Interview with Jason Bui, Founder of Philadelphia Chess Society


I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Bui, Co-Founder of the Philadelphia Chess Society and participant on our 2nd Annual Make a a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa trip. This conversation was meant to be uploaded as the 3rd edition of my new podcast but alas we had major technical difficulties. After an amazing 70 minute call, I found out my call recorder only captured the first 5 minutes. Therefore, I here by present to you the best summary possible:


Jason Bui got a relatively late start to chess when he lived with roommates post college that owned a chess set in the living room. After months of getting beaten badly almost every night, he decided to take chess seriously and begin studying. As a teacher in a public school, he decided to start offering a chess elective. As students improved, he continued to study to always remain at least one step ahead of them. Eventually, he began teaching chess full-time for Mitchell Elementary School in Philadelphia. However, his day job doesn’t tire him out enough; he also spends a lot of energy running the Philadelphia Chess Society.

Why Teach Chess:

These were the main reasons Jason Bui said he taught chess:

1) Confidence: As students play more and improve in the game, they build self-confidence. While they often have learning curves where there will have challenges, if they kept their mind to it they will succeed.

2) Community: As students begin to play in tournaments and travel to local, state and national competitions, they will build long-lasting relationships with chess friends. They will form long-lasting bonds with travel companions.

3)Fun: “The most important thing when first teaching kids chess is to make it fun and exciting. Once they are hooked you can push them as far as they want to go.”

Mitchell Elementary School:

Jason’s full-time job is teaching at Mitchell Elementary School in West Philadelphia. He runs a class called critical thinking during the day for students in grades K-8 and and after-school program for students that wants to take it to the next level. His main goals for teaching at Mitchell are to get students engaged, become confident and learn transferrable skills through the game.

Philadelphia Chess Society:

The Philadelphia Chess Society empowers underrepresented youth though chess. One of their main function is planning, organizing, and fundraising for trips to National Chess Championships for students across Philadelphia. In addition, they run Girls’ Club Rooms at local tournaments in Philadelphia, thanks to a grant from the US Chess Women’s’ Committee.

2nd Annual Make a Difference Teaching in Africa Trip:

Jason loved being on our Second Annual Make a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa trip last summer. He enjoyed teaching the 65 students, who were brand new to the game and ended up finishing out the week with a competing tournament. For more about his experience, see Women’s International Master Alexey Root’s SPARK Chess article

I look forward to having Jason on our 3rd Annual Make a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa Trip July 11-18, 2020; please consider applying to join us today.

Please also consider donating to his Philadelphia Chess Society, which will is a wonderful cause that will enable kids to get outside of their comfort zone, learn invaluable skills and make long-lasting connections.


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