The Four Pillars of a Successful School Program!

The Whole is Greater than the sum of its parts“- Aristotle

There are four pillars that need to come together in order for a school program to be successful: 
1) Administration 
2) Faculty Advisor 
3) Parent 
4) Student Ambassador
A program can start with the buy-in of one or two, but without the blessing of all four, it won’t truly kick off and get sufficient student participation to get members ready to represent school at tournaments. 
It is important for principal and other administrators to be aware of program and present it to greater student body. In one of the schools in which we run Middle School and High School electives, there was an Elementary School after-school club for many years but the Headmaster didn’t even know about it when we first inquired about whether or not there was chess in the school!
If a faculty advisor or PTA approves of program, that is Okay in the beginning, but its important for the principal to be involved. In one school in Manhattan, we started with an after-school club after working with their Operations Manager but now we are talking about starting curriculum classes after being close with the principal. 
Faculty Advisor

The faculty advisor can be anyone in the school not on the administration- after-school director, teacher, college counselor, etc. At the Grace Church School, for example, there is a science teacher who talks up our high school club as he used to run an informal one himself.   

Many of programs have originated because parents have requested us to administration. Sometimes they are on PTA; other times, they are not. 
In addition to helping getting programs started, parents are important to help each encourage their parent friends to sign up their kids and take them to tournaments. 
Student Ambassador 

Students will listen to their fellow classmates more than anyone! If their peers are doing “it”, they want to do to the same! That’s why its important to find a student ambassador, who can help get other students to become involved in club and tournaments. At Torah Academy of Bergen County, we quickly expanded our club from 4-6 regular participants to 15+ weekly, once we got the chess team captain to spread the word about how our expert instructor could help them win their Yeshiva league competitions. 
With all of these 4 fundamental assets, like the four sons on the Passover table, you can start a successful chess program. Within 2-3 months after starting one, students will generally know the rules and basic strategy to be able start playing in tournaments. After a year or two, the students will start and bringing back city, state and national titles for the school!

Chess as a Sport in Kiryat Ono!

Chess as a Sport in Kiryat Ono!  


by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 


When I was walking with two Dutch sisters from my hostel in Eilat, Israel, the younger one asked me what non-chess players will often ask- “Is chess a sport?”. I told her there is no correct answer but that it is a mental sport as a day of playing chess can certainly exhaust you. On Saturday, August 18th, that was definitely the case as I played in a 40-game blitz marathon at the Kiryat Ono Chess Club.The time control was G/4 with a two second increment, which is standard for FIDE tournaments. Most blitz tournaments in the United States do not have a time delay, which makes flagging your opponent more likely. With the increment, one still needs to move fairly quickly but generally manage to win if he has an easily winning position.
While a relatively low percentage of the entry fees were given back in prizes, the organizer Oded was welcoming and great at catering to the player’s needs. Getting to the tournament was difficult as Israel’s busses do not run on Shabbat. Karat Ono is located 20 minutes Northeast of Tel Aviv. Oded helped me find a way of getting there. It took a few tries of people to find a nice parent who lives close by to where I was staying to pick me up. The co-organizer gave me a copy of his tactics book; in return I gave him a Premier Chess pen, which was purchased by NG Slater Corporation.
Unlike any tournament in the United States where participants need to run out for food in between rounds, we enjoyed a smorgasbord of vegetables, hummus, tahini, pizza, cookies and more. There was also an unlimited supply of coffee and tea to keep our engines running.
Of course, what was most different about this tournament than any other one I’ve ever played in was the exorbitant amount of games! We began at 10:00 AM and did not finish until around 9:00 PM. We didn’t have any breaks except for a 20-minute pizza break at 4:00 PM.
I started out strong, winning my first three games. I then drew two games and lost two. After that, madness began and I honestly could not keep track! I was one of about a dozen masters playing in the event. The tournament was more about stamina than anything else.

In the second half of the tournament, everyone started looking like zombies. In the 39th round, I literally hung 3 pieces within a span of 4 moves against a “B” player… two moves later she missed a simple “blueprint” checkmate in 2. “Blueprint” is a term coined by the late National Master and Author Bruce Alberston, for checkmating patterns in which a player does a simple maneuver without checks. There were other pieces on the board but you can get the gist of the checkmating pattern here; white checkmates in two moves.

What sets stronger and weaker players the most is the amount of consistency. Obviouslly stronger players will typically win. Statistically a player who is 100 points lower rated then his opponent will score about 25%. In this tournament, those who conserved their energy did the best. In the last six games, Grandmaster Ram Soffer lost three games due to fairly elementary blunders.
In the end of the evening though, Grandmaster Rom Soffer and Valentin Goikn won the tournament.  I tied for 9th place with WFM Michael Lahav. 

See final standings here. 

Winners Circle

Winning a Rapid Chess Tournament in Jerusalem!

Winning a Rapid Chess Tournament in Jerusalem! 


by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

Wherever I travel, I enjoy checking out the local casual spots to play and tournaments. I am not stranger to chess in Israel as I played several tournaments while studying abroad at Tel Aviv University in 2011. A few months ago, I wrote about my experiences traveling and playing chess in this US Chess Article. This month I am in Israel and decided it was necessary to represent Premier Chess here.

Finding the tournament was not easy as it was not advertised anywhere! I posted in the “Secret Jerusalem” Facebook group saying that I was visiting from New York and asked if anyone knew of any casual chess meet-ups or tournaments. Fortunately, Raphael Gantshar, Director of Bet Shemesh Chess Club, saw my post and told me about event.

I met Raphael at a cafe nearby the club and walked over with him, having no clue what to expect. I knew entry fee would be 40 Shekels ($10.69) but had no clue what time control it was, how many rounds there were, what prizes there were, etc. When I got there, I found out it was a 5 round G/20 tournament, which is slightly unusual as European-style tournaments generally have some increment.

I was the top seat of 8 players, rated 1500-2200 so some of the top guns of Jerusalem, including IM Gabriel Battaglini were not there. Battaglini is actually playing an International tournament in Latvia at the moment! That said, there was some stiff competition;  you can see my third round game against Koritz here:

Koritz- Rabin 


I was the only person of 9 that was notating during the tournament. While I was not required to, it helped me focus and gave me an edge over my opponents. One student tied for 20th place at the Junior Year High School Nationals this yer. For the five his games he won, his notation was impeccable. I could barely review the other two as his handwriting was illegible.

In the last round, I got two pieces for a rook but had to deal with some tactical complications. I offered a draw after 19…Bf5 despite being in a winning position, due to being a point ahead of the field and not wanting to take chances, but he declined and went on to lose.

I then finished 5-0 and won 150 shekels ( $44.10).

Director, who is friends with my former coach Grandmaster
Leonid Yudasin and I 

Tomorrow I am traveling to Kiryat Ono to play in a 39 round (!) round robin blitz tournament; stay posted for a review of that event!