James Black stars at World Open!

James Black, Jr.

James Black , Jr. has already had a prodigious scholastic career and he was just coming off of a triple win at the National Youth Championships with three titles. So he went into the World Open with other young aspirants hoping to make an impact. Playing in the under-2400 section, the 12-year old has been chasing the 2200 mark since the age of 11 and has had some challenges. However, with single-minded determination along with the guidance of his father James Black , Sr. he hopes to officially join the ranks of Masterdom. His sterling 5/9 performance should catapult him into the elite group of which a small percentage ever reach.

With his very cheerful personality, Black seems to have a positive attitude and is not flustered easily. After various setbacks (including dipping in the low 2100s), he played strongly in the World Open. Here is the score of James Black , Jr. (2193):

Beat Josh Guo (2300, CAN)
Lost Ian Schoch (2287, USA)
Lost IM Oladapo Adu (2382, NGR)
Beat Gary DeFotis (2100, USA)
Lost Miro Reverby (2257, USA)
Drew WGM Rusudan Goletiani (2376, USA)
Drew Thomas Schneider (1949, USA)
Beat Alexander Martchenko (2395, CAN)
Beat Andrew Ng (2257, USA)

After losing to Ian Schoch and IM Oladapo Adu, he beat Gary DeFotis, a Chicago legend in the 70s. He then lost to Miro Reverby before being held by Goletiani, a game in which he had winning chances. He then ended strongly with impressive wins over two strong masters. In between rounds, Black was seen with his cell phone and an application on the USCF site calculating his rating. Young James was elated at the prospects. He triumphantly celebrated with his father who effusively expressed his pride in his son’s strong performance. “Senior” told The Chess Drum that never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that chess would have such an impact.

James Black, Sr. and James Black, Jr.

James Black , Sr. and James Black , Jr. celebrating after his sparkling performance. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

“Junior” was interviewed by The Chess Drum and mentioned that he would like to focus on getting his FM title and also IM and GM norms. He would like to compete for Ray Robson’s age record for U.S. Grandmaster. For the time being, Black hopes to join his friends Justus Williams and Josh Colas as 12-year old African-American Masters, as this will be the first time in history this has occurred. They are known as “The Big Three” and certainly will be helping each other to higher heights.

Interview with James Black , Jr. (The Chess Drum)

The Chess Drum's Daaim Shabazz with young stars, James Black Jr. and Justus Williams.

The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz with young stars, James Black Jr. and Justus Williams.


  1. Congrats from Jamaica!! History has shown that when father and son are in sync (as clearly appears to be the case here) life/the world is usually great!

    1. Ian… While I’m impressed with the father-son chemistry of the Blacks, I’m more impressed by Jr.’s free spirit. He is unlike some other young players who seem to struggle in enjoying chess. I tried to compliment the father for his fine work, but he deflected the compliment and said that it was James Jr. who is to credit. Well… yes, but he deserves some credit here. If you saw the recent video on James Jr., you will realize that James Sr. has had other challenges, but he has remained dedicated to his son’s well-being. It was a good appearance whether chess was a factor or not.

  2. Another story to indicate that James Jr. will be successful.

    His father indicated that his son has actually reached 2200 in mid-tournament before, but chose to continue to play instead of withdrawing and getting the rating. He said, “He wants to do it the right way.” He also told me that he wanted his son to pace himself and not burn out. Right now… James studies six hours and has a great attitude and it is hard to conceive that he will not be successful in whatever he seeks.

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