From Torah Classes to Joining Premier Chess Team

By Olga Inglis,  Manager of Business Development, Premier Chess

Photo Credit: Alexandra Vainshtein

 “What we make of the future is defined by how well we understand and make sense of the past.” 

– Garry Kasparov

In May of 2019, I wanted “to make sense of the past.”  When my dear friend Sabina Veksler suggested that both of us attended Steve Eisenberg’s Monday Torah class, I was all for it.

Sabina is a personification of Tikkun Olam.  She can jump-start Jewish Philanthropy, structure a sustainability bond, and hand-deliver a hot Passover Seder Dinner to a friend and her children in the eye of pandemic (it was delicious).

I heard that Steve’s boundless passion and enthusiasm captivated every student in the room.  I got to experience it myself.  In addition to teaching, Steve did and does his best to help people.  His desire to improve people’s lives is genuine and thus far-reaching.

Authenticity is a beautiful, magnetic thing.  By meeting Steve, I met amazing people who opened their doors as well as their hearts to me.  Remarkable Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald was one of them. He taught me that love is so powerful that it opens up new dimensions in our minds and our hearts, and that the real source of power is in interdependence, not independence.  Rabbi Buchwald’s words came straight from the heart.  And as we know, “words from the heart enter the heart.”

I met Jeff Koblenz, CPA, a kind and vibrant Real Estate and Insurance Professional, gifted educator, who upon finding out about my chess passion, introduced me to Evan Rabin, National Master and CEO of Premier Chess.

Evan Playing a Tournament in Kiryat Ono, Israel in August 2018

Evan is a go-getter. He is self-motivated, energetic, and his enthusiasm is contagious.   Evan’s life is a simultaneous exhibition ranging from school programs, corporate classes, private lessons, camps, podcast, and everything in between. I don’t know where he finds the energy or the time.  Somehow he does.

Evan’s custom tailors his chess program for all walks of life and age ranges.  My daughter’s first formal introduction to chess was through the Premier Chess Winter Camp.  She fell in love with the game.  His 144th podcast episode features Israeli Grandmaster Victor Mikhalevski.  Victor says that love for the game is vital to success in chess.  This is where I find Premier Chess both special and unique.  Evan’s approach is both rational and emotional.  Premier Chess’s ability to infuse the game with passion is extraordinary.

Tomorrow will be a new day, a new set of questions and uncertainties.  Some things will be within my control and many will not.   My chessboard will be in the usual spot, on the shelf to the right of my piano.  And what a joy it will be to see both of my children,  staring intently at the chessboard, choosing which piece to advance, which to sacrifice, and most importantly, having fun.

Evan Rabin Introduces The First All-Ivy League Chess Invitational

By Marty Katz, Founder of Connectors 360 

Evan Rabin, is a passionate exponent of chess and the Founder of Premier Chess, an organization that teaches chess to families and employees.

He was looking to demonstrate the fun of playing the game. He was convinced that chess is a great way for people to use their intellectual and creative juices particularly during the pandemic when so many people are constrained to their homes.

Marty Katz, a brand messaging consultant, Founder of Connectors 360, and member of the Columbia University Club of New York,  had an idea.

What if Evan could create the first All-Ivy League Chess Invitational Tournament?

This online chess tournament would include many non-Ivy League schools and would reach the large community of both players and non-players in the metro area. It would be open to anyone interested in chess.

The Columbia Club supported this idea and is now setting up on-going tournament play.  Evan will be joined by other chess masters who will lead the teaching and playing portions of the event.

The All-Ivy Chess Invitational has been embraced by both experienced and novice players as well as observers of all ages. See footage of the event here.

 

 

 

Evan Rabin Finds a New Use For Chess

By Marty Katz, Founder of Connectors 360

Evan Rabin, is the Founder of Premier Chess, which teaches chess to professionals as well as families.

His problem: during the doldrums of the pandemic and recession, his sales were flat. Not many people were interested in this diversion.

He met Marty Katz, Founder of Connectors 360. Marty is a marketing consultant and specializes in brand messaging.

Marty suggested that instead of framing his business strictly as a place to learn or play chess, Evan should address business leaders to show them that chess has a role that could benefit them:

Business leaders have many employees who are reluctant to try new things. They are afraid of being judged by their managers and colleagues if their ideas aren’t successful. This makes innovation –- the lifeblood of growth – the responsibility of only a few top-level execs.

