This week I watched Evan teach chess to the employees of Citibank and I learned how a company and chess strategy have more in common than one may think. Every game of chess is different with a variety of possible outcomes. Evan asked the class “when an opponent makes a move what is the first thing to consider?” He then explained that you want to see what your opponent might do. Every move in chess is done to get further ahead in the game. If you are able to foresee your opponent’s next move then you can maneuver to stop them. Never make a move without knowing your opponent’s next move first. In business you also do not make a decision without knowing what your competition is doing.
Once you know what your opponent’s future move is you want to think of a tactic for yourself. The best way to go about this is to have a few candidate moves, which are viable choices for a move. You then see which move has the biggest return or which investment has the biggest return. Never make a business decision without considering 2-3 alternative candidates. For instance, if you invest in a stock you need to make sure it’s the best one.
Evan then showed how the concept of candidate moves can build a tree. Each candidate move can yield a few replies by your opponent and these replies have their own replies which creates an analysis tree. This tree helps us analyze each candidate and allows us to foresee which move is the best. One then evaluates the risk of their candidate move.
The final step is to do a blunder check. Occasionally your opponent will sacrifice a piece to checkmate you. Take the time to check that you are not making a fatal move. In 1985, Coke failed to do a blunder check and made their product sweeter when new competitor Pepsi was on the block. In 2011, the New York Times didn’t test their technology and accidentally sent an email campaign that was meant to go to their dormant readers, but they ended up sending it to their entire reader base!
Here we will look at Evan’s example that he demonstrated in his workshop:
The game begins with e4 e5 Qh5 Nc6 Bc4. It is now Black’s turn and without the proper move the game will be over. The first step is to look at what your opponent’s next move is. It appears that if White moves Qf7 taking the pawn it will be checkmate. Now that Black knows White’s next move Black will create candidate moves.
Black can move d5 using his pawn to apply pressure on the bishop. Now White’s queen will no longer be able to be protected. However, White can now take Blacks pawn on d5 for free which also applies pressure on Black’s knight.
Another possible move for Black is to move Qe7 which will protect the pawn on f7. This may stop checkmate, but it also blocks in Black’s bishop. Hindering the movement of another piece is never good which is why this candidate may not be the best choice.
A third candidate and perhaps the best move is g6. This simple move is powerful as it not only protects Black from checkmate, but also applies pressure on White’s queen pushing it back. Black then does a quick blunder check before making the move. Now with pressure on the Queen, White is forced to retreat.
These steps can be used in any situation in chess. These guidelines help a player analyze the board and make the right move. This can also be applied to the business world as well. It is important to approach decisions from every different angle and foresee the outcomes. This allows people not only to make important financial decisions, but to play a good game of chess as well.
I would like to thank Guitar Guide Guru ‘s CEO Mike Papapavlou for makingan introduction and allowing the class to happen.
How very strange the world has become. In the new reality of 2020 pandemic life, so many doors have closed physically, but so many others have opened virtually. And so here I find myself in a new world among the chess community. I am the co-founder and CEO of The Together Plan Charity, based in the UK, and our mission is to revive Jewish community life in Belarus. Our latest and most ambitious project to date is to build a Jewish Cultural Heritage Trail through Belarus – giving Belarusians voices, both inside and outside of the country and putting Jewish Belarus back on the world map. It is April 2020 and most of the world has gone into lockdown in the fight against Coronavirus. With all our fundraising events shelved, we have had to think outside of the box, strategize and become creative. A bit like chess really, but I get ahead of myself.
I am a member of BNI (Business Network International), a network of over 9000 global chapters which meet weekly, in physical spaces of course, to help one another grow their businesses. When the pandemic hit, BNI took the whole network online and I grabbed the chance to attend meetings overseas. It was an excellent opportunity to extend my search for Belarusians and their stories, and to promote our genealogical research service in Belarus. Suddenly, at the click of a button, I was ‘virtually’ in Manhattan, and just like that, I was making the acquaintance of one Evan Rabin, National Chess Master and CEO of Premier Chess. Two meetings and a one-on-one later we discovered that he had an address book with Belarusians (not that he had ever realized) and then, I was in the world of chess.
