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Thursday, August 23, 2007

GM Maurice Ashley Simultaneous Exhibition

Wednesday evening, August 22, 2007, St. Louis welcomed GM Maurice Ashley to town. The nation's only African-American grandmaster comes to St. Louis nearly annually and typically provides a simul when he's here.

Maurice Ashley instructing the audience

During his last simul, two years ago, Maurice went 30-0 against his opposition. This year, 21 players signed up to play him, including about half a dozen kids. The simul went on for nearly four hours, and the GM didn't take a single break for a drink, snack or nature's call. He picked up steam as the evening went on and a few of the games began entering more advanced stages. There were times he paused for an extended period (i.e. one or two minutes) to consider a move, but frequently he would make his move practically in stride, on his way to the next board. I was getting tired just following him around, and all I had to do was watch and think about what move I might make in the given position.

Maurice is a consummate gentleman and a positive role model for the chess community. We in St. Louis thank him for spending the time with us, and we thank Bill Wright for organizing the event, as he always does when Ashley comes to town.

A few random observations:

  • When making his first move, Maurice varied, opting for 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4 or 1.Nf6. I don't believe that any two adjacent boards shared the same opening.
  • In game after game, Maurice took advantage of open files by doubling his rooks and creating havoc for his opponents.
  • Later in the simul, as he began accumulating sufficient advantages, he would work to simplify into easily-won endgames instead of going for a quick kill that might not be justified.
  • Other times, it appeared he would play "waiting moves," in anticipation that his opponents would slip up, at which point Maurice would be ready to pounce on the opportunity.

Maurice told us that he has been working on a new book for beginners, that will be published by Gambit Books, and that a new DVD (Speed Chess 2) should be out around November 2007. He also indicated that he has signed a deal with HBO to produce a movie about the Raging Rooks team he has coached in New York. They have a rough target date of fall 2008 for its release.

So how did this years' players fare? Well, no one managed to beat the GM, but two players, Ed Baur and Todd Plagemann, did draw Ashley.

Congratulations to all the players who came out to meet Maurice Ashley, and to Bill Wright for arranging the rather last-minute simul. We look forward to the next simul next year.

Maurice Ashley with organizer Bill Wright

2007 Polgar player Margaret Hua

your webmaster Steve Goldberg with Maurice Ashley



  • hi there, i stumbled across your blog while randomly searching the blogosphere, nice one you have here, i also find the design to my liking. do keep up the good work.

    warm regards from the other side of planet earth. i'll be back for more.

    Deep Regards

    Biby Cletus

    By Blogger Biby Cletus, at 1:02 AM  

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