Justus-Josh battle at IS-318!

Shaun Smith, Chess-in-Schools (CIS) has organized a training match between two of the brightest stars in the U.S. chess scene. Both Justus Williams (2141) and Josh Colas (2114) are well-known here at The Chess Drum, but the world will see both talents on display at the Internet Chess Club on February 17th and 18th. Below is a report written for the USCF Online by Smith.

Justus Williams to Face Off Against Josh Colas
By Shaun Smith
February 16, 2010

Joshua Colas and Justus Williams, Colas Photo by Daaim Shabazz, Williams Photo by Elizabeth Vicary.

Joshua Colas and Justus Williams to face off.
Colas Photo by Daaim Shabazz, Williams Photo by Elizabeth Vicary.

From February 17-18, Justus Williams and Joshua Colas, two of the highest rated 11-year olds in the nation (#2 and #4 respectively), will face off in a rated match at IS 318K (4 rounds of G/60). Justus and Joshua are both rated over 2100 and are both on pace to break the record for the youngest African American master, currently held by Kassa Korley who became a master at age 15. Close friends Justus and Joshua recently played on the same team at the USATE. The match will take place over two days (February 17 + 18th) with rounds at 9:30am and 12:30pm each day.This is a perfect time to host the match as New York public schools are currently not in session due to mid-winter recess. The games will be broadcast live on the Internet Chess Club. To watch (Follow J-Williams or J-Colas) at 9:30am and 12:30pm both days.

The winner of the match will receive multiple prizes including a brand new Monroi PCM generously donated by Monroi.

USCF Online: https://main.uschess.org/content/view/10161/576


  1. Justus wins the match 3-1. The games were all exciting, but of course these games will be dissected and analyzed in coming weeks. The last game has some interesting possibilities such as 20.Be4 weakening black’s kingside with 20…h6 (20…g6 21.Bxg6!). It looks as if white has no better than a repetition of moves after 29.Qd5 Bf7. Justus clearly wasn’t going to play 29…Kh8 30.Nxf6!? with complications.

  2. Congratulations Justus! We really enjoyed the struggles in games two and three. Obviously, when Josh was down 2-1, the psychological pressure of a must win caused him to try too hard. Josh told me he felt that Justus was more prepared for this match and deserves the win.

    Guy & Yanick

  3. I’d like to congratulate both boys for a job well done. It was good to see that the two did not let the pressure take them to a place that lacked sportsmanship and respect. Each remained true to the game, their nurturing and who they will become as men. I am proud of Justus because he worked hard, is very talented through it all he continued to show concern for his opponent.

  4. I was really impressed with the level of play and the way they both handled each themselves. I’m sure we’ll see more great games between these two.

    I hope we’ll be able to have rematch in the future up in White Plains at Joshua’s school.

    Thanks Shaun for organizing the match and the tournament.

  5. I will definately set-up a rematch in Westchester if both parties can agree to a date…let the planning begin. Polly, since that is your neck of the woods, would you be interested in co-organizing such an event. Perhaps we can have a side tournament for others during the match.

    Perhaps they can play during the next school break!

    I must say that this was a very exciting match from start to finish. I have known both players since they were beginners and they have made so much progress—-I am very proud of both of them.


  6. Shaun,
    If it was up to Josh, he would want a rematch ASAP because he just loves to play chess. However, I think the purpose of a match is to find out certain things about your opponent. Having said that, the next match cannot be done right away. Of course, this time around, we will ask for certain perameters to be determined before the match.

  7. Guy,
    Justus and Joshua both love playing and I am sure they would both play tomorrow if possible. However, it makes it more fun to prepare for the match over time and have a future date in mind.

    I think it only fair to have the next match in Westchester and to lay out certain paremeters before the match (Josh starts with white etc) Also, perhaps they can play a 6 game match and have a longer time control.

    As I mentioned to you I would also like to set up some other matches between Justus/Joshua and other top juniors in the area. I will keep you posted on my progress. At this point James A. Black has said that he wants to play both Justus and Joshua.


    (Photos courtesy of Polly Wright, castlingqueenside.blogspot.com.)

    Josh Colas and Justus Williams get ready to face off in their second match.

