Acuna, who attends Robert F. Wagner Junior Secondary School in Long Island City , played in the citywide competition among many schools two weekends ago and came out on top. The 13-year-old from Middle Village first started playing at his school in October after wanting to try his hand at something new.
“I didn't really like it at first,” he said, “but after learning more about it I learned that it's pretty cool. I like the objectives of the game”
The chess champ owes his victory to chess mentors Paul Manson and Mr. Vitzo at Robert F. Wagner, who he practices with every week.
“They give me tactics, teach me different check mates, I play a game against them,” he said of his training. “On the day of the tournament, they show me good tactics, moves that I might have missed and could have done.”
During the week, Acuna practices his strategy and on weekends attends tournaments at other middle schools to challenge himself.
“You might be a good player but there might be someone better than you and it might take years to get to a higher level,” he said.
Ryan and his mother, Arminda Acuna, are up early every Saturday traveling to all parts of Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx in order to make the seventh grader better at his skills.
He is excited about his most recent win, and next up he will be participating in a nationwide competition in Tennessee come April if he makes enough money with fundraising efforts at his school.