Knowing this,  Evan positioned chess as a way for people to learn how to develop strategies, manage risk and generate creativity in their approach to solving problems and finding new opportunities. Managers and employees would all benefit.

Evan began communicating this new use of chess and its value to business leaders. They saw how chess could improve their employees’ performance and signed up for his programs.

Out of a low point, Evan found his own innovation to get the outcomes he wanted.

Life Skills Through Chess

By Janie Teller, Founder of The Study Shack

There is a lot to be said about how chess provides many life skills that young students need as they grow and develop. Playing chess results in better brain function, improved memory and cognitive abilities, strategic thinking, and attention improvement. All of these benefits are directly related to the practice of chess, both in real-life and virtual environments, which means that chess could be the answer to how to help your child both in and out of the classroom.

By allowing them to flex their brain functions and cognitive skills, children are better prepared when it comes time to get ready for school assignments, statewide assessment, and college preparation. Especially as students struggle to focus during remote schooling, the skills that chess develops  – improving critical thinking, problem-solving, and concentration – can especially beat down any obstacles that remote schooling incurs.

 

Three Types of Transformational Moves


In my previous blog post “Three Ideas for a Race Against Time” , I wrote about how a player should divide a game’s time control by 40, the average number of moves in a chess game, to determine the rough amount of time he should spend per move. However,  one needs to know the types of transformational moves that require more analysis. Before making a , sacrifice, trade or pawn move it is important to spend extra time, considering the long-term ramifications. After these moves, the positions will never be the same:

Sacrifices

Despite what many players believe, one can not make a sacrifice based on his intuition. As Jim Egerton writes about in Business on the Board , a player needs if to get a good return on investment in the event that he makes a sacrifice.

In this position from the Gioco Piano, white should most certainly not sacrifice with 4. Bxf7+. On one hand, he will get a little bit of compensation because black will have an exposed king after 4….Kxf7. However, his slight disadvantage in king safety will not be nearly enough of a return to equate the black’s 3 point surplus in material.

To the contrary, let’s take a peak at this example from the well-known Paul Morphy vs the Duke of Brunswick Game that took place in Paris in 1858:

In this position, Former World Champion Paul Morphy played 16. Qb8+.  Like many chess educators, I have shown this game to hundreds of students over the years. Most beginners will see Qb8+ as a forcing move but will quickly discount it as we discuss black can play 16..Nxb8. However, Morphy did play 16. Qb8+! as after black is forced to play 16…Nxb8, he had the follow-through of 17. Qb8#.  One should only make a sacrifice if he absolutely knows that with best play from both sides, he will get sufficient compensation.

Trades

One of the most common mistakes beginners will make is trading at almost opportunity. One should not exchange pieces just because “it is a fair trade”. Once a pair of equally valued pieces gets removed from the board, the game will never be the same. Let’s take a look at a common example from the Scotch Opening:


In this position, white just played 2. Nxd4…. should black respond with Nxd4, forcing white’s queen to come to the center with Qxd4? He should not as the queen would be active on d4 and there is no good way to take advantage of the queen being out too early. To learn more about when it is worth trading, read this prior blog post.

Pawn Moves

A pawn move may not seem like such a big deal; however, we need to remember that pawns never move backwards! If we move any other piece forward, it can always move back but pawn moves are permanent. As I remind students like a broken record, every pawn move makes a weakness!

In this Sicilian position, one of black’s main options is playing 5..e5, the Sveshnikov Variation. While it is its perks, gaining an initiative by creating a lot of threats, it is a risky as black will have a long-term backward pawn on d6.

Conclusion

While every move should have a purpose and it is important to never let your guard down, there are some critical positions, when you need to spend a lot of time. When you sacrifice, trade or move a pawn, make sure you get a good bang for your buck! Game on.

 

Queen’s Gambit Mania Swag

By Jac Zagoory, Founder of Jac Zagoory Designs 

It is fascinating how a miniseries can change culture and influence the markets of the world. The Queens Gambit has turned the average home body into a chess master wannabe. Now, everyone is on alert to what the Chess community has known all along—Chess is engaging, challenging and fun!

For as little as one unit, you can share your passion with clients, employees and friends. Gift them the hottest game around.

This handsome chess set is only $58 for a single unit with engraving. We have quantity breaks.

Contact JZ Promo for tangible, branded, marketing promotional items for your company, or swag for your events. Jac@JacZagoory.com  Give, Gift and Swag better with us!

