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Hopkinton team wins K-8 chess state title

by | May 2, 2023 | Education, Featured: Education

Chess competitors

Chess competitors (from left) Karthik Lakshmanan, Dhairya Mehta, Jashwant Reddy Ambati and Dattasai Kilari pose with their championship trophies.

After winning the Hurvitz Cup State Scholastic Team Championship in elementary school a year ago, the same Hopkinton team of chess players won the K-8 division of the tournament this year.

The competition is run by the Massachusetts Chess Association, which hosts the tournament annually and attracts young players from all over the state.

Going into the competition, the Hopkinton team — consisting of sixth graders Dattasai Kilari, Dhairya Mehta, Jashwant Reddy Ambati and Karthik Lakshmanan — ranked second behind Belmont’s Chenery Middle School.

All four players have a passion for chess and have been playing competitively for years, with Kilari and Mehta competing for six years, and Ambati and Lakshmanan competing for three and two years, respectively.

Despite their varying experience levels, all four players were critical in the team’s latest accomplishment.

Kilari was first board in the tournament, meaning he is the highest-ranked team member. Each team member plays their counterpart of the same rank on the opposing team. Kilari’s opponent was an eighth grader and a National Master, a title awarded to a player who has reached a ranking of 2,200.

“I thought I was going to lose,” Kilari admitted. “I hoped that the other people on my team would win their games.”

However, after a tough match, Kilari ultimately emerged victorious.

“I was not doing very well, but he tried to go for the win so that he could tie [the team score], and he went too far for the win and lost,” Kilari said.

Kilari’s goal is to become a National Master by the end of the year.

In the final round, two Hopkinton players had won their games, and one had lost. Ambati’s victory secured the title, avoiding a tie.

Although the boys compete together, they typically don’t practice together. Instead, they individually practice on websites like chess.com. The players use puzzles to improve their tactical abilities and play games to learn, using an analysis tool to see their mistakes. Mehta explained that they’re constantly learning and improving, striving to become better players.

Despite the pressure of competitive play, the Hopkinton team offers a valuable lesson for all chess players:

“Don’t stress about chess,” Ambati said. “It’s only 64 squares and 32 pieces.”


  1. Margie Wiggin

    Wow!! Congratulations to this amazing team of young chess players! I hope Datta makes National Grand Master this year!!

  2. Koteswara Rao Kilari

    Congratulations, great teamwork!!