The Saint Louis Chess Conference: Grandmaster Maurice Ashley


The Saint Louis Chess Conference will be October 24–26. If you are interested in presenting, the proposal submission deadline is April 5. Early bird pricing ends on April 30. Keynote speakers are Grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Judit Polgár and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov.

The Saint Louis Chess Conference

The Saint Luis Chess Conference 2024

The Saint Louis Chess Conference’s welcome reception is on October 24, which is also the date of the closing ceremonies for the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championship. For an extra $25, you can attend those closing ceremonies.

On October 25 and on October 26, the schedule includes plenary and concurrent sessions in the morning and afternoon, followed by an evening reception. Breakfast, lunch with keynote speakers, and a reception are included in your conference registration.

Maurice Ashley

One of the conference’s keynote speakers is Maurice Ashley. His website states:


Maurice Ashley

not only made history as the first African-American Grandmaster in the annals of the game but he has managed to translate his love to others as a three-time national championship coach, author, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor and motivational speaker.

Ashley is also a Chessable author.

Move by Move

Move by Move - Life Lessons on and off the Chessboard by Maurice Ashley, chess grandmaster

On April 2, 2024, Ashley’s book Move by Move: Life Lessons on and off the Chessboard goes on sale. I read an advance reader’s copy. The book has no chess games, no chess notation, and no chess diagrams. Instead, the book has lessons from chess that apply to life. One chapter title is “Focus is a Full-Time Job.” Although from a different chapter (“Winning and the Illusion of Momentum”), the following story also seems related to focus.

Ashley tells of building a winning position against Grandmaster Robert Byrne, then walking around the tournament hall feeling celebratory. He tells Natasha Us that the game is going to be published in the Informant. However, the move he plays after returning to the board is an error. Rather than winning a beautiful game, Ashley only wins after a late-game blunder by Byrne. The game was not published, according to Ashley.

That game was played at the 1988 World Open, almost 36 years ago. In 2023, Natasha Us played in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Championship. Ashley is long retired from playing chess. Byrne died in 2013.

Talking about one’s on-going game — as Ashley did during his game with Byrne — would likely draw negative attention from 21st century arbiters and tournament directors. However, the lesson about staying focused is still applicable today.

Focus was also important during Emanuel Lasker’s time. Lasker was World Chess Champion from 1894 to 1921. Ashley quotes Lasker as saying, “the hardest game to win is a won game.”


Each chapter of Move by Move: Life Lessons on and off the Chessboard begins with quotes. Some quotes are from chess players, and some other quotes are from celebrities in other fields.

The following quote begins the chapter “It’s a Complex Universe” but it could also apply to “focus” as discussed above. Ashley quotes Grandmaster Levon Aronian as saying, “If there is only one good move, a great chess player will find it. The problem arises when there are lots of good moves. Then we get into trouble.”

Purchasing information

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

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