Justus Williams headed to Pan-Ams in Brazil

Justus Williams at the U.S. Chess School. Photo by Elizabeth Vicary.

Justus Williams recently participated in a U.S. Chess School program in Dallas along with nine other talented scholastic players. Williams will participate in the Pan-American Youth Championship in Bento Goncalves, Brazil from August 1st to August 11th. It will be Williams’ first international competition. He carries momentum from his solid World Open performance in the under-2400 section.

In October, Justus will travel to Greece for the World Youth Championships in Crete, Greece. He currently sports a FIDE rating of about 2200 and is looking forward to vie for titles amongst his peers from over 100 countries. Justus will part of a contingent of 13 U.S. players to travel to Brazil. Williams attends I.S. 318 and is part of the Chess-in-Schools program. Elizabeth Vicary is his current coach.


Justus Williams @ Pan-Am Youth
# Player ELO
Nation
Flag
Result Player ELO
Nation
Flag
1 Calderon 0
Peru
Peru
0-1 Williams 2200
USA
USA
2 Williams 2200
USA
USA
1-0 Martinez 1656
Peru
Peru
3 Munoz 1958
Argentina
Argentina
0-1 Williams 2200
USA
USA
4 Williams 2200
USA
USA
1-0 Cori 2001
Peru
Peru
5 Pichot 2197
Argentina
Argentina
1-0 Williams 2200
USA
USA
6 Williams 2200
USA
USA
1-0 Leon 1905
Ecuador
Ecuador
7 Blandon 1994
Columbia
Columbia
1-0 Williams 2200
USA
USA
8 Williams 2200
USA
USA
½-½ Martinez 1917
Peru
Peru
9 Acosta 2029
Argentina
Argentina
1-0 Williams 2200
USA
USA
Score: 5½-3½

Link: https://main.uschess.org/content/view/10575/596/

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

28 Comments

  1. Right. I clicked on the latest link (for round 5) and they had not uploaded the games yet. I didn’t check the others. Thanks for the keeping up! Let me know if you see some photos. Here are games from rounds 2-7.

  2. Justus finished 10th in the final standings…a great learning experience overall despite the disappointing finish. Hopefully soon he will become the first African-American to win an international chess championship…if Josh Colas or James Black don’t beat him to it :). The “big three” of Justus, Josh and James (emphasized over contemporaries b/c each has already won at least one national championship) are fun to watch and root for!

  3. There are so many promising talents. It is good that we can write about so many of them. I plan to encourage 5-6 young players to Trinidad next year. Hopefully, Justus will be in that number.

  4. Wow… Justus played a Blumfeld Counter Gambit in reverse! The line didn’t work out as white’s pawns were severely weakened and picked off. In Josh’s game, he had chances, but wasted time at crucial points of the game. In the end, walking his king to the edge of the board was fatal.

    Both are coming off of international experiences and this will bode well for them. Justus’ bronze medal is a good result, but he’ll have to get used to being favored. It can be a lot of pressure.

    Darrian Robinson came in 2nd in under-16 Girls with 5.5/7.

  5. Daaim Shabazz
    “Justus’ bronze medal is a good result, but he’ll have to get used to being favored. It can be a lot of pressure.”
    ——

    Trust me, I know…that’s why winning national championships is the true marker of scholastic achievement — much more so than even rating. Its much easier to play up in open tournaments and gain rating points with a good score than to win a national championship — especially one that you’re heavily favored to win. That’s why Justus, Josh, and James are the big three — they’ve done it, and I expect they will continue to win national (and international) titles throughout the rest of their scholastic careers.

    And my congrats to Darrian…silver is awesome!

  6. Well… they are playing internationally, so it’s a very different dynamic. They won’t know any of the players in Greece and that makes it even more difficult. Even the rules are different. However, I will agree that there is more pressure in U.S. scholastic events since everyone will be gunning for them.

    I would like to see them continue to do well in the open tournaments against seasoned Masters as well. That is ultimately what they are aspiring to be. Both have stated this. Too many players have great scholastic careers and once they have won a boatload of scholastic titles, they quit playing. There are so many examples of this. The biggest one of our community is Howard Daniels who stopped playing shortly after being a part of the legendary Vaux teams.

    I interviewed GM Gennadi Sagalchik in Trinidad and I mentioned the numbers at the SuperNationals (5,000+) as proof of how scholastic chess has blossomed. He runs a program with about 400 students in Long Island, New York. However, he stated that the scholastic environment in the U.S. does not encourage players to continue on. Many students stop after winning a lot of trophies and scholastic titles.

