The GM With A Million Dollar Smile

In an article in the New York Times dated August 31, 2014 at 8:05 PM, “Millionaire Chess to Hit Las Vegas, in Gambit to Raise Game’s Profile With Big Prizes,” By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN, it is written, “…Maurice Ashley, 48, the only African-American chess grandmaster, was the driving force behind the HB Global Challenge tournament in Minneapolis in 2005.”
This is written on Grandmaster Ashley’s Wikipedia page, “Maurice Ashely (born March 6, 1966 in St. Andrew, Jamaica)…” (
I researched Jamaica on Wikipedia and found that, “Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea, comprising the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles.” (
GM Maurice Ashley is a man with class and style who has a million dollar smile, but he is not the first African-American chess Grandmaster. Why does the origin of GM Ashley matter? Does anyone know the name of the first German-American GM? Or the first Polish-American GM? Would it be politically correct to call Mr. Ashley the first Jamaican-American Grandmaster?
After watching the movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” not the recent tepid remake, but the powerful original made in 1951, the year following my birth, I thought this earth would be a much better place if everyone considered themselves as earthlings, rather than “Americans” or “Russians” or “Black” or “White.” This was about a quarter of a century before titular POTUS Ronald Raygun said, in a December 4, 1985 speech at Fallston High School, MD, speaking about his 5-hour private discussions with General Secretary Gorbachev the previous month in November, 1985. He relayed to the class: “How much easier his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from another species from another planet outside in the universe. We’d forget all the little local differences that we have between our countries, and would find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this Earth together.” (
The long article continues, “That tournament had $500,000 in prizes — the previous record for a chess tournament — and was financed by a retired businessman named Al Blowers, who was trying to promote his own charitable chess foundation. The tournament lost a couple hundred thousand dollars and, soon after, the foundation folded.
The partners expect to lose up to five times that — $1 million — in the Las Vegas tournament.
“If we only lose $200,000,” Mr. Ashley said, “we’ll be dancing in the streets.”
The idea behind Millionaire Chess is to raise the profile of the game. “It has a 1,500-year history,” Ms. Lee said, “and it has not been recognized at the level that I believe it should be.”
Good luck with that…
Bob Marley – redemption song acustic

Bob Marley – Redemption Song (from the legend album, with lyrics)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.