Peter Giannatos grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before moving to Charlotte in 2001. He attended James Martin Middle School and Vance High School before attending college at UNC-Charlotte.
Peter learned how to play chess at the age of 7, but did not compete in his first tournament until he was 13. In 2004, he competed in his first tournament, achieving a USCF rating of 589. With hard work and dedication, Peter achieved the expert rating (2000+ USCF) in 2008. Peter teaches students the same techniques he used to rapidly improve.
Peter earned his FIDE Master (FM) title (2300+ FIDE) in February of 2017. One of only 4 players in North Carolina history to earn that title. Peter is also a United States Chess Federation National Master (NM)/Life Master (LM) and Senior Tournament Director.
Peter's philosophical approach to chess makes learning much more practical. His energetic style and funny personality makes him one of the students favorite instructors.
Peter spends most of his time at the CCCSA planning and organizing events/programs. His main focus and philosophy has always been to bring chess to a the level of other professional sports/games.
Peter's has been teaching and organizing for more than 10 years. Peter has a Bachelors of Science in Economics from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. Outside of the classroom, Peter enjoys tennis, ping ping and billiards.
Peter is the Founder and Director of the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy.
Executive Director and Founder
Grant Oen, 25, grew up near Princeton, New Jersey, and learned chess at the age of 10 from his father. He soon became interested in all aspects of the game: playing, teaching, directing, and organizing.
As a high school student, he co-founded Central Jersey Chess, a monthly tournament series he still organizes, and later continued this passion when he attended Emory University and founded Southeast Chess, which hosted large open tournaments in Atlanta, Georgia.
At Emory, besides studying Political Science and Business, Grant was very active on the Atlanta chess scene, organizing dozens of open and scholastic tournaments. He was the president of the Emory Chess Club, wrote for Georgia Chess News magazine, won two Georgia Individual Collegiate Chess Championships, and scored 5-0 on the 2015 US Amateur Team South Championship team.
Grant is a Candidate Master/Expert with a USCF rating over 2150 and FIDE rating over 2000. He is one of the youngest National Tournament Directors (highest level of TD certification) in US Chess. Grant has directed hundreds of tournaments including the U.S. Championship, U.S. Women’s Championship, U.S. Collegiate Rapid and Blitz Championships, U.S. Masters, U.S. G/10, G/30, G/60 Championships, North American Junior Championships, World Open, Millionaire Chess Open, SuperNationals, CCCSA’s GM/IM/Junior Invitationals, and the NC Open, Closed, and K-12 State Championships.
He has been the US Chess representative at FIDE Congresses, Chess Olympiads, and World Youth Championships in China, Turkey, Spain, Greece, and the Republic of Georgia.
Grant is also one of the youngest International Arbiters (highest FIDE tournament director title) in the world. He is also an International Organizer, FIDE Instructor, Castle Chess Camp board member, NC Chess Association Scholastic VP, US Chess News contributor, Atlanta Kings team manager in the PRO Chess League, and a Councillor on FIDE’s Technical Commission.
After graduating from Emory (B.A., Political Science), Grant moved to Charlotte in August 2016 to accept the role of CCCSA’s Assistant Director and Events Manager.
Besides chess, Grant enjoys poker, ping pong, and travelling.
Assistant Director/Events Manager
Dan Boisvert was raised in the 1970s-80s in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, one of the many New England mill-towns built on the aggressive work ethic, competitive spirit, and proud heritage of thousands of French-Canadian immigrants. Because of them, Dan inherited among other things a love for rough sports, like boxing and hockey, though himself played mainly baseball and basketball before settling on track and cross-country.
A former R. I. High School state champion in multiple events, Dan at one point held the fastest eight times in R. I. schoolboy history in the Boys 1,000 meters and, in 1984, was the fasted junior in the United States at that event. In college, he ran for the U. S. Naval Academy under legendary coach Al Cantello.
