A Premier Chess Year in Review

Instructors, Friends, Family and Clients at our 2nd Annual Holiday Party

“And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down
Oh, the landslide will bring it down”

-“Landslide” Fleetwood Mac

On the whole, 2019 was a great year for Premier Chess and we look forward to seeing what 2020 begins. As I am in Boston for New Year’s Eve, I can’t help but reflect. These were some of the highlights of 2019:

1) Expansion to new schools:

We went from 41 school programs in the beginning of the year, to now 71; that is a 78% increase! These are three of the partnerships I am most excited about:

Achievement First Crown Heights Elementary School:

At Achievement FIrst Crown Heights Elementary School, we offer after-school club two days per week for two hours/day. While we started program 2 months ago, kids are progressing quickly as students learn several hours per week.  We already have several students that are beginning to think about tournaments.

Gan Yeladim

Gan Yeladim is a special program for three reasons:

1) It is the first school we partnered with in Connecticut so were able to expand in a new state.

2) While we have run Shabbat classes at NY Hebrew in the past, this was the first Chabad school we rave run a consistent school program at a Chabad school. Read about my experience playing chess at Chabad Headquarters here.

3) It’s a small word after all; the nephew of my good friend Alana Bloom of Bloom Chiropractic is in one of our classes there.

Archdiocese of New York,

As the preferred chess vendor  for the Catholic Youth Organization, we have continued to run curriculum and after-school programs at 20+ Catholic schools in New York City, Rockland County, Westchester, Orange County and Ulster County. We look forward to venturing into more Catholic schools and hosting the 1st Annual CYO Chess Tournament in the spring; stay tuned for more details.

2) Partnership with Top Level Chess:

Top Level Chess CEO Shernaz Kennedy is the one who got me into chess when I was in 2nd grade at the Churchill School. It such a pleasure to now partner with her to run a Grand Prix of 10 tournaments; we look forward to seeing everyone at our next tournament at Grace Church Schoolon January 12, where will host a silent auction to raise money for Metro World Child.

3) Personal Growth: 

I am excited to have recently gotten into a new relationship and have learn a lot more about Judaism through my 1-1 learning partner Yosi Merves, Rabbi Mark Wildes, Rabbi Josh Klein and others through the Manhattan Jewish Experience fellowship.

Of course, we can never forget one major loss we faced this year as our amazing Jersey City Instructor Lev Khariton passed away in November. See my tribute to him here. We would love to see you at the 1st Annual Lev Khariton Memorial Bitz Tournament on Monday, February 25, 2020.

These are my top 3 2020 goals for Premier Chess: 

1) Expand to 100 schools.

2) Have at least team in the top 20 of their division at a state or national championship.

3) Recruit at least 5 volunteer instructors for 3rd Annual Make a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa Trip , which will take place July 11-18.

Happy New Year everyone!

Grand Prix Results after 3 Tournaments

As we were approaching the beginning of 2020, we have completed 3 out 10 of our Premier Chess and Top Level Chess Grand Prix tournaments.

You can see the results so far here.

This is scoring system for Grand Prix:

1st Place Trophy- 3 points
2nd Place Trophy- 2 points
3rd Place Trophy- 1 point
Playing at 2 Schools- 5 points
Playing at 3 Schools- 10 points

* Score will be multiplied by the number of tournament child plays.

** In order to be eligible for Grand Prix points, a child needs to play in one of our USCF rated sections.

The big question is will anyone catch up with the leader Riley Thompson,  a student of my alma-mater Churchill.  If anyone can likely do it, it is Aarav Roy, the Jersey City Global Charter School student, who won last year’s Grand Prix.

The top 10 players in Grand Prix at end of year will get prizes. As of now, these are the leaders:

Riley Thompson  Churchill
Aarav Roy  JCGS
Fielding Williams  Saint Bernards
Mateo Uribe  PS 321
Jamie Abaramson Saint Bernards
Armistead Williams Saint Bernards
Julian Griffin  Buckley
Sam Rahall  NEST
Eliza Keller Summit
Zachary Gaw Steven Gaynor
Christian Gaw Steven Gaynor

You should sign up your child for our January 12th Tournament at Grace Church School and January 25th Tournament at Town School now for 2 reasons:

1) Your child can increase his Grand Prix standing, considering his multiplier will go up and Grace Church School is a new venue.

2) Both tournaments are good practice for City Championships February 1-2.

