Five new players in the Hall of Fame

2/26/2016 – An induction ceremony in April will recognize five exceptional players for a places in history as members of the World and U.S. Chess Halls of Fame. FIDE has selected David Bronstein, Sonja Graf­Stevenson and Howard Staunton. The trustees of the U.S. Chess Trust selected grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Gata Kamsky to join the other 55 players currently in the U.S. Hall of Fame. Press release.

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2016 Inductees to U.S and World Chess Halls of Fame Announced
Players Will Be Honored in Saint Louis on April 13th, 2016

Induction Ceremony Will Kick Off the
2016 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship

SAINT LOUIS (Feb. 24, 2016) — An induction ceremony on April 13, 2016, will recognize five exceptional chess players as they take their places in history as members of the World Chess Hall of Fame and the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

Representatives of the World Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs or FIDE) nominated and selected David Bronstein, Sonja Graf­Stevenson and Howard Staunton for induction into the World Chess Hall of Fame. They join 24 other players who have received the honor since the World Chess Hall of Fame’s creation in 2001. Members of the World Chess Hall of Fame are chosen for their total contribution to the sport. Players as well as others who have made an impact as authors, journalists, organizers and in other ways are eligible for induction.

Sonja Graf and Max Euwe [source: Chess Club Utrecht]

“This year’s inductees into the World Chess Hall of Fame are recognized for their level of play as well as their overall contributions to the game,” Beatriz Marinello, FIDE Vice President, said. The U.S. Chess Federation Hall of Fame Committee considers and sends candidates for the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame to the U.S. Chess Trust each year. The trustees of the U.S. Chess Trust voted on candidates, selecting Grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Gata Kamsky to join the other 55 players currently in the U.S. Hall of Fame.

“Ashley and Kamsky have both made a tremendous impact on the chess world. Both highly accomplished players, Ashley has broadened the visibility of chess among key audiences, and Kamsky has demonstrated the unique ability to sustain a high caliber of play over more than three decades. We are thrilled to celebrate these elite players,” Harold Winston, U.S. Chess Trust Chairman, said.

Each player is commemorated at the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, Missouri with a plaque bearing their image and a biography of their notable contributions to the game.

“The 2016 induction ceremony will recognize these important players of our time, their tremendous chess careers and their undeniable influence on the game,” Shannon Bailey, chief curator of the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, said.

About the 2016 World Chess Hall of Fame Honorees

David Bronstein (1924–2006) Inducted 2016

David Bronstein was a Soviet Grandmaster who learned chess from his grandfather at the age of six. Bronstein narrowly missed winning the World Championship in 1951. He was considered one of the strongest players from the mid-1940s into the mid-1970s and was one of the earliest and most important pioneers of the King’s Indian Defense, transforming it from a distrusted, obscure variation into a popular, respected defense. Bronstein was also a renowned chess writer and the author of Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953, considered one of the greatest chess books ever written. Bronstein was an early advocate of speeding up competitive chess. In 1973 he introduced the idea of adding a small time increment for each move made, a variant of which has become very popular in recent years and is implemented on almost all digital chess clocks.


Sonja Graf­Stevenson (1908–1965) Inducted 2016

Sonja Graf-Stevenson was a German-born chess master who was the chief rival of Women’s World Champion Vera Menchik in the 1930s. The two competed in several World Championship matches and tournaments with Graf-Stevenson nearly taking the title at Buenos Aires in 1939 where only a single game separated them—had Graf-Stevenson won her individual game against Menchik, they would have tied for first. In this event, Graf-Stevenson, an ardent anti-Nazi, played under the flag of Liberty. She remained in Argentina during World War II, but moved to the U.S. after marrying in the late 1940s. Graf-Stevenson went on to win the U.S. Women’s Championship in 1957 and 1964. Graf-Stevenson is remembered today not only for her play, but for the books she authored during her stay in Argentina: Asi Juega una Mujer (“This is How a Woman Plays,” about her chess career) and Yo Soy Susann (“I am Susan,” about her childhood).

Howard Staunton (1810–1874) Inducted 2016

Born in Westmoreland, England, Staunton was a latecomer to the game of chess, starting to play seriously at the unusually late age of 26. Despite this, he defeated Pierre Saint-Amant just seven years later in a match that earned him recognition as a world-class player. Although Staunton would maintain his position as one of the best for over two decades, his major contributions to the game were as a thinker and writer, an opinion held by no less than Bobby Fischer who considered the Englishman far ahead of his time. Staunton popularized his ideas in the numerous books he authored as well as in the Illustrated London News chess column, which he wrote from 1845 until his death 29 years later. Besides his play and writings, Staunton is best remembered for organizing the first modern international tournament (London 1851) and for the standard tournament chess piece design that bears his name. He is one of the rare chess greats who received recognition as a world class expert in another field (Shakespearean scholar).

