Teachers and Staff

Teachers and Staff 




NM Adam Weissbarth - Founder and CEO

Adam (USCF 2255) has taught thousands of children to play chess in New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Virginia. Many of his students have won local, state, and national championships. Adam has won numerous scholastic and adult tournaments all over the country, including two New Mexico High School Championships. Adam earned his National Chess Master title in the winter of 2006 and became a U.S. Chess Federation-certified Senior Tournament Director in 2009. He has appeared on the Howard Stern show and been profiled in Chess Life magazine. Adam has an M.S. in Statistics from the University of Washington, where -- in a preview of his future career -- he enjoyed being a TA far more than taking classes or doing research. Adam lives in Annandale with his wife, daughter, and son. 

Daniel Weissbarth - Director of Operations

Daniel (USCF 2015) has been playing chess for as long as he can remember (see picture), and achieved the title of Expert in 2009. After working for Silver Knights (before it became Magnus Chess Academy) as a teacher for a year near Philadelphia, Daniel moved to Northern Virginia in the summer of 2009 to be the Program Director for the new branch of the company. Over the last few years he has overseen Magnus Chess Academy's growth in the DMV area from 10 locations and 200 students to more than 300 schools and 6,000+ students all over the region each semester!  He's taught a few state and national champions, a bunch of players in the top 100 in the country for their age group, and thousands of kids who love playing chess! He lives in Oakton, Virginia, with his wife and their two cats.

Matt Okunevich


Chess Coach Matt has been teaching chess to kids for over 20 years. In that time he has taught over 10,000 kids chess in the Phoenix area and managed and ran over 1000 chess tournaments including the Susan Polgar National Open several times. He holds a currently USCF over the board Chess Rating over 2000 and is a nationally rated chess expert. Outside of the Chess world, Matt plays Ultimate Frisbee, runs with friends regularly, and spends time with his wife Brooke and son Quill.

Savon Ayodeji

Savon Ayodeji has a passion for mentoring kids and learning new skills. He graduated from Liberty University with a bachelor's in communication. While growing up, he developed a love for debate and communication to further discussions. He enjoyed teaching debate to students all over the country in previous years. Overall, he enjoys talking and learning more about others. He uses the love of communication as a way to learn more about our staff through our interviewing and hiring process. Savon provides insight, creativity and a wealth of knowledge to our staff.


coach bijal

I've always loved to teach and learn, and I have fun interacting with kids. I've been a math and social studies teacher for 10 years. I learned chess as a kid, and teaching it to my daughter inspired me to join Magnus Chess Academy (then Silver Knights in 2017) as a chess coach. Since 2022, my responsibilities have grown to becoming a trainer for new coaches. I've grown a lot with Magnus Chess, and enjoy as well am passionate about in-person and virtual chess coaching.

Andy Dubosky

Former chess coach @ Silver Knights Enrichment and infrequent online player at GameKnot


Johan Hellsten

Born in 1975, started playing chess at the age of six. National U20 Champion in 1991, IM in 1995, GM in 2004, Swedish Champion in 2006. Member of the Swedish national team in several Olympiads and European Team Championships. Winner of several international events, among them the Copa Entel (category IX) in Chile 2005. Author of several chess books, for example a trilogy on strategy which was published by Everyman Chess in 2010-2013 and converted into a Chessable course in 2021. Regular lecturer at the US Chess School.

David Shin


David (USCF 1810) has been teaching math and computer science and coaching chess for more than twenty years. This includes some Maryland State Elementary and High School Team champions! David has achieved the USCF Candidate Master ranking, was the New England Amateur Champion and played on the UMBC Collegiate Chess team. He once played blitz chess with his favorite player, world champion Mikhail Tal! David loves sharing his enthusiasm for chess with students of all skill levels, from new beginners to strong tournament players. David is a graduate of the University of Illinois - Champaign.

John Sullivan


I’m coach John! I’ve been playing chess for more than 20 years. I’m originally from Springfield Massachusetts the home of basketball and Dr. Seuss. I love guitar and cooking Indian food when I am not studying chess. 

Uthra Pakkirisamy


Uthra (USCF 2037) started playing chess at a summer chess camp at the age of 6. She was born and raised in Chennai, India and moved to the US in 2016. She fell in love with the game, and went on to earn the WFM title and won a gold medal at the Asian U-17 games. She has a peak FIDE rating of 2114 has been coaching kids for more than 4 years. She holds Bachelor in Engineering and Masters in Business Administration degrees. Uthra lives with her husband and two children in Fortmill, SC and currently the No.1 Women player in South Carolina.

Daniel Stone


Hey, my name is Daniel Stone. Although I technically started playing when I was around 8 years old, I only started taking the game seriously at around the age of 12. On online websites, I am rated about 1900. Though, I hope to one day get an official rating of over 2000. Outside of chess, I love programming, and, in fact, I have a bachelor's in information technology and an associate's in cybersecurity. I am also obsessed with snowboarding and football.

Xunaxi (Xuni) Caroca

I was born and raised in Mexico City and I've been in the US for 5 years! I learned to play chess when I was 8 years old, my dad taught me and believe it or not, it is addictive! My favorite color is blue and I love puzzles, movies and playing outside.