Are You Driving Away Enough Prospects?

By National Expert Andre Harding

For over 20 years I competed in chess tournaments. I was at my best playing in environments that put me in a positive frame of mind — venues I liked to spend time in, among people I wanted to be around.

I chose my events carefully to maximize my enjoyment and results!

2020 has reminded us that life is too short. We should spend as much time as possible doing what we want with people who enrich our lives and bring us joy. Limit soul-sapping experiences with negative or toxic people.

Consultants, independent contractors, creative professionals, and the like have more opportunities than most to create our own world and decide who lives in it.

We can choose the staff we hire, the vendors we buy from, the professionals we associate with … and the clients we work with.

Trying to get as many new customers as possible is often the wrong approach for our kind of work! Our “deliverables” are customized, not mass-produced items in a department store or fast-food restaurant.

What kind of work do you want to do, and who you want to do it for? That’s who your marketing efforts should be targeting. Yes, niche yourself, to an extent.

At stake is your time, money … and potential aggravation.

It’s your life, and you have to be happy living it. Design the experiences you want professionally, not just personally.

Don’t be afraid to politely, but firmly, repel people you are not looking to work with. This is easy with direct mail campaigns: carefully choose the segments you mail your promotions to!

It isn’t much harder with search engine optimization: home in on keywords and write content for the sector of the population you wish to attract.

I am happiest when I work with people I like, doing work I enjoy. When I take on a client or project I’m uncertain about, I usually regret it! Maybe you can relate.

Does your marketing copy signal the prospects you want, while gently pushing away those you don’t? If not, consider having it rewritten.

Andre Harding is a Copywriter and Consultant. For many years he taught chess as an independent contractor, where his livelihood depended on getting into the minds of students, parents, and school administrators. He uses this experience to write persuasive sales copy and content that helps his clients get customers, keep them, and sell more to them. Contact him at

Chess for Seniors

Here are some of the reasons why seniors should learn chess:

1) Chess keeps one’s mind sharp as it is mentally stimulating.

2) Chess helps relieves stress.

 3) There is some research that shows chess lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

We have a great senior class as part of our fall virtual class series.  In addition, we are currently facilitating a workshop for high school students and seniors in Westchester, in conjunction with DOROT USA.

Questions: Reach out to Evan Rabin, CEO of Premier Chess at or (917) 776-1306.




Four Ways to Network and Grow Your Business

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

As we enjoy teaching students aged 3-100+ in school programs, corporate classes, virtual group classes, private lessons and more, we meet lots of great types of people and organizations. The 90+ organizations that we’ve partnered with so far range from Grace Church School to the law firm Kramer Levin to Village Care.  As we work with a variety of organizations and individuals, it helps to have many close partners and networking groups.

I would love for you to check out one of the four networking groups I am in:

1) Business Networking International Chapter 30

Business Networking International is a massive worldwide networking organization with 270,000 members in 9,500 chapters. Check out this recent podcast episode with the founder Ivan Misner. I am the co-founder of a new chapter, which meets on Wednesdays at 7:00 AM. We have great education, real estate, legal, banking and other industry professionals and focus on building relationships and passing referrals. We are meeting virtually until at least the end of the calendar year. Eventually we will transition to meeting in person midtown.

2) Jewish Business Networking Manhattan

On Thursdays at 9:00 AM, I meet with a great bunch of Jewish professionals on Zoom.  When COVID-19 craziness ends, we will transition to meeting back in in person. Check out this business and life lessons in chess presentation I gave for the group in this morning’s meeting.

3) Astoria NY Entrepreneur Club 

This group normally meets at a different restaurant in Astoria each time twice per month. While I look forward to resuming our in-person meetings, I enjoy our bi-weekly Zoom calls. Our next meeting will take place Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM.

4) Riverdale Business Networking Group

Group meets on Zoom on Wednesdays, bi-weekly. Next meeting is on November 11th at 8:30 AM.

