The city of Las Vegas in the desert of the US state of Nevada is best known for its casinos, nightclubs, giant hotels and ‘entertainment’, hence its nickname of ‘Sin City’, but it has been announced that it will also play host to the inaugural ‘Millionaire Chess’ tournament. If that is a surprise so is the man behind hit, Jamaican-born African-American Maurice Ashley.
The prize on offer at the tournament which begins on October 13 is $1,000,000, the largest ever offered for a chess competition and competitors will arrive in chauffer-driven limousines.
GRANDMASTER MAURICE ASHLEY
The Millionaire Chess tournament is the brainchild of Maurice Ashley, the only African-American chess ‘Grandmaster’ (GM), a GM being the highest ranking a chess player can achieve aside from being the World Champion.
Ashley is described by Wikipedia as an ‘author, commentator, app designer, puzzle inventor and motivational speaker’ who is ‘currently Joint Fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard and the Media Lab at MIT’ [Massachusetts Institute of Technology].
CHESS GOOD FOR THE BRAIN
The game of chess that probably emerged from India over 1,500 years ago is well known to help develop cognitive, analytical and decision-making skills, so much so that in at least 30 countries around the world it is part of the national school curriculum. One survey showed that the test scores of students who regularly play chess improved by over 17% over those that did not play the game.
This is more than just a richly rewarded chess tournament however. Maurice Ashley has brought in researchers from MIT to use data-mining techniques to analyse the play and read into the players’ minds to show the audience what the players might miss.
The Kenya Forum thinks chess boards should be provided in all of Kenya’s schools and we also think that Mr Maurice Ashley is an inspiration to us all.