News Tech: It’s not every day that a group of children sees royalty. But it can also appear magically. This also applies to nearly 50 young people (all chess players) and the adults who accompanied us after 6pm. On Aug. 19, I was walking hopefully around her WeWork building at 6601 Cass Avenue. While chatting about her favorite game in her intimate, edgy upstairs room, Maurice’s girlfriend Ashley appeared out of nowhere.
While chronicling his journey in-game, he caught the attention of young players in Detroit, as well as other members of his city chess community. Among them was 17-year-old Charisse Woods. She is an up-and-coming third year student at Cass Technical High School. Before the hour ended, Woods emerged with more than a smile and words of encouragement: she must challenge and beat Ashley in a so-called “blitz (speed) match” with the help of her watch.
Ashley was greeted like a hero by the crowd inside with ovations, ohs, ahs. This was a fitting welcome to the first Black her chess grandmaster. Many of the young chess players at the reception had heard of Ashley, but they seemed like a mythical figure. Then suddenly he appeared. Over his next half hour, Ashley, 56, who won his 1999 Grandmaster title, showed that his communication skills are as sharp as his board movements.
“He made a mistake pretty early on, so I was trying not to get upset,” said Ashley, who played up to two minutes during a Blitz match to make every move in her minute. Woods said. “I was trying not to overdo it and try to win before the time ran out. I was happy to win the blitz, but I didn’t want to play again because I wanted to marinate the win”. Frankly, it wasn’t the first time Wood met Ashley on a major chess stage.
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