Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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High-stakes chess comes to the Twin Cities
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Experts and novices alike are competing in a huge chess tournament in Minneapolis this weekend. (MPR Photo/Greta Cunningham)

Minneapolis, Minn. — Thousands of chess players from all over the world have gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center for a chess tournament this weekend.

The HB Foundation Global Chess Challenge is being billed as the richest and largest open chess tournament ever. Players are vying for part of a $500,000 purse.

Maurice Ashley is one of the organizers of the tournament. He is the first, and only, African-American chess grandmaster.

Ashley spoke with MPR's Greta Cunningham in front of one of the 1,400 chess boards set up in the convention center. Ashley says the competition at this tournament is very strong.

"This tournament has over 50 grand masters from all over the world. I'm seeing my colleagues and we're already angling for a fight," Ashley says. "(They are) very respected grand masters, world championship candidates."

Chess isn't considered a physical sport, but Ashley says it takes mental and physical strength to win.

"It's the guy with the best nerves that wins events like this. Guys who can last with endurance," says Ashley. "You've got to be in shape to play chess. If you're out of shape you won't last the nine arduous rounds."

Ashley told Greta Cunningham that becoming a grandmaster in chess is not easy. To listen to their entire interview, choose the audio link in the right column.

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