Maurice Ashley breaks 3-year hiatus!

GM Maurice Ashley is known for many things in the chess world. It is not necessary to recount all of his feats since a simple Google search will yield hundreds of entries. The question is often asked of Ashley's whereabouts and those who follow chess will know about his projects in the past 3 years.

The HB Global Chess Challenge has become one of the most memorable tournaments in recent decades and Ashley's book, "Chess for Success" received rave reviews. Then there is his DVD project, "Speed Chess" and of course his speaking engagements.

However, none of these activities have taken up more time than the raising of his two children,
Nia, 12, and Jayden, 4. The answer to when Ashley will return to play was answered when he walked in the door of the Marshall Chess Club.

Maurice Ashley at HB Global Chess Challenge.

"I started my return to chess at the Thursday Nite G/30 event held August 3rd, 2006 at the Marshall Chess Club and run by Tournament Director Steve Immitt. Folks were fairly shocked to see my walk in the door, but most faces seemed happy to see me playing again. It was a bit strange because I felt so comfortable as soon as I sat down at the board. It felt almost like riding a bike."

Ashley tallied a 3-1 score including a win over long-time nemesis,
IM Jay Bonin. Ashley gives an overview of his performance;

I got into a tricky position against an Expert in Round 1, but eventually prevailed in mutual time pressure when he missed a win of a piece. In round 2, things were calmer when another Expert virtually offered me material in semi-wild complications. The rating system really favors the higher rated players since we can get paired down before having to wrestle the monsters. Then, in Round 3, I faced my old nemesis, IM Jay Bonin with Black. Even as a practicing GM I always had a hard time with Jay. Maybe I remember the days he used to pummel me before I got too tough and started biting back. Surprisingly, this game was easier than I could have hoped. Note the funky opening I played to get away from any well-trodden theoretical positions. (see game).

The board explodes after 18d5!

The board explodes after 18d5!

In my last game I lost to a rising high-school player FM Salvijus Bercys. Looking up his tournament history, it seems he plays every other day! His highest rating of 2497 is not far behind my current 2522, which means I was hardly even much of a favorite. I got a slight edge in the opening, but then the laziness and rust of not playing for so long caught up with me when I avoided unclear complications (my trademark) for a clear and easy position (which turned out to be not so clear and easy!). My young opponent defended very well and was quick to pounce when I made a tactical blunder (again unusual for me). He deserved to win in the end and tied for first with a perfect score. Note the name; he will be very good soon.

I still have some good moves left in me!
~GM Maurice Ashley~

So everyone can breath a sigh of relief. GM Ashley is back! Admittedly, it will take him some time to get back into form, Ashley can be seen on the ICC trying out his ideas for a pending comeback. His appearance will add a bit more intrigue to the chess scene. He adds the approachable demeanor that Grandmaster typically lack and this alone will draw more interest and even sponsors! Ashley has these closing words.

I can see it will take some time for me to get totally comfortable in the saddle. But it felt good to be looking at some variations with a clock ticking. Hopefully it won't take me nearly as long to play my next tournament; this one was really done almost on a whim. No, I think I will be back soon enough. I still have some good moves left in me!

Posted by The Chess Drum: 9 August 2005