The Infectious Wisdom of Maurice Ashley

“Millionaire Chess” entrepreneur Maurice Ashley is again on the promotion circuit extolling the virtues of chess in a short segment titled, “The Infectious Wisdom of Maurice Ashley”. The five-minute video shows Ashley telling his story… a story that he has told one million times, but no two times appear to be the quite the same.

In this segment, he talks about the impact of chess on the lives of the youth. The segment includes one of Ashley’s former students, Charu Robinson who teaches at the Harlem Success Academy. Ashley actually walked onto the domain of a street hustler who was challenging pedestrians. The hustler did not know who he was. Well… the hustler got a chess lesson, but when Ashley talked about the encounter he talked about what he learned from the hustler. One can sense a tinge of emotion from Ashley as he told the story of the hustler. Very touching.

It is an interesting segment and again shows many of the multifaceted nature of chess. While most are fixated on every game of Magnus Carlsen, there are so many life stories that are missed. Ashley told his own… he told someone else’s… we were enriched twice.


Video from Daily Motion.

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

17 Comments

  1. Good clip! Very Well done! As a advocate of chess I suggest preparation for a chess eucation promotion push for 2016 Black History Month!

      1. Not sure of your issue but what I am trying to say is that many topics are discussed duirng Black History Month, why not a push to promte the historical success and achievment of African American in chess and promotion of chess education interest.

        1. I do that every February. This February I did a three-part history of Black chess, not just in the U.S., but in the Diaspora. We have a lot of contributions, I have never been in a position to tell the story. It will come once I’m able to finish my books.

  2. Maurice has done a lot for chess without question, but to say he is the best does beg for further explanation. Orrin, must have something to back up the statement. The greatest being who walked on Earth demonstrated that being the best is to sacrifice for one self to make situation better for everyone else. When we have a black GM who dedicate time to pass on what he learned along the way to become a GM and is willing to help a more talented youngster go beyond what he’s done, then we can start talking about being the best. If you didn’t pass on what is needed to know for those coming behind you so they don’t have to go through what you endured, you cannot be called the best. Maurice is a big time commentator, yet he has never mentioned the good thing our best black kids have done. We need black GM who will be political incorrect.

  3. You will here him put Kayden , Sevian next to god, bot wont asked , I wonder where Josh, Justus and James would be if they got the treatment those other kids got. Watch him and see if I am wrong. being the best takes balls.

  4. Guy,

    America traditionally has not had much of a system in grooming talent. Most of it is individual and parental effort. In all honesty, Josh, Justus and James have had a good number of opportunities… more than the average scholastic player. They have competed here and abroad, trained with GMs, received and competed in invitational tournaments and play in a very competitive New York environment with access to many strong players. I believe all have scholarships as well. Ninety-nine percent of scholastic players will not get those type of opportunities.

    With Maurice’s role, he has done very well in all facets… playing, coaching, writing, promoting, commentating and organizing. We simply need more people involved. Who else is doing any creating? Blacks aren’t doing a whole lot in chess and it can’t fall on him to do it all. How did he become a GM? He didn’t have any Black GMs before him, but had a circle of regular masters/non-masters and GMs outside the Black community (e.g., Kaidanov). Sometimes it will take working with peers.

    Maybe Josh, Justus and James need to work together more. Maybe they should work with other strong scholastic players. I’m not sure whether or not that is happening, but that is how Maurice did it. Maurice played in his first tournament at age 15 became a GM at 33! It was a hard road for him. The way Maurice did it cannot be done the same way now… totally different tools and methods now. Those seeking to be a GM also have to be students of chess history… studying the classic greats, their biographies and games. That will give insight on how it’s done. I’m not sure that is done much these days. I did an interview with Maurice back in 2002 called “The Mind of a Grandmaster“. It sheds light on that subject as well as many other interviews. Are they actually seeking this information? If so, tell them to listen to some of these interviews… especially the one with Maurice!

    As far as Maurice mentioning the Josh, Justus and James… to be honest Guy, we need to build our own vehicles of communication. That way we can say what we want, but we are not doing much. Everyone is doing social media which has good and bad points. Maurice has recently mentioned that a launch of a chess radio program. However, it’s Maurice again. No one else in our community is creating these type of platforms. No one else is doing anything. It can’t be just Maurice.

  5. Happy Sunday Drummers! The United States do have a system here for chess its just different from your traditional systems that many are used too attending around the world!In fact many Americans themselves arent clear about it becuz they dont see it down the street at some chess shop in N.Y.C. Where Kamsky,Maurice and Naka practice with each other at. How would u theorize fisher became ch. in 72? Im ULTRAMODERN so i dont buy their old theories sayin,He did it on his own, or all these Genius stories the traditionalist have been writin in their outdated books in the Library,so i went and competed with their gms on icc for 10 years 1998-2008 and they didnt teach me anthing, now in Buffalo chess circles they tellin me these traditional guys all of a sudden need 4hrs to play great or something,unreal. Oh Daaim hopefully ill be posting frequently on THE DRUM concernin an ULTRAMODERN view of chess,so we all can have something that we can SEE that another Black is doing in the world of chess aside from Mo, good point. lol oh thanks for clearin that thing up with Orrin,forgot some people express themselvesin that way! Did u see Ramirez with that COOKIE WIG sittin next to Mo? Is he a Louisian too? I thought he was wearin MO’S BUSH! hahaha and i told them so on chess.com, they say UM KTAZY!!! Deuces.

