How has your life changed since you won one of the major prizes in the MCO?:
Since winning my section qualifier and placing 3rd in the u2200 quick playoff, I have most importantly been able to reach out to the youth teaching that prayer, hard work, and discipline leads to positive results in anything your wanting to accomplish. Secondly, due to the local publicity surrounding my success at MC1, I have linked myself with the Mayor of Houston, Texas to start a non profit organization called "Life is about playing Chess not Checkers". Within my organization I hope to not only bring attention to the USCF and chess as a mental sport, but I hope to raise the awareness to the youth about taking life and goals seriously by having successful public speakers in various and different fields speak on their own testimonies in life about how and when they started playing chess in life to obtain success.
How do your friends and family feel about you winning?:
I have had from the beginning to the end of MC1 a very supportive group of associates, friends, and family. Whether it was from the Houston Chess Club, Center 64, or my own chess organization DarkKnights Chess via facebook, I have had full support from numerous chess enthusiasts and competitors. It meant a lot reading the comments and posts from each organization as the tournament progressed post initial announcements all the way to the final quick playoff round. I kept in touch with my immediate family via Skype or group chat each step of the way. They are my number one fans and without them I wouldn't be the individual I am today.
Why did you decide to play in MC#1?:
I loved all the ideas and effort Maurice put into this tournament. Hands down the best chess tournament I have ever participated in. From chess gaining publicity through live streaming, commentary, entertainment, gifts, mobile app, etc. I couldn't have asked for much more. I especially loved the strict electronic rules that were applied in this tournament. I think the biggest fear for most chess players signing up for a tournament of this caliber is whether or not their opponent would be cheating with an electronic device or by other means. In MC1 I was at ease with a peace of mind knowing that there wasn't any way that my opponent could have been cheating with all the security and metal detectors set in place. It made playing and competing in chess much more comfortable for the players.
What did you most like about MC#1?:
Easily the best part of the tournament for me was being able to at 2a.m. in the skittles room after the tournament and all the games had concluded being the last individuals in the conference room sit down, talk, kick it, hang out, and converse with GM Maurice Ashley and a mutual friend Tyrell Harriot. The visions of the future MC tournaments, his personal perception on chess growing up and now, to mutually enjoying the game of chess as a whole made the tournament worth while win or lose.
What would you like to see different next year?:
Haha, this probably is more so from a personal stand point, but if the qualifying rounds making it to the playoffs played a factor to the seeding order in the playoffs rather the opponents rating. :) Then again had I won first in the quick playoffs I'm sure I would have cared less. Overall the tournament was an A+.