Maurice Ashley was born in St, Andrew Jamaica and attended Wolmer’s high school for boys before migrating to the United States at the age of 12.

Though he discovered chess in Jamaica, it was in the United States where he began taking the game more seriously. He would play in parks and clubs throughout New York while attending high school.

He became the first African-American International Grandmaster in 1999 when he defeated Adrian Negulescu.


The title Grandmaster is awarded to chess players by the world chess organization FIDE. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain.

He has now become the first black man to be inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame.

 Ashley has also been described as one of the greatest ambassadors and promoters the game of chess has ever known.

He is a renowned commentator who has covered many major competitions, and author of the bestseller Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens (2005).

Maurice Ashley

Maurice Ashley

In February 2016, a video of Ashley defeating a “trash-talking” amateur chess player in Washington Square Park went viral:


See Maurice Ashley’s acceptance speech at the 2016 US Chess Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony below:


Screenshot via Youtube
Screenshot via Youtube