Our conversation led us to the famous Jewish chess players from Belarus. ‘Will you write an article about them’ asked Evan. Sure, I replied tentatively. What did I know about Belarusian chess players? Research was definitely needed, but this would all be valuable material for our Belarusian Jewish Cultural Heritage trail so I dived in with excitement. A few days later, an email arrived from Evan, introducing me to Ben Graff, writer, chess journalist and author of The Greenbecker Gambit, and I told him my story. By now I had a list of Belarusian chess players and was about to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). ‘Ben’ I asked ‘why is it that so many Jews in the Soviet Union were famous in the world of chess?’ Ben was quick to point out that so many famous Jewish mathematicians and musicians hail from this part of the world, could there be a correlation? What was more poignant was Ben’s observation that you didn’t need to have wealth to play chess. You just needed a chess set, or to know someone with one. Jews in the Pale of Settlement would have been poor since they could not be landowners. They were the artisans – the carpenters, the blacksmiths, the tailors. Would they have made their own chess sets? ‘Ben’ I repeated…’I wonder if I could find someone in the diaspora with a chess set with a provenance from the old country?’ What a story that would be!
So on this new quest to understand the relationship between Jews and chess, Ben led me to some essential reading. The Jewish Miracle Checkmate – Jewish Chess Players tells us that there have been sixteen world champions. (The article cites fifteen, but it was written before Magnus Carlsen became world champion). Six (40%) of them have been Jewish, and a seventh, Garry Kasparov, rated the best chess player of all time, had a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother. 28 of the best 64 (44%) chess players of all time have been Jewish (according to a somewhat dated study from 1989). Not a bad record for a people that constitutes 0.2% of the world’s population. Natan Sharansky, Israeli politician, former Soviet refusenik and prisoner and human rights activist was also a chess prodigy as a child. At the age of 15, he won the championship in his native Donetsk. When incarcerated in solitary confinement, he maintained his sanity by playing chess against himself in his mind. Sharansky beat the world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition in Israel in 1996.
In Chess and Jews by Edward Winter “Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900) once expressed the opinion that the reason why Jews are so clever at chess is because of their patience, pure breeding, and good nature. Having been the most persecuted race in the world, they have had the least power to do harm, and have become the best natured of all peoples” from 1911 Chess Amateur. Steinitz was himself Jewish and the first world champion. In the Australian Chess Review 1938 – H.G. Wells, himself a chess player, mentions the eminence of the Jewish race in chess, in his History of the World. He appears to attribute it entirely to an innate sense of values – a capacity for judging between relative gains and losses with the utmost subtlety.
The origins of Jewish prowess at chess are not easily pinpointed. Some have attempted to demonstrate affinities between chess and Talmudic thinking, but others reject such claims. While most, but not all, Jewish chess masters came from Orthodox homes, only a few lived an Orthodox lifestyle. It might be suggested that grandmaster chess offered an avenue for advancement analogous to the free professions: success depended on skill, required little or no capital, and did not impose restrictions based on social class or birth.The Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
So, chess communities of the world, here is my list of notable Jewish chess players, from Belarus or with a connection to the country, on a search for stories:
David Bronstein (Ukrainian) 1924- 2006.
David Ionovich Bronstein was born in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, February 19th, 1924 and died in Minsk, Belarus on December 5, 2006. He was a Soviet chess player. Awarded the title of International Grandmaster by FIDE in 1950, he narrowly missed becoming World Chess Champion in 1951. Bronstein was one of the world’s strongest players from the mid-1940s into the mid-1970s, described by his peers as a creative genius and master of tactics. He was a renowned chess writer, and his book Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953 is widely considered one of the greatest chess books ever written.
Bronstein is often referred to as one of the greatest players not to have won the World Championship. He came close to that goal when he tied the 1951 World Championship match 12–12 with Mikhail Botvinnik, the reigning champion. Each player won five games, and the remaining 14 games were drawn.
