White Plains resident 12-year-old Joshua Colas is not only playing the highly intellectual game of chess, but dominating it.
“Chess to me is like being an artist who is free to express his ideas through painting, instead I express it on the chessboard,” said Colas.ï»¿
The White Plains Middle School seventh grader has been playing chess almost half of his life and was recently crowned the youngest African American chess master in the world. He beat Leonardo Martinez Dec. 17 at the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan to take home the title.
“It feels good, but I don’t want to get too happy because being a master is not my ultimate goal,” said Colas.ï»¿
Justus Williams of the South Bronx previously held that title, Bed-Stuy Patch reported earlier this month. Colas was only a few days younger than Williams when he stole the title, and just two days prior to that he had won a national title for seventh graders in Orlando, FL at the National K-12 Chess Championships, according to The United States Chess Federation.
Colas has traveled internationally to Greece to represent the United States in the World Championships of Chess for his age group. He’s also competed in Canada and state side in Texas, Chicago, Tennessee and Florida.
“The coach is extremely happy about the result,” said Colas’ father, Guy Colas. “However, he feels that Joshua has a huge responsibility now that everyone knows who he is and will expect a lot from him.”
The gift apparently runs in the family. Guy Colas also plays chess. “I am an average player, meaning my rating is around 1700,” he said.
Colas started taking lessons this past October from Grandmaster Alexander Stripunski. Before he trained professionally he had honed his skill by playing for fun and solving puzzles. He studies about three times a week and plays once a week. He hopes his hard work will bring attention to the game among his peers.
“I want to do some exciting things in chess in the years to come so more kids can get interested in playing chess,” said Colas. “Chess is truly one of the best workouts for the mind. I also intend to increase my studies so I can earn the next title, IM (International Master) before I start high school.”
His father also recognizes his son’s natural inclination for the sport.
Â “I feel blessed to have a son who has found his passion early in life and who is gifted with a clear talent for chess,” he said adding, “It was obvious that he enjoyed playing and had a natural ability to solve complicated positions quickly.”
Colas will be able to hold onto the title for a while. James Black Jr. from Brooklyn could break the record Colas currently holdsâ€”the Brooklynite has until March to eclipse his record.
According to Colas, there is “no other kid besides James that’s [anywhere] close to becoming a master.”
While he still holds the title, Colas said he plans to concentrate on what he loves most about the game.
“Being able to find an unexpected move under pressure, and of course winning.”ï»¿