Darrian Robinson… the latest “Expert”

Darrian Robinson in action against Columbian opponent in Ecuador's 2006 Pan-Am Games. Photo by Cenceria Edwards.
Darrian Robinson in action against Columbian opponent
in Ecuador’s 2006 Pan-Am Games. Photo by Cenceria Edwards.

New York is a chess machine. It has been the “mecca” of American chess for more than a century. Fast forward and the age of technology and professional trainers has pushed the development curve down and players are improving at a blistering pace.

Grandmasters are routinely being developed at ages 14-15. The Ukraine’s Sergey Karjakin set the bar for excellence by making the level of Grandmaster at 12 years 7 months. Of course, that record will fall one day. However, for mere “mortals,” chess development may come a bit more gradually. The latest rash of young masters as seen by IM Ray Robson shows that U.S. chess may have a future.

Darrian Robinson
Darrian Robinson (right) is one of the crop of scholastic chess players making a splash. She is one of the many of New York scholastic players to come of age. Here is the record:

  • At a recent New York tournament, Robinson gained 40+ points to post a rating of 2011.
  • Last year, Kassa Korley broke Howard Daniels’ age record (15 years 4 months) for the youngest USCF National Master of African descent (14 years, 10 months). That record held for almost 30 years.
  • Also last year, Medina Parrilla became the first female of African descent to make USCF Expert since Baraka Shabazz did it as a 15-year old in the 80s.
  • Ten-year old Josh Colas is the youngest USCF Expert of African ancestry since K.K. Karanja of the 80s. Karanja made 2100 at age 10. With an insatiable appetite for chess, Colas is one of the brightest talents in the African Diaspora.
  • The three are now 200 points away from the coveted Master’s title. Robinson (14) and Colas (10) have age on their side and will improve rapidly. These milestones are important because it shows the potential. There must be support in place to see the talent harnessed and that initial moral support usually comes from family, friends and the communities they originate from.

    There are other players such as New York’s Rochelle Ballantyne (1961 at age 13), Isaiah Gadson (1945 at age 13) of St. Louis and Jehron Bryant of New York (1922 at age 12) all show promise. They may shatter all the records of predecessors such as Howard Daniels, K.K. Karanja, Shearwood McClelland III and Kayin Barclay.

    Detroit’s Jimmy Canty III (2165, age 16) is not to be overlooked! It’s great to see young players of the various ethnic groups enjoy the fruits of chess. Asians thoroughly dominate U.S. scholastic chess, but many players of African descent are coming fast. Interesting. Let’s keep our eyes out for future developments.

    Note: Thanks to Brian Richardson of Texas for the note on Darrian’s accomplishment!


    1. So many records falling. Darrian is also the youngest female of African ancestry to make USCF Expert. I think Josh Colas will shatter the age record for USCF Master for Black players. Nicholas Nip made Master at age 9, so Josh won’t get that record.

    2. Congratulations!Darrian, a very nice accomplishment at a very young age! Go get that master title..

    3. We gone partie lak its ya birthday! haha! Everybody Play Chessh!! Yo Political Pete u got my stomach hurting man,wit watery eyes! hahaha Well done Darrian.

    4. 10 and he beat a 1999 thursday at the marshall, a slow game at that (the 1999) not the game 30 at the marshall on thursdays

      and James drew an expert from a winning position last thursday

      no doubt , the kid can PLAY

    5. He was here the other night and I printed out a win i had against Nakamura in 97. he started playing through the game immediately, i thought he would take it home

    6. congrats Darrian and Family! Thanks for being a wonderful role model for other young african american women who aspire to become a chess champion such as yourself!!!


    7. I’m incredibly excited that James Black and Justus Williams (1980, 5th grade) will both be coming to IS 318 next year. Also, many of the above mentioned kids will be getting top-level training this summer at US Chess School sessions (www.uschessschool.com) Justus will be attending a camp at the Marshall this June, taught by Alex Onischuk, and Darrian and Rochelle will both be attending in August at the St Louis Chess Center, taught by Greg Kaidanov.

    8. When a youngster reaches 1600 by the age of 10, we need to do more than watch him! I am also thrilled that James Black is going to IS 318, where you can be confident that he will be part of a nurturing chess program and culture .. thanks to Lizzy.

    9. Message from Latisha Williams…

      Hello I just wanted to inform ChessDrum that 5th grader, Justus Williams of the Bronx, NY has just reached Expert level with a rating of 2000+.

      Michael Bodek analyzing with Justus Williams.

    10. Hello Mr. Shabazz, i just wanted to let you know that Justus Williams played in the northeast open in Stamford, CT and ended with a performance rating of 2400 after Winning round 1 against Igor Yeliseyer (rated 2212) , winning round 2 against GM Michael Rhode (rating 2500) and drawing round 4 and 5. He only lost one round. He did a great job. Not sure if the game will be posted but i know that continental chess did take a copy of the game.

    11. Maurice Ashley recently announced Miles Hinson attainment of Expert. According to Ashley, Miles is a student at the Collegiate School in New York and went from 1380 to 2025 in four years. Excellent! Full report on these young stars is coming.

      He did it with a strong showing at this year’s Pan American Youth Championship held in Argentina in August. He now stands at 2025 with tons of potential to rise to his next stop, which is National Master. As a side note, he could become the youngest African-American Master in US history if he does it by April of 2010. The record is currently held by another phenom, Kassa Korley who did it at 15 years, 2 months.

    12. I would like to give a a big round of congradulation to the following youth please excuse if I left any one out! Jutus Williams, Mles Hinson, Jame A. Black and of course Darrian Robinson! Many thanks to the coaches, teachers and parents for continued interest in providing a a vehicle for these young ladies and gents to excel! To coach Elizabeth Vicary, kept doing what your doing to provide these children with an opportunity to grow and excel! Remember the road to the top is easier if you remember to “enjoy the journey” and appreciate the sights along the way!

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