Botvinnik wrote that Bronstein’s failure was caused by a tendency to underestimate endgame technique, and a lack of ability in simple positions. It has been alleged by some that Bronstein was forced by the Soviet authorities to throw this match, and to allow Botvinnik to win. Bronstein never confirmed this, but did later write that it was likely better that he didn’t win the world title, since his free-spirited, artistic personality would have been at odds with Soviet bureaucracy. Bronstein’s father was sometimes secretly in the audience during the 1951 title match games, at a time when he was not officially permitted in Moscow.
In The Rise and Fall of David Bronstein, Genna Sosonko says that Bronstein essentially talked about his match with Botvinnik for the rest of his life. Ben Graff believes that for him Bronstein’s error was a sign that even the most brilliant among us are all too human. There, in that moment when the thing he had worked for all his life was in his grip, he let it slip. Graff says ‘I think any of us in his position would have been left with a sense of ‘if only…’
Boris Gelfand was born in Minsk, Belarus,June 24th, 1968, then part of the Soviet Union. In 1998 he emigrated to Israel and settled in Rishon Le Zion, where he became Israel’s top ranking chess player.
(Evan Rabin Note- I was studying abroad in Israel in 2011 and was pleasantly surprised to see Boris Gelfand on cover of Jerusalem Post day he won candidates.”
Gelfand has won major tournaments at Wijk aan Zee, Tilburg, Moscow, Linares and Dos Hermanas. He has competed in eleven Chess Olympiads and held a place within the top 30 players ranked by FIDE from January 1990 to October 2017.
The great Lev Abramovich Polugaevsky was born in Mogilev, Belarus, November 20th, 1934. He died on 30th August 1995 (age 60). He was a Belarusian/Soviet grandmaster.
Before becoming a professional player, Polugaevsky was an engineer who used his spare time to fill thick notebooks that were packed to the gunnels with highly-original chess analysis. Those notebooks became famous when Polugaevsky’s remarkable theoretical novelties contained within them began to score him a series of victories in the very strong Soviet championships.
He developed his own signature system known as the “Polugaevsky Variation” of the Sicilian Najdorf with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 b5!? that became something of an obsession for him – and his must-read 1977 classic, “Grandmaster Preparation” (translated from the original Russian title, Birth of a Variation), is hailed by everyone as a testament to the pioneering research gleaned from those legendary notebooks on how the author developed and refined his variation through years of exhaustive trial and error.
Polugaevsky was one of the world’s best players from the late 1960s until the early 1980s; along the way, playing two epic candidates’ matches with Viktor Korchnoi, one in 1977 and another in 1980.
On his grave in the Cimetière de Montparnasse, Paris, there is a granite book engraved with the words “Sicilian Love”.
David Janowski 1868 -1927 Belarusian Polish born French Grandmaster
Born into a Jewish Polish family in Wołkowysk, Russian Empire (now Belarus), he settled in Paris around 1890 and began his professional chess career in 1894. He won tournaments in Monte Carlo 1901, Hanover 1902 and tied for first at Vienna 1902. In 1915 he left Europe for the United States and spent the next nine years there before returning to Paris.
Janowski played very quickly and was known as a sharp tactician who was devastating with the bishop pair. Capablanca annotated some Janowski games with great admiration, and said, “when in form [he] is one of the most feared opponents who can exist”. Capablanca noted that Janowski’s greatest weakness as a player was in the endgame, and Janowski reportedly told him, “I detest the endgame.” American champion Frank Marshall remembered Janowski’s talent and his stubbornness. In “Marshall’s Best Games of Chess” he wrote that Janowski “could follow the wrong path with greater determination than any man I ever met!” Reuben Fine remembered Janowski as a player of considerable talent, but a “master of the alibi” with respect to his defeats. Fine said that his losses invariably occurred because it was too hot, or too cold, or the windows were open too far, or not far enough.
In July–August 1914, he was playing an international chess tournament, the 19th DSB Congress (German Chess Federation Congress) in Mannheim, Germany, with four wins, four draws and three losses (seventh place), when World War I broke out. Players at Mannheim representing countries now at war with Germany were interned. He, as well as Alexander Alekhine, was interned but released to Switzerland after a short internment. Janowski then moved to the United States. He died in France on 15 January 1927 of tuberculosis.
