Maurice Ashley is a Jamaican-American grandmaster and author who is the first African American to earn the grandmaster title in 1999.
He was born on March 6, 1966, in Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica.
Ashley moved with his family to the US in the late 70s.
Maurice grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn.
Ashley went to Brooklyn Technical High School.
”I fell in love with chess at 14 years old at Brooklyn Technical High School after a friend demolished me in a game,” Maurice told ChessBase in 2014. He added: ”I really knew nothing, not even Scholar’s Mate.”
During high school, he failed to make the chess team. Later, Maurice became a protégé of The Black Bear School, a group of street chess players.
From 1991 to 1997, he served as the chess director of the Harlem Educational Activities Fund.
In 1992, he reached the first spot at the US Game/10 chess championship with GM Maxim Dlugy.
In 1993, Ashley became an International Master of Chess. Also in 1993, he was a TV chess commentator at a match between Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short.
In 1999, Maurice became the first Black person to achieve the title of grandmaster.
”I was 33 years old when I became a grandmaster, which in chess now I might as well be geriatric,” Ashley said in an interview with BigThink in October 2010. ”I mean chess grandmasters are springing up now at 15, 16, 17.”
In 2002, he won the Foxwoods Open after beating GM Larry Christiansen in the final.
In 2003, Maurice was named Grandmaster of the Year by the US Chess Federation.
In 2005, he penned ”Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens.”
In 2012, Ashley was featured in the documentary – ”OnePeople: The Celebration.”
In 2014, he was one of the driving forces behind the Millionaire Chess tournament. GM Wesley So took the first prize of $100k, the largest in the history of open tournaments. The starting fee was $1,000, and nearly 600 players signed up.
”Being an organizer is like being the parents of a family of 20 children,” Ashley said. He went on to say: ”It’s a lot of fun until they all have to go the bathroom at the same time!”
In 2015, Maurice announced a program that supports after-school chess in the schools in the Saint Louis area.
In April 2016, Ashley became the first black person to be inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis.
In 2017, Maurice made a guest appearance as Hustler in one episode of the TV series Billions.
In 2018, Ashley was inducted into the Brooklyn Technical High School Hall of Fame.
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Maurice Ashley married Michele Ashley-Johnson in 1993.
The two divorced in 2014.
Ashley has two children with Michele, daughter Nia and son Jayden.
”A lot of what we do really comes down to the motivation to do it.”
”There is nothing like saying checkmate. I mean, that is a magical sound wherever you are.”
”Chess teaches the importance of strategic thinking and pushes the limits of intellect – not just in the game, but in life.”
”It’s an inexpensive way of teaching your children lifelong skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.”
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Maurice Ashley – Net Worth
Ashley earned most of his wealth from participating in chess tournaments, serving as a commentator for ESPN, and sponsors.
In 2020, Maurice collaborated with Hennessy at the company’s Wild Rabbit advertising campaign.
Starting in 2020, Ashley streams on Twitch.
In March 2021, he released a line of merch featuring mugs, T-shirts, and hats personalized with his signature catchphrases.
He’s the author of Chess for Success and The Most Valuable Skills in Chess. Therefore, chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley has an estimated net worth of $1 million.
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