he may a passion for the game after another poor showing at a scholastic tournament in Rochester, New York. "I was motivated by that tournament. I went back and won it the next time. . . and I began studying more and more. . . points and tournament victories began to roll in."

Ahmoad went from 948 to 1400 within a year and vaulted to "Expert" (ELO: 2000) by age 15. Under the watchful eye of his father, he played in many tournaments held by the late
Bill Zachary in Buffalo. It was during a mini camp in Buffalo that he met (now GM) Maurice Ashley.

"I was like... wow he's the best!
Let me test him and see for myself."

Ahmoad's remarks on meeting Maurice Ashley for the first time.

Ahmoad's reaction on meeting Maurice was one of excitement and but also an opportunity to take a crack at the talented Mr. Ashley.  "I was like... wow he's the best! Let me test him and see for myself. . . I played him well, but he overpowered me. . . Too much knowledge." Ahmoad stated that he's happy for Maurice's success and also hopes to earn an international title one day.

Ahmoad's progress was rapid as he began to rack up tournament wins including an exciting win at the Chess Castle Camp over
WIM Beatriz Marinello at age 12. The young tiger played a "slashing" Sicilian Dragon where white suffered, as he put it, "massive material loss." The young WIM, an instructor at the camp, was literally brought to tears after the crushing loss.  To top that feat, Ahmoad also scalped GM Arthur Bisguier! Something special was happening.

Some of his tournament successes include: 1st at Pittsburgh Open; 1st at Buffalo Open; 1st Under 1800 at both the U.S. Open and World Opens; 2nd place at the scholastic 1997 supernationals with 6.5/7.0 behind
NM Harutyan Akopian. Currently Ahmoad is a sophomore journalism major at West Virginia University where he is a star sprinter  in track and field (runs 200m and 400m), and a member of a number of honor societies. He hopes to join the professional track circuit, and as he states, "just be successful and play the hand I'm dealt to the best of my ability."

Interview conducted: 16 January 2001

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