Ashley in Martinique – GM bearing gifts

by ChessBase
11/23/2011 – In 1999 Maurice Ashley was the first African-American to attain the coveted title of International Grandmaster of Chess, and he has become an ambassador of the game, especially in the Caribbean area. Recently he embarked on a Caribbean Chess Tour, where his first stop was Martinique. He motivated local school children with simultaneous games and gifts from the ChessBase shop.

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Caribbean Chess Tour – Martinique

By GM Maurice Ashley

The first stop on my Caribbean chess tour was the beautiful island of Martinique in the eastern Caribbean. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union with the Euro as its currency. Nicknamed "L'île de fleurs" (Island of Flowers), Martinique has natural beauty which is matched only by the warmth of its people. After imbibing copious amounts of tropical juices and eating deliciously grilled spiced fish, one can easily and often enjoy one of the many gorgeous beaches that the locals seem to take for granted.

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The beach and the Caribbean on the island of Martinique

The tropical forest that covers the island

I was there at the behest of La Ligue d'Echecs and its president, Madame Danielle Boriel. In recent years, the League has been pushing hard to get chess into the curriculum of schools all around the island. As is typical in these places, selling chess is a difficult proposition, but they have managed to install themselves in quite a few schools nevertheless. My simple wish for Martinique (and for the other islands on my tour) was to give something of a boost to the efforts of each federation by speaking to principals, teachers, children, politicians, press, and whoever else would listen. Though two days was not a lot of time, it was definitely a nice start.

A principal and her school

Two amazing women: Madame Danielle Boriel with the principal of the school

One of the most memorable moments of my visit was the very first morning at a school called Maîtrise de la Cathédrale, a private school in the center of the capital city, Fort de France. The school is designed in an atrium style with a modest courtyard in the middle and a statue of the Virgin Mary at one end. Upon my arrival, all three floors of students exited their classrooms, and, with me in the courtyard below looking up at this majestic sight of hundreds of children, welcomed me in song. It was a very touching moment I will never forget.

What was even more impressive is that every single one of those singers is a chess player! Chess is obligatory in kindergarten, and chess continues to be a part of their curriculum in every grade after that. How many schools in the US and other countries can make that boast? Of course, it was only one school of many with a principal who has seen the benefits of the game on her students, but it is also a sign of the potential to expand chess on the entire island.

Playing a simul against the students of the Maîtrise de la Cathédrale school

Students with their ChessBase gifts: Ashley training DVDs, Fritz 13 (!), ChessBase 11

When I wasn't visiting a school, the better part of my time was spent at La Maison de Sport (!), where I trained teachers and talented students on how to use software generously donated by ChessBase. While the overall chess strength of the best players is still modest, the energy and passion for the game are evident. While I believe that teaching chess is really about developing human potential, it's also nice to see that there were some young enthusiastic fans who wanted to learn the secrets to become masters and beyond. It would be a blessing for chess if, in a few years, we were to see a major talent emerge from this little piece of paradise.

Watch this little girl – in a few years she will be playing internationally

In the office of Aimé Fernand David Césaire, late writer, philosopher
and politician who was Martinique's most famous citizen.

Doing an interview with the local TV station

Recent DVD by Maurice Ashley

Many times, when a top player blunders, it is routinely described by the esoteric term “chess blindness“. In this series What Grandmasters Don't See, chess trainer and worldclass commentator Maurice Ashley strips away the myth and for the first time explains why the root of these mistakes is more often based in the psychology of human learning.

In this DVD, Volume 2 of the three part series, Ashley shows that no other standard tactical theme is more over-rated, overlooked and misunderstood than the Discovered Attack. In each example, Ashley illustrates how often players are confused by discovered attacks because the examples in the majority of chess books are poorly chosen to show how this important tactical idea really works in most practical games.

In the first half of the DVD, Ashley uses interesting and entertaining positions to explain the points in his trademark effervescent style. The second half of the DVD is filled with examples to test what you have learned about discovered attacks, with a series of exercises of increasing difficulty. The material is drawn both from classic and from recent games. Video running time: 3 hours 36 minutes.