    Shaun Smith of Chess-in-Schools, the match organizer and
    TD of the Quads tournament downstairs.

    Guy Colas watching his son’s progress in game #3.


    Latisha Williams and son Justus Williams. 🙂

    Yanick and Guy Colas with Josh (middle) and two siblings, Korey (standing left) and Chellsie. What a handsome family!

  9. I’m very proud of both of these talented players. I have not met Justus yet, but both he and Josh have a bright future and I will do everything possible to help in their development.

  10. Shaun,
    Since Polly will most likely be the one in charge of organizing the match in White Plains, I will let you know of a date after I talk with her.

  11. Well I think that before we go to scheduling dates, we might want to see if the champ and his family want a match. Because let us see if I got this right. The two boys had a blitz match, of which Joshua won, then for what ever reason the Colas family demanded a chess match, ( or rematch) and had every opportunity to agree or disagree with the particulars of said match. Then the chess match took place and Justus won. However. inlike prior to the second match when it was constantly said “let’s encourage the boys to just have fun and place the best that they can and continue being friends, all I have heard is excuses that noone has asked for and insults. Justus will not be made to feel other than like to champion he is. So, before we get completely out of line I suggest we change the flow of how this is going. Joshua lost the rematch that he and his family insisted on having. When Justus lost the Blitz match we did not cry instead we congratulated Joshua

  12. Nanna,

    Given the spirit that Guy has displayed in this experiment (see comment #3), I would say that your characterization may be a bit too harsh. I am not viewing this as some type of “grudge match” to determine a “champ” and I don’t believe that is the purpose of these matches. Both of these players will play many, many times in the future and of course, this match is not a definitive account of their play. These matches will certainly help them both.

    From looking at the games, there are certainly areas needing improvement. It would be my hope that these games will be analyzed and annotated by the players jointly with another strong player. Let’s not make this contentious by using words like “champ”. To my knowledge, these are merely two 11-year olds who love playing chess and want to play against a strong opponent. Steel sharpens steel.

    When they get older, they will look back on this moment will pleasant memories. Let’s not spoil this moment for them.

  13. Hello Daaim, I agree with you that “Nanna” was very harsh. That’s grandmothers for you – she is very protective. I will apologize if anyone feels insulted. Since the beginning there were always people opposing the match because they predicted issues such as this arising from such an event; there are a few posts on the USCF website as well where someone did comment on the impact on whether or not the match/rematch is what the boys want or if it is instead what the parents want. Comments have been made regarding justus being allowed to play with white first, and the fact that it was in 318, also remarks have been made about justus being “prepared” for the match, etc which to me can be viewed as insulting because yes Justus was prepared well as he should have been (he studies very hard) and as both boys should have been prior to the match. Justus does not mind at all having a rematch with Josh, he enjoyed the event immensely and loves the game;however, i think we should give other talented kids an opportunity to play strong players as well. James Black is an excellent player and 6th grade national Champion with alot of promise and wants greatly to be given a chance to play a serious match with Joshua which i think is fine and would support. My mother is accurate when she refers to Justus as being a “champ” because to my family he is nothing less and has been this to us and others prior to this event. Joshua is a champ in his own right as well so the term should not be viewed negatively. Again, I agree my mother was harsh and we apologize; just understand that her comment stems from the comments posted previously which can be translated as reducing/denying the fact that Justus won the match and both boys played undeniably well. Anyone who watched the games agreed both Justus and Joshua played extremely high level chess and did so very well. On that note I say we should just continue to be proud and supportive of all of our talented young Champs and work together to see to it they progress and go far!!

  14. Justus, congratulations on being such a gracious Champion!! I am so proud of all that you have done during the past two years, you are truly an inspiration. Never have I seen a more joyous and humble star such as yourself. I’m just happy you let me help you celebrate your Victory. You and I are going to do it bigger and better next time, Promise!! Keep up the good work and study hard as usual.

    Julia Rodriguez, RN

  15. Latisha,

    I think this is a good experiment, but I do believe now that the two players can help each other with analysis without the spotlight. They are now bound together forever and will talk about this when they get older.