In the early days after college, Dan served as a head coach for his hometown junior high school track team and as an account representative for subsidiaries of two Fortune 500 companies. He eventually earned his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Florida is now Senior Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
After years of loving the idea of chess, Dan finally dove in two years ago at age 48. Because of the goal-setting, planning, problem-solving, logic, concentration, and competition that chess requires, he loves the actual game even more and, now, very much wishes he had taken up the game years ago.
His duties as CCCSA Director of School Programs, allow him to serve an important role as ambassador for the great game, while the values of his hometown inspire him to continue to improve as a player.
Director of School Programs
Mike is a FIDE Master and Life National Master residing in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mike's taught chess for the past 18 years. He currently teaches many Charlotte school chess classes and clubs, as well as summer camps in Charlotte and Chapel Hill. From 2001-04, he was a full-time chess instructor for New York City's Chess-in-the-Schools program.
In addition to teaching chess, Mike is a regular contributor to Chess.com, Chess Life Magazine and Chess Life Online where he researches and writes about many aspects of competitive chess. He received his degree in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2012 and 2015, he was named Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America.
He's eager to help your child benefit from chess while having fun and interacting in a positive way with his/her peers.
As an instructor:
Taught more than 4,000 children and adults over 16 years
Instructor at more than 50 summer camps
Head coach of 2003 National K-8 Champion Team (David A. Boody Middle School - Brooklyn, NY)
Coach of 2003 National Sixth Grade Champion (Jayson Lian)
Coach of 2003 National K-8 Co-Champions (GM Alex Lenderman and NM Alex Pelekhaty)
Coach of 2004 National K-8 Champion (NM Alex Pelekhaty)
Coach of several National Champion junior varsity teams and top-five open section teams
2003 Chess-in-the-Schools Instructor of the Year
Coach of numerous top-5 teams and individuals at NC State Scholastic Championships
When he's not at home in Charlotte coaching and studying chess, Mike loves to play tennis, bike and travel. In 2009, he completed a trip around world visiting 33 countries on 5 continents.
School Curriculum and Program Advisor
Ursula Smith lovingly embraced Charlotte as her home over 20 years ago after graduating from the University of Virginia to attend graduate school at UNCC. Shortly after, Ursula obtained a masters degree in industrial-organizational psychology.
She is new to chess and joined the club after only her second attendance to the free Adult Learner's Series offered by our Center. Her passion grew quickly and she began exploring ways to lend her talents to help the Center realize its mission.
As Director of Development, her primary focus is to partner with our instructors and school administrators to strengthen the relationship with our growing list of schools.
Director of Development
Daniel Naroditsky is a 23-year-old Grandmaster born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. His father taught him the rules of chess when he was six, and a string of scholastic tournament victories followed shortly thereafter. He won grade-level nationals twice, and in April 2007 became the California K-12 champion while in 5th grade, the youngest ever to do so. In November 2007, Daniel solidified his status as one of the strongest juniors in the country when he became the under-12 World Youth Chess Champion.
Daniel successfully continued to progress in chess while attending a rigorous middle and high school, securing the IM title in 2011 and becoming a Grandmaster in the summer of 2013, before starting 12th grade. After taking a gap year to pursue chess, Daniel attended and earned a bachelor’s degree in History from Stanford University, graduating in June 2019. Daniel is also the author of two instructional chess manuals: Mastering Positional Chess and Mastering Complex Endgames — the first published when Daniel was only 14 — and is the monthly endgame columnist for Chess Life.
As CCCSA Resident Grandmaster, Daniel will be taking the lead on coaching the areas top junior players along with the CCCSA's top competitive school programs.
Resident Grandmaster/Head Coach
Dominique Myers was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2007 all of the time that was dedicated to chess began to pay off. Dominique saw a rating gain of 1000 points in a year; along the way claiming first place in the u1200 section at the National scholastic chess championship in Kansas City, MO.
After several years of playing in January of 2009 the milestone of expert was reached. In 2009 Dominique spent the summer volunteering with Nexus, an inner-city Charlotte ministry association offering free chess classes to children. In 2010 Dominique received the SEEDS OF HOPE scholarship from Forest Hill Church to attend college at Liberty University.
