top of page

Rio: His Parent's Take On His Early Success At 9

Updated: Jun 28

No matter what they say, the biggest driver of student success is good parenting. Without my mom’s support and encouragement in my tournaments, lessons, and support at every step, wouldn’t have become a national master or won the numerous tournaments that I had. We spoke to the parents of Rio B, who joined MM Chess in February. Rio is an exceptional 9-year-old from Brooklyn, New York. Despite picking up a chessboard for the first time in 5 years at the beginning of the school year, Rio has risen through the ranks and is nearing 1232.

We asked Rio’s parents a few questions about what they believe drives Rio’s progress.

1. Tell us a little bit more about your own background, about Rio and his accomplishments.

“Rio’s parents came to New York City from Miami to go to college. Years later, they started a family in Brooklyn and have two children (Rio, 9, and Luna, 6). Rio’s father is a Software Engineer and his mother is an artist.

Rio started rated chess competitions six months ago and is rated 1232. He is also on a competition team for Snowboarding in the winter and Math as part of Mathletes.”

2. In general, do you provide opportunities for Rio to pursue his interests and talents? Did you or Rio want to play chess first?

“Since Rio was very young he has always shown a strong passion for his interests – whether it was building train sets when he was younger or independently learning advanced math when he was in second and third grades. Rio’s mother has always created an environment to allow our children to be creative, try new things, and follow whatever they were strongly interested in.

When Rio was 4, his friend’s mother, a local chess teacher, taught him chess as part of an after-school program with older children. He was very interested in it and continued until he was 5 years old. At this time the pandemic started and our access to in-person chess class was no longer available. Then, in September 2022, when Rio was 9 years old, he joined an elementary school, The Speyer Legacy School, with regular chess instruction and a chess team led by coach Sean O’Hanlon. Soon after, his interest exploded.”

3. A strong work ethic is something that separates an amateur player from one that wins tournaments. How do you foster a love of learning and a strong work ethic in Rio?

“Just a few months after he joined his new elementary school, Rio began competing in rated tournaments. He has shown a drive to learn the chess steps and works hard to do so in class and after school. A few months in, it became clear that Rio would benefit from 1-on-1 instruction outside of school, which led us to find MM Chess and his coach, Ramiro Pando.

The 1-on-1 instruction has proved vital for Rio’s growth as he has had the guidance to grow on a near daily basis with instruction, practice and repetition.”

4. Resilience is difficult for talented children, as so much of their schoolwork and hobbies come easy to them. This applies specifically to chess, where kids actively lose and have to have the grit to keep going. How do you encourage Rio to be confident and resilient?

“Our goal as parents is to provide positivity and encouragement through the challenges they face when developing skills in a new activity. Attending multi-day events where each game is hours long has required growth, patience, and focus. We are happy when we see our children apply their best effort, regardless of the outcome and can come away with something they learn to grow from as chess players.”

A kid playing chess at the Marshall Chess club
Rio starting a match!

5. Generally and in chess, how do you handle challenges or setbacks Rio experienced, and what do you do to help them overcome them?

"When Rio is challenged we make sure that Rio knows how he can learn and grow from what he encountered. For example, if he faces an opponent who plays an opening or a defense he hasn’t learned yet, we have asked for help from Rio’s coach so that he’s prepared for next time. As a chess player, there are plenty of difficult times when you lose after working so hard. We have tried to make it so Rio can take that to heart and be better next time."


  1. Rio engages in different activities that complement each other: Math, Chess, and Snowboarding (healthy body = strong mind)

  2. His parents created an environment that allowed creative exploration and following interests

  3. They also fostered a personalized approach to his teaching by hiring a private chess coach

  4. They encourage an infinite goal, to play better and keep improving regardless of the setbacks instead of just winning games

  5. Empower challenges by seeing a strong adversary as something to learn from

We expect to hear much more about Rio’s family soon!


bottom of page