Order it here

Sample video

Some previous ChessBase articles on Maurice Ashley

Maurice Ashley: What Grandmasters Don't See
21.10.2011 – "Maurice Ashley scores again as favorite teacher with this DVD," writes Steven Dowd. "Ashley teaches with a entertainingly fast pace, is quick to crack a good joke, and simply relates well to the audience. If there really were a ChessBase University, Ashley would be a candidate for teacher of the year, and would be my hands-down choice to win." Review in Chess Cafe.
Maurice Ashley rounds up Bilbao today!
08.10.2011 – This afternoon from New York, at 4 PM EST and 10 PM Paris, the dynamic and popular commentator GM Maurice Ashley will be the guest host of the Bilbao round up show on Playchess, where he will not only summarize the action of the day, but he will also take questions from the spectators. This show is free for Premium subscribers so consider upgrading if you haven't already. Don't miss it!
Belize: painted faces and chess on stilts
30.06.2011 – The Central American nation, south of Mexico, has a population of just 333,000. But in this country, with its spectacular abundance of terrestrial and marine species, chess has become a national passtime. Last May the best players from each district throughout Belize met for what they call a "Chess Olympiad". A special guest at the event, GM Maurice Ashley, sent us this beautiful pictorial report.
Final round in Monaco starts at 12:30 p.m.
24.03.2011 – We don't want you to miss a minute of it: so for your information on the final day of the 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament play begins two hours earlier than usual – at 12:30 p.m. CET instead of 14:30. While you are waiting, or in the pauses between the games, you might want to watch commentary by GMs Maurice Ashley and Daniel King in previous rounds. All on Playchess.
Ashley: 'Chess is intellectual karate!'
16.11.2010 – Maurice Ashley is a US grandmaster, commentator and teacher, one of the best in the world. He is also the author of one of our most popular Fritz Trainers ("Aikido chess"). In a remarkable 24-minute "Big Think" interview – of the very highest technical quality, we may add – Maurice gives us insights into his career and his chess thinking. Very revealing, very entertaining – must watch.
Ashley’s Secret: Aikido Chess!
20.10.2010 – American GM Maurice Ashley is one of the games premier commentators. He has authored books, traveled the world promoting the virtues of chess and has recently released a DVD in partnership with ChessBase. It offers a new and general strategy: look for what your opponents last move did that actually hurt his position. Review by Michael Jeffreys.
Maurice Ashley: The Secret to Chess
08.10.2010 – Since going into a self-imposed hiatus from tournament chess, GM Maurice Ashley has not rested on his laurels as arguably one of the game's premier commentators. He has authored a couple of books, traveled the world promoting the virtues of chess and has recently released another DVD in partnership with ChessBase. Review in Chess Drum.
Magnus pounds The World in RAW Chess Challenge
12.09.2010 – It was the chess spectacle of the year. Tens of thousands of spectators joined three strong grandmasters to play the world's highest ranked player Magnus Carlsen. The event took place in a penthouse overlooking New York City, with GMs Maurice Ashley and Garry Kasparov commenting, and Hollywood actress Liv Tyler dropping in. We bring you pictures and the annotated game.
Maurice Ashley: The Secret to Chess
02.09.2010 – This is one you really do not want to miss. Star international trainer and commentator Maurice Ashley reveals a secret he discovered on his way to becoming a chess grandmaster. It is a simple idea that anyone can understand – something that you can use immediately to improve your game. Maurice's entertaining style and great clarity make this a first class DVD. Here's a sample lesson.
Ashley on CNN: 'I just knew I would be a great chess player'
10.07.2008 – Maurice Ashley is the first black chess grandmaster in history. He is also one of the games finest ambassadors, an ardent spokesman and advocate of the intellectual and character building effects in young people for over 15 years. In a short CNN report, part of the series on "Black in America", he speaks about the driving forces in his life and his career. We bring you Maurice unsquished.
Maurice Ashley on Hip Hop, GZA and Will Smith
08.07.2006 – He is the first black grandmaster in history, and also an extraordinary chess teacher, an organiser and a friend of the stars. In this indepth interview by Adisa Banjoko, the "Bishop of Hip Hop", Maurice Ashley tells about his life, his likes and his encounters with GZA and Will Smith. Fascinating stuff.


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