Over the years with his dynamic and enterprising style of play stemming from him being self-taught Dominique has been notorious for giving Titled Players headaches. Dominique’s plan for teaching is based on a combination of techniques he used to rise through the ranks so quickly. He plans on passing on the knowledge that he has picked up over the years is from experiences playing and surrounding himself with stronger players. His goal is to help students think outside of the box, one of his favorite areas to explore as well as teaching combative and sharp play.
Dominique is considered one of the most adored instructors in Charlotte. His patience and ability to work with children of all ages and skill levels makes him one of the most sought after instructors.
Dominique is a US Chess National Master with peak US Chess rating of 2287.
Alex Velasquez is a class “A” chess player who enjoys surprising higher rated opponents with his impressive positional knowledge of the game.
His passion for chess began as a high school student in his hometown of Miami, Florida where he joined the Miami International Chess Academy.
He cites local champions International Master Blas Lugo and FIDE Master Marcel Martinez as heavy influences on his game. Once primarily a Blitz player who thrived on tactical brilliancies, Alex’s game has matured with an increasingly well rounded positional understanding of the different phases of the game and how they are integrated.
He now lives in Charlotte where he is known as both a coach and player who brings a matchless passion to the game and to his students. Because of his own learning trajectory as a player, Alex has truly internalized the philosophy as a coach that his job is to teach students the conceptual principles that will allow them to correctly evaluate positions and plan strategically, rather than focus on the memorization that comes with practice and repetition.
Alex brings a rare combination of good humor and serious thought to every lesson that students of the game cannot help but appreciate.
Anastasia "Anna" Wyzywany was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. Anna started playing chess at the age of 10 in 2008. Through hard work and dedication, Anna soon became the highest rated female in the state of Louisiana; she kept that title until she relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina in spring of 2018.
Her extensive chess career includes; two-time high school State Champion, placing second in the SPGI, winning the Susan Polgar Open for Boys and Girls 3 years in a row, winning several college scholarships, as well as starting several scholastic chess clubs.
Anna is also a classically trained pianist and enjoys sharing her passion for music and chess. Anna is a class A chess player with a peak rating of 1954.
Director of Girls/Women's Programs
Coach Julian Parker was born in the Ukraine and moved to the United States in his early youth. While growing up in Brooklyn he learned to play chess.
Julian has been a head coach with the CCCSA since its founding in 2014. Julian's patient and polite attitude makes him a very sought after coach, particularly with beginners.
Julian is also a professionally trained dancer and continues to teach dance in the evenings and on the weekends.
Chris was born and raised in Charlotte and has been teaching chess for 12 years in Charlotte and Mexico. Chris is fluent in English and Spanish.
He has coached numerous Charlotte area schools to national scholastic tournaments and helped thousands of his students improve their game. He currently works with many Charlotte area schools and individual students. He´s also an active tournament player himself, who first played in the national scholastic championship at age 5 and continues to play in rated tournaments today.
Chris believes in a hands-on, high-energy teaching style where pupils are encouraged to try what they've been taught as soon as possible.
When he's not teaching, Chris enjoys playing basketball and reading.
David Cogswell grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After attending Oberlin College in Ohio, he tutored middle school students in Newark, New Jersey, where he also started teaching a chess class as a special subject. From there, his interest in chess rapidly took off, and he began working for Chess-In-The-Schools in New York City.
From 2014-2019 he has taught well over 1,000 NYC public school students from grades 2-12 how to play chess, and his appreciation and love for the game has continued to grow.
In his teaching, David loves to explore the tactical motifs and attacking style of play present in the games of the old masters like Morphy and Anderssen. David’s attacking style of chess however, does not reflect his personality, as he is an extremely patient and caring individual and teacher.
Outside of teaching chess, David can be found running, hiking, playing tennis, reading, or playing music.
Spencer Singleton has taught generations of students to play the game of chess. He has a genuine love for the game and for 47 years has been studying and honing his skills. Chess students benefit from his 17 years teaching experience in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and coaching chess teams.
Besides teaching and advising the chess club, Spencer plays the trumpet with a local orchestra and writes and records music.
