COLUMBIA CITY — Danny Gater, at 18, is hardly the “king” of his own “castle,” but he’s working on becoming the master of his domain and when it comes to his immediate goals, he plans to keep his ego in “check” and not “pawn” his preparation off on anyone else.
The overabundance of chess terms is another way of saying that the Columbia City High School senior is preparing to return to the national stage in hopes of yet another chess trophy.
“I’m studying and trying to improve,” said Gater Thursday afternoon while moving chess pieces at his dining room table.
“You’re not exactly trying to to trick them (the opponent), your just trying to make good moves and hope your opponent makes a mistake.”
Gater started playing chess in sixth grade and by the time he was a seventh grader he was studying and learning from a local chess master.
Earlier this year Gater placed first in the 12th grade and under division at the Scholastic Chess of Indiana’s State Championship.
Next month he will compete in the National High School Championship tournament in the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashvill,e.
That tournament is held April 29-May 1.
“This is called a national tournament, but there is no single representative from each state,” said Laura Gater, Danny’s mother. “It is open to all high school players.”
In December of last year, Gater competed at Orlando, Fla. in the National K-12 Championship.
“It was at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort,” said Laura. “It is open to all kindergarten through 12th graders.”
His performance in Florida was stellar, although he said he came up short of the top prize.
“I won all the games I was supposed to win (five of seven matches), but lost to the higher-rated player,” he said.
In 2009, Gater competed in the Denker tournament in Indianapolis, the same tournament he will compete in at Orlando July 29-Aug. 3.
“Each state winner plays alongside his or her state flag,” said Laura.
In 2009, Gater’s performance at this tournament netted him a $2,000 scholarship.
In all, Gater has garnered nearly 50 trophies, plaques and medals and also checkmated his way to a scholarship to the University of Texas-Dallas where according to Laura he hopes to play of the chess team.
The U.S. Chess Federation has Gater scored at 2,144. His goal is to achieve a ranking of 2,200, which is “master” status.
“The key is to make objectively good moves and to complicate the game to make more of a chance for your opponent to make a mistake,” he said.