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Maurice Ashley first made his mark in the world of chess after he was recognized as a chess Grandmaster in 1999, making him the first African-American to earn the title. Last week, Ashley achieved another historic feat after he was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

Grandmaster Ashley was born March 6, 1966 in St. Andrew, Jamaica, and came to the United States when he was 12 with his brother. Raised in the tough streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn, Ashley discovered his love of chess at the age of 14 after a high school friend challenged and beat him in a contest. From that point on, Ashley immersed himself in every aspect of the game as a player, coach, instructor, lecturer and ESPN commentator.

As the only Black American Chess Grandmaster recognized by the World Chess Federation, also known as FIDE, Ashley is determined to bring the game to youth of color, especially African-American boys and girls. He’s taught seminars and classes all over New York, and has an after-school program in Ferguson, Mo.

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Little Known Black History Fact: Maurice Ashley  was originally published on