Ashley on Black Bear School of Chess

Maurice Ashley and William Morrison. . . the #1 and #2 'Black Bears'. Copyright © 1996, Jerome Bibuld.

Maurice Ashley and William Morrison. . . the #1 and #2 ‘Black Bears’.
Copyright © 1996, Jerome Bibuld.

GM Maurice Ashley was recently featured The Moth Radio Hour in a very interesting story about his rise in the Black Bear School of Chess. This is not the normal Ashley story about being born in Jamaica in 1966 and learning chess after taking a beating from a friend. No… that’s the old story. This story was far more personal and only delivered in a way that Ashley himself could have delivered it.

The story is an intriguing account of his first encounters with the Black Bear School of Chess in Mount Prospect Park. Ashley was 19 at the time and was enamored by park’s gritty scene… a kind of arena likened to and no less competitive than the hard scrabble basketball courts dotting New York. Like the basketball legends, chess player also had nicknames. He would learn of the legend of William “Exterminator” Morrison, but the main focus was on the legendary Black Bear, George “The Firebreather” Golden.

It is one of those stories for the archives and is one of those stories that can easily become a new tradition in chess… personal accounts of one’s pivotal moments in chess. In fact, perhaps we should collect such stories since many of us have colorful tales! 🙂

Enjoy the story!

Listen to Slaying King George


  1. Dear Dr. Shabazz,
    My name is Peter Maragh who lives in New York City for the last 25 years. I am from Jamaica, West Indies.
    I would like with you and Maurice help to me setup a Chess Club for my High School, Vere Technical High School, Hayes, Clarendon, Jamaica, WI.
    Thanks in advance for any Help you can offer.

    Peter Maragh
    C 917-847-2940
    H 718-217-7071

    1. You may be better off contacting the chess community there in Jamaica. There are several people including Peter Myers in Clarendon who can help out. Reach out to him at Peter Myers at chessclarendon

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