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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

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

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