Our Instructors

Justin Burgess - Chess

Justin Burgess is a 2008 graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in accounting. He worked at a bank in Blacksburg until he was hired by Silver Knights in January 2012. Justin did not learn how to play chess until age 13, but he immediately fell in love with the game. In 2011 he achieved the title of USCF Expert, and In 2012 he achieved the title of National Master. He is an active tournament player in Virginia, and is also a certified Club Tournament Director.  In 2012, Justin tied for first at the Virginia State Chess Championship, making him the co-champion of Virginia.

Tom Saunders - Chess

Tom Saunders is a long time member of the Arlington Chess Club and frequent participant in local tournaments. His biggest success came recently, winning the B section of the D.C. Class Championship in May 2011 which propelled him into the ranks of Class A players. He has received mention in Chess Life magazine ('Chessto Enjoy', May 1997) and the Washington Times Chess column, and had a game published in the Virginia Chess Newsletter (2011 - #1). He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from George Mason University in 1998 and 2001. In addition to teaching Chess he has taught music and mathematics.

Gina Quintiliani - Chess

Gina has been an avid chessplayer ever since she taught herself how to play chess as a child. She has taught chess in after-school programs on both the West and East coasts, helping numerous children to improve their games. Her current USCF rating puts her in the top 5% of women chess players in the country. Gina graduated from UCSD with a BS in Biology and a BA in Literature. She is currently working on an MA in Theology.

Walter Harris - Chess

Walter Harris is a National Master.

Tanner Nicely - Chess

Tanner Nicely has been working for Silver Knights since July of 2011.  Tanner has been playing chess since age eight, and began playing in tournaments at age ten. He graduated from Hayfield Secondary School in 2011. 

Justin Rajsky - Chess

Justin L. Rajsky has been playing competitive tournament chess since he was in high school, where he played Board 1 for Bloom Trail H.S., and made all conference 4 years in a row. Since then, Justin has won numerous class prizes and local tournaments, including the Dyer, Indiana Chess Club Championship.  Justin also has competed on a team in the Chicago Industrial Chess League which won 3rd Place overall in 2012.  Justin has been awarded the "Mover and Shaker Award" and the "Chess Teacher of the Year Award" from the South Suburban Chess Club, in Oak Lawn, Illinois.  Justin is a full-time coach with Silver Knights Chess.

Tim Hartigan - Chess

Tim Hartigan has been a National Master since 1994.  He participated on amateur team south championship teams in 1997 (Reti For Fine Moves) and 1998 (Ehlvest Impersonators).  He has been teaching chess since 1993 with Silver Knights Chess.  His pupils have won local, state, and national competitions as teams and individuals.  He was also the coach of WIM Cindy Tsai, 3 time girls Pan American Champion.

Ren Klein - Chess

Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Ren learned to love chess from his grandfather. When he isn't coaching chess, Ren is a consultant with over twenty years experience as a marketing communications manager, researcher and strategist for a wide variety of products and services, trade associations, and non-profits. He has an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, and a BA from Bard College.

John Larson - Chess

John is a chess coach specializing in teaching beginners in the Howard County school district.  He has been playing chess since elementary school and has enjoyed the game since.  Most recently he has worked at a School Age Child Care site coordinator with the YMCA of Greater Rochester.  His favorite activity at his after school program was chess, the kids even got into it enough to participate in several small tournaments.  John recently moved from New York to complete a degree in Computer Science from UMBC.  At UMBC he is a member of the chess club, where he plays with skilled opponents weekly and learns from many highly rated players, including international masters.

Tai Yoon - Chess

Tai first learned the game of chess at the age of 14 but became more serious about it when he attended the Catholic University of America and joined the chess club where he was first introduced to tournament play. You can often find him playing “Blitz” (quick chess) online whenever he finds time. He graduated from the Catholic University of America with a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering and is currently finishing a Master's of Education in Elementary Education at Grand Canyon University. He lives in Centreville, VA.

