Maurice Ashley was born in St. Andrews, Jamaica. He attended Brooklyn Tech High School before matriculating to the City College of New York, where he graduated with
a B.A. in English. He credits his brother with teaching him how to play chess, although he spent a great deal of time learning the game from the 300 chess books in his
personal library. Ashley sharpened his skills by playing in Brooklyn's Prospect Park and in a number of local chess tournaments. In 1986, he became a USCF National Master,
making the USCF's Top 50 List in June 1993. In November of 1993, he became the first African-American FIDE International Master. He was the New York-based Marshall Chess
Club's champion in 1993.
Ashley has an extensive record as a chess commentator, having served in that capacity at the 1995 World Chess Championship and at the first meeting between Kasparov and
Deep Blue last year. He has been a play-by-play announcer for chess shows on ESPN and Eurosport and was an interviewer in the Paramount film, Searching for Bobby
Ashley coached the Raging Rooks from Harlem, New York, to victory at the National Junior High School Championships in 1991. He also led the Dark Knights -- also from
Harlem -- to two National Championships (1994 and 1995) in the Junior Varsity Division of the same event.
He is also the designer of a CD-ROM chess tutorial called "Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess," which was produced in 1996. He is currently pursuing his goal of becoming the
first African-American grandmaster in the history of the game of chess.
Yasser Seirawan has been a professional chess player since 1977. He is an FIDE International Chess Grandmaster (1980), the single highest honor a player can earn,
and a three-time United States National Champion. Among other honors Seirawan has garnered during his distinguished career, he is the two-time U.S. Junior Championship,
the 1979-1980 World Junior Champion and the 1989 FIDE Western Hemisphere Rapid Chess Champion. He is also a seven-time U.S. Olympic Team member.
Seirawan has defeated both Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in tournament play and has twice been a World Champion Candidate. He is the winner of numerous tournaments,
including the 1996 Aegon Human versus Computer Chess Tournament - the world's most prestigious human versus computer chess event.
Yasser Seirawan has been ranked among the world's top ten players and is currently the third highest-rated American player. In 1988, he was a founding board member of the
Grandmasters Association (GMA). As a writer, he has twice earned the American Chess Journalist (CJA) of the Year Award (1990 and 1995), the CJA's most prestigious award.
He has authored many books including Play Winning Chess, Winning Chess Tactics, Winning Chess Strategies, Winning Chess Brilliancies, Five Crowns, Take My Rooks, Alekhine
in the Americas, Alekhine in Europe and Asia and No Regrets. He has received the First Citizen of the State of Washington and was honored with a Yasser Seirawan Day by the
city of Seattle.
In addition, Seirawan feels that chess computers are weak!
Michael Valvo is an International Chess Master and a frequent arbiter of computer chess events. He was the arbiter of the 1996 ACM Chess Challenge match between
Kasparov and Deep Blue. Valvo brings unique experience to this event, having served as commentator for a number of the ACM Computer Chess Tournaments in the 1980s and
1990s. He is co-author of a book on the legendary 1990 Kasparov-Karpov match and was the technical editor of Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.
Valvo is also an expert blindfold chess player and in the early years of computer chess was known for taking on the entire field blindfolded. Within the chess arena, he is
probably best known for his 2-0 record in postal style matches against Deep Blue's predecessor, Deep Thought.