Our Ultimate Chess Player GM Maurice Ashley

Grand Master Maurice Ashley, an incredible motivational speaker, came to Belize by the invitation of BNYCF to talk about chess benefits, share his life story and explain why chess is a great educational and motivational tool that should be embraced by parents and teachers. He liked that our program is determined to turn the whole generation of children into chess players, not for the sake of growing Grandmasters, but for the sake of bringing to children all the benefits that chess entails. "Did the game save my life? These words may be too strong. But chess so informed and influenced everything about my life that I can say, without exaggeration, that I would not be the person I am today had it not been for this ancient game."

It was an amazing experience, believe me! It was incredible to see 325 people in the audience who came that day to the event from all over the country ...

Maurice Ashley talked about the qualities that the Ultimate Chess Players should have. He is a sort of person who doesn't like just to talk, he is always ready to prove his points. When he emphasized that serious chess players must keep themselves in good physical shape, he challenged anybody in the audience for the push-ups, and readily took off his shirt next to the first volunteer- Richard Beane of Belmopan.
the audience was counting the push-ups,,,
When Richard was out of breath, there was another Challenger- Peace Corps Volunteer, who took Richards' place, while Grand Master was keeping fast pace of his push-ups and kept joking with his challengers. Who would ever guess that Grand Master of Chess would be able to do 90 push-ups?
Then it was time to show our own talents- blindfold game - 12 year old Jamir Sanches played blidnfold against an adult chess player Rene Mai, who was allowed to see the board, and

the audience had a chance to follow the progression of the game on the screen with the commentary from Grand Master.
Maurice Ashley learned about the most active supporters and volunteers and he presented them with the awards. Mayor or Belmopan, Simeon Lopez:
Humberto Juarez, Corozal district
Carlos Lotiff and Margaret Lotiff, West Cayo
Rosanna Ake, Corozal
David Martinez, Belize District
Jose Teul, Toledo, as well as Policarpo Cus, Adinaldo Requena and Rodolfo Shal
Brian Chun, Stann Creek, who also presented GM with the token of our appreciation on behalf of Stann Creek Chess Association
We apologize for not having pictures of all the volunteers who received award on that day. In addition the awards were presented to: David Coombs, BNYCF Cayo coordinator, Peace Corps volunteers( Melissa Lemmons, Ashley Vasquez and Coy Thompson), Mexican Ambassador, Women's Group, Peace Corps, Minster of Health, Love Fm, Oapn Paki, Learning TV, OX Production, Builders, Banana Bank lodge.

And finally, one of our young and very promising 8 years old chess players, Jeremy Chiang, presented the Grandmaster with the BNYCF shirt, that says on the back "Every Chess Master was once a beginner..."
As soon as the symposium was over Maurice Ashley was scheduled to play a simul against 20 best players of Belize. It was great to see that even the tropical downpour didn't stop him from playing the game, even though Grandmaster had to move in the paddles of water and the wind was blowing rain on the chess boards.
It was a great experience for serious chess players, terrific entertainment for those who are new to the game and an incredible inspiration for the children.

The very next day after the symposium, Grand Master worked with 30 children and 10 coaches at the Sibun Jungle Lodge. His words made a huge impact on all of us: "Losing is learning, it's just of the process."

"Perfecting the game requires patience, determination, and the willingness to treat failure and loss as motivation to learn."
"Chess is the martial art of the mind"
Grand Master Maurice Ashley talks to the kids before the departure and promises to come back to Belize. When? January 16, 2010, Grand Master Maurice Ashley will be back, this time working exclusively with coaches on various teaching techniques that will help us to develop our chess players into the future ULTIMATE CHESS PLAYERS- strong, smart and confident!
He came to Belize as an international celebrity, and left Belize as our Ultimate Chess Player- a true role model for children and adults.

to read more about GM Maurice Ashley, see below:

