Maurice Ashley

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For other people named Maurice Ashley, see Maurice Ashley (disambiguation).
Maurice Ashley
Maurice Ashley.jpg
Full name Maurice Ashley
Country United States
Born (1966-03-06) March 6, 1966 (age 49)
St. Andrew, Jamaica
Title Grandmaster
FIDE rating 2440 (March 2015)

Maurice Ashley (born March 6, 1966 in St. Andrew, Jamaica) is a chess grandmaster, author, commentator, app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. He is currently a Joint Fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard and the Media Lab at MIT. In the December 2013 rating lists, he had a FIDE rating of 2446, and a USCF rating of 2475 at standard chess, and 2481 at quick chess. In 1992, Ashley shared the United States Game/10 chess championship with Maxim Dlugy.[1] FIDE awarded him the grandmaster title in 1999. In 2005 he wrote the book Chess for Success, relating his experiences and the positive aspects of chess. He was the main organizer for the HB global chess event, with the biggest cash prize in history for an open chess tournament.

In 1993, Ashley married Michele Johnson. Their daughter Nia was born the following year and now attends Barnard College. Their son Jayden was born in 2002.

Ashley graduated from the College of the City of New York (CCNY), and represented the school in intercollegiate team competition. Always promoting chess among youth, Ashley coached the Raging Rooks of Harlem, and the Dark Knights (also from Harlem), both of which have won national championships under his guidance. In September 1999, he opened the Harlem Chess Center which has attracted such celebrities as Larry Johnson[2] and Wynton Marsalis. Ashley was named 2003 Grandmaster of the Year by the U.S. Chess Federation.

In 2003 Maurice Ashley wrote an essay The End of the Draw Offer?, which raised discussion about ways to avoid quick agreed draws in chess tournaments.

In 2007 Ashley returned to his birth country of Jamaica and became the first GM to ever participate in a tournament in that country. The tournament, a six round Swiss called the Frederick Cameron Open, was held at the Jamaica Conference center on the 15th and 16 December 2007. After sweeping a field consisting of several of Jamaica's top players and Barbadian FIDE master Philip Corbin, Ashley fell victim to a potential double attack in the final round to Jamaican National Master Jomo Pitterson. Ashley placed second on five points behind Pitterson (5.5).

In 2008, Ashley was featured in an interview for the CNN documentary Black in America. He was shown during one scene in the film Brooklyn Castle mentoring a young chess player.

In 2013, Ashley announced he was planning the highest-stakes open chess tournament in history, Millionaire Chess Open. Its first edition took place October 9–13, 2014 in Las Vegas.


  • "African continent GMs do exist; but, according to the system of racial classification, I am the first Black GM in history... it matters, and doesn't matter, all at the same time."[3]


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