 

 

Amateur Team North Official Stream Wrap-Up

By National Master Evan Rabin  

Thank you to Chess Weekend Founder Glenn Panner 
for inviting me to be the official streamer for the 2021 United States Amateur Team North. While exhausting, it was a lot of fun providing live commentary from 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM Central Standard Time each day, February 20 and February 21. See all the footage on our Twitch stream.  

Thank you to the 20 amazing guests who joined our stream: 

Grandmaster Susan Polgar, Webster University Chess Coach

Women’s International Master Alexey Root

Women’s FIDE Master Laura Ross

Phil Rosenberg, Director of Premier Chess School Programs

(Phil is the founder of unphiltered with Phil Rosenberg). 

Brian Wilmeth, Premier Chess Director of Virtual Programs

Brian and I providing commentary during the exciting Stearman-Yu game, which helped determine the tournament winner.
National Master Todd Bryant

National Master Alan Kantor

Shelby Lohrman, Director of American Chess Equipment

Jacob Fortuna

National Expert Leo Solal

Michael Deutsch, Founder of Hands on Hoops Skills

Jonney Machtig, Los Angeles Instructor and Founder of Reti Chess Club

 

Elena Kamp, Founder of Reflexion Dance 

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

Ray Martinez, Founder of Brownsville Royal Knights

Gary Warmerdam

 

Lara Hocheiser, Founder of Flow and Grow Kids Yoga

National Expert John Hendrick, Founder of Foundation Chess

National Expert Eve Litvak, J.D Candidate at Seton Hall School of Law

National Expert Abel Talamantez, Director of Chess at Mechanics Institute

 

Joshua Margolis, Founder of Mind Over Matter Fitness

Kyle Adam, On The Mend Fitness

 Nilcee Schneider, Founder of Reiki & Meditation with Nilcee

Here are some highlights of stream: 

Roundtable with Grandmaster Susan Polgar
Full house with Dean of Scholastic Chess Dewain Barber, Guests from East Coast, West Coast and Central
Tribute to Susan Kantor

I am looking forward to being the official streamer for the United States Amateur Team South this upcoming weekend, 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM EST. Consider registering today and make sure to check out our Twitch Stream; the first 15 people that follow us  and email me their address during stream will win complimentary magnetic chess sets.

5 key HR Strategies Derived From Chess

By Dylan Glad, Manager, Sales Performance Improvement at Insperity

The centuries-old game of chess is having a big cultural moment, with chess experts playing on social media and a popular television drama reimagining the world of elite chess of the mid-20th century. As a result, fans are taking a fresh look at how the lessons of chess can apply to other areas of life, including business.

Chess requires strategic planning, an understanding of each piece’s strengths and a vision for how to make those pieces work together.

Whether you’re a chess player or not, the game offers examples of how and why to develop your people, build strong teams and nurture diversity in your organization.

Here are five principles that chess and human resources (HR) strategy have in common:

1. Start with your goal in mind.

In chess, the most successful players imagine the winning scenario they want and work backward from there to plan their early moves.

On the chessboard, this kind of planning involves prepositioning pieces to enact specific strategies. In your organization, it can involve:

  • Identifying skill and diversity gaps
  • Bringing on the right people to fill out your team
  • Helping employees as they work toward your goals

This approach may seem obvious to you. But just as inexperienced chess players get stuck reacting to their opponent’s moves instead of planning a proactive strategy, businesses without a proactive approach to HR can find themselves without all the people they need to reach the goals they’ve set.

When you’re stuck dealing with crises, there is no room for initiative. The chess and HR strategy is to:

  • Have a detailed plan for progress toward your goal.
  • Recognize opportunities and solve problems as they arise.
  • Find the right people to help you.

2. Plan with your competitors’ goals in mind, too.

In chess, it’s very clear that your strategy must consider what your opponent is planning. In business, you can use this mindset to ensure that you understand your competitive differentiators clearly in each scenario.

It’s wise to approach each new prospect, partnership or recruiting effort with the assumption that there’s also someone else who wants to work with them. Then you can plan to win that engagement by analyzing your strengths and gaps compared to your competitors to find a way to make the most compelling offer.

For example, if your organization is competing for data analyst talent and you know you can’t match a competitor’s base salary offer, can you offer more flexible scheduling, a better PTO package or clearer opportunities for career advancement?

3. Leverage each person’s strengths.

Chess can illustrate how important it is to identify and build on each person’s skills and abilities in an organization, regardless of their role.