    When I was a junior player, I played a match against another junior player. There was a lot of trash-talking before he challenged me. At the time, our ratings were about the same, but I was clearly stronger. We played two games each Saturday during club hours at the Tuley Park in Chicago. I won the first two games rather handily. Then I relaxed and lost two in a row on horrible blunders (including dropping a rook in a winning position). Then there was a draw where I almost lost.

    The match was getting interesting and his confidence was high. The fifth game I lost disastrously from an over-aggressive opening with black. I was now down a game! Everyone was shocked. We played in a scholastic tournament at University of Chicago and he was going around telling people he was a game up, but no one believed him. In that tournament, I won a 1st place in a quad and got some confidence back. I then went back and studied hard and won the next three games in a row. It was a good lesson for me and made me a better player. After that, my rating soared.

    Granted Justus and Josh are receiving a lot of publicity for this match. When they become Masters within a year, they will receive more publicity. They will also encourage each other. We have not had this amount of young talent in the Black community in 20-25 years. You’ve got a lot of talent in New York and in other cities and soon we will see them competing at Master level. The competition between these boys is healthy, but adults have to be careful not to make this a rivalry.

  16. Wow! I am at a loss for words! , I normally do not respond to negative comments, it serves no purpose. However, in this instance I will attempt to adress two issues that I think needs to be clarified. The offer of a rematch was extended to Latisha after I saw Shaun Smith and he expressed to me that he would have rather seen Joshua and Justus play in a slow time control. The offer was immediately accepted. Therefore, to use words like: INSISTED or DEMANDED, is flat out wrong. I would think if anyone wanted a rematch, it would be the person who lost the match. Next, what did Josh mean by Justus was better prepared and deserves the win? In short, Josh was saying on this day, Justus played better chess. Here’s an example of what I would have construed as Josh looking for excuses: Josh does not have a coach, he trains simply by playing on ICC, I do my best to help him with my experience ( I am rated about 1600). If Josh had said, Justus won the match because he has better coaching, then I would have no issue with someone saying he was looking for excuses. However, anyone who knows Josh would agree that’s totally unlike him. Josh is looking forward to their next friendly match. To Latisha and Nanna, we still love you . (let’s not leave out Jehron Bryant!)

  17. I agree with Daaim. To me it seems that both Justus and Joshua really love chess and just love to play the game. Joshua won the first match and Justus won the second. Who knows who would win if they played again? They are so closely matched… it is tough to call. It is exciting to watch the two boys as they become Chess-Masters…they are both Champions.

    Guy is correct. I did ask to see both talented players match up in a longer time control. Since Joshua won the Blitz match, I thought it would be exciting to see how the two would fair in G/60 and a rematch might create excitement for the two players.

    Both players are great and I know they will both break 2200 soon.

    If both players still want to play I will help in anyway I can.

  18. crazy how two boys playing chess can cause issues…maybe thats why black chess players have issues improving cause there are too many issues on the home front just let the boys play! congrads to both sides and to their familes for the support they give.we are witnessing the birth of two great chess players..the future is very bright for those two indeed!

  19. I believe chess players will understand that this is not a big deal. Chess players play chess, free and clear. We can play casual blitz all day and not be concerned with these issues. In chess, there is always another day.

    The “Black Bear School of Chess” in Brooklyn was a legendary system where chess players got together and studied and played 30-game matches to rise in the ranks. GM Maurice Ashley, FM William Morrison, FM Ronald Simpson and NM Ernest Colding come from that tradition and they are as friendly as they’ve ever been. These methods only strengthened the players.

    Sometimes parents and/or adults bring in elements that are not part of the chess spirit. I’ve heard of some ridiculous incidents concerning adults at children’s sporting events. Fortunately, both Josh and Justus have parents who are supportive and will no doubt like to see both boys be successful in chess and in life.