Valentina Xavier - Chess

Valentina has been playing chess since she was about 11 or 12 years old.  Chess is one of her favorite games to play and teach to others.  She studied mechanical and aerospace engineering at George Washington University in Washington, DC and currently works as a patent examiner in the field of aerospace at the USPTO. She taught chess in Berkeley prior to joining Silver Knights Chess and she continues to learn more about the game and about teaching.

Jitin Krishnan - Coding and Chess

Jitin is currently a PhD Student in Computer Science at George Mason University, Fairfax VA. His areas of interest include algorithms, game theory, and artificial intelligence. Jitin has been playing chess since childhood. He has played in tournaments in both India and in the US.

Charles Pouliot - Chess

Charles' older brothers and father taught him to play chess before he went to school. "They always beat me, and didn't teach me. Not any more... of course!" Charles wants kids to know that they do have a chance to win, and enjoys showing them how to do it.

Njideka Olatunde - Chess

By training, Njideka is a social worker who has transitioned into health and wellness training and consulting. Njideka started playing chess when she asked her best friend to teach her. It became their special way of solving the pressures of challenging life lesson experiences. To add to her career experience is having the opportunity to teach children chess, which she finds very enjoyable! Njideka is fascinated with watching each child that she teaches learn the game of chess. It is her way of remembering how to let the little girl in her come out and play.

Brent Layer - Chess

Before coaching chess, Brent taught high school mathematics in Baltimore County, Maryland. Brent has been playing chess for fun since he was in grade school, but didn't play in his first chess tournament until he was 24. Brent enjoys studying, playing and teaching chess, and hopes to pass on his enthusiasm to each and every one of his students!

Victor Guzman - Chess

Victor picked up the game of chess on a rainy inside recess day at Greenbriar West Elementary at the age of 10 and has loved the game ever since. He played casual chess until about 2009 when he was introduced to competitive chess and began studying to improve his game. After 6 years of playing, Victor was able to obtain the USCF Expert Class Title and looks forward to obtaining the USCF National Master Title in the future! Victor truly believes chess helps students not just logical areas -- but in social and interactive areas as well, since chess helps bring together people of different ages, backgrounds, etc. Victor is an undergraduate student at George Mason University in the Engineering field and enjoys watching movies and Netflix shows when he has some free time.

Enkhbat Tegshuren - Chess

Enkhbat Tegshsuren (Coach E.K) is an International Master (IM) and has been providing chess instruction to elementary school children in Maryland for several years. His students have competed successfully at local, regional and national tournaments. Coach E.K is an active tournament player, and competes regularly in chess tournaments in both Maryland and Virginia area. He recently became the Maryland open champion in 2014 and Virginia open champion in 2015.

Win Persina - Chess

Win comes to us from the August Montessori School in Washington, DC where she taught chess.  Win truly enjoys working with children, and finds it very rewarding to witness their growth, whether it be their new chess skills, sportsmanlike conduct, or exciting life experiences in general. 

 Additionally, Win has had extensive experience working with physically challenged athletes in pursuing their competitive selves through sport.  She is especially excited to volunteer to serve our wounded vets through fundraising events, food drives, and obtaining media coverage for these events.   Besides family and friends, Win also enjoys competitive running, shooting sporting clays, obstacle racing, helicopter flying, and most outdoor activities.  She is very excited to be a member of the Silver Knights Chess team!

Kevin Stokker - Coach

Kevin has been playing tournament chess since he was seven years old.  In 1974, at the age of 8, he made it onto the USCF’s “Top 50 Under 13” list.  So he has known for a long time exactly how great kids can get at playing chess!

While living in New Jersey, Kevin taught chess as a high school class.  Now, he is continuing his chess education career with Silver Knights.  In 1992, he won the US Class Championships (B Section), and earned his National Expert ranking two years later.

Kevin is currently writing a chess book, and lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.