Image courtesy of the John G. White Chess Collection at the Cleveland Public Library

Maurice Ashley (b. 1966) Inducted 2016

Through chess, Maurice Ashley not only made history as the first African-American International Grandmaster in 1999, but has also translated his talents to others as a three-time national championship coach, two-time author, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor, motivational speaker, and ESPN announcer. He has provided engaging commentary for major matches such as Garry Kasparov versus Viswanathan Anand in the 1995 World Championship and Kasparov’s 1997 match against Deep Blue, an IBM computer, as well as matches in the Professional Chess Association’s Intel World Chess Grand Prix, the U.S. Chess Championships, and the Sinquefield Cups. Ashley has conceptualized and organized Millionaire Chess Open, the highest-stakes open tournament worldwide with a record setting prize fund, which aims to bring sponsors and a sense of glamour to the game of chess. Ashley has worked as a Joint Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center and MIT’s Media Lab to bring the benefits of chess and other classic games to a wider educational audience through the innovative use of technology. He has traveled the world as an ardent spokesperson of the character-building effects of chess. Ashley has also served as the coach of the Harlem-based school teams the Dark Knights and the Raging Rooks, the latter of which tied for first place in the 1991 National Championship and was featured on the front page of the New York Times, publicizing chess as an enriching alternative for adolescent boys. Ashley’s book, Chess for Success (Broadway Books, 2005), further crystallizes his vision of the many benefits of chess, particularly for at-risk youth, and he continuously spreads his message of living one’s dream to universities, businesses, chess clubs and non-profit organizations around the globe. His app, “Learn Chess! With Maurice Ashley,” has been sold in over 30 countries, and he has received multiple community service awards from city governments, universities and community groups for his work. In the fall of 2011, Ashley toured six Caribbean nations to bringing chess, books and technology to children in the region. In 2015, Maurice announced a partnership with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and Ascension, Your Move Chess. This program supports after school chess in the Florissant-Ferguson School District alongside other schools in the Saint Louis area. Longer term, the goal is to expand the program on a national level.

Gata Kamsky (b. 1974) Inducted 2016

Gataulla “Gata” Rustemovich Kamsky is a Soviet-born, American Grandmaster currently ranked no. 6 in the United States at 2737 USCF. He was born in Siberia, Russia, and learned to play chess when he was seven years old. As a nine-year-old, Kamsky won the Under-15 U.S.S.R. Championship and then became a back-to-back Junior Champion of the Soviet Union at the age of 13. Kamsky’s impact on American chess has been profound. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1989 and earned his International Grandmaster title the following year, also becoming the youngest player ever rated in the FIDE world top-ten at the age of 16. Kamsky won his first of five U.S. Championships in 1991, and two years later helped America grab it’s first-ever gold in the World Team Chess Championship. In 1994, at age 20, he became the youngest-ever player to challenge for the World Chess Championship title and the first American since Bobby Fischer. Kamsky took a nearly decade-long hiatus from chess while he attended law school and returned to the game in 2004. In 2010, Kamsky won his second U.S. Chess Championship—19 years removed from his first title—and returned to successfully defend the crown in 2011. He earned his fourth and fifth U.S. Chess Championship titles in 2013 and 2014. Kamsky’s FIDE rating crested at 2763 in July of 2013.

About the World Chess Hall of Fame

The World Chess Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization committed to building awareness for the cultural and artistic significance of chess. It opened on September 9, 2011, in the Central West End after moving from previous locations in New York and Miami. The World Chess Hall of Fame is located at 4652 Maryland Avenue, housed in an historic 15,900 square­foot residence­turned­business, and features the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, displays of artifacts from the permanent collection and exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games and rich cultural history of chess. The World Chess Hall of Fame partners with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national and international audiences. For more information, please visit the World Chess Hall of Fame online at