  20. Congratulations to Justus for winning the chess match. And congratulations to both boys for their hard work. Mr. Colas although i think you may mean well, your comments such as “psychological pressure for a must win caused (Joshua) him to try too hard” and “this time around we will ask for certain parameters” seems to me that you are trying to take away from Justus’ win, now if your son would have won would you appreciate these comments? frankly Mr. Colas it seems that you should try to encourage and work toward good sportsman like behavior, instead pretending to be “wow” when you started this negativity leaves alot to be desired, especially your constant reference to your rating of 1600. Congratulations and keep up the good work Justus and Joshua. The two of you are making the community very proud. I’m not sure Justus and Joshua should have a rematch just yet – but that is just my opinion. A battle with somone else just as strong as Joshua such as James Black or Jehron Bryant(as you have mentioned) would be just as interesting. I hope to see another match between more talented young players in the future. Take care.


  21. I’m not sure why ADULTS are nitpicking over comments and trying to find something out of nothing. We waste our energy on small points instead of focusing on how the two boys can work together, get the resources they need and make progress. There is no need to go back over “who-said-what” and analyze why the comments were made. It has already been explained. Let’s move on and find a way for our youth to fulfill their chess dreams. It is my hope that Justus and Josh can develop a partnership… free of suspicion. Please do not spread gossip to either Josh or Justus and ruin their spirit and love for the game. Focus on this picture.

    Future Masters!

  22. Daaim,
    Latisha and I had a very constuctive dialog last night and we agreed to move on. Josh will have his LAST match with justus during the next school break.

    MY JUSTY BOY, I’m soo extremely proud of you for winning this game and all of your accomplishments! Being the talented, skilled, dedicated and HUMBLE young man that you are…you will without a doubt continue to SOAR papa! God will surely continue to bless you abundantly in all that you do! The sky is the limit and don’t let anyone else’s words/thoughts persuade you to think anything less. Keep it up sweetie. Love, Auntie. Muah!

  24. Sad it had to come to a LAST match. daaim I feel you on that last comment it would be said indeed if those kids are to remember these events that brought any outside stress cause once anyone loses love for the game there I’d nothing left and it’s my prayer that these boys reach the very limits of their potential and have fun doing it if the boys wanna play 10 more matches they should be able to play to their hearts content after all as much as it’s about war it’s also just a Game!!

  25. Julius,

    There is nothing to stop Justus and Josh from playing informal matches. They can continue to do that without publicity. Chess players do it all the time in parks, schools, clubs… without adult intervention or supervision. I just hope they’re not tainted by conspiracy theories and rumours. I understand there are some bad things being said about the Colas family and I believe it is unfair.

  26. Hey people I’m very confused. With the exception of “Nanna” I did not know there were bad things being said about the Colas family. My family has a huge respect and actually enjoy the company of Josh, Chelsea, Yanick and Korey! Let’s keep in mind the fact that Commentary is normal after sports of any kind and usually it is viewed as a normal response when it refers to other leagues. Unfortunately this is not the case here. If Mr Colas wants to make this a “LAST” game, it’s fine although unfortunate. My husband honestly feels that in light of everything that has transpired thus far, a rematch of any kind is not a good idea. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and they are voicing them. Everyone has a right to interpret words used and take away from them what they wish. Chessdrum is open to the public and fortunately/unfortunately communication is “open” and in some instances, judged. Whether the Judgement is justified depends on the writer of the comment because it is a personal interpretation. Justus and Josh are friends and have played two wonderful matches. In addition to that they are both on what i considered a “team” with huge potential. During the conversation between me and Guy last night we had agreed on a rematch to take place during the Easter recess next month. Sadly at this time I am thinking better of it because in no way do I want to send the message that this is a “battle” that is anything other than “friendly competition”. Special bonds were made over the past year between some of “our” finest and it is vital that every effort is made to be objective and not be one-sided. Let’s just leave it the way it is without any talks of a rematch and instead just work together doing our best to encourage them all to go further! To be fair, I will say that there were comments referred to both the Colas and Williams family which were not 100% favorable but that goes hand-in-hand with free speech, interpretation/analysis and sports commentary. Many people view things differently and develop their own personal conclusions.

  27. I’m disappointed by some of the sniping going between some of the adults. I traveled down to Brooklyn on both days with Joshua and his family. On the car ride back after the first day Joshua seemed very satisfied with how things went.

    Coming down on the next day we did discuss the pros and cons of having White or Black in the third game. My description of of the second day can be found at https://castlingqueenside.blogspot.com/2010/02/big-battle-in-brooklyn-day-2.html

    I think Nanna’s remarks were a little harsh. Knowing the Colas family as well as I do I feel the Guy was sincere in his congratulations, and was not making excuses for why Josh lost.

