Teachers and Staff

NM Adam Weissbarth - Founder and President

Adam Weissbarth teaching chess to kids

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

Adam and Daniel Weissbarth playing chess

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.

WFM Uthra Pakkirisamy - Coach

WFM Uthra Pakkirisamy playing chess

Uthra started playing chess at a summer chess camp at the age of 6. 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 3 years. She holds a BA in Engineering, an MBA. Uthra lives with her husband and two children in Charlotte, NC.

Tanner Nicely - Coach

Tanner Nicely teaching chess

Tanner (USCF 1580) learned how to play chess from his dad as an eight year old and was captivated. Two years later his elementary school started a chess club and he joined. Thursdays immediately became the highlight of his week. He loved playing with friends and traveling to tournaments with them on the weekends. In June 2011, the same month he graduated from high school, Tanner started at what was then Silver Knights. Tanner feels super lucky to get to give thousands of kids the same great experience he had in elementary school, whether it be in the classroom or online!


Luke Everett - Coach

Luke Everett, Chess Coach

Luke (USCF 1894) was taught how to play chess when he was six years old. Learning about pins and forks from an Australian neighbor created an enduring fascination for the game. Unfortunately, "real life" interfered with Luke's chess ambition for decades and he only started playing in tournaments after immigrating to the USA in 1996. Luke joined what was then Silver Knights after seeing how much his daughter enjoyed the after-school programs and tournament training clubs.


NM Sid Schwartz - Coach

NM Sid Schwartz

Sid (USCF 2118) has been playing chess for a long time, dating back to before Bobby Fischer became World Chess Champion. Sid holds an M.A. in Mathematics from York University (Toronto, Canada). While studying there he established a chess club and obtained University funding to send a team to the Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship where the team tied for 4th place. Sid earned his National Chess Master title in 1983. He has been teaching chess with Magnus Chess Academy since he retired from the Federal Government in 2016 after a 37-year career. At the time of his retirement Sid was Director of a Center of Social Scientists, Statisticians, Survey Specialists, and Data Analysts at the US GAO. His other hobbies include singing and magic. Sid and his wife have two sons. They live in their Vienna, Virginia home with their cats’ permission.


David Shin - Coach

David Shin

David (USCF 1810) has been teaching chess, math, and computer science for more than fifteen years. This includes some individual and school state champions in Maryland! David has a peak USCF rating of 2088, and once played blitz chess with world champion Mikhail Tal! David loves sharing his enthusiasm for chess with students of all skill levels, from new beginners to strong tournament playes. David is a graduate of the University of Illinois - Champaign.


John Sullivan - Coach

John Sullivan
John first started learning chess in third grade and soon became an avid chess fan. It is a rare occasion to find John doing something other than playing chess, except when studying music. He collects chess books and spends a lot of time reading them and playing out the moves page by page. His favorite opening is the Scandinavian with black and the King's Gambit with White. He has taught hundreds of students across the DMV and some of his students have even placed first in chess tournaments. John has been playing for over 20 years, and has taught with Magnus Chess Academy for two years. He moved to Rockville Maryland with his wife Jamie from Massachusetts in 2010. 

James Bougher - Coach

James Bougher

James (USCF 1533) learned chess at age 6 has been playing ever since. He loves that chess is a strategy game of perfect information, and that any that any two people can meet and play on even terms. James has been teaching with Magnus Chess Academy since 2017. When he's not playing or teaching chess he likes snowboarding, playing the piano and studying Japanese.

Bijal Shah - Coach