Community Spotlights

Joshua Colas – The Youngest Black Chess Master In History

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When most things written about our young black boys and girls in the media today is a little heavy on the negative side, it’s great when we get the opportunity to report something so positive. It’s no secret that the media create a damaging stereotype, portraying black youths as criminally minded underachievers. In 2112 a little-reported research published, showed huge disparities in how black boys are reported compared with others.

The report, Media Representations of Black Young Men and Boys, commissioned for the communities department’s Reach project, found that “the dominant discourse surrounding black young men and boys in the news media links them with violent crime, and particularly murders involving knives and/or gangs”. In a content analysis of mainstream news, it found that just over four in 10 stories for all young men and boys were crime-related, but “close to seven in 10 stories of black young men and boys related in some form to crime”.

They found that more positive, upbeat stories involving black boys received far less coverage than the average, and concluded: “In our view, media coverage of black boys, overall, paints a highly distorted picture”. For that very reason we created Black Westchester to help change the narrative. This month we are proud to spotlight a local young man, who is accomplishing great things, but most people do not know his name. He is, White Plains HS student Joshua Colas and he is the youngest African-American Chess Master in history.

When you see you this thin black kid, always neatly dressed and self-possessed, you might at first impression mistakenly think he’s just a regular 16-year-old high school student, and in many respects you would be correct, he is. Sure there’s nothing flashy about him. But what you may miss in your first impression, is the fact you are looking at history in the making. On December 16, 2010, at 12 years old and 3 months, Joshua Colas earned the title of Chess Master making him the youngest Black Chess Master in history. He’s now looking to become the first American-born Black Chess Grandmaster.

To say Joshua is a chess whiz on White Plains High School’s chess team would be an understatement. He’s a chess champion, a prodigy whose ambition is to become one of the best players in the world, if not the best. His father, Guy Colas, a self-described “average player,” taught him to how to play when he was 7 years old. The kid immediately took to it.

“Well, I’d say it took about a couple of months before I started to beat him,” Joshua said in a 2014 Lohud article.
“Now he beats me blindfolded,” his father added.
“I just memorize the board,” Joshua said. “I know where all the pieces are at. I have a photographic memory.”
Guy Colas said, “It blew my mind when I saw him doing it. I asked him, ‘How do you do it, Joshua?’ ”

Now a high school senior, 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. The Joshua Colas Chess Fund was established in June 2010 in an effort to support the chess pursuits of White Plains (NY) resident. In his young chess career, Joshua has won six national championships and has been named to the All-American Scholastic Chess Team every year since 2009. Joshua Colas qualified to represent Team USA at the World Youth Chess Championships in Greece (2010), Brazil (2011), Slovenia (2012), United Arab Emirates (2013), and South Africa (2014).

Joshua won the prestigious 2013 New York City High School Chess Championships and the 2013 New York State High School Chess Championships. He accomplished both feats while only being a high school freshman.


BW would like to congratulate Josh on recently winning the 2015 New York State High School Championships in Saratoga! The Joshua Colas Chess Fund provides financial support for Joshua’s chess-related activities including training, tournament expenses, travel, and lodging.

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.”

The Fund, and his website, are maintained by Ray Ainsworth (914-949-0692) who is a volunteer Chess Advisor in the White Plains Public School system. Please note that donations made by check are tax-deductible and are processed through The Foundation for Public Education in White Plains, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Most importantly, 100% of all donations go towards the chess expenses of Joshua Colas.

We complain of all the youth that are out of control, but we must celebrate and sow into our youth when they are striving to achieve great things, BW encourages all reading this to consider making a gift to a very special young man. Donations can be sent to:

The Foundation for Public Education in White Plains, Inc. (payee)
c/o Ray Ainsworth
3 Milford Close
White Plains, NY 10606

This month Black Westchester proudly spotlights White Plains High School student, Joshua Colas, the youngest African-American Chess Master in history.

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