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 www.worldchesshof.org.