2nd Annual Belize Educators Chess Symposium for

teachers, principals, parents and community volunteers

took place on Oct 10th, 2009 in

George Price Centre, Belmopan

This was our Unique Chance to meet International Grandmaster

Maurice Ashley

Tiger Woods of Chess. He made history when he became the first African-American to attain the coveted title ofInternational Grandmaster of Chess in 1999.Maurice Ashley’s media coverage on becoming 1st African-American International Grandmaster includes Time magazine, USA Today, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, London Times, Ebony, Investor's Business Daily, New York Daily News, Jet, New York Newsday, New York Post, Emerge, and a host of other papers around the world served by the Associated Press and Reuters.

He served as commentator for the match between the World Champion Kasparov and IBM computer Deep Blue in 1997, and other world championship matches.

GM Ashley was coach of the Raging Rooks of Harlem, New York, winners of the National Junior High School Championships (1991) ; and also coach of the Dark Knights (also from Harlem), two time National Champions (1994 and 1995) in the Junior Varsity Division and was the head of the Dark Knights program as they continued to win six National Championship titles.

GM Ashley has received multiple community service awards from city governments, universities, and non-profit groups for his work. His book, Chess for Success,crystallizes his vision of using chess to help at-risk youth. Outspoken about the importance of directing youth toward scholastic activities, he is a powerful role model for chess as well as excellence in general. The Maurice Ashley foundation is supporting intellectual excellence and aims to help inner city youth overcome challenging circumstances to reach their potential through chess.

Why chess? “One of the wonderful benefits of chess is that chess is a thinking game. You cannot play the game without being completely intellectually involved. You have to focus. You have to problem solve in unique ways. It’s a great format for developing critical thinking skills in children in particular. I call it a discipline because it is a fun game but at the same time, it forces you to train your mind to work incredibly well under difficult and challenging conditions.”

He is known as an incredible inspirational speaker: “ I look at life in a very grand way. I am always shooting for the moon. I believe in the possibility and the potentiality of people. It’s very important to me to inspire others to be their best, to be great, especially young people. I remember going to school barefoot, or when I had “talking shoes”, as we called them. The soles were falling off the bottom. They looked like they had mouths, like they talked. Growing up under those conditions, I could not really have imagined I’d end up where I am today. So I always look to inspire others . We should always look to be as bold in our vision as possible”.

To read more about GM Maurice Ashley visit his website: www.mauriceashleychampions.com

Belize Educators Symposium

To read on the 2008 event, please see below

July 19th, 2008 Saturday, 9:30am - 3:00pm

George Price Center, Belmopan

This symposium was designed to introduce the many of the attributes of the “Chess In Belize” primary school chess program and the benefits the program will provide to your school and your students.

Special Guest Speaker: Jennifer Shahade

Jennifer Shahade is a Women’s Grand-master, coach, writer and two-time American Women’s Chess Champion (2002, 2004). In 2005, she published her first book, Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport. She is the editor of uschess.org, the United States Chess Federation’s official website. In her coaching career, Jennifer Shahade has made a point of focusing her efforts on girls and inner-city youth. From 1998-2005, she worked with Chess-In-The-Schools, a New York City non-profit organization that provides chess instruction to inner city youth. From 2003-4, she taught a Girls’ Academy through Chess-in-the-Schools, and started her own Girls’ Academy in New York in 2007, the 9 Queens (www.9queens. org). She has given inspirational talks and lessons all over the world, including an all girls’ school in Soweto, South Africa in 2007. This year Jennifer was a co-host, with Jean Hoffman and Ella Anderson, the all primary girls chess camp at the Sibun “Chess Kingdom”Jungle Lodge, July 11 - 15.

