Ashley on CNN: 'I just <em>knew</em> I would be a great chess player'

7/10/2008 – 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.

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GM Maurice Ashley on CNN

"I did not convince myself that I would be a great chess player – I just knew I would be a great chess player. I was obsessed, I was hooked, I wanted to do it all the time. For me once I set my mind to something I am just like a bull, I'm going to break through no matter what it is."

"I don't ever think, for one second, that being African-American is an impediment. Not even slightly. You just do what you want to do in life."

"My family is ridiculously competitive. My brother is a world champion kick boxer, my sister is a world champion boxer. I tell kids all the time: losing is learning, it's just part of the process. You never fail, there is no such thing as failure. Failure is only when you don't get up and try again."

Note that CNN is currently trying to migrate to 16x9 HD, and they sometimes simply stretch material shot in 4x3 to this format, as they apparently did in the Ashley interview, giving it the squished look. This is probably what the original looked like – it is certainly what Maurice looks like in real life:


Maurice Ashley unsquished



The first black grandmaster in history

Maurice Ashley made history when he became the first African-American to attain the coveted title of International Grandmaster of Chess in 1999. He has been an ardent spokesman and advocate of the intellectual and character building effects in young people for over 15 years. GM Ashley is the world’s premier and live chess commentator for ESPN. He is a renowned speaker and consultant who has spoken to several universities and professional organizations nationally.

GM Ashley has received multiple community service awards from city governments, universities, and non-profit groups for his work. His book, Chess for Success (2005, published by Broadway Books), crystallizes his vision of using chess to help at-risk youth. GM Ashley (2007) signed a deal with HBO to make a movie about his Harlem team's victory at the National Junior High School Championships.


Maurice Ashley – the early days

Maurice Ashley's media coverage on becoming 1st African-American International Grandmaster includes Time magazine, USA Today, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, London Times, Ebony, Investor's Business Daily, New York Daily News, Jet, New York Newsday, New York Post, Emerge, and a host of other papers around the world served by the Associated Press and Reuters.

He has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, CBS News This Morning, National Public Radio, Today New York (W-NBC), CNN, Bloomberg Radio, and a number of radio shows around the U.S.

He served as commentator for the IBM Kasparov vs. Deep Blue rematch (1997), 1996 Man vs. Machine match (Kasparov vs. Deep Blue), and other world championship matches.


Anchoring an ESPN show with Garry Kasparov

GM Ashley was coach of the Raging Rooks (J.H.S. 43) of Harlem, winners of the National Junior High School Championships (1991) ; and also coach of the Dark Knights (also from Harlem), two time National Champions (1994 and 1995) in the Junior Varsity Division and was the head of the Dark Knights program as they continued to win six National Championship titles.

Maurice Ashley was named 2003 Grandmaster of the Year by the U.S. Chess Federation. Maurice makes appearances all over the country speaking to young people and adults about chess and its benefits.


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