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Grandmaster Ashley Headlines Cleveland Scholastic Open Print E-mail
By Sharan Subramanian   
November 10, 2013
GM Maurice Ashley and Tony Dunlap of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
I saw so much enthusiasm for the 2nd Annual Cleveland Scholastic Open, which led to a memorable experience. The main event took place on Friday, while Grandmaster Maurice Ashley conducted a simultaneous exhibition the night before.

Held at the Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus, 18 players (including myself!) were all primed and ready to play Grandmaster Ashley. Before commencing, GM Ashley spoke for a while expressing his gratitude for being invited to the Cleveland Scholastic Open and then proceeded to warn us that he was planning on crushing us all.

As he started the simul and all of us sank deep into thought. After one hour my fellow participants began to tip their kings in defeated resignation. The simul went on for nearly four hours, and while I lost as well, it was fantastic to interact with GM Ashley and to have a picture specially taken with him. Ultimately, he beat all of us except for skilled scholastic player Kent Lui, who earned a hard-fought draw.
Grandmaster Maurice Ashley contemplating his next move.

The tournament itself, which took place at the scenic Cleveland State University campus, featured players from across the nation, all vying for coveted awards and scholarships. In the high school section, contested by some of Ohio’s finest scholastic players, we saw Joel Jaffe and Connor Keuchel tying for first with 4 out of 5 points. Joel won on tiebreaks and took home a trophy, scholarship, and a tablet for his efforts. In the other sections, we had expert Jonathan Clinton win the collegiate division, Luke Xie (one of the nation’s best young players) dominate the grades 5-8 section, and Cody Yang take the grades K-4 section. Overall a tournament filled with fighting chess and intense tactical battles. 

GM Ashley with Collegiate Winner, Jonathan Clinton. He will have the opportunity for a GE Lighting internship.
Grandmaster Ashley was also present at the tournament analyzing games and entertaining parents and chess players alike with his contagious excitement. I’d really like to thank Maurice Ashley for taking the time to come down to Cleveland, an eclectic city and a burgeoning chess scene. His love for the game galvanized all of us to keep playing chess.

From this whole affair, I’ve learned a few things:
1.    Chess, especially scholastic chess, is doing very well. Not only did I see many new faces truly obsessed with chess, but I also saw a vast range of seasoned veterans, focused on improving their game. However, as an example on a much broader scale of how chess is currently prospering, I see the Saint Louis Chess Club continually innovating and increasing initiatives to spread chess around the world. I think that the Cleveland Scholastic Open this year is more evidence that chess is on a great trajectory.

  2.    Maurice Ashley is a marketing genius whose uncontainable passion for the game has helped chess spread like wildfire throughout the entire nation. Chess still has miles to go before attaining the status we all hope for. Maurice Ashley has undoubtedly done his part in moving it forward, in addition to people such as Hikaru Nakamura, Jennifer Shahade, and Rex Sinquefield. He is a key piece to the puzzle of instilling an international fervor for chess and it was an honor to have him in town.
GM Ashley with 1st Place Rated, 9-12 Winner, Joel Jaffe. In addition to the trophy and Google Nexus tablet that he won (shown above), he will also have the opportunity to select a college scholarship out of the ones offered.

3.    The Cleveland Scholastic Open is a tournament to watch. Only having started a year ago, this tournament has already risen to prominence as one of the most prestigious scholastic events in the nation, all thanks to its distinct and unique prizes (such as Kindles, Google tablets, college scholarships, and an internship from GE Lighting) and, above all, the fiery dedication of all the tournament organizers and participants to the royal game of chess.

On the whole, the Cleveland Scholastic Open was a fantastic experience. I’d like to thank the Alphi Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Alpha Lambda Chapter for having the vision to plan and host such a distinguished tournament and, of course, every individual who participated. I hope to see many of you at the Cleveland Scholastic Open in 2014. Sharpen your skills because the competition will be fiercer than ever!