Brooklyn Chess: “Go Straight for the Throat”

Question: What does it take to play top-level chess?

Maurice Ashley:  I think that chess grandmasters come in all shapes and sizes, stripes, different personalities.  You have your types that are hyper aggressive killers, I mean gangsters really, guy who just don’t care.  They want to rip your heart out, cook it, and eat it later.  You know you have those types in the chess world where they just go straight for the throat and that is their natural personality and you have other types that are more like boa constrictors, the quiet types.  They got you.  You’re going to die.  It’s okay, relax.  This won’t be…  It will be slow and maybe it will be painful, but you know it’s over, so just enjoy the death.  So you don’t see the same types in the chess world, but I think that competitiveness is one quality though, definitely people who want to win, people who are about victory and if you’re not truly determined, if you’re not the kind of person who sees a goal and goes right after it and will work any amount of time, any amount of hours just to make sure that happens you can’t be a chess grandmaster.  I think that is first, determination and competitiveness. 

Question: Are you a boa constrictor or an aggressive killer?

Maurice Ashley:  Well I’m from Jamaica and I’m from Brooklyn and so that…  You know in my earlier days I was much more a shoot them, kill them type definitely.  I had a lot of creativity.  I calculated really well and so I just thought go for the throat.  That is the only way to do it you know.  You got to kill them.  Don’t let them blink.  First chance you get attack.  When I started going out into the chess world and playing against better players, particularly those Russians who somehow knew how to defend really, really well and they just sat there and it was like Napoleon trying to come into Moscow or into… like right into the heart of it and then Siberia… the Siberian winter shuts you down.  That’s what happened on a chess board and I realized this style just didn’t work at least at that level, so I had to pair it back a little bit and start to understand a more nuanced style, so now my style is a lot more family man if you will, a lot more delicate, a lot more nuanced as to how I execute, but don’t make a mistake because Brooklyn comes right back.

Players from Brooklyn want "to rip your heart out, cook it, and eat it later."

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • There are 2 different approaches to governing free speech on college campuses.
  • One is a morality/order approach. The other is a bottom-up approach.
  • Emily Chamlee-Wright says there are many benefits to having no one central authority on what is appropriate speech.

Is there an optimal time of day to exercise?

Two new studies say yes. Unfortunately, each claims a different time.

Bronx, N.Y.: NYPD officer Julissa Camacho works out at the 44th precinct gym in the Bronx, New York on April 3, 2019. (Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday via Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • Research at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences declares evening to be the best time for an exercise session.
  • Not so fast, says a new study at UC Irvine, which replies that late morning is the optimal workout time.
  • Both studies involved mice on treadmills and measured different markers to produce their results.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.