Justus Williams makes Master at 12!

U.S. National Master Justus Williams

U.S. National Master Justus Williams

After making strides in the past year to make National Master, Justus Williams has accomplished this feat smashing the age record for African-American master for almost three years! The 12-year old Bronx native has had a spectacular year winning the National K6 Championship and traveling to Brazil and Canada to get some experience. The I.S. 318 student is a product of the New York Chess-in-Schools program and has already served as one of its prized students. Next month, he will be traveling to Greece as part of the official U.S. delegation for the World Youth Chess Championships.

Recently Justus attended the U.S. Chess School in Texas for the nation’s best and brightest young chess players and has been a regular at the Marshall Chess Club. On the 21st of September at the Chess Center of New York, Justus gained 18 points and ended the tournament with a 2200 USCF rating. This score was posted on the 23rd and qualifies him for the National Master title. Thus, he breaks the age record for the youngest African-American to have earned that title. The previous record-holder was Kassa Korley who broke Howard Daniels’ 20-year old record at 15 years, 2 months last year.

Born on May 25th, 1998, Justus has shaved almost three years from the mark earning the title at 12 years, 3 months and 28 days. In these days records have fallen more regularly. The age record for U.S. National Master overall is held by Nicholas Nip at 9 years. The youngest record for International Grandmaster is 12 years 7 months by Sergey Karjakin from the Ukraine (now representing Russia). Justus will receive his official certificate in the mail and his unofficial title as the youngest Black master ever!

Age for youngest African-American National Master

Justus Williams (12 years, 3 months)
Kassa Korley (15 years, 2 months)
Howard Daniels (15 years, 4 months)
K.K. Karanja (15 years, 7 months)
Shearwood McClelland, III (15 years, 10 months)


  1. Justus making Master at 12 puts many thing in perspective when 20 years ago a decorated scholastic player like Elvin Wilson made it at 18. This was considered quite an accomplishment. Jimmy Canty of Detroit recently made Master at 17. The Black community actually went several years without producing a U.S. National Master. Justus along with Josh Colas and James Black will break that barrier. There are several more players and this will inspire others.

  2. Congratulations!
    I’m proud of you, not just because of this achievement.
    I’m proud that you have achieved the rank of master while also maintaining your disposition as a decent, humble, and considerate human being.

  3. Congratulations to Justus and his family for maintain the focus, dedication and determination it takes to achieve the significant feat of becoming a chess Master. Justus, this is proof positive that you can be a success in whatever field inspires you. What you have done is great, but remember that it is still only a step to even greater accomplishments you are destined to achieve. It’s a real pleasure to watch you shine!

    Keep going strong!
    Maurice Ashley.

  4. Congratulations to Justus Williams. Keep up the good work. Just one of the many accomplishments I am certain you have to look forward to as you take steps to reach the goals you set.

  5. Wow!! Congratulations to my talented Nephew!! Justus…..You are AMAZING!! I’m so proud of you…and I’m sure you are going to continue to achieve outstanding accomplishments! Love you…Auntie..MUAH!

  6. The game selected by ChessDrum was truly spectacular. Very refreshing. Attacking and defensive concepts are very clear, and at the same time very complicated. Great work! Keep it up. Best of luck in the future!

  7. I showed the above game to GM Amon Simutowe of Zambia and here is a bit of what he said, “some of the moves signify real talent…..and specifically his ability to look at unusual moves…”

    Yes… this is certainly a measure of talent. When I was covering a young Simutowe, here is the game that told me he was a special talent. Notice his ability to find unusual moves. Now Justus is showing these same signs. (See below or click here for full screen)

  8. Congratulations Justus…Now march onto IM!…..It’s truly special to watch you, Joshua, and James… the 3 J’s… How many people can say there were a NM before they were a teenager if at all??…truly proud of ya!….

  9. Well done Justus and family , clearly one of the best chessplayers in the world and candidate for World Champion. Its nice to see people of African descent beginning to utilize their own strategems into their game of chess. Big 3 ,always remember in chess we have chess theory AND practice , the tradtionalist are merely practicing something thats new to them, dunno why India is passing out math papers for one half of a strategem though, i have to check with Susan’s site she may know, anyway, wonderful games and brilliant chess. Hi Precious, Hi Diamond, Sup MO!!!, HI ULTRAMOMA, taking a little longer than anticipated , yeah i was downtown when President Obama came to Buffalo, i know ur on here and going to ask! Justus trust me man moma gunna be moma no matter what!!! hehehe. Peace.

  10. Hello Justus, I just want to congratulate you on your success of achieving the master title. I hope you continue on striving to becoming an even higher rated player, and if you ask me with no doubt you will become a grandmaster one day. Just keep on persevering. Peace and keep up the good work!

  11. Congratulations, Justus. Much continued success, and I will follow your progress to International Grand Master (IGM). It is good to see young men move in a positive direction and achieve such goals. You set a example for others. GOD Bless !!!

  12. It looks like Justus still holds this record after all…the USCF just rated the World Youth Championship (held in October) on January 2, 2011 — and with the revised ratings on their site, Josh Colas did not make master younger than Justus did (he had been thought to have broken Justus’ record by 17 days last month).


    Would be nice if the USCF was quicker about things like this, but sadly, I’ve seen this before. Hopefully Josh and James will officially join Justus as masters soon.

  13. Thanks Woody. This creates a mess since Josh rating was officially posted. I noticed that they have not rated Josh’s tournament from Trinidad either. Sloppy work.

    I just found out that Samual Sevian’s national mark has been affected slightly because of the late rating of the World Youth. It was reported widely in the media that Sevian earned the title on December 11th, but after the retabulation, the rating database shows him posting 2200 on the 19th. His record was nearly wiped.

    The USCF is aware of Josh’s issue.

  14. Bill Hall certified Josh’s Master status. He told Guy Colas that this case (and probably Sevian’s) would be the impetus for policy changes on how events are rated. Both Justus and Josh can now go on to bigger challenges, like winning tournaments and norms!

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