Jean Hoffman is the co-founder and executive director of the 9 Queens non-for-profit organization. Jennifer and Jean: co-founders of 9 Queens.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree in teacher education from Harvard University. As a former middle school teacher, tournament director and educational consultant, Jean has worked with students, teachers and administrators to promote and support chess education. Jean has taught and trained over 1,500 students, chess players, and public school teachers throughout the country to play chess and create effective and sustainable chess clubs and tournaments. Jean worked in New York City for Chess-in-the-Schools for three years as a chess instructor, development associate, and teams and tournaments manager. She organized a weekly, scholastic chess tournament series with over 500 participants, and served as the chief tournament director at these events. In addition to her work with 9 Queens, Jean also serves as the Director of Community Engagement for Voices for Education, a Tucson-based educational non-profit organization.

Ella Anderson holds 3 Masters Degrees culminating in Education and Administration, holding the position of In-School Program Director for N.Y. based Chess In the Schools program before founding the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation and the “Chess In Belize” primary school program which now extends to over 400 students in over 40 primary schools through out Belize. As both an educator and administrator, Ella knows the benefits of teaching chess from both disciplines. Ella represented the US chess program at the Chess Congress of the 36th Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Majorca, Spain, as guest speaker in 2004 and was the host and moderator at the First Annual “Belize Educators Symposium”.

More on Chess around the World:

.. the effects of chess are recognized throughout the world. The impact of chess in acquiring all the above mentioned benefits has been widely recognized. As the result chess became part of the curricula in nearly thirty countries.

In Vancouver, BC, Canada, the Math and Chess Learning Center, recognizing the correlation between chess playing and math skills development, has developed a series of workbooks to assist Canadian students in math. The mathematics curriculum in New Brunswick, Canada is a text series called Challenging Mathematics, which uses chess to teach logic and problem solving from grades two to seven. Using this curriculum, the average problem-solving score of pupils in the province increased from sixty-two percent to eighty-one percent. The Province of Quebec, where the program was first introduced, has the highest math grades in Canada, and Canada scores better than the USA on international mathematics exams.

The State of New Jersey passed a bill legitimizing chess as a unit of instruction within the elementary school curriculum. On December 17, 1992, New Jersey Governor Jim Florio signed into law a bill to establish chess instruction in public schools. A quote from the bill states “In countries where chess is offered widely in schools, students exhibit excellence in the ability to recognize complex patterns and consequently excel in math and science...”

There are simply hundreds of in depth studies that provide expertise and hard data research that proves, beyond any doubt and supported by educators

and scientists, that teaching Chess as a motivational and educational tool, increases I.Q. and increases development of learning and life skills.

Chess-In-the-Schools, a New York based non-profit organization, teaches chess in elementary and junior high schools in economically disadvantaged communities. Their sixteen-week curriculum is taught over the course of a semester as part of the regular school day with the classroom teacher present and participating in the lesson. Individual classes receive instruction once per week; lessons last a full class period and generally consist of a lecture, a structured activity and time for free play. Every year approximately 30,000 students are taught chess. In 1991 and 1996 two studies were conducted in the schools that were part of the program examining the effects of chess on children’s reading scores. The studies showed that students who participate in the chess program showed greater gains in reading scores. The gains were even greater among children with low or average initial scores. Children who were in the non-chess playing control group showed no gains.

In 1999, Dr. Margulies, New York City based educational psychologist, conducted a groundbreaking study to measure the impact of chess on emotional intelligence. The result of the study was striking. The overall success rate in handling real life situations with emotional intelligence was 91.4% for the children who participated in the Chess-in-the-Schools program. In contrast, those who were not involved with the chess program had an average overall success rate of only 64.4%.

Pictures from the event:

before the event- banners made by the local volunteers:Presentations:

Award Ceremony: Jennifer received the chess board signed by all the children who she was playing that day at simul:
Awards of the Coaches of the Year presented by Jennifer Shahade:

Jennifer made a life long impression on our kids, who had a rare opportunity to play against her in the simultaneous game: she was friendly, down to earth, encouraging and ..everything what you wish to see from a real role model for kids.

Picture of all the coacehs, parents and players from the simul game:

We hope to see Jennifer Shahade coming back to Belize again!