Joshua Colas, 11-year-old New York chess star, is among the large contingent of foreign chess players expected to compete in the international Chess Carnival which comes off at the Queen's Park Oval, St Clair, from August 3 to 8. With a rating of 2118, Colas is well on his way to making US chess history by becoming the youngest African-American ever to attain the level of Master.
Colas, a sixth-grader who has set his heart on earning the Grandmaster title, will play in the open section of the Chess Carnival and seems certain to be a source of excitement playing in his first overseas tournament. The T&T Chess Foundation annual event, sponsored by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, may well be the Joshua's sternest test as the tournament has attracted a total of six Masters from the region with one, Oladipo Adu, coming from Nigeria. Returning to defend the Chess Carnival title he has won over the last three years is Humberto Pecorelli of Cuba. Another participating Cuban, Geraldo Labredo, took the third prize in last year's event. Two Masters from Venezuela, Julio Ostos and Rafael Prasca Sosa, and two from Barbados, Kevin Denny and Terry Farley, are also in the contest. Apart from the Masters, the Chess Carnival, now in its eighth year, is attracting players from T&T, the Caribbean and Latin America, including Colombia, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, Martinique and Guadeloupe. The tournament will see action in two main categories, the Open and three junior sections, Under 10, Under 14 and Under 20.
According to Foundation president Eddison Raphael, two new groups have been added, Junior Novice and Adult Novice, to accomodate players who have learned the game through the T&TCF's Let's Play Chess programme held in various parts of the country over the last year. "As an incentive to players from Tobago, we will be offering them free accomodation in Port-of-Spain during the tournament," he added. Because of his age, his achievements and his passion for the game, Joshua Colas is expected to be a centre of attraction at the international tournament. The New York youngster's skill is regarded as remarkable especially for the fact that, since he learned to play the game by watching his father, he has never had the benefit of a personal coach. His ability became apparent at age seven and three years later he had attained the level of expert. Last May, Joshua was chosen by the US Chess Federation to represent the country in the Boys 12 and Under section of the 2010 World Youth Championships to be held in Halkidiki, Greece, next October.
In December 2008, Colas led the Mamaroneck Avenue School chess team to a national championship in Orlando. This was considered quite an accomplishment considering that scholastic chess had been dominated for decades by elite Manhattan schools. While in Orlando, Joshua earned his first individual national title by winning the 2008 Scholastic Speed Chess Championship in the elementary school division. Within a year, the fifth grader again emerged the US top speed chess player, though this time winning in the high school division at the nationals in Chicago. Since 2007, Joshua has been the top rated New York State chess player in his age group and in December 2009 he was named an All American by the US Chess Federation. Last January, Joshua scored another notable victory competing in the 9th Grade and Under section of the historic New York City Scholastic Chess Championships.
The young chess star already has more than 300 tournaments under his belt but, according to his father, he is only beginning his ascent in the chess world. Foundation president Raphael said it was quite possible for Joshua to earn his IM norm at the Chess Carnival which also offers Caribbean players the opportunity to improve their FIDE rating and even gain the Master norm without having to compete in tournaments outside the region.