Nittel Nacht 5780

Last year before Gillie Shanowitz, Director of New York Hebrew, hired us to run our first Shabbat Class ( our next one is coming up on Jan 18, 2020), she was impressed about how many Chabad Shluchim (emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) I knew well.  Over the years, several Chabad Rabbis, including Peretz Chein of Chabad of Brandeis, Mendy Turen of Chabad of Springfield and Rav Shaye Gerlitzky of Chabad Tel Aviv University have become dear friends and mentors. Peretz has inspired me to abide by ufartazta, meaning to always get outside of my comfort zone. Mendy took me to Chabad Headquarters for the first time and allowed me to spend a full shabbat there with his family. Shaye inspired me to go to Slichot services at the Western Wall in Jerusalem last year, which turned out to be a life-changing inspirational experience.

When I explained to Gillie that “ I knew a lot of Chabadnicks for a non-Chabadnik, she said “I like everything you say except for one thing- ‘you don’t think you are a Chabadnik, but you are.”

Last night I had the honor of attending Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway for its annnual Nittel Nacht Chess Party .  As Jews were often forbidden from appearing in public on Christmas in the Middle Ages, Christmas Eve is the one day of the year that is a Chabad Custom to not study Torah. Instead, every year you can find Chasidic Jews and others of all ages playing slow and blitz chess games. The 30ish players that showed up last night ranged from absolute beginner to master.

After grabbing a delicious shawarma laffa and latke for dinner at Prime Avenue for dinner with Daniel Slavin and Michael Raphael, we headed over to 770 at around 8:00 PM. I played consecutive blitz games until 10:50 PM and went undefeated. However, I did play a few master level players, including Jeremiah Smith who joined us there.

It was great to see a familiar face, that of Expert Moshe Uminer, a friend used to frequently play at the Marshall Chess Club. We were both shocked to see each other; he also was pleasantly surprised when I told him I now put tefilin on almost each day. Nittel Nacht at 770 was a great experience because it showed the communal aspect of chess; no matter what age or background one is, he could participate. While a majority of participants were Chasidic Jews, they were most certainly open to people of other backgrounds. At the end of the Lubavitcher Renee was famous for saying “Labels are for shirts.”

Chess and Judaism are both opportunities to meet people. Wherever I travel, I look for chess and Jewish communities. For instance, when I traveled to Buenos Aires in 2015, I played and tied for third place in a blitz tournament at Club Argentino and observed Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur at Chabad of Palermo Soho. Learn more about my chess community ventures here. 

Gratitude for our 2019 Premier Chess Award Winners

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

John F. Kennedy

I am forever grateful for the instructors, clients, networking partners and friends who showed up at our Second Annual Premier Chess Holiday Party at Accupuncturist Dr. Anna Folckomer ’s office this past weekend.

When I started Premier Chess in July 2017 , I did not think we would be in 70 schools and companies, including the law firm Kramer Levin, within a period of 2.5 years. However, hard work does pay off and with the addition of Solomon Shechter Manhattan , we did cross the 70-school finish line last week.

While it was my second time hosting the event, it was my first time giving yearly awards. Congrats to the winners:

Premier Chess Couple of the Year: Dr. Anna Folckomer and Ted Griffith

Premier Chess Parents of the Year: My mother Cindy Arth and father Keith Rabin, President of KWRINTL

Premier Chess Support of the Year: My uncle Adam Rabin

Premier Chess Fan of the Year: Steven Mitlitzky, the only player, other than I, to have played in everyone one of our Blitz Tournaments

Premier Chess Student of the Year: Ryan Huang

Premier Chess Networkers of the Year: BNI Chapter 54

Premier Chess Phyiscal Trainer of the Year: Mike Murray of Atomic Total Fitness

Premier Chess Education Partners of the Year: Mike Papapavlou, Owner of Guitar Guide Guru and Michael Deutsch, Owner of Hands on Hoops

Premier Chess Assistant Instructors of the Year: Serena and  Markus Cuellar 

Premier Chess Instructor of the Year: Phil Rosenberg

Premier Chess Girlfriend of the Year: Mandy Gottlieb, who’s about to finish her masters in special education at Lehman College 

Without the support of these people and many more, Premier Chess would not grow, flourish and prosper.   I would like to thank our winners, and the rest of our instructors, partners and friends for making this a wonderful holiday season.

Why do Curriclum Chess Classes?