    The good news is both Justus and Josh will win many scholastic titles, but have already stated goals outside of scholastic chess. Both have mentioned becoming Grandmasters.

  7. The rating strength of both the North American Youth and Pan-Am under 12 championships is not quite as formidable as this year’s National Elementary Championship was, so the fields are comparable, despite the international dynamic. Although the World Youth will be a different story altogether, hopefully Justus and Josh will be able to peak at the right time :).

    Of course, the reason why many students stop (or start focusing more on their studies than chess) is that unless you have a reached a certain rating by a certain age (i.e. FIDE rating of 2500 by the age of 14), it becomes pointless to continue playing with the goal of being a chess pro — you can become a starving artist and try to make GM by the age of 35, or you can use the same level of intellect to graduate college, choose a profession where you impact many lives, and make a comfortable living….most people make the wise choice, which is the latter.

    I have seen many US scholastic players hyped up over the last 20+ years, and to date I have seen only three that were talented enough to rely solely on being a chess professional for income: Tal Shaked, Hikaru Nakamura, and Ray Robson (and Shaked chose not to continue shortly after becoming World Junior Champion, due to the economic uncertainty of being a professional chessplayer). That indicates that more than 99.9% of players aren’t going to become professionals. Even Americans good enough to become GM-level have to rely on other sources of income (i.e. chess camps, chess teaching, promotional appearances, etc.) because the vast majority of them are not good enough to make a living solely based on their tournament performance.

    Chess is a great game, and a great preparation for succeeding in life — that being said, for most people, it would be an unwise decision to make chess one’s entire life….just as it is unwise to forsake one’s education to play basketball in the hope of being drafted by the NBA. Chess is a great hobby, but not a great career. That is why we should be encouraging players to be as great in the classroom as they are on the chessboard.

  8. Certainly. No question about it. You’re right on all counts.

    The dynamic I’m referring to is that international tournaments are very different… the conditions, the energy, the surroundings, the unfamiliarity, the buzzing of different languages, etc. It’s really the non-chess factors that can make a difference.

    Chess does not offer the stability, but I suppose the issue is not so much being a professional for Justus and Josh. However, both of them aspire to become GMs. Maurice Ashley was 33 when he got the title. They could do it well before that. If they stay on course, they will get a couple titles by the time they finish college. Kassa Korley is 17 and I believe he will be an IM in a year’s time with the right balance of training and opportunities.

    It is a very slippery slope and there are so many challenges. I have just written an essay on some of these issues. It’s called “The Challenges of the Black Chess Master”.

  9. He did it!!!

    Justus is officially the youngest African-American chess master in US history at the age of 12, accomplishing the feat on September 23, 2010 by reaching 2200 exactly, breaking Kassa Korley’s record by 3 years. Congratulations!

    Link to the historic tournament crosstable:
    https://main.uschess.org/assets/msa_joomla/XtblMain.php?201009233931-13534356

    BTW, Josh Colas is 2165, so he’s close…I don’t know how much younger he is than Justus (Josh turns 12 between September 1 and November 1, while Justus turned 12 between May 1 and July 1). James Black turns 12 between November 1 and January 1; his current rating is 2056. Congrats again the Big Three, particularly Justus!!

  10. Congratulatins Justus and Family, and well done to all who share their thoughts here on the chess drum. I feel compelled to admit that after i went over some of yall games yall had a fella feelin MAN TEARS!!! Peace.

  11. Congratulations Justus! I think the resulting publicity of his accomplishment will inspire other young African-American chess players.

    Josh Colas certainly deserves a chance to break Justus’ record. One possible solution would be to arrange a six- or eight-game match between Josh and Justus. That way, Josh would have a fair opportunity to prove he deserves the National Master title.

    I am interested in people’s opinions about this.

  12. I’d rather not see that. Matches to determine records are fraught with the potential for taint and retrospective suspicion (i.e. the Nicholas Nip situation). Plus Josh is only 35 points away and has about 4-5 months to break Justus’ record…it would be the most honorable thing for the record to be broken in regular tournament play.

  13. I think we’ve seen enough matches between these two young stars. Adults seem to get in the way a bit too much. 🙂 I agree with Woody. Josh is strong enough that he’ll get the title the same way Justus got it and they both will be Masters before the year is out.

  14. Justus,

    The Colas family is happy to see that you have accomplished one of your goals, congratulations!

    Jeff,

    It would have been sufficient to just congradulate Justus. Joshua is enjoying the peace and would like it to remain that way.

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