Evan, thanks so
much for taking the time to talk with us about yourself and Premier Chess. To
start, how did you come to be where you are today?
I owe it chiefly to my teachers. It was because of mentors who went above and beyond their role and subject that I learned as much as I did and discovered as much about myself as I have. In the world of chess– I suppose it’s fitting to start with chess– in the world of chess, my most recent mentor was Grandmaster Leonid Yudasin. He was a competitor in the Israeli chess scene, ranked 7th in the world. What I learned from him, while pertinent first to chess, was no less critical when applied to the rest of my life. I learned small but crucial maxims. If you have the advantage in a game, don’t rush; run out the clock. Blunders are most easily made when you think you have victory in your grasp. Overconfidence will narrow your sight and make you blind you to what you otherwise can see.
The greatest lesson Grandmaster Yudasin taught me was to control my emotions. Emotions too can cloud judgment and so when you first sit down to a game – when you greet your opponent and see the board lay before you, at that moment, there is only the game. (If you are interested in working on emotional composure, Nilcee Schneider is a meditation and wellness coach and also offers Reiki sessions.) I’ve since learned that for any sport, this advice is heeded by the best of contenders. From Simone Biles to Magnus Carlsen, they see the (spring)board in front of them and nothing else.
You said Grandmaster Yudasin was your most recent mentor. Who else has helped you on your way?
David MacEnulty is a valued friend and mentor. From him, I learned hope has no place in chess. The only time for hope is at a dead lost position, because hoping or wishing means denying a core truth of chess, that only you, yourself are responsible for your actions. To rely on anything else is to deny your own autonomy and ability. Kevin McGee, my Vice President at Oracle, used to always say “Hope is a town in Arkansas.” Grandmaster Bill Lombardy is someone who has meant a lot to me. He was never officially my coach, but I have learned a great deal from him all the same. From him, I learned to continually evaluate and reevaluate my and my opponent’s position. Who has advantage and why? And how can it be lost? Grandmaster Lombardy asked me to pick one great player and examine their full games again and again. I picked Michael Adams and to this day, I still study his matches. He also taught me the value of holistic mentorship. As a teacher, your role is not simply to pass on the expertise of your specialization, but to help connect it to greater life lessons. Everything is connected and chess is no exception.
Thanks so much for speaking with us, Evan! We’ll see you again for Part II of this interview series soon.
Dementia is a horrific illness. From the outside, you see a person who was once so vibrant and strong reduced to an echo of who they once were. Alzheimer’s is often called ‘The Long Goodbye’ and it describes it well. And yet to fall victim to it must be indescribably worse. The mental faculties you have taken for granted the whole of your life become unreliable and that which was once certain is replaced with uncertainty and fear.
Sorry. This is not what you want to read on a blog about chess, but chess is the reason for this entry’s somber intro. A study was published in June examining whether chess could be a preventative measure against degenerative mental illnesses. (A shoutout to Dr. Alex Vasserman DMD who first showed me the paper.) The initial hypothesis was not particularly radical; there are existing studies demonstrating that stimulative mental exercise can deter and delay the progress of the disease, and what is chess if not the epitome of mental exercise? Nonetheless, this study is valuable for examining the precise impact of regular chess practice on dementia-vulnerable populations. While might be obvious that chess is a mentally-demanding game, it is worthwhile to understand some of the science behind it. Chess encompasses a number of key areas of cognition: memory, short and long-term, critical thinking, and visual–spatial ability. By engaging these multiple areas of the brain simultaneously, chess can be a preventive factor when these areas might otherwise atrophy from disuse. There is still much research to be done on both the neurodegenerative diseases and preventative measures, but this study is one more great step to understanding and doing away with dementia.
So consider making a weekly chess game part of your routine, if nothing else it’s great fun!
STORY TIME CHESS™ is a new and innovative way to teach chess to children as young as 3.
Through fun and engaging stories and characters, STORY TIME CHESS™ has developed an amazing way to engage kids and bring the benefits of chess to children who may be too young to learn traditional chess. STORY TIME CHESS™ makes learning the game of chess fun, through beautifully illustrated stories teaching them the strategies and moves of the entire board of chess pieces. Each character has a unique story and purpose, like King Chomper or Queen Bella. Your child will be guided along through their story and understand the hows and whys of the moves of chess. Each chess piece has a beautifully drawn character, so they can take what they learn in the story and apply it to the game itself. There are also over 30 mini games included, covering all of the characters and teaching them in a fun and engaging way even more things about the game of chess. The board is also dual-sided, and the STORY TIME CHESS™ character pieces can slide out of the traditional pieces, allowing regulation gameplay as your child grows. STORY TIME CHESS™ is the most unique and innovative way to teach the wonderful game of chess to young children. The benefits are incalculable and children everywhere will discover a fun new activity and game they may have never been interested in before.
I’m not the best chess player. And by not the best, I mean if I was to play a match with one of the second-graders at our chess camp, the smart money would be on the second-grader. Don’t get me wrong; I love games involving strategy and competition, but I’ve only ever had a passing acquaintance with the game of chess. I learned how to play as a kid, but after learning the basics I didn’t stick with it any further. Which is why I’m thrilled to say that, as of today, I’ll be working with so many brilliant chess players at Premier Chess.
It was more or less a fluke how this came to be: Rosemary Depersia, owner of The Copy Specialist asked me to sub for her last week at her BNI chapter and there I met Evan Rabin. He was in need of a new person in operations at his company and we got to talking. At Premier Chess, I’ll be writing blogs posts, handling social media engagement, working on business development, and whatever other tasks need doing. As I learned more about the company, I realized that Premier stands out from other chess-tutoring companies. While other companies generally tutor only children, Premier Chess also teaches corporate classes, because they recognize that education and learning experiences don’t end when your time at school ends. By playing chess, students strengthen skills such as critical thought, memory, and problem-solving- skills that are no less important in a corporate environment.
But those skills are not all that chess offers. I read an article a while back in Engadget about a company that ran weekly Dungeons & Dragons campaigns for its employees. Many workers had jobs that involved sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day, with little interaction with their colleague. The chance to spend an hour or two every week socializing with coworkers and working towards a common goal within the game contributed towards teambuilding, workplace communication, and overall job satisfaction. A company chess class offers the same opportunities, a way for employees to engage with each other in a non-work context while still honing skills vital to the workplace.
Anyway, this was a roundabout way of saying that I’m very excited to join the Premier Chess team and I look forward to what’s to come. I’ve also included the link to the Engadget article here.
Thanks for reading, Phillip Safran – Operations Assistant