If you are based in New York metropolitan area  and are looking for ways to build relationships and grow your business, email me at to learn more about or visit one of these groups.

Chess Movie and Documentary Recommendations

By Candidate Master Danilo Cuellar, Premier Chess Rockland County Instructor and Founder of  Danilovich Chess 

Here’s the list of my recommended chess related documentaries and movies.

These films are free on Amazon Prime: 


This film is called “Magnus”. It came out in 2016. It’s a documentary style film about the life of child prodigy, Magnus Carlsen. He became world champion in 2013 when he was 23 years old. He’s still world champion today. I saw it a few years ago and it inspired me to get back into chess in a major way. It’s a gorgeous documentary. It’s free to watch on Amazon Prime as of now.

See the trailer here.


Since he was 5 yrs. old, Jose’s Abuelita taught him to play chess like his grandfather who was a champion in Mexico. Now as part of the Brownsville school team, Jose has the chance to use his skills and for once in his life, finds himself in the spotlight, as he tries to help his team make it to the Texas state finals. As their coach, Mr. Alvarado, teaches his students the meaning of perseverance and team effort in the face of adversity, Jose discovers his own strengths and uses them to bring his broken family together.

See the trailer here.

These films are currently free on YouTube:

Life of a King

Life of a King is the unlikely true story of Eugene Brown and his one-man mission to give inner-city kids of Washington D.C. something he never had – a future. He discovered a multitude of life lessons through the game of chess during his 18-year incarceration for bank robbery. After his release and reentry into the workforce, Eugene developed and founded the Big Chair Chess Club to get kids off the streets and working towards lives they never believed they were capable of due to circumstances. From his daring introductory chess lessons to group of unruly high school students in detention to the development of the Club and the teens’ first local chess competitions, this movie reveals his difficult, inspirational journey and how he changed the lives of a group of teens with no endgame.

See the trailer here.

Knights of the South Bronx

The movie is based on the true story of David MacEnulty who taught schoolchildren of the Bronx Community Elementary School 70 to play at competition level, eventually winning New York City and the New York State Chess Championships. The screenplay portrays whistle-blowing and a mid-life crisis that combine to remove Richard Mason (played by Ted Danson) from his old life. He becomes a substitute teacher and is assigned to a fourth-grade class in a South Bronx school. In the class are students with parents who are drug addicts or in jail or just scrambling to pay the bills. Few of them see a purpose in school other than meeting society’s requirements, and he struggles, mostly in vain, to reach them.

Then a student whose father is in jail sees Mason in the park playing a simultaneous exhibition, and beating fourteen opponents at once. He asks to learn the game. One thing leads to another, and soon the entire class is interested in the game. Mason convinces them that on the chessboard it doesn’t matter how much money you have or what clothes you’re wearing or where you come from, and that it’s only the moves you make, then and there. The class forms a team to compete in ever-larger tournaments.

See the trailer here.

These films are great, but are not free on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or YouTube.

Searching for Bobby Fischer

Josh Waitzkin and his family discover that he possesses a gift for chess and they seek to nurture it. They hire a strict instructor, Bruce Pandolfini, who aims to teach the boy to be as aggressive as chess legend Bobby Fischer. The title of the film is a metaphor about the character’s quest to adopt the ideal of Fischer and his determination to win at all costs. Josh is also heavily influenced by Vinnie, a speed chess hustler whom he meets in Washington Square Park. The two coaches differ greatly in their approaches to chess, and Pandolfini is upset that Josh continues to adopt the methods of Vinnie. The main conflict in the film arises when Josh refuses to accept Pandolfini’s misanthropic frame of reference. Josh then goes on to win on his own terms.

See the trailer here.

Queen of Katwe

Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) and her family. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches children how to play chess. Phiona becomes fascinated with the game and soon becomes a top player under Katende’s guidance. Her success in local competitions and tournaments opens the door to a bright future and a golden chance to escape from a life of poverty.

See the trailer here.