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Premier Chess currently teaches critical thinking skills, pattern recognition, healthy competition and more through curriculum classes to students in pre-school through high school,in schools including Summit School and PS 14.

“Chess helps with getting kids used to patience and stamina

Sheila Agalia, Principal of St. Peter’s School in Yonkers.

Here are several of the reasons curriculum classes are a great option:

Transferable Skills: Through teaching rules and basic strategy, we illustrate thought process,scientific planning, evaluation, coordinates and basic business lessons that will be useful in otherclasses, extra-curricular activities and everyday life.

Great Exposure to Chess– Rarely will an elementary school student inquire about learning chess if he is never exposed the game. Since in a curriculum class, all students needs to learn, all children will have a chance to learn. By the end of a semester, students will typically be able to play a legal game of chess with basic strategy and be ready to compete in tournaments.

Gateway to Club: Often curriculum classes will act as feeder into the after-school program. While curriculum classes will enable to students to get acquainted with the game, club will help them get ready to represent their school at tournaments.

This is what a typical 45-minute curriculum class will look like:

20 Minutes: Interactive Lecture

20 Minutes: Related Activity/ Free-Play

-5 Minutes: Clean-Up

To learn more, about our curriculum class options, please contact Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin at (917) 776-1306 or evan@premierchess.com.

Tribute to Jersey City

I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I rarely crossed the Hudson River to Jersey City until recent years. However, when I started Premier Chess 2.5 years ago, I realized many of the schools in Jersey City have never been reached out to regarding the idea of setting up chess programs. Soon after, Jersey City Global Charter School Jersey City Global Charter School became one of our first school programs. A few weeks after, the School’s Open House happened to be on the eve of Rosh Hoshana so I decided to go to a meal at Chabad of Hoboken. 

Recently we have noticed two tragedies in Jersey City:

1) On Monday, November 18 our wonderful instructor National Master Lev Khariton, who taught f/or us at Jersey City Global Charter School, Waterfront Montessori  , Embankment School  and Grace Church School ,passed away from a stroke, leaving behind his wife, three children and one grandchild. In addition to being an amazing teacher, Lev was a fantastic player,  storyteller, poet, entertainer and much more.

2) Several weeks later, as we approach the holiday of Hanukkah, we are devastated to hear of the terrible, anti-Semitic shooting and murder of six at the JC Kosher Grocery. Mrs. Ferencz, devoted mother, wife and a pillar in the community was gunned down in cold blood. The grocery which was their source of income now stands destroyed, raked by bullets and covered in the blood of innocents.

On Saturday at our 1st Annual Premier Chess and Top Level Chess Grand Prix Tournament #31st Annual Premier Chess and Top Level Chess Grand Prix Tournament #3, we will have a silent auction.  50% of the money raised will go to Lev Khariton’s family. The remaining half will go to JC Victims Charidy Campaign. If you have a product or service you can donate to auction, please email evan@premierchess.com.

Upper West Side Activities With Guitar Guide Guru And Hands On Hoops

Mike, Evan and Michael met and became business partners. Premier Chess has linked up with many different people and Mike found his way onto our pathway around a year ago, just about right after he decided to switch from teaching guitar to make Guitar Guide Guru a full-time gig. On the other hand Michael has been teaching really young kids to play basketball, and recently ended up reaching out to us.

Mike who runs Guitar Guide Guru thinks that guitar made him a happier person and that’s the reason why he’s chosen to make it a career, after figuring out who he was and what he liked doing the most. Anybody can want to express themselves at one point or another in their life, and wanting to play some sort of instrument is pretty common. So what’s a better way for your kids, or your own self, to have a unique direction that guitar would grant you? To each his own, and playing music helped Mike to find a good direction, and to experience life without so much bitterness that one’s lack of interest in schools can withhold. After a while and looking back at it, it’s maybe not just fate that has brought together Guitar Guide Guru and Premier Chess, just as how Mike ended up working around the one instrument that he’s spent so much time playing with as a kid, but maybe positive circumstances and a lot of effort.

Basketball is great too, and that’s perhaps why Michael, from Hands On Hoops, decided to teach it to our youngest generations of young minds. Those transferable skills, that one can utilize later on, for his, or her own life, are what’s enabled us all to become more productive and happier member of our society and different communities. How were we supposed to understand what work, or fun were without experiencing both in a short amount of time? That’s what seems to be Michael’s philosophy with basketball. Why not having fun and learning how to understand both fundamentals and pivotal skills that will probably facilitate everybody’s life and make us a more successful and well articulated community?

