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He's Only 5 But this Northern Kentucky Boy Plays a Mean Game of Chess

He's only 5 years old but Eli Dropic is well on his way to achieving his goal of becoming a world chess master.

The Villa Madonna kindergarten student and Erlanger resident recently won the 31st Lexington Winter Scholastic Chess Tournament at Rosa Parks Elementary in Lexington and has his new trophy sitting at home.

Eli won all four of his matches and because some of his competitors were first-graders, he was awarded the championship even though he was tied for first place.

“There was a tie for first place, but I apparently played harder opponents and whoever plays harder opponents gets the first-place trophy,” he said.

Eli's dad Ajdin taught him chess at the early age of three. Eli's opponents primarily consisted of his father and his older brothers. Now the boy goes to chess lessons every week with his dad, who is in charge of Villa's chess club. At home, he says the family has many chess boards and that it is a big deal in the household. He says that his favorite chess piece is the queen.

“The four middle spaces is where she can be really powerful,” Eli said of the queen. “I usually like to use a couple of tricks to get her out into one of the middle spaces.”

He says that he doesn't rush to get the queen out early on because it can be a dangerous tactic.

“There is a form of checkmate with a bishop and a queen to where you really don't need the pawn there,” Eli said.

He also likes using the knights.

“They can be powerful up to the fifth line,” he said.

One of his classic opening moves is king pawn to E4 he explained, because it can really help in a lot of ways.

He has learned a lot from the late chess master Bobby Fisher.

“My dad really likes to talk about him because he's dead now but he would beat chess masters that played their hardest. He was a chess master, but he beat all of them. He's still famous even though he's dead,” Eli said.

Eli intends to keep improving his chess game and it would not be surprising if we heard more from the young chess wizard of Northern Kentucky.

“I like chess because it can make your mind say, 'No, I can't do this or else I will get checkmated,” Eli said.

-Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: Eli Dropic (provided)