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Maurice Ashley

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Information about Maurice Ashley

Profile image of Maurice Ashley

Profession

Category:
SportsMakers
Occupation(s):
Chess Grandmaster

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Ackee, Saltfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Iceland
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/6/1966
Birth Location:
St. Andrews,

Profession

Category:
SportsMakers
Occupation(s):
Chess Grandmaster

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Ackee, Saltfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Iceland
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/6/1966
Birth Location:
St. Andrews
See how Maurice Ashley is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

International Grandmaster of Chess Maurice Ashley was born on March 6, 1966, in St. Andrew, Jamaica. When Ashley was twelve years old he moved with his family moved to the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. With instruction from his older brother, Ashley began to play chess. During his high school years at Brooklyn Tech in the early 1980s, Ashley failed to make the chess team, but despite this setback, he resolved to compete in local tournaments. Ashley joined the Black Bear School of Chess, a local group of African American chess enthusiasts from Brooklyn, and by the time he graduated from high school in 1984, Ashley had determined to attain the highest possible chess player ranking of Grandmaster.

Within two years, Ashley had become a National Master; he also became the captain of the City College of New York’s chess team, which competed in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship in 1987. Ashley studied English in college, and in his free time coached the Raging Rooks chess team at Harlem’s Junior High School #43. In 1991, at the age of twenty-five, Ashley led the Rooks to victory in the National Junior High School Championships in Dearborn, Michigan. Eventually Ashley would lead the Rooks to a total of two state championships and one national championship.

In 1991 Ashley became the Harlem Educational Activities Fund’s chess director after realizing how much he enjoyed coaching the game. Two years later Ashley became an International Master of Chess, the first African American in U.S. history to obtain this ranking; he also finished in first place at the esteemed Enhance International Chess Tournament and became champion of Manhattan’s Marshall Chess Club Championship. 1993 also marked Ashley’s first year as coach of Mott Hall Elementary’s Dark Knights Chess Team, a group that would go on to win two consecutive championships on the national level.

In 1995 Ashley’s daughter Nia was born; that same year Ashley became a commentator for the World Championship between Kasparov and Anand. In 1996, Ashley would serve as a commentator for Kasparov’s legendary Man vs. Machine match against the computer Deep Blue. The following year, Ashley left his coaching work to focus his efforts on becoming an International Grand Master of Chess.

At age thirty-three, Ashley became the first African American to attain the rank of International Grand Master of Chess in 1999, joining a list of approximately 800 chess players worldwide to have obtained the title. This achievement was reported in a variety of publications across the globe, including The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. That September, Ashley opened the Harlem Chess Center, which offered classes and computer chess training. In 2000 and 2001, Ashley became the first consecutive winner at the Foxwoods Open, and in 2003 Ashley became the U.S. Chess Federation’s Grandmaster of the Year. Ashley runs the Maurice Ashley Foundation, an organization which he hopes will establish chess as a significant tool for developing young people’s educational growth. In addition to his work with the Foundation, Ashley has produced an assortment of educational tools to spread his message about the positive benefits of chess; these include the book Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens, the DVD Speed Chess, and the CD ROM Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess.

See how Maurice Ashley is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maurice Ashley's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley describes his maternal grandmother, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes his maternal grandmother, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley talks about American immigration policy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley remembers his mother's immigration to the United States
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley remembers his upbringing in Kingston, Jamaica
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley remembers his mother's visits
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley remembers playing Jamaican board games
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley remembers Seaward Primary and Junior High School in Kingston, Jamaica
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley describes his early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley recalls the Wolmer's Trust High School for Boys in Kingston, Jamaica
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley remembers moving to the United States
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley recalls his arrival in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley recalls his arrival in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Maurice Ashley remembers the crime in the Brownsville community of Brooklyn, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Maurice Ashley talks about his older brother
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley remembers the political violence in Jamaica
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley talks about the drug related violence in Brooklyn, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley remembers Arthur S. Somers Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley talks about the Jamaican and American educational systems
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley remembers Arthur S. Somers Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley remembers adjusting to American culture
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley recalls the chess club at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley remembers his aspiration to play professional chess
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley recalls joining the Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley remembers his introduction to the Black Bear School of Chess
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley describes the history of the Black Bear School of Chess, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes the history of the Black Bear School of Chess, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley remembers the players at the Black Bear School of Chess
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley recalls his introduction to chess tournaments
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley remembers his college education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley describes the development of his skills at chess
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley remembers coaching the Raging Rooks chess team
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley describes his students' experiences of racism at chess tournaments
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon his experiences as a chess coach
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley recalls coaching the Raging Rooks at J.H.S. 43 in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley remembers his conflict with the American Chess Foundation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley talks about his formal chess training
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley remembers the Dark Knights chess team at Mott Hall School in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley describes his motivation for coaching chess
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley remembers becoming an international chess master
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley describes the racial discrimination in the professional chess community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley describes the racial discrimination in the professional chess community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley describes his challenges as a parent
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley describes his method for teaching chess
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley recalls his start as a chess commentator
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley recalls becoming an international grandmaster of chess, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley recalls becoming an international grandmaster of chess, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley remembers celebrating his international grandmaster title
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley talks about inspirational African Americans
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley describes his hopes for young chess players, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley describes his hopes for young chess players, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley talks about his fellow black international grandmasters of chess
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes his plans for the future
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon the game of chess, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon the game of chess, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley describes his career as a chess commentator
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley describes the intellectual aspects of chess, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley describes the intellectual aspects of chess, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley talks about playing chess on the Internet
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley describes his book, 'Chess for Success'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley talks about his CD-ROM, 'Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley talks about the professional chess community
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes the opportunities for African American chess players
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon his legacy