Chess Life

Question: When did you leave Jamaica?

Maurice Ashley:  I came when I was 12 years-old and came with my brother and sister.  My mother actually left us in the care of our grandmother and she came to America and worked 10 years and was finally able to afford to bring us to join her, so we lived away from her for all that time, but finally we reunited.  This was 1978 and yeah, I’ve been back a few times.  You know it’s Jamaica.  There is not much excuse needed to go back to Jamaica.

Question: When did you take up chess?

Maurice Ashley:  I did it in high school.  A friend of mine was playing chess and I had already actually known the rules.  My brother played the game with his friends, so I thought I was a pretty smart kid and I played this friend of mine and he just crushed me and this was Brooklyn Tech High School in Brooklyn where I still live, in Brooklyn, New York and this guy beat me so bad it wasn’t even funny.  I couldn’t understand why he beat me.  Well I just so happened to bump into a chess book in the library at school and I didn’t know that there were books on chess and so I take this book out and I’m like this is going to be cool, I’m going to whoop on this guy now, so I studied the book and I go back and the guy crushes me again and it turns out he had read that book and about nine other books, so that is the first time I really understood that there were books in chess and that studying mattered and it would be effective and I just played.  His name is Clotaire Colas.  I played Clotaire just about every day after school after that and I was just obsessed like most people get obsessed when they play chess.

\r\n

Question: What drew you to the game?

Maurice Ashley: I think just everything about chess.  I mean well first of all, I wanted to beat him, so the competition was a big side.  I love to win.  I’m very competitive in most games, but I think also the beauty of the game.  There was something about it, the pieces, the shapes, something about them coordinating together and trying to get the other guy.  I think most people are fascinated by chess for that reason.  It’s just these mystical shapes.  It’s almost like Harry Potteresque, like wizard’s chess in a way.  The pieces come alive and you’re the sorcerer.  You’re the magician and you get to do what you want with them and hopefully you don’t screw it up.

\r\n

Question: You come from a competitive family?

Maurice Ashley: Oh yeah, I have some pretty hardcore brothers and sisters.  My brother, oldest brother Devon, he is a kickboxing champion.  He has been three time world champion in his weight class and my sister Alicia, she is a three time world champion boxer as well, so we stay away from our own sports when we get together.  We play like cards and dominoes, traditional Jamaican games. I’m from Jamaica originally, things that are not our specialty, but even when we play those games we’re super competitive.  It’s like it’s trash talking and trying to win and that is like family time in the Ashley household.

\r\n

Question: But you found a way to channel your aggression into chess?

Maurice Ashley:  Yeah, I don’t like getting hit for one, although you know I did take Aikido for many years, but Aikido is a different kind of martial art, maybe even a more cerebral art because it’s all about redirecting the energies of your opponent instead of trying to bash your opponent’s head in effectively, so it’s a much more loving art, so I guess I tend that way normally anyway.

\r\n

The first African-American grandmaster traces his obsession with chess to a high school friend who kept crushing him at the game.

There are 2 types of god. Only one is within the boundary of science.

Does God exist? The answer rests outside the "normal" boundaries of science.

Videos
  • Science is about natural law, while religion is about ethics. As long as you keep these two separate, Kaku says, there's no problem at all. Problems arise, however, when the natural sciences begin to "pontificate upon ethics" and when religious people begin to pontificate about natural law.
  • Albert Einstein believed in the "god of Spinoza" — not a personal god, but one who has set order and harmony in the fabric of the universe. "You can put the laws of physics as we know them on a simple sheet of paper — amazing! It didn't have to be that way," says Kaku.
  • The existence of God is not testable because such a review is not reproducible or falsifiable, as most scientific investigations are. In this sense, Kaku says the question and answer whether God exists rests outside the "normal" boundaries of science.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists solve a 140-year-old mystery

Scientists discover the inner workings of an effect that will lead to a new generation of devices.

Credit: IBM
Surprising Science
  • Researchers discover a method of extracting previously unavailable information from superconductors.
  • The study builds on a 19th-century discovery by physicist Edward Hall.
  • The research promises to lead to a new generation of semiconductor materials and devices.
Keep reading Show less

Breast cancer vaccine could be available in 8 years, says Mayo Clinic

A new immunotherapy treatment is showing positive signs in early-stage clinical trials.

BSIP / Getty
Surprising Science
  • Clinical trials of an immunotherapy treatment for breast cancer showed positive signs, and the researchers hope to move to larger trials in coming years.
  • Immunotherapies train the body's immune system to find and kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
  • Recent trials of immunotherapies for other cancers have also showed positive signs.
Keep reading Show less