Consider the chess pawn. These are the most common pieces – each player starts with eight – and they can only move forward, one space at a time unless they are capturing a piece in attack. On their own, they’re vulnerable pieces, but a pawn that advances all the way to the other side of the board can be promoted into any major piece, earning more power and leverage in the game.

Getting across the board is a challenge, though, because pawns are weak pieces on their own. To move forward, they need to be linked together for strength and support.

With that approach, a group of pawns can sometimes outcompete high-level pieces. That can happen when there are no obstacles on the board to stop their potential and their forward momentum can’t be stopped.

The same can be true for employees. They can grow into more influential and versatile roles, but only if they have the proper support along the way, including managers who seek and remove obstacles to their development.

4. Each team needs people with a variety of skills and abilities.

The need for diversity is built into chess because of the way each piece has different strengths and abilities. No single piece aside from the queen can dominate the board. Working together with a well-planned strategy, though, the other pieces can do powerful things.

What’s more, without diverse capabilities, a player may not be able to succeed. For example, each player starts the game with two bishops, each moving diagonally but only on squares of its own color. If one bishop is captured, the player’s ability to cover the board diagonally is reduced by half. If both are captured, an entire mode of attack is out of reach.

Likewise, diverse groups of employees can accomplish more than teams of people who all have the same skills and experiences. For example, a small startup full of dedicated and accomplished software developers may have trouble selling their solution without team members who understand what their target customers need and can communicate the software’s value to them.

5. Different team members may shine at different times.

In chess, certain pieces become more prominent at different phases of the game. For example, rooks are pieces that can move multiple spaces side to side or down the board – as long as there’s nothing in their way.

Early on, your other pieces and your opponent’s usually block rooks’ movements, so they’re not very influential. They may even seem like they’re impeding your progress because they can’t do very much.

But in the last third or so of a game, as other pieces are removed from the board, rooks’ avenues of movement open up. Then their capabilities become extremely important and powerful, so much that players with have two rooks still on the board near the end of their game are well-positioned to win.

The chess and HR strategy is that diversity not only helps your team attack problems from different angles at the same time, but it can also allow different team members’ strengths to emerge at different stages in the process.

For example, a quiet employee who’s calm, empathetic and good at listening may not deliver the most engaging pitch to a prospective client – but their skills are exactly what you might need to work well with that client later on a difficult or high-stakes project.

Summing it all up

Approaching your HR issues like you’re planning to win at chess can help you create a plan to reach your goals, empower your people to work toward those goals, and allow all members of your team to contribute to your overall success.

Want more strategies – like the chess and HR strategies discussed above – for hiring, retaining and developing talent? Download our e-book: How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.

Chess and Physical Fitness

By Joshua Margolis, Founder of Mind Over Matter Fitness

How can chess players benefit from physical fitness?

This is not an unusual question in the life of a chess athlete. That is not an oxymoron either. It has more relevance than one might think.

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a fitness consultant is working with chess players.

Joshua Leading an Exercise Break at our Virtual Winter-Break Camp

As a personal trainer, it is my responsibility to better the physicality of my clients. Sometimes what flies under the radar is that metal sharpness is often congruent with physical.

-Chess players use more core strength than you think. Sitting in a chair most of the day can lead to poor posture and back pain. Good solid core work will help reverse that as well as keep you stable for those long tournaments.

-Do not forget about breathing as well. Establishing proper rhythmic breathing techniques can be an asset to your game. These similar breathing techniques can be learned a learned performing cardiovascular activities.

-When it comes to flexibility, the staggering effect of sitting in a chair for hours can be detrimental. Being cognizant and paying attention to stretching the lower body is paramount to performance.

-Yoga can be one of the best mental and physical disciplines for the body. Not just for chess players but for anyone. The combination of strength and flexibility needed along with sharp mental aptitude is a kin to the mindset of a chess player.

National Master Evan Rabin doing yoga with a student in between rounds at the 2017 Supernationals in Nashville, TN

-Stress from playing in competitions can effect sleep cycles. The one true way to guard against that is to employ regular exercise. That will increase the bodies ability to get regular quality sleep. Who among us doesn’t need more of that.

 

See www.mindovermatternyc.com to learn more about their virtual and in-person fitness classes and 1-1 sessions. 

