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“Cherry Gulch Chess Team Wins State Championship Title Again!”

On January 29th, the Cherry Gulch Chess Team won 1st Place Overall in the official Idaho Novice State Championship held in Boise, ID. This accomplishment extends the school’s winning streak in the 6-12 grade Division to a remarkable four consecutive state titles. Eight of the players on the chess team also won individual top 3 awards. The Cherry Gulch chess players additionally learn to use all the critical thinking benefits of chess to make good decisions in their daily lives. These skills include patience, planning, concentration, teamwork, problem-solving, and improved critical thinking. The school chess coach is Daniel J. Vellotti, whose therapeutic approach and empathetic nature make him a perfect fit for Cherry Gulch!

Daniel enjoys working with the students closely to help them to develop not only their chess skills, but also their life skills. A native of California, Daniel moved to Boise, ID at the age of 9. He fell in love with chess soon after moving here when he discovered a chess set in his grandmother's closet. Soon after he started competing in local chess tournaments, Daniel was winning first place in all the Boise tournaments that he entered.

Daniel started competing throughout the state and won the State Championship title a record three times. He continued to compete nationally becoming a champion in many different prestigious tournaments throughout the country. Daniel became a well-known representative of excellence in academic achievement for the state, and soon had a large following of students who were looking for a local role model. In May of 2000, Daniel established a chess coaching company and discovered his true passion of motivating and inspiring students through his original and interactive "Success in Chess" Training System. Vellotti's Chess Kids has become extremely popular and successful throughout the Treasure Valley. His outreach and enrichment teaching program is designed to teach a love and appreciation for the game of chess and along with all the academic benefits and life skills that go along with it. His favorite quote and teaching motto is “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” By William Butler Yeats.

Daniel is a regular presenter at the gifted conference Edufest, and his company was recently nominated as a "Parent's Picks Choice" by Nickelodeon for best Children's Programming. He is a prolific published author of chess workbooks, and he has also served as the President of the Idaho Chess Association. Daniel's other interests include organic gardening, sketch artistry, and white-water rafting.

His tremendous ability to connect with students of all ages includes members of his own household, Carl and Luke, who are following in his footsteps. 12 year old Luke is a three time National Chess Champion and 3x member of the All-American Team for chess. Luke, who attained the status of National Master this past fall, is the highest rated player in Idaho- including both children and adults. He is also a very popular assistant of Vellotti's Chess Kids performing "chess magic" for all the students by doing simultaneous chess exhibitions, speed chess, and blindfold chess. Carl is a State and National chess champion who helps instruct for Vellotti's Chess Kids in group classes. He is also the President of the Boise High Chess Club, and has produced several student chess champions of his own.

You may read more about Daniel and his family in the following link to news articles at “Idaho Chess Prodigy takes on all comers for Haiti” (2010) "Idaho's Newest Chess Champs are Girls” (2009) "Boise Boy Invited to World Championships" (2008) "Second-Grader Dominates..." (2007) "Chess prodigy competes for Idaho's best" (2007) "Vellotti's Chess Kids Students Best in Country" (2006) "Daniel Vellotti trains future chess whizzes" (2005) "Checkmate!" (2004)