Learning Chess Is Hard – This Kenan Flagler Grad Created a Solution

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‘Chief Chess Officer’ Priyav Chandna started MyChessTutor in 2016 and now serves hundreds of students worldwide

Priyav moves a white chess piece

By Shane Snider | Photography by John Michael Simpson

A chess champion in his high school days (he attended East Chapel Hill High for two years), Priyav turned his love for the game into an online chess school. Now the recent UNC Kenan Flagler Business School graduate and his team of 26 instructors serve 415 students across the country harnessing Zoom and a virtual chess board. At just 23, Priyav has already built a successful online business that shows no signs of slowing down thanks to a renewed interest in the game.

How did you get involved with chess?

“I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old. It’s sort of a big part of my identity. It was actually my older brother who was taking lessons when he was 12 and I was 6. And little me would tag along and watch the lessons. I sort of got into chess along the way.”

Give us an overview of the business and how you got started.

“We work with everyone from regular everyday people who just want to learn a new hobby to a few people in Hollywood you might recognize. It’s such a great game, and it’s accessible to everyone – there are no boundaries. Five years ago, this started as me just teaching people while I was still in high school. And then I realized I was a pretty good teacher and my students really enjoyed working with me. In 2020, ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ came out [on Netflix], and it just launched a massive revolution for chess throughout the world. People wanted to be involved with chess. We were direct beneficiaries of that, for sure.”

Priyav sitting in front of a chess board

Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns helped?

“Absolutely. People were at home, with more time on their hands. And they wanted to do things remotely. So we were perfectly positioned for that as a completely remote online business.”

How long does it take to improve at chess?

“Chess is very easy to learn but extremely difficult to master. So, someone who doesn’t know the first thing about chess can learn all the rules in probably three or four lessons. And maybe they can start to win at a basic level in two or three months against basic opposition. But like anything, it takes a long time to get very good. I’ve been playing for years now and I still have so much to learn.”

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