“What if I come in your house, hm?” – Maurice Ashley
Maurice Ashley made Chess history in 1999 by becoming the first African-American Chess player to achieve the Grandmaster title from FIDE.
Last Updated: July 10, 2022
Full name: Maurice Ashley
Born: March 6, 1966
Place of birth: St. Andrew, Jamaica
Maurice Ashley is a Grandmaster Chess player from Jamaica, now in the United States. Maurice Ashley is also the first African American to become a Grandmaster, achieving the title in 1999.
Maurice Ashley, a Grandmaster of Chess, was born in Jamaica in 1966. Maurice Ashley is the first African-American to hold the title of an international grandmaster of chess. In addition to being a national master, international master, and international grandmaster of chess, he has also coached various chess teams into national championships.
Style of Play
Top chess players have a deep insight into the game, and they view it differently from how most players do. In his journey to grandmaster, Maurice discovered the secret that he reveals in his Fritz-Trainer DVD. The primary secret of his success is by seeking flaws hidden in the opponent’s moves.
Ashley also notes that it is essential to control emotions under the intense pressure of the game. If the pressure is left unchecked, a player may lose the game due to uneasiness. Being a chess grandmaster, he employs pressure and other intriguing moves in many of his games to his advantage.
Achieving the highest title in the chess game is not a walk in the park. It is a progressive journey. Before becoming a teenager, his family emigrated from St Andrew, Jamaica, to Brooklyn. Under the influence of his elder brother, Maurice got into the game of chess. While in high school at Brooklyn Technical High School, he joined a local African-American group of chess enthusiasts called The Black Bear of Chess.
By the end of high school, Maurice was obsessed with being an international grandmaster of chess. Thus, he committed much of his time to pursue the dream. Afterward, his unceasing efforts granted him a chance to achieve the most eminent title.
Ashley diligently continued with his studies. He pursued English at the City College of New York. Even though he continued playing chess and by 1986, he became a national master of chess. A year after the impressive success, Ashley became the City College of New York captain and led the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship.
Furthermore, while in City College, he coached Harlem Junior High School’s, Raging Rooks. The team participated in the National Junior High School Championship in Dearborn, achieving a distinguished victory.
Ashley directed the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, Inc. in 1991. Besides, he led three teams to Scholastic National Championships, with three of his players winning individual championships. Afterward, Ashley achieved another milestone of becoming an international master of chess. He was thus the first-ever African-American to get such a ranking in US history. He also came top in Enhance International Chess Tournament, making him a champion in Marshall Chess Club Championship.
In the same year, Ashley coached Mott Hall Elementary Dark Knights Chess Team. Through his leadership, the team won two championships at the National levels for two years consecutively.
In 1995, Maurice Ashley was the commentator in the game between Annand and Kasparov, a world championship game. Besides, he also commentated on the famous Man vs. Machine in 1996.
After 1997, Ashley focused on cultivating his chess skills to become an international grandmaster in chess. He spent the following two years studying and playing international tournaments. His efforts and hard work paid off when he earned the international grandmaster of chess, a highly coveted title in chess.
The notable success secured a space for him in the record of over 800 chess champions worldwide. His success was featured in many publications globally, such as Sports Illustrated and the New York Times.
In the same year he attained his grand success, in 1999, Ashley returned to coaching, becoming the first director of the new Harlem Chess Center. He only offered chess classes for two years. However, Harlem Chess Center closed in 2002 due to a lack of funds.
Besides running the chess center, Ashley participated in competitions. For two consecutive years, he had successive wins, becoming the first at Foxwoods Open to achieve such a feat. Ashley finally became the year’s grandmaster in the US Chess Federation in 2003. Interestingly, one of Ashley’s top career wins was in 2002 in which he won against Larry Christiansen at the Foxwoods Open. Unfortunately, besides his success, he is now retired from active chess competitions.
Watch Maurice show this New York Hustler who the Boss is (this is the video where I got his quote at the top of the page from).
Ashley became a frequent chess commentator on TV and the internet, reporting on famous matches. He reported various games during his active years, including Garry Kasparov vs. Nigel Short’s World Championship match in 1993 and the Kasparov vs. IBM’s Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997.
Some of Ashley’s work include Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess, CD-ROM on chess. In 2005, Ashley wrote the autobiographical book titled: “Chess for Success,” which explains how chess has positively impacted the young generation.
Ashley is a top advocate for the positive impact of chess in personal growth and business endeavors. He thus offers his consultancy services to universities, chess clubs, and various corporations. Some of his clientele include IBM, UBS, Pinterest, Harvard, MIT, and Will Smith.
Maurice Ashley established the Maurice Ashley Foundation, through which he seeks to inspire young people. He uses an assortment of educational tools that include DVDs and books to educate.
Away From Chess
Besides practicing chess daily in the morning, Ashley engages in various exercises such as walking and cycling. He also meditates to calm his mind. Meditation also helps him to focus, increase his attention span, and improve his memory. Moreover, Ashley practices Aikido.
Maurice reads books related to chess more often. In addition, he also reads other books to increase his knowledge base. The motivation and knowledge he receives from the books help him to concentrate during the game.
Maurice Ashley’s life in chess has been a success due to his passion. His unceasing efforts paid bountifully. As any other person, he cultivated his desire through deliberate constructive actions. Besides, he invested much in training, discipline, and hard work. Any chess player can achieve the same results if they follow his example.
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