By Bianca Silva

Joshua Colas has risen through the ranks in chess since he began playing as a child, becoming international master-elect and has participated in numerous world youth championships from Brazil to Greece. At the age of 12, he became the youngest African American to receive the rank of national master.

Recently, Colas traveled to Sunrise, Florida to visit middle school students, a juvenile justice center and a public event where kids can learn how to play chess in support of the Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess, a community program of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation.

Colas is also a third-year student at Webster University majoring in Business Administration and Finance. He speaks to The Haitian Times on his mindset going into a chess match and how he got into it.

You learned to play chess from your father at the age of seven. What led you to participate in chess tournaments?

My dad wanted to test how I would do against other kids who already knew how to play chess.

Playing chess requires a lot of strategy and thought. What’s your mindset going into when participating in a match?

I do my preparations by researching the types of opening my opponent plays and counter prepare based on what he plays. I solve very difficult endgame problems. I try to keep in mind that, win or lose, just have fun playing.

Who has been the toughest opponent you’ve encountered so far?

It’s hard to pick just one because I’ve played so many strong players over the years; but in general my toughest games are usually against GrandMasters.

How does it feel being a chess master at a relatively young age?

It felt very good at the time, but also knew that it was just a beginning.

In March, you had the opportunity to serve as a mentor for children attending schools in South Florida. How did it feel giving back what you’ve learned to children who are interested in chess?

It felt like a blessing come true. I was very happy to be able to answer their questions regarding how one can improve in chess and/or make good use of the knowledge they acquire.

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