Ashley chillin' with Minnesota Chess Mavens!

Adjacent to Lake Superior, Minnesota is a place known for fishing, it professional sports and of course… its bone-chilling winters! It gets so cold that the capitol of Minneapolis has connected buildings with tunnels and overpasses so workers will not have to endure the bitter winter cold.

GM Maurice Ashley is a native of the sunny island of Jamaica, but the Brooklyn resident braved the cold to put on an 20-board exhibition on February 22nd during the AmericInn National Youth Chess Tournament. GM Ashley serves as the spokesman for the organization.

The beautiful lakeside of Minneapolis.

The lakeside beauty of Minnesota

Peg Meier wrote an article in the Star Tribune aptly titled "The Tiger Woods of Chess comes to Town."  This article is not the run-of-the-mill story about GM Ashley, but it goes into further detail about his background. For instance, the article stated that upon arriving from Jamaica, young Maurice expected America "to offer him streets paved with gold and a penthouse with a pool, or at least a lifestyle like TV's 'Partridge Family'." While this may seem ludicrous, it is the vision that many immigrants have of America before settling. 

As for the article's title, there are those who scoff at the Tiger Woods-Maurice Ashley analogy, but there are obvious connections in their respective feats and accomplishments. Ashley's presence has piqued the interest of a wider spectrum of players and essentially breathed new life into chess (as the Williams sisters have done with tennis and Tiger with golf). In fact, it was Tiger's incredible performance in the 1997 Masters that reinvigorated Ashley's confidence.

"It was that Sunday in April, watching Tiger realize his dream [at the 1997 Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga.], that convinced me that I needed to change my life and go chase mine. . . . He showed that a person of color could excel at anything."

Tiger Woods classic performance at The Masters.

One respondent on questioned why Ashley needed inspiration from Tiger Woods to excel. Either this person has not read the article carefully or cannot appreciate the obstacles which have faced Black pioneers in America's sports history… or in contemporary life for that matter.

Meier, Peg, "The Tiger Woods of Chess comes to Town," Star Tribune (Minneapolis), 22 February 2003.

Read Internet posts on article at Free

Posted by The Chess Drum: 26 February 2003

GM Maurice Ashley on the cover of the May 1999 U.S. Chess Life. Copyright © 2001, United States Chess Federation.