Maurice Ashley, a Jamaican immigrant, became the first Black chess player to earn the rank of International Grand Master on March 15, 1999. It is the highest designation made by the World Chess Federation and is only handed out to a limited number of players worldwide based on their aptitude. Once it is given, the title is held for life.
Ashley graduated from the College of the City of New York in New York City and played chess on the school's intercollegiate team. He opened the Harlem Chess Center in New York City in 1999.
Continuing his advocacy for the game, he wrote the book Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens in 2005. He has traveled around the world promoting the benefits chess can have for young people.
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(Photo: PM JP / Reuters)