Friday, April 29, 2016

Pestaño: Only a few black players excel in chess Thursday, April 28, 2016

ON March 14 1999, Maurice Ashley, born in Jamaica (March 6, 1966), beat Adrian Negulescu and became the first African American International Grandmaster. This month, he was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame and received his honor as the US Chess Championship got underway, while taking on commentating duties.
When he got the call in January that he was being inducted for his contributions as a player, coach and commentator, Ashley said tears came to his eyes. “For me to hear that I’m being inducted for everything I’ve given to the game, that I’ve done to promote the game, that I’ve done to help young people play, and for the inspiration I’ve been, has just been absolutely incredible,” Ashley told The Associated Press.
“Ashley is a great inspiration to younger black players, and to younger players of any race, that they could be a grandmaster too someday,” said Frank Brady, past president of the Marshall Chess Club.
Although blacks comprised about 15 percent of the world population, very few excel in chess. There have been about 2,000 GMs and WGMs since it was instituted by the World Chess Federation in 1950 but there are only three black GMs and one WGM.
In 2007, Pontus Carlsson, a black player from Sweden, became a GM. He was born in Cali, Columbia. When he was one year old, his entire family died and he was subsequently adopted by a Swedish couple. His adopted father was the former president of the Swedish Chess Federation who taught him how to play chess.
In 2007, Amon Simutowe, a black player from Zambia, also became GM. He took second place in the 2000 World Junior Chess Championships in Armenia.
There is also a WGM. In 2005, Tuduetso Sabure of Botswana became the first black woman grandmaster when she won the African Women’s Championship.
Aside from chess, there have been about 800 individuals and organizations who have received the Nobel prizes and only 12 have been blacks—nine for peace, two for literature and one for economics and none in the sciences.
However blacks are also “genetically superior in sports” like basketball, boxing etc.
US Championship. Wesley So didn’t lose a single game — but that wasn’t good enough to win the national title. He should have won against Chandra, who lost almost all his games. So earned $35,000.
Caruana played almost perfect chess in the entire tournament. He scored 8.5 points, one more than Wesley and Nakamura who tied for second.
In a matter of days, So will be flying to Shanghai, China, for a match with Ding Liren, ranked ninth in the world, one spot ahead of him.
So will also play in the Grand Chess Tour, a series of tournaments in Paris, Brussels, St. Louis and London featuring nine players — all ranked in the top 15 in the world — plus a wild card entry from each country. The tour carries a total prize fund of more than $1 million.
He’ll also try to defend his title at the Bilbao Masters tournament in Spain. And it’s a certainty he’ll be playing for the US team at the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, in September.
Starting today and tomorrow, we will witness 18 rounds of blitz chess featuring the top three finishers of the US Championship 2016 and Garry Kasparov. The tournament has the following format: It will be a four-player sextuple round robin. Each player will play against the other six times. The time control is 5 minutes plus 3-second delay (not increment) and total prize fund is $50,000.

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