90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, January 6, 2012

The First African-American Grand Master Of Chess

Chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley, center, consults with Ailinne Espinoza, 13, left, and Alexis Hernandez, 13, at New York's Mott Hall Middle School. (AP)

There are only about a thousand grand masters of chess in the world and only one of them is African-American: Maurice Ashley.

He wasn’t even good enough to make his high school chess team. But he studied hard and became a master when he was 20, then, 14 years later– a grand master– a ranking just short of world champion.

He’s 45 now and Maurice Ashley has made chess his life. He travels the world bringing chess to kids who might not otherwise be aware of it, often playing…and winning! against an entire room of young hopefuls lined up before him at their chessboards.

Some of the upstarts he may have to keep an eye on: three young African-American New Yorkers who recently became masters before their 13th birthdays!!

Guest:

  • Maurice Ashley, chess grand master

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    Hold on, are you saying Grand Master Flash wasn’t African American?

  • Egarci11

    Dave Eger, Grandmaster Flash is a musician, not a chess player

  • Riviera Ratt

    Dave: Good one! Especially since you hooked at least one humor-impaired guppy.

  • Roderickgorby

    Rob Flynn ‎”A ranking just short of world champion” – that’s a bit misleading lmao.12 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1Roderick Gorby she says “you play 30 people at once?!?” He explains “it’s called a simultaneous exhibition” jazz do some research, Robin!8 minutes ago · Like ·  1Rob Flynn Reading non-chess players discuss chess always makes me sad.6 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1Roderick Gorby yup! it’s like she was thinking “you mean this has happened often enough that there’s an actual word (read “expression”) for it?!?” :05 minutes ago · LikeRoderick Gorby dude, we totally have to comment on the npr page… they need to know how dumb they sound4 minutes ago · LikeRoderick Gorby wow! si-mul-ta-ne-ous-e-xhi-bi-tion?!? That’s like 9 syllables. Is that really necessary?2 minutes ago · Like ·  1Rob Flynn Dave Eger commented: Hold on, are you saying Grand Master2 minutes ago · LikeRob Flynn Dave Eger commented: Hold on, are you saying that Grand Master Flash wasn’t African American?about a minute ago · LikeRoderick Gorby I’m pretty sure she had that in her notesabout a minute ago · Like ·  1Roderick Gorby they just ran out of timeabout a minute ago · Like

  • Simonfilosofi

    There are only around 1000 GM’s in the world, yet still the writer seems to believe that being one almost equals being world champion – fail!

  • ami

    i remember him going to p.s.26 playing chess. when his wife ms.ashley was the principle

  • Me

    LOL i love this guy he’s my schools chess teacher atm :D

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 27 Comment

Veteran Honored, But Struggles To Keep Business Open

Former Marine Matt Victoriano is being recognized as a "Champion of Change" at the White House.

August 27 40 Comments

In Defense Of Schlock Music: Why We Love/Hate It

Music critic Jody Rosen defends the kind of over-the-top, sentimental songs that Journey, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel and Prince made famous.

August 26 8 Comments

It’s Not Business As Usual In Ferguson, Missouri

From barber shops to bike shops, WBUR's Deborah Becker looks at what the protests have meant for businesses.

August 26 95 Comments

A Fan Says No To Football

Steve Almond writes, "our allegiance to football legitimizes and ever fosters within us a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and even homophobia."