Massachusetts first-grader is national chess champion

7-year-old Massachusetts boy one of the best chess players in the United States

HOPKINTON - A Massachusetts first-grader was recently crowned the National Elementary School Chess Champion, making him one of the best chess players in the country.

Top chess player in the country

Devansh Vellanki is the kind of the chess board, a national champion and he's only 7 years old.

"The king goes one square forward, one square diagonal. knight goes in L shape, any direction. You have to try and catch other people's pieces," said the Hopkinton first-grader as he explained how to play the game. Devansh is the 2024 National Elementary School Champion for kindergarten and first grade.

"In my nationals, there are people the same age," said Devansh. "Any player can come from any state. You get trophies, money and medals."

And he has more medals than he has years on earth, stacking the hardware, learning as much as he can, while climbing the chess ranks.

Encouraging kids to love playing chess

"You're technically learning more stuff about the brain and it gets more logical thinking in it," said Devansh. He travels the country facing off against the best players in the U.S. and he's played against people of all ages. WBZ-TV's Laura Haefeli challenged him to a match and Devansh beat her in just four minutes.

Devansh's love for the game started when he was just 4 years old. His parents taught him the basics but quickly realized he had a gift. Now he's encouraging kids to love the game too.

"Chess is the most popular game in the United States," said Devansh.

Devansh's next competition is the National Grade Chess Championships in December.

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