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The National Scholastic Chess Foundation’s founding director is FIDE Master Sunil Weeramantry, a nationally acclaimed instructor with over 45 years’ experience teaching and developing award-winning programs. 

Sunil Weeramantry is a pioneer in the field of curricular chess instruction. Recognized as the 2005 Chess Educator of the Year by the University of Texas at Dallas, he has been instrumental in integrating chess into the classroom. In 2019, Sunil celebrated his 40th anniversary leading the chess program at Hunter College Campus Schools.

A tireless promoter of the transformative potential of chess in education and within communities, Sunil is also a distinguished chess player and coach, and a champion of competitive chess throughout America. 

Executive Director Sunil Weeramantry

player & Coach

A two-time New York State Chess Champion (1975 and 2001), Sunil played his first tournament in 1958. He says his greatest achievement as a player was taking 4th place on Board 1 playing for Sri Lanka at the 23rd World Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1978. Sunil is still an active competitor, both nationally and internationally.

Sunil is also one of the most successful chess coaches in the United States. He has coached over 200 individual and team champions in national and international youth competitions. Sunil has also coached 12 players to titles of National Master and above, beginning with his very first student. John Jarecki achieved the NM title at the age of 12 in 1981 breaking the record for youngest national master at that time.

His national team champions include Greenwich Country Day School, Hastings-on-Hudson, Hunter, Horace Mann, Solomon Schechter, Speyer, and White Plains. The many titles won by Hunter include three consecutive National High School team titles from 2010 to 2012. Another special event, the 2000 World Schools Chess Championship was won by the Hunter Junior High team.

Sunil has coached Team USA at the World Youth Chess Championships on several occasions. Many of his students have medaled at this event, among them John Viloria, who won two consecutive gold medals (1987 and 1988), Susan Urminska, Yvonne Krawiec, and Jessica Ambats (two golds and a silver in 1987), and Sunil’s stepson Hikaru Nakamura, who won a silver medal in 2001. Hikaru went on to become the youngest American Grandmaster (2003), a five-time U.S. Chess Champion, and one of the world’s elite players.


Sunil served as the first Chairman of the US Chess Federation’s Committee on Chess in Education from 1990 to 2000, and produced Chess in Education workshops across the country. These events featured such distinguished speakers as noted Hungarian psychologist Dr. Laszlo Polgar, and Dr. Robert Ferguson, who conducted the first federally-funded study on the benefits of chess in the United States. In 1998, Sunil coordinated a Symposium on Chess in Education in the United States Senate with Senator Carl Levin as the keynote speaker.

An appointed member of the USCF Scholastic Committee from 1986 to the present, Sunil was elected co-chair of the Scholastic Council for multiple two-year terms between 2012 and 2022. For his work in scholastic chess, he received the Meritorious Service Award in 1986 and 2004, and the Scholastic Service Award in 1998. In 2022, Sunil received the USCF’s Distinguished Service Award.


Sunil is the author, with Ed Eusebi, of the best-selling chess book, Best Lessons of a Chess Coach. First published in 1993, a new Extended Edition from Mongoose Press was released September 1, 2020.

He is also co-author of Great Moves: Learning Chess Through History, a blended learning textbook that helps students improve at chess while being exposed to the game’s cultural development. The book was released in November 2017 by Mongoose Press.

In addition, Sunil has developed a teacher training workshop that has helped over 700 teachers, police and other professionals working with children to bring chess to their classrooms and community programs.