Our Team

Meet our team below, and read about some of their interests!

Ian Nicholson


Ian Nicholson is a 10th grader at Hunter College High School in New York City. At the age of 6, he discovered his love for the game of chess and has remained an active member of the community ever since. As his fascination with classical games and tactics grew, he began to realize the potential of chess to unite people and provide unique opportunities. In 2022 he attained the title of US Chess Expert and is currently striving to achieve National Master status. He has played a pivotal role in several championship-winning teams at the national, state, and local level including finishing 4th place in the 2023 New York State Scholastic High School Championship, helping to lead his school to a state championship. Beyond the board, Ian enjoys soccer, basketball, baseball, and is a member of his school’s math team. He is eager to mentor students and share his passion for chess while also contributing to the growth of NYCCC.

Elia Ahmadi

Vice President

Elia Ahmadi is a 12th grader at Choate Rosemary Hall who began playing chess when he was six years old, but his interest in fostering a love for the game among underserved students stems from long before then. His father, a teenager at the onset of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, witnessed revolutionary guards confiscating chess sets and shutting down public chess centers. After fleeing to the United States, his father could play chess without fear of repression and eventually became a Candidate Master. His gratitude for the newfound freedom and access to information in the U.S., and the lack thereof in Iran, compels Elia to work toward making chess lessons affordable and accessible to all students. Elia previously worked across several departments at The Institute for Youth In Policy, founded Rhythm for Refugees (a local relief concert organizer), and started his podcast. 

Jack Levine

Director of Outreach

Jack Levine lives in New York City and is an 11th grader at Hunter College High School. He started playing chess at the age of 5 and became a National Master in 2019, at the age of 12. He is a two-time National Champion in 2016 and 2018. and won the Junior High Championship at the New York State Scholastic Tournament in 2018. Jack also enjoys playing soccer and piano and is excited to help grow NYCCC. 

Kyle Lancman 

Director of Events 

Kyle Lancman is 16 years old and is an 11th grader at Stuyvesant High School. Since 2022, he has been a US Chess National Master. For many years, he has been playing tournaments all around the country and world. He started playing tournaments ever since he can remember in elementary school. He not only loves playing chess but also loves to teach it and spread his chess knowledge.

Maxwell Messiah

Co-Editor-In-Chief of the Writing Team

Maxwell is an 11th grader at The Dalton School who has been playing chess since Kindergarten. He is currently trying to reach a rating of 2000 USCF while also playing basketball, lacrosse, and percussion. 

Jenny Zhu

Director of Marketing and Social Media

Jenny Zhu is an 11th grader at the Brearley School, a prestigious all-girls school in New York. She is ranked number 4 nationally for female chess players aged 16. Some notable chess achievements include 4th place in World School Individual in 2021 and a peak rating of 2106. She has extensive experience in teaching young kids and is excited to share her knowledge.

NM Toshinori Underwood

 Co-Editor-In-Chief of the Writing Team

Toshi is a 16 year old USCF National Master who goes to Brooklyn Technical High School. He has been playing chess for 10 years. He likes to play basketball, chess, and traveling to new places and meeting new people.