A lone lion wanders afar in the wilderness, no longer part of the pride
Once gleaming, accepted, a beautiful beast, now having been cast aside
No chance for part in coordinated hunt, this one can’t run very fast
Nature holds no place, and faltering, it seems this beast just won’t last
Note: Sorry for the lack of images of Emory Tate. There are currently no images in existence that can be used without direct permission. Once we get permission, we will update this biography with images.
Emory Tate Jr. earned himself a reputation as a creative and daring tactician in the world of Chess. He was one of the most feared players in the U.S. as he would brilliantly take an opponent out in an uncompromising, melodramatic style, leaving the audience exclaiming in awe.
Here’s his story.
Born into a highly accomplished family with four sisters, four half-siblings, a loving mother, Emma, and a strict father, no one knew that Emory Tate would become a worldwide Chess icon. His father was a tenant farmer who offered part a section of his crop as rent (commonly known as a sharecropper)for his family to get by. When he grew up, he found himself serving in the U.S. Army in World War Π, and finally spent 48 years as a distinguished Chicago Lawyer.
Emory Tate Sr. taught all his children the game of Chess. Emory Jr. started learning the game when he was just the age of four, and by the time he was 13-years-old, he had surpassed his father in skill.
Tate’s family moved from Chicago to Addison, Illinois, then later to Elkhart, Indiana. He was a member of the wrestling team, and the Chess Club in high school, Concord High School. It was here that his dormant interest in Chess blossomed, and he began to establish his status as a chess genius. He graduated in 1976 and attended Northwestern University to study pre-medicine.
Rise of a Chess Master
A few years later, Tate began to make a name for himself as a rising teen chess star, moving back and forth between Chicago and Indiana to compete. To date, most people still admire him for being the only player that defeated a Grandmaster and former U.S. champion, Arthur Bisguier, in a 30-board simultaneous exhibition. During his early years, Tate’s confidence in Chess soared, and he became a sensation, thanks to his hyperactive tactical style. If you saw your name next to Emory Tate on the pairing chart, you would immediately know that you had to prepare yourself to face a vicious, incessant predator. Many different chess players in Chicago described him as a player that emulated Bobby Fisher’s Style, but with the bravado of Mohammed Ali.
Five-Time Armed Forces Champion
Later on, Emory Tate decided to take a different course in life, and he joined the Air Forces. It was here that he slowly started building a name for himself. He won the U.S. Armed Forces Championship five times, first in 1983 as a Senior Airman, and second in 1984, as a sergeant. He also won in 1987, 1988, and 1989 while holding a position as a Staff Sergeant. Of course, many people knew how he would proudly cite these accomplishments and describe them as his greatest feats.
International Chess Master
Emory Tate competed in many other tournaments, where he won over 80 games against certain grandmasters, earning himself the International Master title, with a FIDE rating of 2413. This made him the 72nd highest-rated player in the U.S., and among the top 2000 players of the world. He is also one of the highest-rated African-American chess players of all time. That’s an achievement most people who knew him well cannot forget.
The most amazing thing about Emory Tate Jr. was his ability to analyze a complicated variation with clarity and speed and somehow come up with a clever deduction. If you get a chance to look at some of his games, you can get a glimpse of his brilliant mind.
Some of his most remarkable games include those he played against GM Sergey Kudrin, and GM Leonid Yudasin, which created quite a global sensation, and was featured in Chess Life Magazine, and against GM Nick DeFirmian and GM Gennadi Sagalchik. He dazzled his audience with his tactical treats, and oddly enough, he almost created a cult following of sorts from his online fan base. Granted, Tate was quite a performer, and the Annual World Open was his grandest stage. He was just one point from becoming a Grandmaster in Chess. He had a USCF rating of 2499 on the April 1997 list, which was simply remarkable.
He also derived tremendous joy from showing off his games to his fans. He combined wordplay, quip, and gesticulation to create different spellbinding lessons from his favorite chess games. This may come as a surprise to many since most master-level players hardly take the time to demonstrate their gameplay to the general public.
Not only was Tate brilliant in Chess, but was also a master of many languages. Besides English, Tate was fluent in Russian, Spanish, and German. He also had a fondness for traveling, and he spent most of his time in Europe.
His son, Andrew Tate, who is a professional kickboxer, told Chess.com that his father taught him absolutely everything he knew about kickboxing, and that his fighting style mimics how he plays on the board: an all-out attack, which involves focusing on offense rather than defense. This style has earned him a three-time ISKA world champion, and Enfusion championship.
He also had two other children, Tristan Tate (an ex-champion of kickboxing and K1; now a lifestyle and traveler influencer), and Janine Tate.
In the interview with Chess.com, Andrew mentioned that his father had a peripatetic lifestyle. Although the champion did not have a wife, he was not obsessed with material possession, such as a house, car or garden. He felt at home, and was happy anywhere he was.
Why Didn’t Emory Tate Become a GM?
People that claimed to know him have stated that he didn’t like playing certain ways and that may have prevented him from achieving a higher FIDE rating.
Becoming a Grandmaster in Chess isn’t a must to achieve greatness in the game. Becoming a master at any level is beyond impressive. Emory Tate did become a titled International Master and has defeated many Grandmaster players throughout his career. Achieving the GM title requires other things other than the skill which is worth taking into consideration.
Rest in Peace King Tate
Emory Tate Jr. Passed away on October 17, 2015 from a heart attack during a chess tournament in California. He was playing the 2nd round of the tournament when the tragedy struck. He was 56-years-old at the time.
Among other great deeds and achievements, he will be remembered as the most decorated U.S. serviceman who was brilliant in Chess
If you want more details on Tate’s life, there is an excellent book written on his life that has become popular in the Chess world.