If you want to experience what it’s like to meet us all at once, you should join us at Barnes and Nobles next Sunday, where each of us will be present sharing with you what’s our work like, and how you can also be apart of your child’s development into becoming a chess master. It will be on 2289 Broadway, NY 10024, and will start at 4 PM, just click here.

A Successful Partnership
Michael Deutsch, Mike Papapavlou and Evan Rabin

What goes on around your community?

How do we know what communities are for, or just how to define one? I see this a lot in and around school classes : “What is a community?”. In fact as a teacher, I’ve gotten used to hear out plenty of different figurative speeches from various program directors, or just school principals, indicating that “Chess should be included” in as many school programs as possible, or that working around kids is some sort of blessing. And how can someone not agree on that!? Chess should benefit anyone’s upbringing into a fully fledged person, or chess player into a fully grown player. But as far as being able to determine whose school districts, and which charter schools should have access to an informative, educational and lively chess program, that’s not so clear. Well in my case, growing up in a suburban area of France,  school funding didn’t have much to do with my access to the culture or the game. Not that my school didn’t have proper internet equipment, or just school furniture, but school principals back then didn’t know, nor understood much about chess. But that was back then.

Figuratively speaking, there is nothing holding back schools to have a chess program or not. It’s simply a matter of social-economics, or perhaps just economy. I’ve taught in different parts of the city and, and I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a child, student or teacher, not appreciate anything related to the class that I’d went to teach.

Obviously chess doesn’t have to be everywhere for any schools to be considered somewhat adequate to its students. But in my case chess helped me a lot pass on time during weekends, and just regular school days too. I mean there are a lot of schools picking up chess as extra-curriculums as well as regular class hours, and that’s maybe why there has been a lot more young and talented chess players from the U.S lately.



Rating Points On And Off The Board

Let’s say that there is someone who’d be rated around 2000, and who’d want to improve at chess and so to feel a certain increase, in any way, shape or form, in his or her own chess rating. It’s probably normal to feel as somebody whose rating is probably not quite right, or high enough. Like we might have already witnessed a chess player saying that “ratings don’t matter” or that chess blitz is just “more fun”,and not that both statements aren’t just merely emotional and perhaps associated to the fact that usually, the “chess player in question” is just a mere expert, but perhaps that the reason why 2300+ rated players are more likely to consistently outplay 2000+ rated ones are primary associated to the amount of time one’s been putting into learning about his/her game. So let’s say that for someone who would feel like ratings are justifiably used and even more importantly, somewhat representative to his or her understanding of the game, then there might be a specific “chess routine” to develop around our daily habits to be able to better ourselves, through Chess.

  • Puzzles matter

I’m not a great fan at looking at a diagram for hours and going over lines that might never actually occur, but that’s not the main source of my reasoning that leads me into believing that doing puzzle isn’t really the thing that’s going to impact my rating, in any meaningful way at all. As a 2000 player, I try not to rely too much on them but they still come in handy to convert a dominating middle game position into an actual winning endgame.

  • What is winning and what is not?

Based on my rating I might think that I might outplay a, let’s say 2100+ player, right? I mean as far as being 100″ USCF ratings points over my USCF ELO” I could still end up with the more “convenient middle game”.

Well,I believe that whether or not you can memorize plenty of chess openings, chess endgames or just generally chess patterns, tactics show on and off, and it’s not too much about how many diagrams you can shove into your brain cells, but it also comes down to what kind of “chess routine” one follows.

  • But “What Is Chess Routine”?

Well (FM) Mike Klein pretty much said that it’s really not so much about what you know or what you enjoy doing, it’s also what goes on around you and what makes you into what you’ve become. The DOE might allow a certain amount of money, that might benefits one’s learning access into becoming a proficient chess player or not, but as far as being apart of a chess club, or  a school district’s project, you don’t have to just rely on the city’s initiative to naturally hand out money every now and then.

In our case we might once in a while, try out a certain Gambit and beat a 300- lower rated opponent in a certain opening we don’t know so much about, but that doesn’t mean that one truly master it.

That’s why we’re trying to level out the different kind of access one might get as far as being able to learn about chess, rather that just deliberating whether or not one could just get. So there is nothing wrong with practicing puzzles every now and then just to kind of hope to improve on how much we could get done during an actual “OTB” game.