  6. Daaim,
    Without a doubt, Josh, Justus and James have had the opportunity to experience what many will never get a chance to enjoy. I am very thankful for it all. However, I do which many more kids would have the same opportunity to do the same. Let’s not forget, these opportunities stemmed from the media attention they had received from The chessdrum , New York Times and other news outlet. So it is extremely important for them to have a voice. I am not asking Maurice to do everything, God knows he has a lot on his plate. But when the opportunity affords itself when discussing the future of American chess, he should also include them in that circle. He is our top chess player, so when he speaks it means a lot for the kids in terms of inspiration. I believe the young kids who are becoming GMs at an amazingly fast pace are getting specialized training. They have said that without these trainings, they couldn’t have made it that far that swiftly. I think it’s good that we’re having these types of conversation because producing one or two GMs every 20 or so years begs for a change in strategy so we can start reversing that trend.

  7. Guy,

    Check out that interview with Maurice. I believe it will answer many of the questions that the young players may be seeking. It was my first interview for The Chess Drum and still one of the best in terms of content.

  8. I will Daaim, but slowly our best young hopes are slowly fading away. I don’t even hear much about Kassa, another Phenom. Pontus Carlsson talks about the importance of getting sponsorship, but that usually comes from good publicity. If it wasn’t for your website, they would only be local stars. To this day, there are still folks who have not heard of them. Who‘s really speaking or looking out for them? That’s one reason why we’re not seeing them play as much anymore. I don’t know about the other boys, but I know that if Gary had selected my son to be among the young stars, I would have went with home schooling, but unfortunately, for whatever reason, he was not chosen. BTW, if he had been with that select group, I believe he would have been a GM by now. I don’t have a platform, but if I did I would do my part to always keep them on the radar. We’ve seen a few other young talents who have worked hard to become Masters and that probably had a lot to do with them proving that if Josh, James and Justus could do it, so can they. That is exactly what we need! I am afraid that if the three boys and the other Masters stop playing chess, we will go back to the days when people started questioning our abilities to become IMS and GMS. They are being left behind where it really matters, like getting top GMS to work with them for hours. The kids you see making the headline are stacked with several GMs working many hours with them, so it’s no surprise that they’re becoming IMs and GMs. This is not my opinion, I’ve been told this personally. They need a strong voice to stand up and remind folks to also include them in their efforts to produce the next generation of top American IMs and GMS. I know Josh will continue to follow his dream. If he decides not to go to MIT and goes to Webster U, I am sure Suzan will look out for him, she likes him. No matter what he ultimately decides to pursuit, he does understand that getting a College Degree is not a choice. I am very glad to hear that Kassa is active. I wonder why he changed federation.

  9. Guy,

    Kassa recently played in the Danish Championships where he placed 3rd. I didn’t write about it because all the information was in Danish and he couldn’t direct me to an English site. He’s active, but he switched federation to Denmark.

    Just copy your text into a text file, correct it and re-post. I’ll replace the old with the new.

  10. Unfortunately, the success of our youth will only come when we pave the way as a community. There are all types of online options available for training. Many, many GMs (including Pontus Carlsson) are available for that. Simutowe is right in New York and could give advice.

    One of the regrettable instances of Maurice is that he effectively retired from competitive chess before he turned 40 because he had to expand his options for earning a living. The youth who are coming up have little to no memory of him as a player. Soon many of them will not have a memory of Tate, Morrison or Rogers. Many do not know Alfred Carlin and Stephen Muhammad. Many of the top brothers are not playing anymore, but I find that they must be sought out. These Drum Majors will not simply call up these young players and start trying to give them advice. The shame is despite the amount of information on this site about those players, the young brothers (far and wide) don’t seem to know these legendary players.

    When Dwight Howard wanted to work on his post-up moves, he called Hakeem Olajuwon. When Joakim Noah wanted to improve, he called Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Lebron James has made many phone calls to legends to pick their brains. Paul George actually called Lebron to mentor HIM… two players that are still active!! George was ridiculed for it since they are still opponents. Kobe picked Michael Jordan’s brain… and stole all his moves. 🙂 If that is the type of mentorship needed, the Young Lions have to actively seek it and be open-minded.

  11. Thanks for the valuable information Daaim. I have to say that things are starting to pick up for Josh. I just got an Invitation for an IM norm tournament for him from a GM in Texas. Unfortunately, he will be in Washington will the other two Js and most likely won’t be able to make it. But, that’s what we need, inclusion in these types of opportunities. I will continue to express my concerns until more opportunities like this become available to those of us who are qualified.. It’s all about giving us a chance to prove ourselves . We do have to work to get our community involve, but it’s a century old challenge that we seem unable to resolve. While we have to corroborate amongst ourselves, the fact is we do need the help other chess organization to help us reach the highest level.

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