NY Stars take on Canada!

Michael Song getting set to play Joshua Colas. Justus Williams on top board against William Graif. Photo by Guy Colas.

Justus Williams and Joshua Colas recently returned from their first international trips to Brazil and Trinidad, respectively. Both had credible results and were intent on using the experience as preparation for the World Youth Championships in Greece later on this year. However, the families of both stars decided that the North American Youth Championship in Montreal, Canada would also afford the two players a training ground for the upcoming tournament in October. Darrian Robinson, already an international traveler, had also joined the tournament.

Justus and Joshua were seeded #1 and #2 in the under-12 section and started well. As fate would have it, the two were paired against each other in the penultimate round six. Justus won the game and set up a battle against Michael Song with white. The game started with a customary 1.Nf3, but then descended into a weird Blumenfeld Counter Gambit reversed after 1…d5 2.c4 d4 3.e3 c5 4.b4!? Justus attacked swiftly, but overextended his center which collapsed. Black picked off more pawns and won comfortably. Justus had to be content with the bronze medal with 5.5/7.

Justus Williams with Joshua Colas and Darrian Robinson. Photo by Guy Colas.

Joshua was in the hunt after five rounds with an undefeated four points. However, he faced his friend Justus in round six. Guy Colas told The Chess Drum that both players played the game cautiously out of mutual respect. It appeared at one point that they would repeat moves, but Joshua played 19…h6?! and went astray shortly thereafter. On 25.Nd4 Bc5 white played 26.Nc6 forking the queen and rook. Black possibly miscalculated that he’d have an attack after 26…Bxf2+ 27.Kxf2 Rd2+ but on 28.Ke3 Qd6 white simply has 29.e5… another fork. Joshua couldn’t get enough compensation for the sacrificed material and eventually had to resign. Joshua then played a Sicilian-turned French in the last round and missed opportunities to snatch the initiative. In a crucial moment, Joshua walked his king to the edge of the board and was facing mate or massive material loss. Thus, he ended on 4/7.

Darrian Robinson played in the depleted under-16 section for girls which had only seven players. She ended on 5.5/7 and lost only to gold medalist Anna Matlin. One wonders if Darrian would have been challenged more playing in a tougher section such as the under-16 Open. As she works toward National Master, she will need stiffer competition to rise to that level. Nevertheless she took home the silver medal and will add to her impressive collection of accolades.

Results: https://monroi.com/2010-north-american-youth-championship-results.html


  1. Organizer of Tournament

    2010 North American Youth Championship
    Photos by Guy Colas.

    Justus Williams with Dad waiting for the round to start. Photo by Guy Colas.

    Justus Williams with Dad waiting for the round to start.

    Joshua Colas about to pawn off against opponent. Photo by Guy Colas.

    Joshua Colas about to pawn off against opponent.

    All-Americans Justus Williams and Joshua Colas. Photo by Guy Colas.

    All-Americans Justus Williams and Joshua Colas

    Michael Song (Canada) getting set to play Joshua Colas (USA). Justus Williams on top board against William Graig. Photo by Guy Colas.

    Michael Song getting set to play Joshua Colas. Justus Williams on top board against William Graif. Photo by Guy Colas.

    Justus and Joshua checking with the Arbiters. Photo by Guy Colas.

    Justus and Joshua checking with the Arbiters.

    Josh Colas getting settled to play Justus Williams. Neither appeared too thrilled. Photo by Guy Colas.

    Josh Colas getting settled to play Justus Williams. Neither appeared too thrilled at the prospect of playing a friend.

    Darrian Robinson (USA) vs. Wislandie Desrosiers (Haiti). Photo by Guy Colas.

    Darrian Robinson (USA) vs. Wislandie Desrosiers (Haiti)

  2. This is the game I believe Josh will need to study carefully. This game is why it is important to at least have a basic knowledge of all openings… at least the main themes. He played the Sicilian, but ended up in an Advanced French. There were a number of mistakes. Some of the issues were: playing …h6 and …b5, bishops out of play and delaying …g5 were a few of the problems I saw. However, the game was interesting and showed his fighting spirit until the end when white threw away his advantage.

    Justus’ last game was no doubt an opening failure for him. He played an interesting idea… the Blumenfeld Gambit reversed! However, it was too ambitious given the tournament situation. He probably could have played his comfortable 1.Nf3 2.c4 3.g3 system. The move 10.f4?! was very risky, but his opponent blundered with 12…Kxe7? instead of the winning 12…Qxe7+! Justus should have castled and tried to exploit the exposed black king. Once Zhu got the queens off it was hard to get any compensation for the pawns.