Abraham Kupchick 1892 – 1970 Belarusian/Polish born
Born in Brest, then a part of Russia, Abraham Kupchik immigrated to the United States in 1903 and was one of the strongest American players from 1914 to 1940. In 1923 he shared first place with U.S. champion Frank Marshall at the 9th American Chess Congress. Three years later, Kupchik earned second place at the Lake Hopatcong chess tournament behind José Raúl Capablanca and ahead of Géza Maróczy, Frank Marshall, and Edward Lasker. In the 1935 Chess Olympiad, Kupchik earned team gold and individual bronze medals playing Board 3 for the United States. His accomplishments also included playing Board 9 in the famed 1945 U.S.A.-U.S.S.R. radio match and winning the prestigious Manhattan Chess Club Championship a record 13 times between 1913/14 and 1936/1937.
Yury Shulman was born April 29th, 1975 in Minsk, Belarus. Belarus was then a part of the Soviet Union.
Shulman started formal chess lessons with coach Tamara Golovey when he was six years old. He went on to study under International Master Albert Kapengut at age 12, and subsequently under the guidance of GM Boris Gelfand. He achieved his grandmaster title in 1995. Shulman moved to the United States in 1999 to attend the University of Texas at Dallas, a three-time national championship college team.
Shulman completed undergraduate studies from the State Academy of Sports, Belarus, and has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and an M.B.A. specializing in Finance from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Shulman has remained among the top U.S. chess players since moving to the country. He tied for first in the 2001 World Open, was runner up in the 2006 U.S. Chess Championship, and winner of the 2006 U.S. Open Chess Championship. Shulman tied for third place in the 2007 US Chess Championship and qualified for the 2007 FIDE world championship. On May 21, 2008, Shulman won the 2008 US Chess Championship. On May 25, 2010, he tied for first in the U.S. Chess Championship in St. Louis, losing in a rapid tie-break with GM Gata Kamsky, who became the US champion. He formerly played in the now defunct U.S. Chess League, for the strong St. Louis Archbishops, whose roster included Hikaru Nakamura.
A gambit (from ancient Italian gambetto, meaning “to trip”) is a chess opening in which a player, more often White, sacrifices material, usually a pawn, with the hope of achieving a resulting advantageous position. So, there we are, I have made my opening gambit, maybe My sacrifice has been the time spent getting to this point. If this opening leads me to more Belarusians with a story to tell, or even to learn of that chess set that travelled in a suitcase from Belarus to another world, then that will certainly be a move to an advantageous position. It’s all to play for. Your move.
The Together Plan is a UK registered Charity and a member of the AEPJ – European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Heritage and Culture, under the Council of Europe. Please do get in touch if you are from Belarus or know someone who is.
Hello. My name is Shai Hecker and I am the new intern at Premier Chess. I am a rising junior at Brandeis University, double majoring in Economics and History. I am very excited to be a part of this team and am looking forward to this experience. Chess has been a big part of my life since I was young. I began playing at my elementary school Torah Academy and joined the chess club which helped me learn the basics. I began to love and appreciate the strategic game.
When I entered high school, I joined the chess club again. There my knowledge of chess grew and I was able to have a real understanding of the game and its mechanics. My brother also played a lot of chess and together we began a weekly chess class. Every Sunday night 10-12 kids gathered in our house as we taught them chess. We taught opening moves, end game, and the most basics as the skill levels among our students were quite different. It was a learning experience not only for our students, but for us as well.
However, as I entered college, chess slowly fell out of my life, but this internship at Premier Chess has made me revisit chess and I hope to continue learning the game and look foward to being part of Brandeis Chess Club in future was well.
When the men on the chess board
Get up and tell you where to go…..
-White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
1. Love for the Challenge
A true chess player & guitarist, in other words, someone committed and passionate, both love the challenges of each form. They both smile when they realize they’re in over their heads.
You can’t get better at anything unless you take on a challenge that’s above your skill set. Playing stronger opponents will lead to improvement and learning a jazz guitar solo when you’ve mainly played rock & roll is like learning a complicated opening, for example.
