Third-grade chess player finishes in top 20 in national competition

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Hudson -- A third-grader at Hudson Montessori School is following in the footsteps of his older brothers and making a name for himself in state and national tournament chess circles.

Destynn Keuchel, 9, who has won more than 30 trophies and cash prizes since learning how to play chess five years ago, finished in 19th place in the U.S. Chess Federation Super Nationals April 7 in Nashville, Tenn.

Destynn beat out more than 230 others in the kindergarten through ninth-grade section, finishing with five wins, one loss and one tie, giving him 5.5 points. Destynn had originally tied for eighth place, however, due to a variety of tie-breakers, including the strength of the opponent played, his final placing was 19th, according to his mom, Haleh.

There were more than 5,330 total participants in all sections, which made the Super Nationals the world's largest over-the-board chess tournament, she said.

The USFC Super National competition is once every four years, Haleh added.

"Destynn was one of the 13 youngest players in this section, and the youngest in the top 38 finishers," Haleh, said. "He has been playing in tournaments since kindergarten."

Watching her son receive a trophy in the competition "was very exciting," Haleh said.

"It was very hard to be able to get a trophy," she said.

Destynn was "kind of nervous" at the tournament, he said.

However, it felt "OK" to be in the competition and was "kind of good" finishing so high, Destynn said.

Destynn has played in, and won, both state and national tournaments, Haleh said. Destynn placed second in the state as a kindergartner, Haleh said.

"And last year, as a second-grader, he was ranked No. 2 in the state again in kindergarten through third grade," Haleh added. "And his school team is three-time champions in first grade, second grade and third grade."

Destynn's interest in chess grew from watching his brothers, Conner, 14, and Brennen, 11, play. Both brothers have won a variety of trophies and tournaments.

However, he learned how to play in kindergarten as a student at Hudson Montessori, Haleh said.

Haleh and Destynn's father, Ken, both play chess but have stopped challenging their son to games.

"I used to play chess with him when he had just started but not anymore," Haleh said. "Last time I played him, he beat me in less than 10 moves."

When not competing, Destynn likes playing with his brothers, creating origami, crocheting and dabbling with electronic toys, according to Haleh. And while Destynn excells in math, his favorite subjects are science and art.

Destynn, who when given the choice, prefers to play with the white pieces, said there is one part of chess that he really enjoys -- "winning."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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