Pawn Sacrifice

This is a 2014 American biographical drama film about chess player Bobby Fischer. It follows Fischer’s challenge against top Soviet chess grandmasters during the Cold War and culminating in the World Chess Championship 1972 match versus Boris Spassky in Reykjavík, Iceland.

See the trailer here.

Brooklyn Castle

Brooklyn Castle is the remarkable and improbable true story of I.S. 318 in Brooklyn. The school, where 65% of students live below the federal poverty level, has the highest ranked junior high chess team in the nation. The heart of the film is the engaging young students who populate the team: Rochelle, who has the goal of becoming the first female African-American chess master; Pobo, the team’s charismatic leader; Justus, an entering student who must manage the high expectations that come with achieving master status at an early age; Alexis, who feels the pressure of his immigrant parents’ desire for him to realize the American dream; Patrick, who uses chess to help overcome his ADHD; and James, the young rapping maestro and budding chess talent; among several others. We have the honor of having some IS 318 alumni in our fall virtual classes

See the trailer here.

For some reviews on recent chess films, check out WIM Alexey Root, PhD‘s recent SparkChess article.

What is your favorite chess film?

Why Taking Standardized Tests is Like Playing Chess

By Kenny Tan,  Founder of Kenny Tan Test Prep 

Taking standardized tests is a lot like playing chess.

  1. There are usually multiple ways to win. Just as there’s no perfect strategy in chess, there’s no perfect strategy for standardized tests. It varies based on individual personalities.
  2. We use process of elimination. Chess players consider the implications of individual moves just as test takers consider each possible answer.
  3. The ending isn’t obvious at the beginning. The end game in chess cannot be predicted by just examining the players. In the same way, solving a difficult test question often requires completing one step at a time.
  4. If you want to do well, you need a good coach. The best chess players are mentored by experts. The best test takers are taught by great teachers and tutors.
  5. You don’t need to win every time to do well. Just as your chess rating can go up if you win more often than you lose, you don’t necessarily need to ace every question to do well.
  6. The game is much easier with proper rest, nutrition, and preparation.
  7. You opponent can look formidable from afar and even more intimidating up close.
  8. Mistakes may hurt your pride but probably not cause permanent damage.

In what other ways might you compare a standardized test to chess?

Duda Breaks Carlsen’s 125 Game Unbeaten Streak

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin

World Champion Magnus Carlsen astonishingly played 125 classical games over the last 2 years without a loss…. until he Duda defeated him in the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament last Saturday. The game made it to widespread press as per this CNN article.

Here are some educational notes about the game:

-Magnus Carlsen played a Caro-Kann, not an opening he normally plays, definitely as a surprise weapon. He then also played a side variation with 3. Nf6.

-On Move 18, Magnus realized he was worse and decided to Play Rb4 with idea of sacrificing the exchange to mix up the position. It is often better to have a much worse position with complications than a slightly worse position without any complications.

-Despite a substantial material advantage, two rooks for bishop and three pawns (4 point lead), Duda had to remain alert and avoid lots of complications. Often students make the mistake of relaxing and not spending enough time in winning positions, when it is easy to make mistakes.

-One of the strongest suits of an elite player is his ability to come back after a loss; Magnus Carlsen got swift revenge against Duda the next day as he beat him in this 27-move game.  After eight rounds, he is currently in 1st place in the tournament, with a 1-point lead over Alireza Firouzja.


Playing Chess: Breaking Down Walls

By Viviana Premazzi, Founder of Global Mindset Development ,Eliana Zuliani, Giulia Cianciulli and Enrico Bertolaso

We help organizations to work effectively across cultures. We help people to learn cross-cultural communication and negotiation strategies and to develop competencies to lead and work in an intercultural team. Moreover, we mentor companies during the internationalization process, helping them to build and understand the opportunities and challenges of the global market.

Probably now you are wondering: how is this linked to chess?

But the right question here is: what does chess teach us about cultures?

