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Maurice Ashley is one of a kind. Through his love for chess, he not only made history as the first African-American Grandmaster in the annals of the game but he has managed to translate this passion to others as a three-time national championship coach, author, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor and inspirational speaker.
A native of Jamaica who moved to New York at the age of twelve, Maurice didn’t learn his craft in a secluded sanctuary of privilege. Rather he honed his game on the stone tables of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in the rough and tumble 1980s. He relentlessly chased the lessons of victory and defeat in the Black Bear School of Chess, where he learned from trap setters, speed players and trash talkers who were also serious students of the game.
As a result of this untraditional mentorship and by pushing the limits of his potential, Maurice unlocked the power of the human mind to win his way to achieve the highest honor in chess. In March of 1999, he beat Romania’s Adrian Negulescu to complete the requirements for the Grandmaster title. Later that year, he founded the Harlem Chess Center. In 2003, he was named Grandmaster of the Year by the US Chess Federation and was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in 2016.
Maurice is also well known for providing dynamic live tournament coverage of world-class chess competitions and matches. His high-energy, unapologetic, and irreverent commentary combines Brooklyn street smarts with professional ESPN-style sports analysis. He has covered every class of elite event, including the World Chess Championships, the US Chess Championships, the Grand Chess Tour, and the legendary “man vs. machine” matches between Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue.
Maurice travels the world as an ardent spokesperson of the many character-building effects of chess, consulting with organizations and executives on how chess principles and strategies can be applied to improve business practices and assist in personal and professional development.
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