Image by Anne Nygård


Meet The FEMchess Coaches

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Head Coach

Yesun Lee

Hello, my name is Yesun Lee. I am currently a freshman at Mission San Jose High School. I have been playing chess for more than six years now. My peak USCF rating is 1929. I won the NAYCC U12 Girls section in 2019, conditionally earning the WFM title. I additionally placed 1st at the CalChess Girls U10 and U12 sections and 1st at the Susan Polgar Foundational National Open for Boys and Girls in the U12 Girls section. I received the MVP award in 2016-17 and 2017-18 at Weibel Elementary School. Last year I was an assistant coach at the Weibel Chess Team where I taught one-on-one to kids who started chess. I also have a TD license and have helped out at the Weibel Quads.

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Rianne Ke

Hi! My name is Rianne Ke. When I was in preschool, the intricate designs of the chess pieces marked the beginning of my chess adventure. I competed in every World Youth/Cadet Championships from 2014-2018. I was the official representative twice, but ironically, I have not won any medals for my team. My most notable accomplishments include winning the U10 Girls Pan American Youth in 2016 (earning my WCM title), making history as the first girl to co-win the K-6 Championship at the Elementary Nationals in 2018, and winning the NAYCC U14 Girls section in 2019 (conditionally earning my WFM title). My peak USCF rating is 2113. I like to draw, dance, sing, and play sports like golf, tennis, badminton, volleyball, and swimming in my free time. Since COVID-19, I discovered new interests like solving the Rubik’s cube and baking. I have some teaching experience with beginners, and I can speak English, Mandarin, and conversational Spanish. 

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Kevin Pan

Hello, my name is Kevin Pan. I am currently a 10th grader in Mission San Jose High School, and have been playing chess since kindergarten. My current USCF rating is around 2260 and my FIDE rating is around 2100. I have played in the World Cadets Tournament in 5th grade, and have also won the K-6 National Championships in 6th grade. My ranking in the age 14 group is around number 10. I have a decent amount of experience as a coach, as I have taught MSJE classes since 4th grade. I love teaching new students, and am looking forward to meeting all the kids. 

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Arya Kumar

Hi! My name is Arya Kumar, and I am an 11th grader from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I began playing chess when I was in 5th grade, and by 8th grade, I was already rated over 2000 USCF. I have won 3 NC Girls State Championships, as well as the NC K-8 overall championship. I have also had the opportunity to represent the USA in the 2018 World Youth Chess Championship. Last summer, I placed 3rd in the Ruth Haring National Girls Tournament. I love playing and growing in chess, and I especially love sharing my knowledge of the game with others through teaching.

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Stephen He

Hi! My name is Stephen and I really enjoy playing chess. The best part of chess is when you figure out a combination of moves that grants you the win. The feeling is awesome and makes you feel that your hard work has paid off. Anyways, chess is a fun activity and should be enjoyed by everyone! I am currently a sophomore at Mission San Jose Highschool.

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Annapoorni Meiyappan

I met my first chess coach in India when I was 5 years old. I already knew how to move the pieces on the chess board at the time so my coach played a game against me. I, of course, lost. But what my coach had said was what started my entire chess career. He told my dad that if I continued to play like I did, I would have won the Chennai States Under 6 Girls Chess Championship. So, I continued playing chess and I enrolled into the MSJE chess club. I didn’t start playing competitively until MSJE’s chess coach recommended me to enroll into the California States Chess Championship. Ever since then, I’ve been playing chess competitively. From 2013 and onwards, I’ve been continuously selected to represent the USA in the World Cadets and World Youth Chess Championships. In 2015 and 2016 I participated in the Yes2Chess International Team Championship with the MSJE chess team. Our team won first place in the world both times. In 2017, I won gold at the North American Youth Chess Championship and earned the title of Woman Fide Master (WFM). I continue to play chess and coach at the MSJE chess team. Chess has taught me patience and concentration and I hope to spread my love for chess to other young women.