Playing chess can connect cultures and people. It is based on intellectual challenges and logical skills. People’s ability and their willingness to learn and improve is the only thing that matters.

Interestingly enough chess was created between India and Persia centuries ago, like most of the religions in the world had their origin in that geographical and cultural area.

In particular, chess has been used to teach war strategy and leadership to kings and rulers. Leading a kingdom, an army or a company as well as playing chess requires, as a matter of fact, strategic thinking and a global mindset.

  1. Strategic thinking and managing cultural differences

Playing chess can be used with an educational purpose. It can teach you how to manage a problem, how to find a solution, evaluating different strategies and moves.

The game, indeed, can help to develop problem solving skills, taking into consideration costs and benefits and consequences of single action. It also improves accountability skills.

In a multicultural organization you have to manage cultural differences and consider their intersectionality. There’s no one approach that fits all. A good manager or an organization committed to diversity and inclusion are able to evaluate various approaches. Then they choose how to act in a specific situation, considering all the consequences and the whole scenario. Diversity and inclusion should be part of the business strategy like a single move in chess cannot be considered isolated from the whole game.

2. A Global Mindset

When you play chess, you have to have a bird-eye on the chessboard. You have to look at all your pawns and your opponent’s ones. This is what in business and, in particular in intercultural management, we call Global Mindset. The Global Mindset considers the broad perspective, not only your single organization, your region or your country. It is being able to see everyone in their potential and their differences and see where and how you can “use them” for the benefit of the organization and the game.

3. Chess for breaking down walls

Almost since its origin, chess has affirmed itself as a democratic game, it is not only for the elite but everyone can play and learn strategies and skills. It started in the Indian sub-continent then came to Europe and now is played internationally online and in-person. It is based on fair played and equal opportunities.

4. One last tip: Be the Knight!

The knight’s move is distinctive and unique. Whereas all the pieces move in straight lines just in one single direction, the knight moves in an “L-Shape”. It can move two squares horizontally and one vertically and vice-versa.

We wish this kind of movement in your life! How can you be and move like the knight?

When you work in multicultural realities, remember to show your main direction but also to consider the other possible paths. The more you know about the other’s perspective, their skills and characteristics, the role they can have in the game, the more you can develop a winning team, committed and ready to succeed.

Last but not least: because of its movement the knight starts from a color square and ends up on another one. Being like a knight for us means also building your personal journey without the fear of changing your context!

For more about the global chess community, check out National Master Evan Rabin’s Premier Five Chess Travel tips

Move Your Pieces to the Center

 by Michael Whitehouse, The Guy Who Knows A Guy

I am a very simple chess player. I learned one axiom to guide my strategy, and it doesn’t win many tournaments, but it has worked very well in life and business. Even a little chess can make a big difference in life.

My axiom is that I want as much flexibility as possible. In chess, I never learned to anticipate my opponents moves, so I want as many options as possible. In life, you can never fully anticipate the future so I am well prepared.

I try to get my pawns up, my knights and bishops out to the center, and my rooks uncovered if I can.

If 2020 were a chess game, it would be a game of Nightmare Chess. The moves were unexpected, and the rules kept changing, yet I was able to adapt and thrive because I kept my pieces in the center of the board and my options open.

I had the opportunity to study karate at a great local dojo. Through it I learned key lessons on discipline and dramatically improved my endurance and energy. I didn’t know what that would do for me, but it put another piece in the middle of the board.

My wife started a diet which involved juicing in the morning. I joined her because it seemed like it might be another piece on the board. Four months later, I’m still doing it, and that combined with exercise has given me more energy to deal with whatever comes.

I met a business coach who offered to teach me some marketing strategies for coaches even though I wasn’t working as a professional coach at the time. I wasn’t sure how I’d best deploy those skills, but I took them because it opened up another set of moves in the future.

These are just three examples. Without having a firm plan, in July I put some of those strategies to work to try my hand at a coaching business. Two months later, I had signed up 7 clients. Some of those clients saw immediate improvement in their lives and business.

