When so many things shut down last year, Matteo Runge was lucky to find a silver lining. The sixth grader at Baton Rouge International School became a 2020 Louisiana state chess champion and credits his success to extra practice time.
“Since coronavirus happened, I improved on chess,” Matteo says. “I wouldn’t have gotten second in the state if it weren’t for coronavirus because I was online and practicing every day for that state championship.”
Now 11, Matteo has played chess for several years and is a member of his school’s chess club. “I thought he was too young to learn the game of chess when he was in Kindergarten,” says Donald, Matteo’s dad. “I didn’t learn myself until I was about in seventh grade. But he kept insisting on learning how the pictures moved.” Matteo’s mom, Isabella, first taught him the basics.
Virtual tournaments have allowed chess competitions to continue during COVID-19, but Matteo is looking forward to in-person tournaments again. “I like going in real life,” he says. “It’s so good to see people and the chess pieces because I like to move them around.”
Also an athlete, Matteo has played football, baseball and has a taekwondo blue belt. He enjoys video games and playing with friends and younger brother, Jack.
Matteo’s determination is impressive. “He is remarkably focused when it comes to the things he enjoys,” Donald says. “I’m amazed at how rapidly he’s advanced in chess.”
With a goal to grow up and become a chess master and for many other reasons, Matteo is certainly one amazing kid.