    To Irma, I don’t know if you’re a chess player or not. If you talk to any player who has competed matches or any tournament there are many psychological things that come into play. It works both ways. There’s the pressure of trying to pull out the must win game to bring one back from the brink of defeat. One can’t sit back and play for draw, so chances are taken.

    On the other hand there is the pressure of holding the lead by wining or drawing the last game. A last round loss ties the match, and then it comes down to a blitz match as tie-breaker. That can be nerve wracking when you know that your opponent is an exceptional blitz player and beat you pretty handily the blitz match.

    Let’s us remind ourselves these are two 11 year children who have many years ahead of them to gain the experience and maturity to handle the pressure of playing for championships. Let’s not make this out to be the championship to decide which one of these young men might make it master first. Matches are an excellent training tool, and it had some extra incentive too it by Mon Roi’s donation of the PCM to the winner.

    Justus came out on top this time. Perhaps in a rematch the opposite may be true, or maybe Justus will win again. I don’t it necessarily proves Justus is better then Josh. There will be more games against one another in tournaments. I’m sure at a National Scholastic Championship we will see these two on board one duking it out to see who will become National Champion of their section.

    As both them discovered in Dallas, being number 1 & 2 on the wall chart doesn’t guarantee the anticipated match up for National Champion. There are bumps in the road on the route to National Champion. I’ve seen it time and time again where the the heavy favorite gets knocked off in an early round. Will matches such as these benefit the players in their quest to make master or National Champion? I don’t know the answer.

    What I do know is that taking pot shots at the parents and misinterpreting what was said or written hurts the kids. Let’s remember Josh and Justus spent the weekend together before the match playing as teammates at the USATE. Bitter rivals don’t team up for an event like that. Friends get together and form teams for the camaraderie and good times that are had at that event. Let’s not ruin a friendship these boys have over matches that don’t prove much except that one match Josh had outstanding success over Justus, and the next match Justus had outstanding success over Josh.

    5 to 10 years down the road this match will be just one little blip in what they both accomplish as they pursue there chess dreams. Hopefully they will be able to look back on it as a good experience.

    All of this being said, I would be happy to work with Shaun to set up a rematch in White Plains at Josh’s school or some other in White Plains. Let Josh have White in games 1 & 3, and let’s just make it clear what happens in the event of a tie match. I have to admit Shaun and I were trying to figure out what we would have done in Josh had won the 4th game to tie the match.

  28. Polly you are absolutely right! Joshua is an “exceptional blitz player” and he did “beat Justus pretty handily”. Unfortunately my comment on # 31 arrived prior to yours.

  29. Latisha,

    I think we had the electronic version of letters getting crossed in the mail. Your post wasn’t there when I started typing and hit return. As the time stamps indicate we were both burning the 1:00 am oil. 🙂 I was on late because I stayed up to catch the end of the ice dance competition at the Olympics.

    I had meant to make reference to that in my post because the friendship between the Canadian and US couples was so apparent at the end. Here are two rival pairs, that train together in Michigan and have the same coach and choreographer and yet with Olympic gold on the line they both could go out and skate fantastic programs. When it was over they both could celebrate the joy of their medals. I saw true graciousness and respect, and I’m sure if the results at been reversed we still would have seen the same joy.

    I was extremely moved by what I witnessed last night on television, and an excellent example of what friendship between rivals should be. Let’s have Justus’ and Joshua’s friendship continue to blossom and have them push each other towards their goals not only in chess, but personally.

    Perhaps a rematch is not in the best interests of either player at this point in time. A group hug is probably a better idea. 🙂 However if down the road another match is to be arranged I’m happy to help play host to it.

    See you at states this weekend?

  30. I stumbled on “The Chess Drum” by accident, in fact, by doing a search for an internet marketer Shaun Smith and was redirected to The Chess Drum. I’m 63 and have played chess all my life and at all levels my best ranking position was 198 playing for my county in the UK. From this day forward, I will be following The Chess Drum with great interest.
    Ben Shepard

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