As I grow my programs and my business, I continue to look for opportunities to expand my options. Long term planning has never been my strong suit, but 2020 has shown us that adaptability is at least as important.

When a client comes to me who cannot afford my programs, I look for where opportunities may exist. Two such clients are now my apprentices, working for me by editing the revised edition of my book, promoting my workshops, and performing other key tasks in exchange for training. Even a client who cannot afford to pay can present an opportunity if you have a mindset to see it.

I never know where my next opportunity will come from, so I stay open to all of them. If somebody wants to meet to network, I’ll take a half hour call with them just to see what they have to say. One such call resulted in the opportunity to write this guest article on this highly prestigious blog.

If someone asks me to listen to a business idea or even a pitch, I’ll do it if I have time. More often than not, it doesn’t turn into much, but it only takes one great opportunity to open doors and change my life.

Too many people go through life jealously guarding their time, rejecting opportunities for fear of what might happen. I choose to embrace opportunities for fear of what I might miss.

I encourage you to open yourself to possibilities. Take that meeting. Take that course. Work with a coach. Take a chess class. Do whatever in your life will move another piece to the middle of the board. Give yourself options. You may lose a piece or two, but you can only win if you’re in a position to act when opportunity presents itself.

Lessons from Jodi Samuel’s Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine

by CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

On or off the chess board, every move must have a purpose. In September 2016, I travelled with Masa Israel to the IAC Conference in Washington DC. At the gala dinner, my friend Garrison Corben and I had trouble deciding on a table to sit at and randomly chose one that seemed to have an interesting mix of people. At the very least, I thought it was random; it turns out Hashem had other plans. Once we started introducing ourselves to the others at the table and mentioned to Alisa Adler that I recently moved back to New York, she said she would love to help me and that I had to meet her good friend Steve Eisenberg. A few minutes later Steve came by the table to say hello to Alisa and said he would take care of me moving forward. A few days later, he set me up with Shabbat plans and meals for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. I also began joining his weekly Torah classes and other Jewish International Connections in New York (JICNY) events. In 2017, I had the honor of participating in Steve’s Israel Recharge trip, which Alisa co-led. Since then, I’ve also become good friends with Steve’s co-founders of JICNY, Jodi and Gavin Samuels. Through Jodi’s recent book Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine, which was one of the major topics of our recent podcast, episode, I learned several key lessons including, one needs to always focus on the positives of every situation, the world is narrow bridge and that we all need to give back to our communities. 

Jodi has explored the world and has seen probably more than anyone I know. She grew up in South Africa, where she experienced being held up in gun point, lived under rocket attacks in Israel and has traveled to almost hundred countries and has seen some of the most bizarre situations. One fun fact about her life that was shocking to me, is despite the fact that she raised three kids, not once has she changed a diaper. I have a hard time believing that! It take’s someone like Jodi and her chutzpah to get a stranger on the plane to change her baby’s diaper.

On a more serious note, Jodi has had the challenge of raising her youngest child, her daughter Caila, who was born with Down syndrome. When she was born, several people felt bad for the family and she and Gavin thought quite the opposite. Jodi explains how they thought if they could open up their home for anyone, frequently having Shabbat meals for 40+ people, it would be impossible for them to not accept their own daughter. 

I have personally never seen a person with Down syndrome or autism be angry. While Caila and the family have had lots of challenges, they were inspirational, never letting Down syndrome stop Caila from succeeding in life. Jodi and Gavin fought tooth and nails for her to be accepted to mainstream schools in New York and Israel. She has developed friends and a strong sense of humor. For instance, one day Jodi sent her to her friend for Shabbat lunch. Caila overheard that Jodi’s friend suggested they carry a change of clothes just in case she had an accident and Jodi insisted that it wasn’t necessary. Shortly after, Caila scared the host by joking that she had an accident, when everything was clear.

