Danial went through with the trap manoeuvre against the top 18-year-old in the nation. Nineteen moves later, he came out victorious, and a few rounds later he went on to win his fifth national championship, placing him in the prestigious company of only five other players to win all major national scholastic championships.
Danial said chess has helped him develop into the man he is today.
“It taught me problem-solving, taught me to analyze my mistakes, taught me critical thinking, taught me to learn how to lose,” he said. “It’s improved my confidence as well, and overall has made me a better person.”
Danial’s journey with chess went beyond the individual competition when he started the Asaria School of Chess. Teaching kids and adults around the world, he created an opportunity not only to teach the game he loves, but to provide opportunities for families that are less fortunate in his community.
“Chess is very specialized. Because of that, there are definitely going to be very expensive lessons, if you really want to get good,” said Danial. His foundation allows students to learn chess “but also to breach the financial barriers."
Danial has also partnered with the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for the USA in order to expose more than 100 children to the game of chess during a six-week program. He hopes to share his passion with enthusiasts around the nation.
He has also teamed up with the Ismaili Council for the Western US to help immigrant families in Northern California who have recently migrated to the United States.
“Hopefully we can see if there are any secret chess prodigies,” he said with a smile, ready to pass on the torch to the next generation.
Danial’s mission to help his community has led him to many endeavors throughout his scholastic career. He started a foundation called "Bach to Basics," in order to help children pursue their passion in music, without having parents worry about the elevated prices for music lessons. He noticed that many children in his community who were just as talented as those receiving lessons from professionals, were not getting the same opportunities.
“A lot of my friends ended up being in the top band, and were fortunate enough to get lessons themselves,” said Danial. “We came together and made this program to teach students around Los Angeles to play music.” He went on to participate in Team Lead, and Project R.E.A.D as well. The former focused on creating a solution for environmental concerns in Los Angeles, and the latter initiated an after-school program for a local elementary school.
Danial, a prospective University of Southern California student, looks to embark on the next chapter of his young life. Receiving a scholarship to Webster, the top chess program in the nation, he decided he wanted to become a more well-rounded person, before focusing on chess again. He is not looking to play professionally, but he hopes to continue teaching others about the game of chess and acknowledges that chess will always be a part of his life.
“Hopefully, I am going to strive to inspire more people,” he said about moving into the next phase of his life.
Danial hopes to prove that nothing is impossible. Trials and tribulations are bound to occur, but he believes if one can truly put everything towards their dream, they can one day achieve it.
“You have to just go for it,” he said. “No matter what anybody tells you, no matter how many obstacles are in your way, as long as you find out what your true passion is, and you really love it, then you should just work, work, work. Leave nothing behind, no regrets.”