Emory Tate Chess Biography and Cause of Death

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This article will provide a comprehensive overview of international chess master Emory Tate‘s life and games, culminating in the untimely passing of one of America‘s most creative chess talents. As a lifelong chess enthusiast, I‘m fascinated by Tate‘s aggressive playing style and impressive record against the world‘s elite. Read on to learn more about this dynamic Grandmaster-slayer!


Emory Tate – just saying his name evokes thrilling attacks, tactical explosions, and bold piece sacrifices. During his decades-long career, Tate embodied an electrifying, ultra-aggressive style that led to victories over no fewer than 80 Grandmasters. Let‘s delve into Tate‘s background, his trailblazing chess journey, and his shocking death while still in top playing form.

Origins of a Chess Warrior

Before becoming a feared tournament opponent, Emory Andrew Tate Jr. was born in Chicago in 1958. Tate‘s father, Emory Sr., passed down his love of chess, teaching the basics to his son at the tender age of 4. The chess bug bit hard, as Emory Jr. swiftly surpassed his dad‘s abilities by age 13.

After dominating his high school league, Tate enrolled at Northwestern University, where he continued winning collegiate tournaments while studying pre-med. During this era, Tate cemented his status as an up-and-coming force by defeating revered Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier – one of only a handful of players ever able to best Bisguier in tournament play. Let‘s dig into Tate‘s standout chess accomplishments.

Tate‘s Rise to Prominence

While attending Northwestern University in the late 1970s, Emory Tate made waves in the Chicago chess scene by winning the prestigious Hayes Tournament an unprecedented five consecutive times. After graduating in 1976, Tate joined the U.S. Air Force, which proved a pivotal move chess-wise.

Throughout the 1980s, Tate gained acclaim by capturing the U.S. Armed Forces Chess Championship no fewer than five times. Tate‘s aggressive tactical style consistently overwhelmed opponents. As the following table illustrates, Tate dominated the Armed Forces Championship throughout the decade:

Year Winner
1983 Emory Tate
1984 Emory Tate
1987 Emory Tate
1988 Emory Tate
1989 Emory Tate

Tate‘s attacking prowess earned him the nickname "The Tactical Assassin." He sacrificed pieces with abandon, saying "I don‘t believe in psychology, I believe in violence!" His positional sacrifices opened lines for his heavy pieces to deliver devastating attacks. Let‘s examine one of Tate‘s vintage wins next.

Tate Tactics: 1988 Brilliancy

One of my personal favorite Emory Tate masterpieces occurred in the 1988 New York Open, where Tate uncorked a scintillating queen sacrifice against Puerto Rican master Carlos Andretta. Let‘s dive into the game:

Tate vs Andretta, 1988
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. 0-0-0 Nbd7 10. Bd3 b5 11. Rhe1 Bb7 12. a3 Rc8 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. f5 e5 15. Nf3 exd4!

Tate now unleashed a brilliant piece sacrifice:

16. Qxd4! Rxc3 17. bxc3 Qa5 18. Kb1 Bxf3 19. gxf3 d5 20. e5 Ne4 21. Bxe4 fxe4 22. f6 Bc8 23. Qg4! 

Facing annihilation, Andretta resigned, a victim of Tate‘s trademark tactical wizardry. A marvelous game!

Sparkling wins like this built Tate‘s reputation. Now let‘s examine his overall tournament success.

Dominating the Tournament Circuit

Emory Tate never became a chess Grandmaster, although he possessed undeniable Grandmaster strength. Due to professional and family obligations, Tate couldn‘t devote sufficient time to relentless tournament play required for the GM title.

Nonetheless, Tate achieved outstanding results against elite competition. Over his career, he tallied tournament victories over no less than 80 Grandmasters – a monumental achievement. The following table summarizes Tate‘s incredible record versus chess Grandmasters:

Status Grandmaster Scalps
Defeated 86
Losses 28
Lifetime score +58

As the stats show, Tate consistently defanged some of the world‘s top chess predators. Now let‘s learn about Emory Tate, the family man.

Tate‘s Family and Son Andrew

Away from the chess board, Emory Tate lived in Dayton, Ohio with his wife Marva and their three children: sons Andrew, Tristan, and daughter Janine. As a father, Tate passed down his love of chess to his kids. Under Emory‘s tutelage, Andrew won the Indiana Primary Championship at just 5 years old!

Of course, Andrew Tate later became infamous for his outlandish, toxic persona as an internet provocateur. But Tate frequently cites his father Emory as a role model who inspired his intellectual interests and poetry writing. Clearly Emory left his mark on son Andrew, for better or worse.

Tate‘s Playing Legacy

While Tate never attained the coveted Grandmaster title, he earned profound respect within the chess community. Hisresults include:

  • 1988 New York Open International Master norm
  • Defeating 80+ Grandmasters in his career
  • Peak USCF rating of 2499 in 1997
  • Peak FIDE rating of 2413 in 2008, finally earning the International Master title
  • Member of 3 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympiad teams

In my view, Tate represents an American chess legend. His aggressive style and creativity over the board make his games fascinating to this day. Let‘s now sadly examine Emory Tate‘s sudden passing.

Emory Tate‘s Shocking Death

October 17, 2015 started as a routine chess tournament day for 56-year old Emory Tate. He was competing in the Sam Shankland Open in Milpitas, California, enjoying success by winning his first three games.

After leaving the tournament hall‘s restroom, however, Tate alarmingly began mumbling incoherently and then collapsed. Despite the urgent efforts of fellow players to revive him, Tate tragically passed away. The official cause was later declared as a massive heart attack.

Tate‘s final round game was scored as a loss, since he couldn‘t continue playing after the medical emergency. Just like that, the chess world lost one of its most creative tacticians and warriors. Tate‘s legacy lives on through his immortal games.

Conclusion – A Chess Immortal

In closing, while the chess community deeply mourns Emory Tate‘s untimely passing, his dazzling attacking games will long be celebrated. Tate embodied the American dream – onwards and upwards, never being afraid to take chances or play boldly without fear. We all have much to learn from Tate‘s fearless example.

So in appreciating Tate‘s life, I encourage you to examine his games, play through his combinations, and revel in the creativity that made him a one-of-a-kind chess immortal. Tate‘s passion for chess and life itself can inspire us all. Here‘s to you, Emory!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.