New York Awesome 16-Year-Old Seeks to Become Youngest African American Chess Grandmaster in History
10 JANUARY 2015
By Taki S. Raton
The Word Chess Organization defines a Chess Grandmaster as the highest title a chess player can attain. Once achieved, the tile is held for life.
A native of St Andrews, Jamaica and currently a Joint Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center and MIT’s Media Lab, Maurice Ashley in 1999 became the first African American to achieve the Grandmaster title.
Following in this proud path as paved by Ashley, Our YG&B profile this week has as his goal to become the first and youngest American-born Black Grandmaster and the first to become an International Master.
He is young, gifted and Black. Joshua Colas at the age of 12 on December 16, 2010 became the youngest African American Chess Master in history. And just this past December 19, 2014 according to Huffington Post Senior Editor Nico Pitney, he won a national chess championship for the second consecutive year.
Now a junior at White Plains High School in New York, he hopes to become a Grandmaster before he turns 20 and to become a role model for other aspiring young chess players.
The YG&B series first came across Joshua three years ago in our April 7, 2012 writing, “African American males continue chess master legacy,” where along with profiles to included James Black, Jr. and Justice Williams. Like Joshua, both James and Justice were named masters before their respective 13th birthdays.
As then noted in this April series, less than two percent of the United States Chess Federation are masters, counting 47,000 members and at that time only 13 of the listed masters were under the age of 14. As of 2011, only three of the 13 are African American young men. And coincidentally, all three reside in New York.
“Masters don’t happen every day, and African American masters who are 12 never happen,” says Ashely in the 2012 article. “To have three young players to do what they have done is something of an amazing curiosity.
You normally wouldn’t get something like that in any city of any race,” he adds.
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