WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- White Plains sixth-grader Daniel Hagen knew he had to do some pretty fancy dancing -- chess-wise -- to walk away with the prize at a recent tourney in New York City.
Three years ago, the then-8-year-old, had taken third place at the same event, the annual Tri-State Chess Championship held outdoors in Bryant Park.
Practice, practice and more practice -- plus Daniel’s ability to literally bust a move, or two or three – paid off for the 11-year-old Eastview Middle School student on Sunday, July 17.
He not only was able to compete on a higher level, he walked away with the second-place trophy, despite being penalized in a disagreement over writing down his moves, says his mom, Bonnie.
Daniel, she says, would rather “spend his time thinking, than making notations.”
Nevertheless, he trounced his opponent with time to spare.
While not giving away any trade secrets, Daniel revealed that one of his favorite moves is to achieve checkmate with “a pawn.”
Daniel was taught to play by his mother’s sister, Sherrie Eskow, he says, at age 3. (Daniel’s mom says it was more like 6.)
The Hagens have no problems getting Daniel, whose other interests include music and video games, to practice or play.
“He just loves it, especially the thrill in the air during competitions,” says his mom.
When asked how he does it, Daniel, with a child’s honesty, says: “I’m really good.”
Then he adds, a little more modestly: “I just try my best and I get there.”
Is there more chess in his future?
“I’ll never, never give up,” he says.