Born and raised in New York City, Kassa learned to play chess at the age of five and has been passionate about the game since. Having never had a coach or formal instruction, he has always learned most by playing, losing, and making adjustments-- certainly a product of the old adage "try, try again!"
At 15, Kassa became the youngest African American National Master in history, a mark that has since been broken. In 2010, Kassa became a Fide Master, and in 2014, he became an International Master. The same year, he switched federations and became a member of the Danish federation, where he also holds family ties as a dual-citizen.
After graduating from Duke University in 2015, Kassa worked at Codecademy, a tech startup that teaches millions of people how to code. Earlier this year, Kassa left this full-time position to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a Grandmaster. He achieved his first GM norm in Charlotte in 2018.