Black ascends toward Masterdom

As James Black, Jr. climbs the rating ladder, he is finding that earning the last 100 points is the toughest. Black has been as high as 2174 (now 2155) and is now making a push to earn the coveted Master’s title. He will be the most recent of the “Big Three” to earn the ranking. Justus Williams and Josh Colas are the other two 12-year old African-American Masters.

The 12-year old is a regular at the Marshall Chess Club where he puts his skills on display along with wily veterans and other young stars. He won the K6 national individual championship in 2009 and is particularly adept at blitz having won scholastic national championships in this format.

Currently, Black attends IS 318 and if you meet him, you will be drawn to his affable and humorous spirit. However, he is also a dangerous opponent and he may be trolling the open sections at major tournaments this summer.

Photo by Elizabeth Vicary.


  1. Great Job James! Keep up the great work! There are a lot of young people following your chess adventures! Keep leading by example! Peace and Blessings!

  2. I continue to be impress with our young African American minds. A little advice, “Keep knockin’ and the door will be open” It will come! As well, as being a role model for other young minds.

  3. James has gotten to 2199 a couple of times and is currently at 2193. He will soon eclipse 2200 and become a National Master. I’m impressed with his work ethic. It reminds me of my days of studying for six hours at a time in my room. When you get to that point, the information comes together quickly.

  4. It is refreshing to see such dedication and maturity in one so young. That is one of the beautiful things about chess – it makes you “grow up”!

    Congratulations “Prince” James for being a role model at such a fledgling age. Never let the weight of expectations burden you too much, if at all. With ambition, ability and determination (all three of which you obviously have) the sky is the limit in chess and other areas of life. If things ever get tough (during a game or at any other time remember that “fortis cadere cedere non potest” – the brave may fall but never yield.

  5. Ian,

    James is one of three exceptionally talented 12-year old players in our community to approach National Master. They are strong and we are proud of them. They are the so-called “Big Three”… Justus Williams, Josh Colas and James Black. “Prince James” is the latest and the most animated of the three.

  6. Daaim,

    I have followed the progress of the others as well and from the games I have seen it is clear that they are quite talented. What is encouraging too is the fact that they have had the opportunity to play against top class opposition viz. much higher rated players, including masters. I am looking forward to great(er) things from them.

  7. I am certain that the ” BIG 3 ” will help push each other towards the coveted title. I believe they have the talent needed to reach the top. What’s important is to have the support from our community. The lack of coverage from other sites makes the Drum an extremely important site to go to and find out what ‘s going on with our kids. Beside the USCHESS.ORG and occasionally on Susan’s website, the accomplishment of the James, Josh and Justus and others would go unnoticed. Let’s continue to support our beloved brother so he can continue to deliver entertainment in our homes. Support? Yes, (Donations)…

  8. Guy,

    I really appreciate your continued support. The thought means a lot. I am glad to be able to make a contribution to the chess community. I used to study many hours and play frequently, but perhaps this was what I was destined to do. It is a labor of love for me, but information is hard to come by. Fortunately, we have the “Big Three” or maybe the “Fab Five” if we add the Bryant twins. 🙂 The World Open will be the next stage for these talented youngsters.

    Thanks again!

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