  3. Perfection in Montreal!

    In the North American Youth Championship (August 16-19, Montreal), four US players reached a perfect score: Aravind Kumar in the Overall Under 8, Samritha Palakollu in the Girls Under 10, Anna Matlin in the Girls Under 16 and Dai Yang in the Girls Under 18. Also winning their sections were Akshita Gorti in the Girls Under 8, Jeffrey Xiong in the Under 10, Rachel Gologorsky in the Girls Under 12, Eve Zhurbinsky in the Girls Under 15. Victor Shen tied for 1st-2nd in the Under 18.

    Link: https://main.uschess.org/content/view/10620/598/

  4. Congratulations to Joshua Colas, the 2010 National 7th Grade Champion!
    As the 2nd seed, he finished with 6.5/7 to take home the title. Top seed Justus Williams finished in clear second place with 6.0/7. Last year’s National 6th grade champion James Black finished with 4.5/7.


    This is Joshua’s second major national title (the 2009 National Youth Action K-9 was his first) along with his two national scholastic blitz titles. He is only the second African-American (and first African-American male) to win the National 7th Grade title (Medina Parilla won in 2003).

    In the bigger picture of African-American chess history, Joshua is now very close to breaking Justus Williams recent record for youngest master, and is only 2 more major national titles from matching my all-time record of four. Congratulations!

  5. Thanks! A story is coming on the K-12 Championships. I wish I could have driven down to Orlando. Unfortunately my grades are due tomorrow and I’m still reading papers. Nevertheless, good showing by the New York contingent.

  6. Josh has probably broken the age record for National Master for African-Americans. He was 2186 and scored 6.5/7. That should get him more than enough points to reach 2200. He has yet to turn 12.

  7. James Black was at 2173, but he had a subpar tournament… now at 2142. The good thing about the New York contingent is they play a lot and they have a friendly competition going on. That is something many young players do not have. I’m sure Isaiah Gadson of St. Louis could have used some competition. He has struggled to gain. He was 1998 in November 2009 and now is 1962 a year later. He’s still young, but we can see what a competitive environment can do to one’s progress.

    I would encourage these players not to think too much about the rating points. Just play good chess and the points will come.

    1. Take it from one who knows…ratings mean NOTHING at nationals. If you gain rating points at a national scholastic event, its probably b/c you won the event. Getting a high rating isn’t just about about playing a lot…talent is involved as well, and its as much about working to improve off of the board (reading, studying — which can be done anywhere) as it is playing in tournaments. James, Josh and Justus are special — whether they would be playing in NY or elsewhere; there’s no need to disparage their achievements because they live in NY. This isn’t the 1980s where scholastic players from the midwest had built-in excuses as to lack of competition — there are great tournaments everywhere now.

      1. Woody… you misunderstood. I’m not sure how you misread the post. I’m only talking about getting points toward the Master’s title that’s all. What I’m saying is the fact that they are in New York helps them a great deal. If you live in a place that does not have a lot of tournaments it restricts your growth… unless your parents can afford to send you around the country to play. That is a convenience many parents do not have. While Internet competitions can help, it’s not quite the same.

        Being in a larger city with a chess culture certainly helps with the activity. That was my only point. I was a scholastic player in Chicago and I got to play in tournaments all the time. There were many places to play competitively. I made it to Expert in less than three years of tournament play despite starting chess very late. I doubt if I could have done that in a place without such a vibrant chess culture. Talent is also a part, but talent without the opportunity to express it impedes growth. These players have talent AND local opportunities to play.

        1. Not sure what exactly I misunderstood when your post implied that Isaiah Gadson’s being in St. Louis was a reason he has failed to raise his rating over the course of the past year compared to the big three. Playing a lot can work for you, but also against you if you start to lose confidence.

      1. Woody,

        That is true. Young James is a raw talent. I have met him, observed him and followed his play. He is a free-spirit and full of good energy. He loves playing and is a beast in blitz. Hopefully someone will help him set a path for his progress after he makes Master. I will be writing something on his soon… don’t worry.

        P.S. I’m not comparing Isaiah with the “Big Three” in particular. This is basic premise applying to any scholastic player who lives in a place with limited activity.

  8. Greetings and Peace,
    Isaiah Gadson, a Missouri 10th grader, has finally climbed into the ranks where chess experts reside with a 2015 rating. This is great but he has a lot of hard work to do in order to reach the next level.

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