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Nathan Zhang

Hello! My name is Nathan Zhang, and I am currently a 11th grader at Mission San Jose High School. I have been playing chess for over 9 years now, a decision I will never regret. I have a peak USCF rating of 2108 and a current FIDE rating of 1900. In 2017, I won the North American Open u1900 section and tied for 2nd in the World Open two years later. In 8th grade, I played in the junior high nationals for the very first time, getting the opportunity to meet kids all over the country. I scored 16th place and helped our team to get 2nd place overall. To this day, that would be one of my favorite tournaments, a place where I would be able to share my experiences with my friends after every game. In addition to playing competitively, I have experience working with kids across all levels at the Norcal House of Chess. Outside of chess, I enjoy playing the piano, playing tennis, and listening to music.

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Ashley Pang

Ashley has been playing chess for six years now. Her current USCF rating is 1947 with a peak rating of 2033 and her FIDE rating is 1725. She became a Woman Candidate Master in 2016 after tying for first in the North American Youth Chess Championship Girls U-10 section. She became the North American All Girls Champion after placing first in 2017. In 2018, she tied for third in the U-12 Girls section World Cadet Chess Championship tournament. Ashley enjoys playing in local and online tournaments. She is also interested in sharing her passion with other girls.

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Aksithi Eswaran

Hi! My name is Aksithi Eswaran and I am a sophomore at Notre Dame San Jose High School. I have been playing chess for about 10 years now. My current USCF is 1996 and my FIDE is 1745. I mainly started chess because of my sister - she was one of the few girls who played chess and she still is. At almost every tournament, I notice a huge gender gap and I believe that this gap should become smaller. I have played in many World Youths, Pan-ams, Nationals and North American championships. My most notable one is the 2015 U10 Girls Pan-am where I won gold with 9/9; I have also won 3 national championships. I have some teaching experience, for example co-founding XcellChess. I look forward to coaching young girls to be stronger in a mostly male-dominated sport!

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Ria Darwar

Hi! My name is Ria Dawar. I am a senior at the University of Pennsylvania. I have been playing chess for more than 10 years now. My peak USCF rating is 1971, and my current FIDE rating is 1881. I won the Massachusetts Girls U18 Championship in 2015 and the Calchess Girls U18 Championship in 2018. I want to help others improve and develop an enthusiasm for playing chess.

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Anika Rajaram

Hi! My name is Anika Rajaram. I'm a 8th grader and I love playing chess. When I was four, I received a chess set for my birthday and I instantly fell in love with the game. At 6, I competed in my first tournament. Ever since, chess has played a major role in my life. I tied for first in the 2016 Pan American Chess Championship, and placed in the top ten of the 2016 World Cadets in Batumi. I won the 2018 Grade Level Chess Championship and I tied for first at the 2019 CalState Chess Championship. I look forward to meeting you and sharing my love of the game with you!

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Aidan Chen

Hi! My name is Aidan Chen, and I am rated 1865 USCF and 1575 FIDE. I am currently a 10th grader at Mission San Jose High School and have played chess for almost ten years since kindergarten. During those few years, I was a major contributor to the MSJE team from grades 1-6 and helped win the state championship every year, and even a couple top 5 national placements. I have three years of coaching experience under my belt and I am looking forward to giving back to the community as well as introducing new people to the sport!

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Aaron Cho

Hi! My name is Aaron Cho, and I’m currently a junior at Proof School. I have been playing chess for the last 5 years, though I did take a really long break during the pandemic. I am currently rated around 1800 USCF and 1700 FIDE. I don’t really have any large chess accomplishments, though I did once get stalemated when my opponent had a mate in 2, and 40 minutes on the clock. I really enjoy teaching in general, and I especially love to teach chess.

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Atul Thirumalai

Hello, my name is Atul Thirumalai. I am currently a 11th grader at Mission San High School. I have been playing chess for over 7 years now, and I will never stop. I have a peak USCF rating of 1800 and a current FIDE rating of 1650. In 2016, I went to Canada and got top 10 in the Canada Open. In 2017, I played in the US world open in Philadelphia, and I got tied for 5th place. I always qualified to go to nationals, and would always get my team in the top 3 slots. Recently in 2018, I got 20th place and helped our team get to 2nd place overall. I also received a plaque for being one of the best on my team. I love playing chess, and one thing I always noticed is the gender. More men play chess than women, and we want to change this. I want to help girls become better, and make chess an equal sport for genders. In addition to playing chess competitively, I have always been on the school team for basketball and tennis. I also play an instrument called mrdignham. I have taught so many kids, each at different levels. I teach at camps, at Clubs, and even in my school. I enjoy teaching kids. I hope FEM chess and I will have a great time teaching your kids, and hope they continue to have the passion to play chess.

