James Black is the U.S. K6 Champ!


James Black
James Black, Jr.
Photo by Polly Wright.

The National K-12 Championships in Dallas, Texas kicked off with blitz tournaments. James Black of IS 318 won the K-6 section while Raven Sturt of Bronx Science took first in the K-12. 

Friday, December 11, kicked off the first full day of competition. New York will be well-represented and Black will be with a large contingent of teammates from Brooklyn I.S. 318.

Black is a rising star and is fast approaching “Expert” level. He is one of several bright stars in the Black community from the New York area. Justin Williams and Josh Colas will also be competing against Black in the 6th grade section.

(Update: Black won the K6 blitz (11/12) AND the K6 open section of 102 players. At 1858, Black was near the top, but below three Experts and several strong “A” players. He beat Kyle Shin (2066) of California in the last round to take 1st place with 6.5/7!)

Results: https://www.uschess.org/tournaments/2009/k12/?page=RESULTS




  1. James, Congratulations! you’ve done a fantastic job this weekend in Dallas, you shook the house! Taking first place in the Nationals is no small task. You must be able to overcome your nerves, and you’ve done just that. Thumbs up!!!

  2. I’m really glad that James won a National title. I had the pleasure of meeting him and his dad this past summer. James beat me in two blitz games while displaying a knack for positional play. I knew from that moment that this young kid would soon be joining the likes of Joshua and Justice. Congratulations!!!!!

  3. Congratulations to James Black, Jr. and his family, who is so very supportive of his chess talent, and who I know must be extremely proud. James, you are starting to see some of the fruit of your labor. I know you have worked extremely hard this year and are so very deserving of all the accolades bestowed upon you! With hard work you can achieve all of your dreams in chess and in life!

  4. Congratulations James on winning the blitz and main event! Keep up the good work! see it, believe it, achieve it! 1st place in nationals!

  5. Congratulations James! Winning a national title is awesome; be humble yet hungry, and remember that you can achieve even more in chess and in life. Welcome to the club of African-American national champions!

    – Dr. Shearwood “Woody” McClelland III, M.D.

    P.S. I would love to see you someday join K.K. Karanja and myself as the only African-Americans to make the All-America Chess Team :). You can do it!

    African-American National Chess Champions: A Timeline
    (in chronological order)

    1. Frank Street, Jr. (1965 U.S. Amateur Champion)

    2. K. K. Karanja (1985 National Elementary Champion)

    3. Elvin Wilson (1988 National High School Co-Champion)

    4. R. O. Mitchell (1990 U.S. Junior Open Champion)

    5. Kimberly McClelland (1993 National High School U1600 Champion)

    6. Shearwood McClelland III (1993 National Junior High School Co-Champion)

    7. Bernard Parham, Jr. (1994 National 12th Grade Champion)

    8. Shearwood McClelland III (1994 National 11th Grade Champion)

    9. Shearwood McClelland III (1995 National 12th Grade Champion)

    10. Loyd Gentry (1996 National 11th Grade Co-Champion)

    11. Shearwood McClelland III (1997 U.S. Junior Open Champion)

    12. Loyd Gentry (1997 National 12th Grade Co-Champion)

    13. Medina Parilla (2003 National 7th Grade Champion)

    14. James Black (2009 National 6th Grade Champion)

    Note: Blitz championships not included
    (Shearwood McClelland III won the 1995 National K-12 Blitz Championship and James Black won the 2009 National K-6 Blitz Championship)

  6. Thanks, Daaim. That’s great to know! My congrats to Josh and Justus on making the All-America team….that’s a PHENOMENAL achievement; neither Karanja or myself made the team as young as Josh and Justus did.

    With Justus, Josh and James as promising as they are, it looks like Kassa’s record for youngest African-American master will be short-lived; also my record of national titles won may not be safe for long… 🙂

    Winning national titles and making the All-America team are the true tests of whether a scholastic player is a legitimate phenom. Its nice to see that the torch is being passed!

  7. Guy Colas
    After reading Dr. McClelland’s follow-up statement, one could only have admiration and respect for the way he unselfishly expressed the passing of the torch to a new generation. Woody has character!

  8. In terms of a torch… we need more of a system for grooming talent. Very few of the Black masters are very active in helping these young players… many are increasingly inactive for a variety of legitimate reasons. Others just have not gotten the motivation to get involved. It’s very important for them to have these role models. Young players today are merely getting through on their own talent and support of family and friends. The imagery of seeing top players of African descent would be very important.

  9. Daim, James Black’s story very inspirational as are many of the stories on the chess drum but for some reason the site is blocked by the filter at the elementary school I teach at. I think maybe the tag for games is blocking it, I would like to use the site for periodic inspiration for my chess club but you will have to do something to the tags to allow it to be accessed. Last year it worked so whatever you did new, maybe you can change it back. Because no students can access it in Broward schools.

  10. Robert,

    I have no idea what the problem is. I have not done anything new. It has to be the filter at the school. Perhaps they do not want any game sites to be viewed. Do other chess sites work?

  11. Congratulations to James Black on winning the K-6 National championship!!! I have played this young lad a few blitz games and he’s got game. Keep up the good work.

  12. James Black made “Expert” over the Christman holiday at an I.S. 318 event. He is the latest of the New York of the African-American contingent to breach the 2000 barrier.

  13. Wonderful Update brother Shabazz thanks, i know he with Lbron ,”Win a Ring for the King”, but he can feel it too!, right along with Canty and the boys. Oldschool Style – (Jesus Shuttlesworth!) – The Boston Celtics! Yessirr!

  14. Hello James. Congratulations on your latest national title, and for breaking my record of most national blitz championships by an African-American…I am sure you will win many more during the rest of your scholastic career. Also, given your recent rating rise to candidate master status, I will say congratulations in advance for making the 2011 All-America Chess Team :). Remember to stay humble in all your endeavors.

    “Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.” – John Wooden

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