Chess champion returns to borough to inspire

The first African-American international Grandmaster of chess is training a new generation of players in the borough where he grew up.Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, a Brownville-bred

PARK SLOPE - The first African-American international Grandmaster of chess is training a new generation of players in the borough where he grew up.

Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, a Brownville-bred player, is now training young players like 14-year-old Darran Robinson. Ashley received chess's highest honor in 1999. While the game allowed him to travel the globe and see the world, Ashley says he now lives a comfortable life at home in Park Slope.

The champion says he wants to tutor, lecture and mentor young black chess competitors. Ashley credits the game with helping him avoid street life in a tough neighborhood and believes it can do the same for others.

"We had violence, we had drug dealers guys shooting each other ? I remember seeing guys shooting on the street when there were kids on the corner," says Ashley.

Robinson applauds his chess coach's inspiring efforts.

"He is a spectacular teacher," says Robinson.

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