Amon Simutowe was born in Zambia in 1982. He was introduced to chess by his brother at the age of ten, and his fascination for chess quickly overtook his love of soccer.
At the age of twelve he won his first chess tournament, and just the following year he won Zambia’s Under 21 National Championship, as well as placing fifth in the African Junior Chess Championship.
Simutowe earned his nickname—The Zambezi Shark—following his amazing performances winning the African Junior Chess Championships in 1999 and 2000, in which he scored an incredible 12/13 and 11/11 respectively. His complete dominance of his opponents in these events invited comparisons to a young Bobby Fischer.
He earned his International Master title in 1998, and was declared Zambia’s Sportsman of the Year in 2001.
After moving to the United States to pursue degrees in finance and economics, Simutowe was determined to earn his final grandmaster norm. He earned the title Grandmaster in 2007, becoming the first sub-Saharan African, and the third Black person, to earn the title.
Simutowe’s impressive chess career, his keen eye for tactics, and his sharp attacking style of play inspired greater interest in chess in Zambia and across southern Africa.
Here is an impressive game that Simutowe played in 2008.
This article is part of a series of pieces exploring chess in the context of Black History Month. Click on Black History Month to learn more about Black chess players, the African history of chess, and other issues relating to chess and race.