Maya McGreen was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY where she learned to play the game of chess at 4 years old. She is a Class A player with some of her accomplishments being a 4-Time All-Girls National Team Champion. Her passion in chess is finding tactical problems on the board as well as solving them in books.
Maya has been coaching for five years at various schools in New York City that compete at Nationals every year. When she not playing the game, you can find her directing chess tournaments. She is a USCF Senior Tournament Director and FIDE Arbiter.
Maya attends UNC-Charlotte as a Communications major so she can further her goal of working in News Broadcasting and one day create her own chess film.
Maya was also a part of the infamous chess team I.S. 318 that has a featured film on Netflix and Hulu who became the first middle school to win the High School National Title.
Assistant Coach and Tournament Director
Nathan Conklin is a chess hobbyist who enjoys the social part of the game as much as the tactical portion. Nathan began playing chess in 2nd grade chess club and has continued to enjoy chess as a life long passion. Nathan has been coaching for CCCSA since February 2019.
Nathan is the father of two girls. His girls enjoy participating in CCCSA organized summer camps, Sunday classes, and events.
Nathan has an engineering and education background with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, a Master of Science in Computer Science from Virginia Tech, and a Master of Business Administration from Virginia Tech's Pamplin School of Business. Nathan has over 17 years of software development experience development building tactical and combat control systems for US and Australian Navy programs.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Ellen Xiang first learned to play chess through her elementary school’s chess program, where her love of the chess club’s snacks soon evolved into love for the game itself. She grew up playing in scholastic and local tournaments, as well as various international tournaments. Ellen’s fondest chess achievement was winning the 2014 All Girls National Championship. She is a class A player and a Women’s Candidate Master (WCM).
After graduating with a B.A. in Economics from Harvard College, Ellen moved to Charlotte last July. She currently works as an analyst at Barings.
In her free time, Ellen enjoys figure skating, watching American and Asian reality tv, and eating good food.
Louise Pratt was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs. She started playing chess as a teenager and has recently rekindled her love for the game. After spending several years in Charleston, SC, she has settled into Charlotte.
A Registered Dental Hygienist by profession, she is now pursuing teaching the game she loves to young people. She is excited to have the opportunity with the Charlotte Chess Center to teach children the game of chess.
Some of her interests include jogging on the Greenway, reading, cooking, and traveling.
David is somewhat of a newcomer to the game of Chess. He was introduced to the game as an adult and has enjoyed learning its intricacies and strategies . David grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in an athletic and competitive family. He is a graduate of Presbyterian College in South Carolina , where he played football and was elected as one of the captains his senior year. He majored in Social Studies with a minor in Physical Education.
After college, David pursued his passion of teaching and coaching at the high school level. He taught History, Geography and Driver’s Education in South Carolina public schools for 38 years. He also served as a coach of football and track at several schools in the state. He was fortunate to coach many athletes who went on to play sports in college. David is a member of the South Carolina Track Coaches Hall of Fame and the Woodruff High School Hall of Fame.
David moved to Charlotte in February of 2019 and is excited about the opportunity to teach the game of Chess to the young people of Charlotte. His wife, Louise , is also a coach at the Chess Center.
David’s interests are working out, traveling, Auburn football and Red Sox baseball.
MJ's mother taught her how to play chess when she was around 10 years old. She instantly acquiesced to the mental challenge. MJ continues the tradition and and has taught her children and grandsons. MJ is eager to coach any child who has a passion to learn this wonderful game of introspection.
A software engineer and architect for over 20 years in Silicon Valley, Phil has several years of experience teaching chess with the San Diego Chess Academy, with students of all experience from kindergarten through high school. Phil likes chess openings that favor strong opportunities for transposition, to provide very rich games.
Garrett is a lifelong chess player from the New York area that has played competitively since he was six years old. He was fortunate to have had coaches during his youth that made the game fun and engaging, while at the same time helped him progress as a player. Garrett wants to carry along the tradition and philosophy that: students, especially younger ones, can only flourish if they are engaged and enjoying the process.
Garrett's strength lies in getting children excited about chess and having them eagerly awaiting their next lesson.