Topics: Hall of Fame
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KevinC KevinC 3/2/2016 04:32
@chessdrummer, After reading your comments here, and some of it on the Internet as a whole, it seems like you scream "racist" to anyone, who says anything REMOTELY in opposition to anyone or anything black, and you seem to be all over it, and them. Not everything is racist, but you seem to see everything as such.
yesenadam yesenadam 3/2/2016 04:25
KevinC. You say "Use your head before you comment." this is just empty, childish abuse. Never an appropriate way to talk in forums, or in anywhere much at all. How's that working for you in life? (rhetorical) I suggest you take your own advice. I'm going to take mine and not comment here any more. This isn't and shouldn't be youtube; I don't know where or who you think you are, talking to people like that. Have some respect. You might have more fruitful discussions. Like they say "Winning an argument on the internet is like the special olympics. Sure, you won, but you're still retarded."
KevinC KevinC 3/2/2016 04:25
@chessdrummer, I looked you up on the Internet, and it seems that your life revolves around race. YOU have an issue with race with everyone it seems. Look inward.

In defense of Hawkman, Ashley is certainly a strong player when compared to all players, but he is in the bottom 1% of all GMs, and it was OBVIOUS to anyone with a brain that that is what he meant. He is also nowhere near the top of any of the other categories. The only thing that makes him stand out in the crowd is that he was the first black GM, and you can lie to yourself all you want, but that is PRIMARILY why he is in.

It is not invoking the race card to point out a fact, but you used all the typical racial comebacks.

And again, why are you bringing up my career? I have never said that I am as good a player, nor that I should be in the HoF. I chose a different path, and went in the USAF as a Russian linguist, and then have been a business owner for the last 28 years. I see you only teach business...."those who can't".
chessdrummer chessdrummer 3/2/2016 03:37

You are the only who invoked race into the entire discussion. Am I right? That was your contention. Race had to do with Maurice's selection. Who played the race card? You did.

I believe those on the committee are better qualified than you (no... they were no chosen because of their Elo rating) and it is a wonderful thing that narrow-minded people like yourself are not on the committee thinking that someone is selected because of his race and not his long list of accomplishments. Fischer got in as a player AND his overall IMPACT. Each inductee is in for different reason. I'll bet you that you do not even recognize all the inductees and why they are there.

Are you so obtuse that you can't understand that each inductee is not in for one specific thing??? It is the overall IMPACT of the individual. Maurice is a trailblazer and has done much more to popularize chess publicly and worldwide than most. There are things he's done that do not appear in his resume.

"but what 35 years does give me is a pretty good knowledge of the players, who have made it into the HoF, and the history of American chess since there are so many old guard players many might not know about."

Doesn't seem like it. If this if the culmination of your 35 years, you are not showing any knowledge of people who actually make an impact. Some make it because they were singularly a player and nothing else. Some make it because they were an organizer and nothing else. I would be surprised if you are active and know what is really going on in chess.

BTW, Maurice career is about as long as yours... 35 years. Would you like to compare your highest accomplishment of being a 2200 for 30 years to Ashley's above resume? It's a joke.

Lastly, I also don't care what your relation was with Emory or any other Black chess player. Means absolutely nothing and it doesn't give you any right to spew racist hyperbole. You will never make any Hall of Fame... at least in chess, and it apparently burns you up that Maurice has been inducted.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 3/2/2016 03:01

Tell KevinC to stop judging based on their color. That what he's doing. He said Maurice is in the Hall because he's Black and then he says I play the race card. (???) If that isn't the pot calling the kettle black!

What is your strength? You said Ashley is a "weak" player? Are you a GM? Who are you to call someone who MADE GM weak? It's might presumptuous to call a GM weak if you're not anywhere near that strength.

You don't seem to know this... there are two Halls of Fame. Judit can't be in the U.S. Hall of Fame. Keres in the World Hall of Fame. Maurice is not in the same Hall with Staunton and Graf-Stevenson, and Bronstein. You are mistaken. He is the U.S. Hall of Fame and certainly belongs. I doubt if you know all the people on the roster.

You said he's not in the leagues of, "Kasparov, Seirawan, Short, Svidler" as a commentator. Many people will disagree with you. It is a matter of taste and not all enjoy the commentators you've mentioned. Not all enjoy Ashley's style. Nevertheless, people are not inducted for one particular reason, but their overall contributions and IMPACT. If you followed U.S. chess, you'd know about the impact.
KevinC KevinC 3/1/2016 02:02
@yesenadam, personally, as a person. I don't hate someone because they are a bad commentator. Use your head before you comment.
yesenadam yesenadam 3/1/2016 12:35
This seems an unfortunate disagreement in the comments. Hawkman, KevinC, chessdrummer, I hear you and agree with the basic thrust of what you all say; I think the differences are being over-emphasized. Without analyzing everything you've all said in detail, you all seem to me mostly right, but have all said things that don't seem true, or fair.

