How a Chess Grandmaster Is Breaking Barriers to Expand the Audience for His Game
Maurice Ashley has a lot riding on his shoulders.
His chess game has always reflected his clarity and his passion, but his belief in the transformative power of chess has been the motif that has been transforming the world around him.
“My vision is to expand the audience for chess,” he says, modestly, his words backed up by years of action in creating this audience.
Having broken barriers by becoming the first black Grandmaster in chess in 1999, Ashley’s focus on fostering change has been revolutionary over the last decade, bringing motivation and a sense of purpose to kids in Harlem, Brooklyn, and in fact all over the world, kids who once dismissed chess as a white man’s game.
He describes how a kid reacted, saying: “But he’s black. He’s not a grandmaster!”
“Then they would realize that I’m one of them; I speak like them, and after that I was then able to talk to them about chess, about life, about really fixing goals and making good choices because chess is a decision-making game,” he says.
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