FORT KNOX, Ky. –
Staff Sgt. Derick Arellano, Queens Creek Recruiting Station Commander, was named ‘Best in the Army’ at the 63rd Annual US Armed Forces Chess Championship at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., October 10.
Arellano began playing chess with his father when he was seven years old and has continued to make time to play throughout his military career.
“My first victory came when I made a bet against my father,” Arellano said. “If I won, then I got to sleepover at a friend’s house, but if I lost, I had to cut the grass. With so much on the line, I obliterated him and secured my sleepover.”
As he grew up, Arellano competed for his high school chess team, taking them to five consecutive state championships.
After joining the Army in 2009 as a motor transport operator, Arellano did not let his love of chess wane.
“As a young paratrooper, it was difficult to find time to play like I used to,” Arellano said. “I played in a couple of tournaments at Fort Bragg when I could find the time.”
Arellano began recruiting duty in Corpus Christi, Texas and found success on and off the board.
“As a successful recruiter in the San Antonio Battalion, it was hard to find time for chess. But I was excelling in recruiting- I finished the recruiting year as a top ten performer in 2017,” Arellano said.
During the tournament, Arellano competed against active duty servicemembers, military retirees, Cadets, Midshipmen, Mobilized Guard/Reserve, and honorably discharged veterans.
As one of the highest ranked chess players in the U.S. military, Arellano said he is excited to work toward competing in the NATO Chess Championship.