Until today, Jodi always has struggled about whether or not Israel is the place for her. Yesterday, Jodi shared on Facebook how her elder daughter Temira got her papers to enroll in the army, what Jodi describes as the one piece of mail that comes in on time in Israel. She wrote, “I keep getting reminded I do live in Israel, in spite of all my protests!” On one hand Jodi has struggled living in Israel, having to deal with people shouting, lots of bureaucracy, nosiness, security concerns, etc. Furthermore, Israel did not provide nearly as many resources for Caila: “In order to match what Caila was getting- for free- in New York’s education system, we spent thousands of extra dollars a month to get tutors and therapies to get her the support she needs to be in a typical school environment” (194). 

It is Jodi’s chutzpah, shameless audacity, that has kept her to stay in Israel. Her kids and husband Gavin have adapted to Israel well. Inspired by the third weekly torah portion when God commands Abraham to leave his native homeland, Jodi’s “life motto is Lech Lecha. Go. Or just do it. And that we did, with no wavering. When I decide to do something, it’s all or nothing.” While we can all have challenges, it’s important to be persistent and always attempt to finish what we started.

When I studied for a semester at Tel Aviv University in 2011, I definitely missed home at times and experienced some of the items Jodi did on a small scale. I once lost my debit card and it took several weeks to get a replacement one from New York. Thankfully, my friends helped out and lent me some money short-term and I got by but it was definitely a little nerve wracking, being in a foreign country without any access to cash. While some day Jodi Struggles, “love is the overriding reason that compels [her] to stay… Seeing how [her] children are thriving, watching Gavin draw from the Idealism of this life, [she] is [in Israel] because of love” (267). While a chess player may be annoyed by a mistake or a loss, he needs to learn from that and maintain focus for his next move. My grandfather Jack Rabin’s first cousin Fay made Aliyah to Israel from the US. 40 years ago and her whole family followed, thanks to the Law of Return, which allows all Jews to gain Israeli citizenship without questions. While Israel has its challenges, it is astonishing to be able to go to sites of our ancestors like the Western Wall and the burial sites of our matriarchs and patriarchs in Hebron. 

If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it is how one person can create such a big impact on the world, either positively or negatively. One person consuming a bat in Wuhan, China essentially influenced the entire world to be in lockdown. However, while connectedness in this regard has been venomous, it can also be a blessing. While many of us have been Zoom fatigued, we should be grateful that this time has been an opportunity to stay connected with people around the world. For instance, I recorded my podcast episode with Jodi, while I was in New York and she was in Jerusalem. 

I have been to 24 countries and each one, I have met people through chess, Jewish and music communities. Learn more about my travel in this US Chess article. Jodi has travelled the world extensively and has hosted 10,000 members from 40 countries to JICNY events and her own Shabbat dinners. While people have come from different backgrounds, they have all got along as Jodi writes, “ Many of our deepest lifelong friendships began at our Shabbat table, stretching to our days in outback New York Zealand all the way to New YOrk. We can be very proud of the 126 married couples  as of this writing whose relationships began at one of our JIC events, the first of which were a Beligan and a Hungarian Jew who met in New York. This dear couple and their children now live in Israel and they were regulars with us for many Shabbats a year. Stories like this make the risks of hosting the masses worth it. (248). I am an active JICNY participant and perhaps will be added on to this list of 126 couples, god willing! 

The chess world is also a narrow bridge, as I have friends throughout the world from chess. When I played in the 2019 Vesuvio International, I met a guy who played a tournament in Las Vegas. It turns out his first round opponent Brian Solomon is a good friend from Boston, both from the chess and Jewish communities. 

