The Pecking Order of Rooks

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

When young novice students play chess, they will often count the number of pieces on the board to determine who is winning; they forget that pieces have different values. The rook is worth 5 points.

However, if an employee does not actively contribute to the company, he will not be worth his salary. To live up to the value of 5 points, a rook needs to be activated.  Most pieces like to be developed to the center, as they have more mobility there.  For instance, a knight in the corner has two squares it can go to, compared to eight in the center.  Contrarily, you can place a rook anywhere on the board and it will control 14 squares:

If that is the case, how should we develop our rooks to optimize their performance? Here is the pecking order of rooks from worst to best:

Bad: Close File

Rooks least enjoy sitting on closed files, where both sides have pawns. For instance, in this position black’s rook on f8 does not have any possible options. At the right time, black will likely play an f5 break so that the file can open up.

OK: Semi- Open File 

The next best thing for a rook is a semi-open file, where only one’s opponent has a pawn. In this position, white will likely develop his rook to d1, where only black has a pawn on d6. One should note, he is also forming a battery with his queen as the two pieces are operating on the same file.

Good: Open File 

The best type of individual rook is one an open file, which has no pawns on it. The white rook on c1 has free range of the whole c-file.

Great: Two Rooks Doubled up on a Open File 

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for-or each other

Helplessly Hoping, Crosby, Stills and Nash 

If the rook has a friend on his open file, it is doing even better! In this position, I would certainly take white any day of the week, with his dominating rooks on the c-file, compared to black’s rooks on the closed a nd b files. What makes matters worse for black, white has annoying bishop on h3, which prevents black from playing Rc8 in attempt to trade rooks.

Excellent: Rook on the 7th Rank 

Even better than two rooks working together, is one rook operating on that color’s 7th rank, where most of his opponent’s pawn live, as exhibited by the white rook on e7.

The Best: Pigs on the 7th Rank 

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”


White’s two rooks on the 7th rank are most certainly worth a lot more than the 10 points, you’d value them, solely based on the point system. “These hungry pigs will eat everything they can get their snouts on.” (Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, Winning Chess Strategies)

As Bruce Pandolfini often says, “Be excellent!” My coach Grandmaster Leonid Yudasin often suggests “If you don’t know what do in a given position, improve your piece.” At the very least, a rook should try to develop to an open file; however, it most certainly should not stop there. Just a person needs to continuously grow, rooks and every other piece should always work to improve their positions.

A Review of UNCHESS

By Author Vineet Raj Kapoor 

As you know there are very few books relating Life with Chess. I was inspired to write the book UNCHESS during 1980s. In 1990s Kasparov wrote ‘Life Imitates Chess‘. I do not know of any other decent and full-fledged attempt at this.

Even though Chess originated from India, very few Indians have written books on Chess, and I hope that I get support from the entire Chess Fraternity to promote UNCHESS.

I wrote UNCHESS in May 2017 and published at Amazon to an Amazing response. The recent interest in online chess due to the pandemic has exposed a lot of new audience to chess and they would be curious about how they take away anything from it to their life, their kids, their jobs. This book has all..

Here is a synopsis about UNCHESS:

UNCHESS is a Wonderful Set of Easy to Understand Philosophies for Life derived of the Centuries old Game of Chess. Tips on how to Juggle between your Passion, Desires, Courage, Spirit, and Wisdom. The final aim of all of us playing on this board of life is to somehow break out of this board and be free. Freedom of course shall not come in that way, but if we are able to understand the board, and master the play, we shall be able to forget the board. So my Action Play is to let you Rip the Board from under you. So that you can forget the Squares and focus on the Unchess of it. I want you to understand chess in such a simple way that your Life can be UnChessed.

Bobby Fischer Ultimate Chess Set

By Shelby Lohrman, Director at American Chess Equipment 

As all of you should know by now, we here at American Chess Equipment and Wood Expressions are always striving to bring you, our customers, the best products on the market.  If that product is not on the market, we will do our best to make it for you.  In that line, we would like to introduce our New and Improved Bobby Fischer Ultimate Chess Set with the “Infinity” weighting system.

Ever since people have been making weighted plastic chess pieces, there has been a huge problem that no one has ever been able to tackle.  No matter what they did, the weights always loosened up and fell out.  Right now, weighted chess pieces are all made the same way.  Pieces are molded and then they take a weight slathered in super-glue and put it in the bottom of the piece and place a felt over it.

Our revolutionary Infinity weighting system incorporates the weight into the piece itself.  It is near impossible for the weights to loosen up, much less fall out.  How do we do this?  It’s a trade secret.  Let’s just say the is no more glue.

This set is triple weighted and weighs in at 3.8 lbs.  We listened to you and it is now made in off-White/Black.  The box went from corrugated cardboard to a high-end presentation box.

Might we be shooting ourselves in the foot by making chess pieces you’ll never have to buy again?  Maybe, but we feel that is more important to get our customers a quality product that reflects the name on the box.

Product is expected around the first week of December.  Use code:  PREORDERCHESS to get 15% off your pre-order of this item at checkout.  This code is only good for the first 200 sets of the New Ultimates sold.  After that, you will have to pay the retail price of $44.95.


4 Ways We Help Non-Profits

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

As we expand our partnerships with more companies, schools and individual clients, we find it is more important than ever to give back to the community.

These are the four primary ways we do that:

1) Virtual Fundraisers

We are donate 1-hour virtual group lessons for students of all ages and skill
levels to schools and non-profits. Organizations including Rabbi Levi Welton’s Young Professionals organization  and The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey, have recently raised hundreds of dollars through our fundraisers.


2)Silent Auction/ Raffle Donations 

We have donated lessons and silent auction/raffle items for 200+ virtual and in-person fundraisers all around the world. If you have an upcoming fundraiser anywhere in the world, we’d love to donate a virtual group class for up to 10 children or adults, valued at $400.  

3) Silent Auctions at Our Own Tournaments 

Unfortunately due to obvious circumstances, we haven’t ran any in-person tournaments in an a while; however, we have raised thousands of dollars for many great non-profits, including Chess in the Schools, Make a Difference Now, and Metro World Child at our events in the past and looking forward to doing so again in the future when possible.

4)Pro-Bono Teaching

We have limited resources available for pro-bono classes and workshops.

Some examples have been:

If you are a high school or college student or an adult, apply to join us on our 3rd Annual Trip, July 11-18, 2021.

Elective at Metro World Child Summer Camp 

Classes at Pompano Beach Treatment Center and Blair Middle School in conjunction with NSCF 

Virtual Class with Pingnatuk Chess Club in Alaska 

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.