"and I have nothing against him personally" - KevinC, you admit you can't stand his commentating. "the one thing I think he is worst at is trying to be a commentator. His animated style, while dumbing it down for the masses, is laughable. His fake excitement, is PAINFUL to listen to in that regard." - you think he is faking it! I don't think so. I think he is a great commentator and chess communicator. I guess it's a matter of taste. But you go beyond that to.. well, you sound spiteful.

"but let's face it, the only reason he is in is because he was the first black GM." Well, no. Then you say he is there "strictly due to race". This is a nasty and ambiguous phrase. It doesn't seem true either.

Of course, Ashley is a more significant figure in chess, for the US and for the world, by being black. There has never been anyone like him. He is a vastly inspiring figure, and has done, I imagine, an enormous amount for chess, for the self-confidence of many young people etc.

I think if I hated his commentating style, I would be hard pressed to think much of him also, but I happen to think he's a great commentator, a good guy, and always a pleasure to watch. Did you see the video of him talking to a hall of young black football players? I show that to non-chess players and they find it very inspiring and touching. His joy and pleasure in the beauty of chess is infectious.
Hawkman Hawkman 2/29/2016 11:17
@chessdrummer Ashley is a weak player who barely made GM. He's not in the top tier of commentators such as Kasparov, Seirawan, Short, Svidler, either. For him to be going in with people such as Bronstein, Graf­Stevenson, Kamsky, and Staunton is a joke. Paul Keres, the greatest non-Champ ever, just got in 2 years ago and I don't see the great Judit Polgar in there. I'm black and he's no HoFer. Please stop judging people by their skin color.
KevinC KevinC 2/29/2016 09:33
@chessdrummer, You are a hypocrite about racism. On one hand, you try to make me out to be a racist because I called into question the accomplishments of a black man. On the other hand, you haul out the race card immediately. That is no better, and pretty much the same thing as your "My best friend is Black" comment. Do you always resort to the race card when anyone disagrees with you?

Yes, I did read his achievements on the HoF write-up. Sorry, the one thing I think he is worst at is trying to be a commentator. His animated style, while dumbing it down for the masses, is laughable. His fake excitement, is PAINFUL to listen to in that regard. He also has not been doing that anywhere near long enough is why I did not consider it, not intellectual dishonesty. To get into any other HoF for journalism, you usually have to have been doing it for 30-50 years, while the Internet has only allowed for streaming that the last 15 or so.

YOU asked, "Let's see your chess resume", and I only mention it not because I am trying to compare myself to a GM, as there is no question he put more effort into it, and is a better player, but what 35 years does give me is a pretty good knowledge of the players, who have made it into the HoF, and the history of American chess since there are so many old guard players many might not know about. Your comment, "you're in no position to denigrate Ashley's lifetime of contributions", is also ill-advised from a logical standpoint. Do you think that the people, who voted him into the HoF are ALL better players than I, or ALL know more about chess history? I am not only as qualified as most others, I am also entitled to my opinion that he does not belong. When I said he seems like a nice guy, I was only trying to rule out that I had some personal issue with him, but you try to make that some to-do also. You are right that some not-so-nice guys could be in there too, like Fischer maybe, but it is clear why he is in....he was actually really good.

Now, feel free to disagree with me, but you know NOTHING of me, and to call me a racist is disgusting.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 2/29/2016 05:51
Kevin C,

You're right. It was directed at you. Hawkman is complicit. He ignored many good wins over GMs (even as an IM)... It's ridiculous.

Nevertheless, it is insensitive for you to be selective about your criteria and not recognize Ashley's impact on chess. He is among the very best in chess commentary and has given quite valuable exposure to chess around the world in so many ways. The criteria is not what you're making... best player, best organizer, best author, etc. That's YOUR own criteria. It's about impact.

Your contention is that he is in on some affirmative action, but you have not read the list of contributions he has made. Who else can compare with the BREADTH and VARIETY of contributions? No one. Player, author, organizer, coach, commentator. No one has even attempted to venture in to all of these areas. By your criteria, I noticed you skipped over commentator. So you're not even being honest.

