Student Spotlight: Riyaan Datta ‘30

Home > Student Spotlight: Riyaan Datta ‘30


Riyaan Datta '30A first year student at Gulliver Prep, Riyaan Datta ‘30 is the reigning Florida State Elementary (K-5) Chess Champion. Last year, he represented the state of Florida at the 4th annual Rockefeller Tournament of Champions National Tournament, and in December 2023, he participated in the K-12 Grade Level U.S. Chess Nationals, placing in the top 15 nationally. 

Beyond chess, Riyaan has jumped into campus life at Gulliver, getting involved in various activities and academic disciplines. Read on to learn more.

When and how did you discover that you loved chess?

I discovered that I loved chess after I downloaded a chess app on my Amazon Fire tablet and started playing on my own when we were living in New York City. I was six years old at the time. I then started a group class in an after school program with a chess club in NYC, and my parents started taking me to tournaments in NYC. 

Why do you like playing chess? What do you feel like it teaches you, and how do those lessons impact other areas of your life?

I love playing chess because I enjoy solving problems and thinking about a strategy to reach a goal. My dad always tells me that becoming great at something requires hard work more than talent. Chess is no different. The pursuit of becoming better at chess requires effort, dedication, and discipline. So, I think that my love for chess and the discipline and effort it takes to get really good at it will impact other future aspects of my life as well. 

What are the next steps in your chess career, and what are your goals? 

I am very close to becoming an Expert, which means a U.S. Chess Federation rating of 1800. Once I reach this goal, I want to try to become a U.S. National Master, which requires a USCF rating of 2200. Of course I want to be a Grandmaster, and I know this will take a lot of work but I am ready to put in the effort. I will be participating in the Florida State Chess Tournament and the U.S. K-6 Grade Nationals in the next few months, in addition to several local tournaments which are usually on the weekends.

What has your experience been with chess at Gulliver so far?

I have not taken the chess elective yet, but Mr. Smith usually asks me to play against the other Middle School chess players during the tutorial time after school, which has been a great experience. I get to identify what parts of my game are working and those that I need to work on, and the other players get to play a highly rated opponent so they can get better. It is nice to have a chess friendly environment at Gulliver Prep. I did not have that at my previous school.  

How has being a student at Gulliver has allowed you to grow, discover new passions, and experience new ideas and opportunities?

I love math, science, and U.S. History, and being at Gulliver Prep has allowed me to discover new areas of academic interests. For example, I also realized that I love literature, something I did not think I was interested in before. This fall, I participated in the swimming team and was named Rookie of the Year! I loved my coach and teammates. I am now participating in track & field and also really enjoying it. Being at Gulliver Prep has also allowed me to be involved in engineering and the Robotics Club, two activities I want to pursue further and hopefully participate in local competitions. I am also the percussionist in our Middle School Beginner/Intermediate Band. 

In terms of community service, my sister and I are planning to start a fundraiser to raise money for pancreatic cancer research and donate proceedings to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, where my dad is a surgeon and scientist. I would like everyone at Gulliver Prep to participate in this effort! Stay tuned for more…..

Middle school student building.

More From the Newsroom