Remembering Emory Tate, a strong American I.M. who suddenly died while playing a tournament in San Jose, CA. I had the pleasure of meeting him five months before in Italy
Rome(Italy), November 19th, 2015
He passed away while practicing the greatest passion of his life, that is, chess. Well-known American International Master Emory Tate suffered a fatal heart attack on October 18th, while he was playing the 2nd round of a tournament near his home town of Sunnyvale, CA. He hadn’t yet celebrated his 57th birthday. I was quite shocked by this sad news, because five months before I had had the pleasure of meeting him during a tournament that we both played at the Salinello Village in Tortoreto Lido, an Italian sea town 202 Km East of Rome. One evening, we played four friendly games having conversation both in English and Spanish, language which he spoke perfectly, and I had a really fun time due to his impetuous and slightly swashbuckling behaviour. Often, he commented my moves with loud exclamations: “You’re a son of a bitch”, “You are a strong player, but I’m also strong, I’m an International Master!”. But he was also very kind and friendly, finally he said to me in Spanish that it was nice to meet and to share ideas with me. The day after, I saw that he had written on Facebook that he made me won one of the games, but I wasn’t hurt by that because it was substantially true: by the end of the game, very complex and hard-fought but also played in a joyous and informal scenario, he had suggested me two or three moves.
Eighty Grandmasters defeated!!
Emory Tate was known for his aggressive and creative style, which during his brilliant chess career led him to defeat no less than 80 Grandmasters. Often, though, he adopted this fearless behaviour also against weaker players, evidently he was not the man who “put the game to sleep”, as we say in Italy, while waiting for his opponent’s mistake. This maybe one of the reasons why he never climbed up to Grandmaster level himself. He curiously reached his FIDE rating peak, 2411, when he was already 49 years old. To give an idea of his sparkling and fearless way of playing, we are displaying in the diagram below a crucial position of a game that he won against Israeli Grandmaster Leonid Yudašin in Chicago 1997. Some moves before, Tate let the opponent capture a knight in f5, and in this position, instead of retrieving the knight in a4 as probably 95% of players would have done, he played Qh5. The rook in a3 won’t lose time taking the knight, because it will take another direction!! Here you find the whole game, which includes several other stunning material sacrifices, extensively noted by I.M. Jack Peters on the thechessdrum.net website.
Not only chess
Throughout his life, Emory Tate didn’t devote himself only to chess. He was a staff sergeant of the United States Air Force, winning furthermore its internal chess championship for five times. He had a great talent for languages: I already wrote that he spoke excellent Spanish, he also mastered German and Russian. He had three sons, Andrew, Tristan and Janine, of which he was very proud. The first two became champions not of chess, but of kickboxing. Though, Andrew told Mike Klein of the chess.com website: “My dad taught me everything. Absolutely everything. And my fighting style in the ring mimics his on the board”
Throughout his life, Emory Tate has transmitted his knowledges not only to his sons, but also to many other people. His friend Todd Andrews writes on the en.chessbase.com website: “Emory loved and shared his chess experience with all those who showed interest. He would never snub his chin at the weakest of beginners, but rather would sit down with them and happily show one of his latest tactical achievements.”. Just as he did with me and another players, either weak or strong, at the Salinello Village last May. It’s a pity he won’t be able to do it again. Rest in peace Emory.