Ambassador Dr. Nigel Clarke and Grandmaster Maurice Ashley are the Co-Chairs and Executive Producers of the inaugural Jamaica International Chess Festival event.
“I fervently believe that Jamaica can excel at the highest levels internationally not only at physical endeavors but also in endeavors of the mind. Chess develops the faculties for rational thought and abstract thinking in young minds, while building psychological and emotional fortitude. Jamaica therefore benefits from the growth of chess," said Dr. Clarke who is also a Vice President of the Jamaica Chess Federation.
It was this passion that led Dr. Clarke to Grandmaster Maurice Ashley – the Jamaican-born, first African-American Grandmaster in the world and 2016 inductee of the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.
Knowing the benefits of the game and a chess player himself, Prime Minister Andrew Holness introduced the two, in the hope that they would collaborate.
Without hesitation Dr. Clarke and GM Ashley started to talk about doing something together in Jamaica. Like Clarke, Ashley has always wanted to give back to Jamaica through chess, and after 18 months of discussions, brain storming, on the phone and in person, the Jamaica International Chess Festival was born.