My Story of Power: Overcoming my Learning Disability Through Chess

By National Master Evan Rabin 

***This post was adapted from a presentation I did as part of Dr. Adena Blickstein‘s Cosmic Dragon Conference“. ***

For preschool, I went to the Jewish Board’s Child Development Center (CDC) and for elementary and middle school I went to the Churchill School and Center to overcome my so called ‘learning disability’. Until this day I have had difficulty explaining my learning disability as it was obvious that I had one but it was not exactly specified what it was. I had difficulty focusing and had issues with my speech and motor skills. At one my point my parents and grandparents thought I was deaf when I would not speak. While my learning disability diagnosis was unclear as to what it exactly it was, I know that CDC and Churchill had huge impacts on me transitioning to ‘mainstream’ school, when I went to the Dwight School for high school, where I ended up graduating with an International Baccalaureate diploma and getting into one of my top college choices, Brandeis University. While there, I graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Business and International Global Studies. However, without chess, who knows where I would be today. The game has helped me gain power by giving me community, critical thinking skills and confidence.

When I was in 2nd grade, my father Keith and brother Alex taught me how to move the pieces on a rainy day at home. I instantly got hooked and few weeks later I joined Women’s International Master Shernaz Kennedy’s chess club at Churchill, where she still has a program today. There were 30+ enthusiastic children in the club and I started gaining confidence thanks to their support. For the first time, I had a lot of good friends at school; most of them were not in my class; they were on the chess team. One week Churchill’s Health Coordinator Pete Halleck, went up to Shernaz and asked “What did you do with Evan? All he talks about now is chess.” In art class, I would only want to make drawings and paintings of chess pieces. Chess instantly became a passion and was the first thing I was ever proud of.

Two months into the joining the program, I decided to play in a tournament and I ended up winning 1st place in my Quad at Shernaz’ tournament at the Browning. A month after that my father faced a dilemma as I wanted to go to the nationals in Peoria, IL. On the one hand, he thought it was little crazy to dedicate a full weekend to chess and spend a lot of money on travel, considering I only started playing a few months ago; on the other, I was already fully dedicated to chess and he knew I would be upset if my fellow Churchill Hawks went and I did not. Sure enough we did go and from that day I have consistently played chess.

For the next several years I would travel with the Churchill team all around the country for the city, state and national championships. We went to places like Dallas, Kansas City, and Milwaukee. While we would focus on chess (one of my biggest claims to fame is being on the Churchill School 2nd place U-900 team at the 2000 Nationals in Dallas, Texas😊), we would also bond and go on team outings. We had lots of fun hanging out in the team room, playing ball between rounds, going out for meals, etc.

It was 2000 when I met my coach National Master Alan Kantor, who has remained a close friend and national championship teammate; here we are on the cover of Chess Life after we were on the Championship team of the United States Amateur Team East in May 2007.

Ever since then, many of my best friends have been through the chess world. In all of the 25 countries I have been to, I have met people through chess; in 11 of them, I have played in tournaments.

Through studying and learning chess, I have drastically improved my critical thinking skills, as exhibited to the thought process we teach our students. When your opponent makes a move, the first thing you need to do is write it down and analyze why he chose the one he did. Just as one would never cross the street without looking both ways, a chess player should never make a move without knowing exactly what his opponent’s motives are. Likewise, when I was at Churchill, there were times I would not choose the proper course of action when I was upset. On many occasions I found myself in the principal’s office for misbehavior. Most often another student would do something I did not like. Rather than come up with candidate moves, like telling the teacher or letting the situation go and moving on and determining which one would be the best, I would let my animal instincts get the best of me and often do terrible actions like hitting anther kid. Over the years, the critical thinking skills I developed in chess has helped me with my behavior, academic work, business decisions and much more.

Most often, the highest rated player in a chess tournament one; it is the one who has the best mindset and is confident. Read about my tips for building confidence in this recent blog post. Since I began playing chess in 1997, I have played in over 950 tournaments, allowing me to get lots of intense competition and learn the elements of chess that you can not learn by reading a book. In doing so, I have learned how to win, lose or draw and constantly improve. When I left Churchill and went to Dwight, I remained enthusiastic about chess and would play 2-3 tournaments on average per week. I wrote my college essay about how organizing the 1st place team at the United States Amateur Team East Championship was like running a business. At Brandeis, I was the co-president of the chess club with my good friend Elechi Kadete. Since then, chess has always been a passion of mine and in July 2017, I founded Premier Chess, which now has partnered with 80+ schools and companies like Kramer Levin and Google.

Not only has chess been a great source of confidence, but it has also been a great source of income. As people often say, if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. I am grateful to say that saying applies to me.