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Culture & Religion

Lessons From a Black and White World

Maurice Ashley is not your typical world-class chess competitor.  For starters, he is the first (and, so far, only) African-American grandmaster.  Then there is the fact that he is one of the only chess players in the world to make a living doing chess commentary for ESPN (teamed, as it happened, with Big Think’s editorial chairman Paul Hoffman) and other media outlets.  Most chess champions today seem to have learned chess in preschool, but Ashley first studied the game as a teenager—and only earned the coveted grandmaster title comparatively late in life.  His mastery of the game as an adult should be inspiration to anyone who wants to take up a new “intellectual” activity later in life. Ashley believes that chess builds skills that are useful in other endeavors in life such as business.  Negotiating with people and taking the measure of the competition are important skills, Ashley tells Big Think: “I mean chess is nothing if not knowing what the other guy is thinking and getting deep into that thought process.”


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