2. Love for Experimentation
Trying new things out and taking a chance or two, in short experimenting, is the second thing a true chess player & guitarist have in common. They wouldn’t settle on one opening or genre before exploring as many as possible!
3. They both INSPIRE us to be our Greatest Self!
As human beings, we are not truly happy unless we are constantly growing and both the guitar & chess are forms that can keep us busy for many many lifetimes.
Many legendary guitarists and other musicians have also loved chess with equal passion and commitment.
Here are a few:
Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) was an avid chess player. He once carved his own chess set. He once mentioned that he hadn’t been writing too much music because he was playing so much chess.
Bob Dylan (1941- ) plays chess. He is an avid chess player who used to play chess for hours at the Cafe Figaro in Greenwich Village in New York.
Phish is an American rock band whose members play chess. In one concert, the band challenged its audience to two games of chess. Phish won one game and the audience won the other.
Sting (1951- ), Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, plays chess. His original ambition in life was to be a chess grandmaster. He has played chess with Gary Kasparov, lasting 45 moves. Sting’s estate in France has a giant chess board in the grounds.
Did you raise enough money on Giving Tuesday? If you are like most non-profits, no amount is ever enough. Would you like an easy way for us to help you raise money and also give your supporters a fun and meaningful activity?
We are donating 1-hour virtual group lessons, for parents and children of all levels.
Process is simple:
1) Schedule time and date that would be good for community for a 1 hour virtual class for all ages/levels.
2) You decided suggested donation amount and spread the word of event.
3) You send us registration list so we can share Zoom link and we will be good to go!
If anyone would like to discuss idea further, email email@example.com and we can discuss logistics.
“Sing Along And Shine” Presentation: Learn about The Adrienne Process, the multiple award-winning children’s album, Heartsongs of the Rainbow, and the accompanying online course, “The Heartsongs Curriculum: 7 Days to Create and Experience Joy with your Uniquely-abled Child” on May 12, 2020 at 5pm on Zoom!
Are you and your uniquely-abled child a bit stir-crazy right about now during these unprecedented and challenging times? Is the anxiety and stress so overwhelming that you are physically and mentally exhausted all the time? Do you and your child both need a smile or perhaps a virtual hug? How about a daily dose of fun? Look no further if you answered “YES” to any of these questions!
Register and join Adrienne Murphy’s “Sing Along and Shine” Free Zoom Presentation with your child! Adrienne Murphy, MA CCC-SLP, Creator and Founder of The Adrienne Process is a veteran pediatric speech-language pathologist and multiple award-winning Children’s Recording Artist (2020 Parent Choice Award; 2020 National Parenting Product Award).
Since music is one of the best ways to reduce stress, increase joy and have some good ol’ fashioned fun, Adrienne will be offering parents the free opportunity to get to know her work, music and online course while kids will have the opportunity to sing along with the music videos from the first three tracks of The Adrienne Process’ award-winning album, “Heartsongs of the Rainbow”.
Chess in the Schools runs programs in 50+ title one schools in New York and conducts tournaments. During this wild time, their instructors are continuing to work full-time, conducting virtual classes and running daily tournaments.
Make a Difference Now, which we partner with every year to teach chess in Tanzania, definitely has its challenges during this time. All of the Tanzanian schools are closed so the students they support are back home in their villages. The organization has organized a Youth Covid-19 taskforce, where students are educating others in their villages about the disease. It’s director Theresa Grant is raising money for the villages to develop water taps.
While the Spring Nationals are all canceled, the Philadelphia Chess Society, which empowers underrepresented youth though chess is teaching students virtually and already organizing tournaments later in the fall and in 2021.
Since mid-September I have had the honor being an Manhattan Jewish Experience fellow, in which we learn for 3 hours every Wednesday night. While we are not meeting in person, Founder Rabbi Mark Wildes and team are doing a great time contiuining to inspire young Jewish professionals in their 20s and 30s, virtually, through the fellowship program, daily lunch and learns, evening lectures, 1-1 learning and much more.
I realize many people’s are budgets for the time being, but every dollar counts so please consider supporting these or any other non-profit of your choice today.