Alphas host GM Ashley in Cleveland

Founding Jewels of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., known for its instincts for being originators and being first to serve and lead in its communities has done it again. The pre-community services activities of the second annual Cleveland Scholastic Open, a chess tournament designed to attract the interest of non-scholastic chess players and provide meaningful competition to more experience scholastic chess players featured the skillful presentation of International Grandmaster of chess, “Mr. Maurice Ashley” the first and only African-American Grandmaster.

International Grandmaster Maurice Ashley and
Tony Dunlap of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

GM Ashley is known as the “Tiger Woods” of chess, his presentation skills and personality was displayed in Cleveland last week as he entertained and interacted with Cleveland youth at Cuyahoga Community College Metro campus and Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s John F. Kennedy and Max Hayes\New Tech schools. His story had little to do with his chess accomplishments and more to do with being successful in whatever your dream is. He challenged the students to develop their own story and dream. His message was dream your own dream and dream “BIG”.

It was important for Alpha to have someone of GM Ashley’s status to speak to the youth in our community, he is a living Icon of “Black History” says, Tony Dunlap, Area Director of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. How often does one get a change to listen to or talk to someone of a historical nature? Our youth need to see positive role models and GM Ashley fits that role and we need to continue to tell them how important they are and that if they can dream it, they can achieve it. That’s a message that they can’t hear enough of.

A major hit with the students and adults at each visit was GM Ashley’s computer application “Learn Chess with Maurice Ashley”. GM Ashley demonstrated one of the activities in the application name “Pawn Mower” a unique and challenging chess puzzle that everyone in the room enjoyed. To enjoy the chess puzzle you don’t need to know how to play chess; however, you learned the basic rules of chess as you played. If you already play chess, solving the puzzles improves your game.

Returning to Cuyahoga Community College Metro campus GM Ashley displayed his talents in chess by participating in a simultaneous chess exhibition. An exhibition where he took on 18 challengers in a game of chess at the same time, it was exciting watching GM Ashley swiftly move from board to board, player to player making move after move. As the night wore on challenger by challenger fell in defeat and after about 4 hours after the start of the “Simul” if was over GM Ashley had survived those that came out to have the opportunity to brag about defeating a Grandmaster.

GM Ashley giving simul in Cleveland.

GM Maurice Ashley giving an 18-board simul.

While no challenger left being able to say he had defeated GM Ashley one young man Kent Lui, 10th grader, Mayfield High School was able to get a draw (a tied game). GM Ashley had stated that, “Had he lost a game he would have been in a bad mood the rest of his visit in Cleveland.

Finally the main event, on Saturday October 26th, Cleveland State University “The 2nd Annual Cleveland Scholastic Open” was held featuring 139 registered students from kindergarten to collegiate age as participants in seven sections. Door prizes include several chess movie DVD’s, free entry into the Ohio Grade Level State Championships, chess sets and clocks.

GM Ashley giving simul in Cleveland.

Destynn Keuchel, 4th grader (left), Hudson Montessori School playing Ethan Feldman, 3rd grader (right), Solon Parkside Elementary

The awards included trophies, Kindle Fire HDs, Google Nexus Tablets, $600 cash prize, colleges scholarship opportunities from; the University of Akron, Alabama A&M University and Cleveland Hampton University Alumni and an opportunity for a job internship with GE Lighting.

Each participant played five games or rounds of chess and was afforded the rare opportunity of getting chess tips, short lessons and interacting with GM Ashley in between rounds. All in all it was a fabulous fun filled day for those that attended.

GM Ashley giving simul in Cleveland.

Clarence McElrath, President of Delta Lambda Chapter, GM Ashley, Trey Modlin, Monyka Price, Chief of Education of the City of Cleveland and Alpha Brother Ken Hale.

Alpha acknowledged Charles “Trey” Modlin III with the first “Cleveland Scholastic Chess Award” for his outstanding merits in academics, sports, music, scholastic chess and being a positive your role model for other youth. Modlin a graduate of Shaker Heights high school is currently a sophomore at Texas Tech University and captain of its chess team.

GM Ashley giving simul in Cleveland.

GM Ashley with 1st Place Rated, 9-12 Winner, Joel Jaffe, Trophy & Google Nexus Tablet, plus an opportunity to select a college scholarship.

GM Ashley giving simul in Cleveland.

GM Ashley with 1st Place Rated, 5-8 Winner, Solon Middle School (Nell Mehta, Tony Zhang, Jasen Lai, Steven Zhou, Alan Fu Liu, and Jessie Kasper)

GM Ashley with 1st Place Collegiate Winner, Jonathan Clinton, Opportunity for Job Internship with GE Lighting.

The tournament was unique in the fact that no other scholastic event has offered the type award opportunities of multiple scholarships from different institutions and opportunities of employment. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Alpha Lambda Chapter is proud to be able to provide such a service to the Cleveland community and northeast Ohio. What we are most proud of is how the community, fraternity brothers and sponsors came together to make this chess tournament valuable to kids, Says Dunlap. We can’t say enough about our sponsors or say thank you enough to Cuyahoga Community College, RPM Inc. and the McDonalds Northeast Ohio Owners/Operators Association. Next year’s goal is to provide more scholarships and internship opportunities.

GM Ashley giving simul in Cleveland.

With food donated by Susan & Angelo Stames owners of McDonald’s on 3211 Clark Avenue and a few pizzas from Rascal House, Alpha Phi Alpha was able to feed all participants and their guests.

The social impact of the tournament to CSU, the communities in Cleveland, northeast Ohio and participants is priceless. The participants were from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds and the competition by providing scholarships and job internships added to the intellectual empowerment of the students. But the major success of the event is summed up in one word “FUN” and that’s all kids care about. We hope to have more participants next year on October 25, 2014 for the 3rd annual Cleveland Scholastic Open.

~Story and photos submitted by Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc., The Delta Alpha Lambda Chapter.


  1. I think it should also be noted that the winner of the collegiate section, 16 year old Jonathon Clinton, earned a full 4 year scholarship to Case Western Reserve University last year and is currently a full time student there.

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