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Allyson Wong

When I was 5, I got a flyer from my school advertising their chess team. Being a normal 5 year old, I thought, “Why not?”  So I joined Mission San Jose Elementary’s chess team, and I’ve been competing ever since.  In 2015, I represented the United States in the World Youth and Cadets Chess Championships.  In 2017, I won silver at the International Pan American Youth Tournament, earning myself the Woman Candidate Master title.  In 5th grade, I was co-champion of the state championships for K-6, and in 6th grade I won first place at states.  I love chess because it is a way for me to destress and a source of happiness for me.  I want to coach young women in chess because I believe that both genders should be equally represented in the game and that no one should be denied the opportunity to learn. 

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Siddharth Arutla

Hi, my name is Siddharth Arutla and I attend Hopkins Junior High School, Fremont.  I have been playing chess since I was 5 years old, when I joined the Mission San Jose Elementary chess team. I represented the team throughout grades K-6 and contributed to many state and national titles. I tied for 2nd in my first tournament at the 2013-14 CalChess State Championship for kindergarten. I did well in many tournaments along the way, including placing 2nd in the online 2020 National K-12 Showdown for 7th grade. I have either played or trained with most of the coaches at FEMchess, and I am glad to be part of such a strong chess community. Last year, I coached beginners at Mission San Jose Elementary School and it was a very fun experience, so I look forward to teaching at FEMchess and giving back to the community.

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Kally Wen

​Hello, my name is Kally Wen. I am currently a 8th grader at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. I have been playing chess for over 6 years now. My FIDE rating is 1415 and my USCF rating is 1684. In 2016, I won the Under 8 section of the All Girls Nationals. I became the co-champion of the Under 10 section at the North American Youth Chess Championship, earning myself the Woman Candidate Master (WCM) title in 2017. In 2018, I won the Under 10 section of the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational. And in 2019, I was the champion of the K-5 section at the Calchess State Scholastic Championship. I represented the United States of America when I competed in the World Cadets Youth Chess Championship twice, once in 2016 and once in 2018.

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Kaelyn Dasovich

Hello! My name is Kaelyn and I am currently a Freshman at Dougherty Valley High School. I love both to play chess and teach others the game! I have been playing chess for more than 6 years and I could not imagine my life without it. My chess journey started on my 9th Birthday when I received a chess set from my parents. I quickly became fascinated with the game, so I started playing online and joined my school's chess club. To this day I still play online a lot and enjoy in person tournaments as well. Outside of chess I enjoy running and playing the violin. I look forward to sharing my love of chess with my students!

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Kavya Sasikumar

My name is Kavya Sasikumar and I am a senior at Dublin High School. I have been playing chess since I was in Kindergarten. At first, it was just something my dad wanted me to try, and I grudgingly agreed. Little did I know that I would learn a new skill that would teach me patience, strategy, and has allowed me to make many new friends that I am still close to, even today. I have been playing chess for around 10 years now. For girls aged 16, I rank at 27. I have coached for many years including being a coach at Mission San Jose Elementary, teaching chess at an after school program, and more. The gender gap in chess has always bothered me, and I love working with kids, so I can’t wait to start coaching.

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Shree Jay

My name is Shree Jay, and I'm a junior at Washington High School! Chess has been a large part of my life since I was four years old and my dad taught me how the pieces moved. Since joining my school chess team and finding the wonderful community there, I've been to hundreds of tournaments, the two most prominent of which are 2013 and 2016 Nationals. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and stress, I stopped playing chess competitively four years ago, when my rating was 1500. However, I have kept in touch with many friends that play chess, and I hope to close the gender gap that annoyed me so much by helping teach young girls how the game works!

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Asha Kumar

Hi! My name is Asha Kumar, and I am a 10th grader from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was introduced to chess when I was 9 years old, and since then, it has played a huge role in my life. This past year, I won the NC Girls State Championship, tied for first in the U16 Girls National Championship, and placed third in the Ruth Haring National Tournament of Girls State Champions. Furthermore, last month I had the opportunity to represent the US in the World Youth Chess Championship. I am so grateful for chess as it has given me the opportunity to travel to incredible places and most importantly meet an amazing community.