A chess video this month has gone viral (video below).
The video shows Maurice Ashley sitting down to play a hustler in Washington Square Park —— a place known for its chess hustlers.
Ashley starts out amiably enough, asking the player, identified only as “Wilson,” how he is, a friendly smile on his face. The hustler however, isn’t into small talk; he wants Ashley to hit the clock so they can start, and hit it now. Ashley moved the clock to his right, as it is customary to give the player with the black pieces side choice. He pressed the button and the game was on.
Almost immediately, Wilson notices Ashley moving the pieces while looking at him instead of the board. It does not please the man.
“You don’t even look at the board!” he can be heard saying several times.
Ashley seemed to be surprised – almost offended – at the hustler’s attitude. My guess is he thought to himself something to the effect of:
Oh, I was gonna beat this guy before, that was a given. But now that he’s being a jerk, I’m going to slaughter him *and* talk smack.
Ashley proves that he’s not only a world-famous grandmaster, but he’s also no stranger to park chess and the colorful taunting that often accompanies it. Quite frankly, it made the author miss trash-talk blitz.
The game goes on, and so does the hustler’s mouth. Often times, blitz players use banter and noises as an integral part of their ‘chess strategy’. It doesn’t work on Ashley.
At the 1:17 mark in the video, bystanders can clearly be seen laughing at what must have been one of the craziest things they’d ever witnessed. After all, a petty hustler was hurling trash-talk at a very, very well-known international GM.
Wilson can be seen adjusting one of Ashley’s pawns after a move, and Ashley doesn’t miss a beat, asking, “What did you touch? Did you touch something of mine? Did you touch something of mine?” Then he placed his hand on a black rook. “What if I go down here? What happens? What if I go in your house?” He never looked up from the board while talking.
Next, at the 2:23 mark or so, we have a double-knight capture. Wilson, it seemed, actually attempted to take two of Ashley’s knights off the table with a single pawn move. Impressive, if I do say so, myself. The GM noticed at once, and called him out and moved his knight back to the square it rightly sat.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! That was right there, don’t try the trickery, now. Is that how the trickery works? That was like a magic trick, I like the way you did that. Wow, that was deep.”
He later told the hustler to “be nice.”
Ashley continued to be trash-talked by Wilson, right up until the GM announced a “mate in 23” and began moving very quickly. The comment was said in jest, simply more trash talk, but that didn’t mean Ashley hadn’t seen a clear win. From that point on, he was an anaconda putting the squeeze on his Washington Park prey.
Eventually, the hustler tipped his king over and yelled, “Cut! Cut!” in hopes the video footage would cease.
Too late, Wilson, we’ve all seen your embarrassing loss. I wonder if someone will start a GoFundMe page so that poor Wilson can get the internet. Maybe then he’d know who Maurice Ashley was and save a little face the next time a top-tier player sits down across from him.