There were plenty of signs that 16-year-old Joshua Colas was a chess prodigy.
“He told me one day, ‘Daddy, I can play you blindfolded,'” his father Guy Colas recounted to The Huffington Post. “And I said, ‘You sure? I’ve never seen you practice.'”
Joshua was right; he could not only match his dad but beat him, with his eyes closed.
At age 12, Joshua became the youngest African American chess master in history. This past weekend, he won the national chess championship for the second consecutive year.
Now a high school junior, Joshua’s goal is to attain the highest rank in chess, grandmaster. His family is running an Indiegogo campaign to cover the requisite tournament fees and travel costs. So far, they have raised just over $4,000 — but they only have until next week to raise a lot more.
“He wants to be the role model for all these other kids from poor neighborhoods everywhere, to understand that chess is not only for the rich kids and for the smartest kids,” his father said. “He wants to show, if you work hard enough, you can reach the top level.”
The Colas family lives just north of New York City, but both of Joshua’s parents were born in Haiti. Joshua grew up watching his dad play chess, and at age seven he asked to be taught the rules.
Within months, Guy said, “I was giving him puzzles that people who’d been playing chess for years couldn’t solve, and he was able to solve them instantly.”
Joshua’s college expenses won’t be a problem. He’s already been offered full rides to two universities, although he’s still holding out for his top pick, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
But to be a grandmaster, he’ll need to compete in a series of professional tournaments, including spending weeks playing in Europe.
“You have to pay a month’s hotel fees, and travel, and the entrance fee,” Colas said. “It’s just to a point now — that’s why I’m asking for people to help me, because he’s just too talented to let it go to waste. He really wants it, and he has the ability. So I’m hoping by some luck, someone sees him and says, you know what, let me spring for this kid.”
Only one African American, Maurice Ashley, has attained grandmaster ranking. He was 34 at the time. But Joshua is one of three black New York City-area boys who in recent years reached the master rank when they were 12 years old. “To have three young players do what they have done is something of an amazing curiosity,” Ashley told The New York Times. “You normally wouldn’t get something like that in any city of any race.”
The competition schedule can be grueling. Matches last up to six hours and Joshua has played over 100 of them around the country this year. Amongst nearly 57,000 players of all ages registered with the U.S. Chess Federation, he currently ranks #239.
But he takes his success in stride. “Every time you find out he’s able to do something unusual, to him, it’s nothing,” Colas said. “I get so happy, my wife is so happy, but to him it’s no big deal. That’s one thing that makes him a good chess player. He is not too high, he is not too low, he’s always even-keeled.”
Guy feels his most important responsibility is to be there when Joshua falters. “I’m just as happy when he loses a game as when he wins a game,” he said. “I understand the game. I know how difficult it is. So when he loses, I try to make him realize that that’s part of it. That’s the road. Chess is a life-long lesson.”
He added, “That’s the approach that parents should take if they want their kids to do well in just about anything. When they do well, you’re so happy. When they don’t do well, you have to comfort them, rebuild their confidence, and let them know that’s how life is. You have to work all the time to get better.”
Below, video of Joshua playing ‘blindfolded’ chess. Joshua’s website is here.
Much needed historical landscape on the Struggle for Justice & Liberation…
In the early 1930s, capitalist crisis compelled participants across the political left to face off against a common enemy: extra-legal, ruling-class violence. Anti-black lynchings and summary executions of labor organizers had risen with the onslaught of the worst economic depression since the late nineteenth century. For the first time since radical Reconstruction – when an interracial movement to battle the brutalities of sharecropping and forestall the full implementation of capitalism in the South was brutally halted by the 1876 Tilden-Hayes compromise and the return to political power of the former slave-holding class – large numbers of white labor activists joined black liberationists in opposing lynch law.
Out of this context arose an analysis of lynching as…
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New post on The 2017 Michigan Writing Workshop
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SALUTE👊 to Warrior Yuri Kochiyama
“…True Revolutionary Guided By A Great Feeling Of LOVE..”
SALUTE Mama Pam Africa & the MOVE Fam
On the Frontlines & Behind Enemy Lines…
The Struggle Continues To Free ALL Political Prisoners
Brick by Brick – Wall by Wall…
Dec. 9th – Let’s STAND in Philly
Commandantè Fidel Castro Ruz, PRESENTÈ!!
A Lutà Continuá
Fidel Castro (August 13, 1926 – November 25, 2016) is remembered in this discussion with long time international organizers Rosa Clemente, veteran scholar and activist and former Green Party Vice-Presidential nominee and Netfa Freeman currently with Pan-African Community Action (PACA) based in Washington, DC.*
*Apologies for the degenerating audio in the last 2 minutes.
Very Informative Dialogue…
Give Thanks Bro Fred Jr. & Bro Jared for continuing to Speak PowerFULL Truths
#rEVOLution In Every Breath, Every STEP!!
Malcolm Latif Shabazz was the son of Qubilah Shabazz, the second daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. He was the first male descendant of Malcolm X. October 8, 2016 would have been his 32nd birthday. Fred Hampton, Jr., Chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC) / Black Panther Cubs (BPPC), joined us to briefly discuss the work, life and what he calls the “assassination” of his long-time friend and comrade Malcolm Shabazz.
POWER SALUTE to Sis. Yvette
Yvette Modestin is an award-winning writer, poet and activist who focuses on shedding light on the Afro descendent experience in Latin America. She joined us to talk about her work on a forthcoming film about Maroons in Panama and the role Panama plays in anti-colonial struggles.
Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr will speak at
Saturday, May 7, 2016
3:30p, @HarrisStowe in St Louis!
(Clay Early Childhood Development Ctr)
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr, the son of assassinated Black Panther Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. and Comrade Mother Akua Njeri – is the founder of the Prisoners Of Conscience Committee.
Chairman Fred Jr. is an active community organizer and is currently President and Chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC/Black Panther Party Cubs BPPC). Come hear Chairman Fred speak in St. Louis not only about the injustices going on in Chicago, but everywhere as a whole. 2016 also marks the 50th anniversary of the BLACK PANTHER PARTY!
BLACK Speculative Arts Movement, aka BSAM, is a 2 day FULL convention of
MECCAcon INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
COSMIC COSPLAY JAM w/ SA-ROC & SOL MESSIAHH!
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TELL GOVERNOR CUOMO TO CLOSE ATTICA NOW!!!
Join us for a Rally Outside the Governor’s NYC Office – Facebook Event
Thursday, September 8, 2016, 12:30 Pm
633 3rd Ave. at 41st St.
Sign the petition to close Attica: https://beyondattica.org/petition-to-close-attica-now/
The platform of Beyond Attica: Close Prisons, Build Communities
1. Close Attica Now!
2. End Violence & Abuse across All NY Prisons
3. Decarcerate NY by reducing the number prisons and people in prison
4. Reconstruct NY by diverting resources away from caging people and toward helping communities thrive