NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the world of chess, everything is equal. It’s not about your age, your race or your socioeconomic background.
One Brooklyn man is proving that and inspiring a new generation to follow him.
As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported, when international grandmaster Maurice Ashley passes on his knowledge, the game comes alive.
“The beautiful thing about teaching chess is that you can impart this great philosophy of life while playing a fun game,” Ashley said. “That’s why we teach chess to kids.”
Raised in Brownsville, Ashley has learned the will to win is greater than any disadvantage.
“I think coming out of Brooklyn, playing in the parks, getting trash-talked by the hustlers was definitely great preparation for my career, not just as a grandmaster, but as a commentator.”
Ashley shares his wisdom as a broadcaster during the greatest matches each year. But it all started when he was playing blitz chess in the parks of New York City against hustlers.
“You’re sitting across from the board from a guy in Brooklyn,” Ashley said.He’s looking at you funny. He wants to rip your pieces off. He’s trash-talking you. He’s ready to take the money out your pocked. That’s the kind of preparation that really got me that beast mode to be able to play this game at the highest level.”
Recently, Ashley became the first African-American inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame. But for all of the accolades, he feels as much gratification from watching youngsters learn.
“The kids appreciate when someone comes in and says: ‘You’re smart. You’re really intelligent.’ … That’s what life is all about. It’s supporting young people … to be great and to achieve their dreams.”
Ashley has been teaching chess to inner city youth for more than 20 years. Under his guidance, three of his New York City teams have won national championships.