Jodi also teaches the importance of tikkun olam, giving back and making the world a better place, as exhibited by the great success of JICNY. Unlike many other non-profits, JICNY does not have any high-paid non-profit executives on staff. At the same time, the organization  keeps busy with “two-hundred plus events.. annually with only one paid employee who works twenty hours a week”(250). In addition, the Samuels family has been involved with Shabbat of a Lifetime, “an organization that matches non-Jewish tourists  with Israeli families for a traditional Shabbat dinner…  It is a real-life example of how our connection with thousands of years of a rich and beautiful heritage enable Israel and the Jewish people to survive, even thrive “(251). Unfortunately anti-semitism and ideological warfare still exsists today; one of the best ways for us to fight both is leading be example. Rabbi Levi Welton and Rachel Farjado have taught me the importance of teaching the 7 Noahide laws, which apply to all non-Jews.

In order to build a community and prevent hate, as discussed in this podcast episode with Rabbi Levi Welton and Reverend Gregory Livingston, we need to truly live as one and teach others about our communities. For instance, non-observant Jews and gentiles alike see Shabbat as restrictive; they do not realize it is quite the opposite as observant Jews are the only ones who are not glued to their phones and restricted to technology on Shabbat and holidays.

Likewise, education can stop misconceptions about chess players. For instance, there is a rising population of women playing the game and it is not as much of a nice industry as most people think it is. When I go to networking events, people are often shocked when I state Premier Chess is one of many chess companies in New York. 

Outside of community events, Jodi and Gavin has done a lot of work as Down syndrome advocates. She has developed and maintained the Facebook page Caily’s World and writing the Metroimma blog. As marketers teach “AIDA”, awareness is essential, as it is that which leads to interest, which leads to desire, which leads to action. With that in mind, Jodi and Gavin have also spoken at many events and provided mentorship to other families with Down syndrome.

As we learn in life, it is imperative that we give back to others. Chess has been my passion since I was 7 and I made master when I was 20. While I enjoyed the first few years of my career in enterprise sales, selling technology solutions to financial institutions, retailers and state, local and education institutions for Oracle and Rapid7, I couldn’t be happier to have returned to my true passion, managing chess programs, where we teach business and life lessons to students of all ages and skill levels. Give your self a favor today and buy a copy of Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine today so you can be motivated to make the best out of every situation, build communities and give back, utilizing your true passion

Chess and Executive Functioning Skills

By Ari Braverman, Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps Group

It is no secret that playing chess is a healthy activity for everybody–but it has particularly positive effects on school-age kids. It’s a social outlet and an excellent way to spend time that doesn’t require a device or any expensive equipment. One of its chief benefits is that it encourages the development of executive functioning skills, which are defined by Merriam-Webster as “the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities…that control the skills…required for goal-directed behavior.” Here are some specific examples of chess-related executive functioning skills–and how they’re essential components of school performance

  • Planning – We could also call this one “strategy,” and it’s one of the most important things a kid can learn how to do. It’s no secret that good chess players map out their games several moves in advance. Well, good students do the same with their schedules, mapping out daily homework, long-term projects, extracurricular activities, and events. Tip: Encourage the learner in your life to use a planner that works for them, whether it’s an app or old-fashioned wall calendar.
  • Time Management In chess, hasty decisions could cost someone the whole game, and the same is true in homework and on tests. While it’s important not to waste time, learning how to move mindfully through a math problem, for example, or taking the time to close-read a short story or an essay is a necessary part of engaging with school work. Details are important–and often mean the difference between the right answer and the wrong one, and the grades that result. Tip: Help your student develop a step-by-step process for going through their assignments thoroughly but efficiently. 
  • Organization – A good chess player has to be able to keep track of lots of moving parts using just their brain. The older students get, the more important this skill becomes: ideas–and assignments–get more complex. Kids must be able to understand how to scaffold concepts and how to relate them to one another in order to build a comprehensive knowledge base. Tip: Make sure your kids understand the connections and throughlines present in everything they’re learning. For example, use a graphic organizer or outline for essay planning.

Being a good student requires a lot more than memorizing facts and writing some good sentences. It takes time, attention, and well-developed executive functioning skills. Chess is an excellent way to encourage that kind of growth in your kids.