James Black Jr., Justus Williams and Joshua Colas

*(Via NY Times) – Fewer than 2 percent of the 77,000 members of the United States Chess Federation are masters — and just 13 of them are under the age of 14.

Among that select group of prodigies are three black players from the New York City area — Justus Williams, Joshua Colas and James Black Jr. — who each became masters before their 13th birthdays.

“Masters don’t happen every day, and African-American masters who are 12 never happen,” said Maurice Ashley, 45, the only African-American to earn the top title of grandmaster. “To have three young players do what they have done is something of an amazing curiosity. You normally wouldn’t get something like that in any city of any race.”

Ashley, who became a master at age 20 and a grandmaster 14 years later, said the rarity was not surprising.

“Chess just isn’t that big in the African-American community,” he said.

Learn/read MORE at NY Times.