In addition, being the first Black GM is historic, but that is only a singular accomplishment. If this were the only criteria needed, he would have been in long ago. He's been a GM since 1999. I have been to the Hall of Fame several times and I have seen the people who have been inducted. If you had been there to see the range of people inducted, I don't think you'd have much else to say. In fact, most are only in the Hall for ONE thing. Yet you only mention Ashley's ethnicity as his ticket.

As far as Emory, I don't care of your relationship to him. It's irrelevant. You befriended his children on Facebook? Do you want racial credit for that? Surprised you didn't utter the tired, "I'm not racist. My best friend is Black." You still made racist comments. The sadness is, you don't even realize it. You said Ashley is in due to his race and not his impact or contributions. I'm not letting you off the hook. You are basing the Hall of Fame on ONE criteria and then shifted it to say he has to be among the BEST in one criteria.

In addition, you condescend, by saying "well... he's nice." Who cares? There are lots of "not nice" people in sports Halls of Fame. He is definitely deserving given his overall impact on chess in America. While he continues to make contributions, all you've done in chess is to say you've been playing for 35 years and made 2200 rating 30 years ago. While that is laudable, you're in no position to denigrate Ashley's lifetime of contributions.
KevinC KevinC 2/29/2016 05:17
@chessdrummer, First, I believe you should have directed that comment at me.

While I do not disagree with your point about it not being just players, but you usually have to be among THE very best in one area of chess. He is certainly not among the greatest organizers, especially when you consider that only Edmondson is in the HoF. Goichburg, however controversial, deserves it infinitely more. He may have done a lot with kids, but again, not among the greatest of the greatest. He is not in the same league as John Collins, the only coach in the HoF. There are a number of writers in the HoF, but you can't tell me that he is even close to any of them.

I have been playing for about 35 years, and a master for 30, but it is not about my resume. I am just looking at this logically. I am not ethnocentric, nor am I racist (I was a USAF friend of Emory's, and I cried at his passing, friended his three children on FB, and told them stories about their dad...if I were racist, I certainly would not have done that). From what I can tell since I don't know him personally, Maurice seems like an extremely nice gentleman, but like it or not, he is in for the wrong reason. At least, that is my opinion.

Frankly, there are other questionable inductees, like Benjamin Franklin, who was inducted because he happens to be very famous, not because of any great contribution to chess beyond the tangential.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 2/29/2016 12:36

Not sure you read the article or Ashley's profile. Not all inductees are in for merely playing... just like all Hall-of-Fames. There are some who became noted organizers, coaches and officials, or who have made contributions to the sport. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), you have revealed something of your own racial insensitivities. Why is it whenever a Black person gets an honor of any kind, there are those who assume it is due to their ethnicity and not ability? Yes.... we are proud of Maurice Ashley as a Black man and he means a lot to the community. He has spent his life contributing to the entire sport of chess and is a global icon at the top of his game in broadcasting. Let's see your chess resume. To even pose affirmative action as a possibility means you are ethnocentric at the least and racist at worst.
KevinC KevinC 2/28/2016 05:54
@Hawkman, that number is the "Highest rating achieved in database", which is just the highest number pulled out. It is very possible that the rating you listed was a USCF rating, which was entered into that database.

To clarify, I was talking FIDE rating, and I went to their web site, and looked him up. They only list ratings going back to 2000, which was only one year after he became a GM, and his peak FIDE rating since 2000 was 2504. He has only been above 2500 that one time since 2000.
KevinC KevinC 2/27/2016 10:53
This probably will not be popular, but I really don't like the inclusion of Maurice Ashley. He is certainly a very good guy, and I have nothing against him personally, but let's face it, the only reason he is in is because he was the first black GM. Otherwise, he was always on the very weakest end of the GM spectrum (peak rating of around 2504). Putting someone in a Hall of Fame strictly due to race is in, and of itself, racist.
KevinC KevinC 2/27/2016 10:39
@Chessspawnvt, I could not disagree more. First, I can't think of one HoF that requires the members to be dead, and even if you can name one, it is significantly in the minority. Second, even the retirement criteria you wish to impose is not easy to apply to chess. In most sports, you retire by 40, but in chess, some can play at a very high level for decades more.
hansan hansan 2/27/2016 07:58
World Chess Hall of Fame... first three names
US Chess Hall of Fame... latter two names
The separation is not so obvious when all the names are mentioned together and within the same paragraphs though it is obvious the latter can not be mentioned in the same chess breath as the former.
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 2/27/2016 02:05
IMHO, the living should not be in the Hall of Fame. Alternatively, perhaps like Baseball, a player should be retired for a set number of years before becoming eligible for induction.