I enjoyed listening to his commentary and analysis along with IM Jen Shahade during some games of the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship sponsored by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, who put on first class events for the U.S. and U.S. Women's Chess Championships. Maybe we'll hear Ashley again in 2011. He definitely brought a vibrancy and unique tenor to the commentary that took me a bit getting used to but in short order I listened most intently to what he and Jen were saying.
Here is a nice profile of Ashley posted on Christmas Day:
The Weekly Challenger
Originally posted 12/25/2010
Maurice Ashley is a chess grandmaster. He is the first and as of 2009 only African-American grandmaster. In the October 2006 rating lists, he had a FIDE rating of 2465, and a USCF rating of 2520 at standard chess, and 2536 at quick chess. Ashley is associated with Chesswise. In 2005 he wrote the book Chess for Success, relating about his experiences and the positive aspects of chess. He was the main organiser for the HB global chess event, with the biggest cash prize in history. FIDE awarded him the grandmaster title in 1999. Ashley and Englishman James Plaskett are the only two Grandmasters to have made it to the studio stage of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, each in his respective country.
In 1993, Ashley was married to Michele Johnson, a then teacher at the Bilingual Center of P.S. 189. June 5, 1994 the couple gave birth to Nia-Ashanti Ashley, who is currently a professional actor, writer and currently attends Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. Maurice and Michele have remained happily married since then. In 2002 they gave birth to Jayden Ashley. The family is one of high achievers, which is displayed in Nia's budding career and Michele's principal position as of 2005. Maurice relates much of his success to his supportive wife and wonderful family.
Ashley graduated from the College of the City of New York (CCNY), and represented the school in intercollegiate team competition. Always promoting chess among youth, Ashley coached the Raging Rooks of Harlem, and the Dark Knights (also from Harlem), both of which have won national championships under his guidance. In September 1999, he opened the Harlem Chess Center which has attracted such celebrities as Larry Johnson and Wynton Marsalis. Ashley was named 2003 Grandmaster of the Year by the U.S. Chess Federation. He makes appearances all over the country speaking to young people and adults about chess and its benefits.
In 2003 Maurice Ashley wrote an essay, The End of the Draw Offer?, which raised discussion about ways to avoid quick agreed draws in chess tournaments.
In 2007 Ashley returned to his birth country of Jamaica and became the first GM to ever participate in a tournament in that country. The tourney, a six round Swiss named the Frederick Cameron Open, was held at the Jamaica Conference center on the 15 and 16 of December 2007. After sweeping a field consisting of several of Jamaica's top players and Barbadian FIDE master Philip Corbin, he fell victim to a potential double attack in the final round to Jamaican National Master Jomo Pitterson. He placed second on five points behind Pitterson (5.5).
In 2008, Ashley was featured in an interview for the CNN documentary “Black in America.”
At Goddesschess: The First Black Grandmaster, from Ebony Magazine, July, 1999