Chess Trivia Post 1: What Came First- Chess or Checkers?

 Jonathan Rothschild, Mayor of Tucson told the students at our Sonoran Science Academy camp last year “You play checkers; I’ll play chess.”

Chess, as I’m sure you all know, is a two player board game a played on a 64 square board, 8 squares on each side, and each players starts with 16 pieces. Checkers is also  a two players board game played on a 64 square board, 8 square on each side, but this time each players begins with 12 pieces, or checkers.

The objective in both of these games are different- in checkers, you need to capture all your opponents pieces until you leave them with no available moves. To the contrary, in chess, capturing pieces you a competitive advantage but you ultimately need to checkmate your opponent’s king to win. Checkmate means the king is in danger and there are no legal moves.

 The other main difference between these two games is that in chess, each piece has it’s own unique move or function, leaving a larger margin for error than checkers, in which the pieces have all the same function unless you are able to move one of your checkers all the way across the board, turning it into a “King”, allowing it to move backwards. Similarly though, in chess, when a pawn reaches the other side of the board, it can promote to a Queen, Bishop, Rook or Knight. 99% of time players will promote to a queen but there a few times when a player will underpromote.

So to answer the question above, what came first, chess or checkers, the answer isn’t chess. The earliest version of chess, called Chaturanga, originated from Northern India around the start of the 6th century. Even though it was not until the 15th century that the game of chess evolved to what it is today. Checkers, however, is much older than chess. Historians believe that the earliest form of checkers was discovered in Iraq and archeologists have used Carbon dating to trace their findings back to 3000 B.C , over 5000+ years ago, whereas was only discovered a 1500 years ago.

So there you have it, the answer to the question we’ve all been waiting for. Tune in soon for more chess-related trivia.

Daniel Mascola
Operations Intern

Seeing a Premier Chess Class for the First Time… (at 10 a.m)

My fellow Premier Chess Intern Janell Warner and I was lucky enough to come view one of Premier Chess’s elective classes at Grace Church Middle School in Downtown in Manhattan this morning. This program is less intensive compared to other programs offered by Premier Chess such as curriculum courses and after school programs. Regardless, the kids are still very skilled for there age at chess and a select few will be participating in tournament this upcoming Sunday the 2nd.

The variety of skill sets among the kids in all these programs do vary, but the amount of fun they have and the knowledge they receive is only exponential, and does allow for the perfect balance between the two.

Chess in general already provides so many benefits to young minds, paired with the positive reinforcement and good rapport between the students and the instructors. Seeing some of the children pretend to be the instructors, even jokingly calling themselves the CEO of the company truly portrayed the connections the teachers make with the students, especially when they refer to them as ambassadors.

What Premier Chess is offering is much more than just a good skillset and knowledge of chess, they are offering a fun, positive, and educational service to children.


Nutrition and Chess

The Right Way To Feed Your Focus
What to eat to boost your critical thinking for your next chess game.
By: Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN
We all know that the brain is kind of a big deal, right?!  It is the control center of your entire body.  It tells us how to move, when to eat, what to feel, and how to think.  Food plays a huge role in keeping our brains healthy and allowing it to function at it’s absolute best.  Food can also improve specific cognitive skills like our abilities to concentrate, focus, remember, and thick quickly. 
And in a mental game like chess where mental cognition is King (get it, King!) the foods you eat can give you the greatest upper hand in outsmarting your opponent.
Here are 5 foods that will boost your brainpower and feed your focus!  Incorporate them into your daily lifestyle to get the maximum brain benefits and especially on tournament day. 
Berries: raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are all loaded in antioxidants called flavonoids. Studies have shown that these flavonoids have help to improve memory and alertness.  Aim to have ½ cup of berries every morning, either mixed into some plain Greek yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies, or have them on the side of your eggs or avocado toast. 
Dark Leafy Greens: think spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, and swiss chard.  This green crew is high in vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, all nutrients that improve mental cognition, improve focus, and prevent cognitive decline.   Make a salad for lunch using spinach and kale as the base, and add any combination of these green to a quick dinnertime stir-fry, or roast some broccoli to use as a side dish for your chicken, fish, or steak. 
Pumpkin Seeds: these little guys pack a serious brain-power punch thanks to the amount of zinc that they offer.  Zinc plays an important role in keeping our cognition on point and boosting memory.
Fatty fish: think salmon, tuna, trout, herring, and sardines. Fatty fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which play a crucial role in brain health, helping to boost focus, alertness, and concentration.  Aim to have fish as 3 times a week.  For lunch, add tuna to a salad or make an open-faced tuna sandwich and for dinner try some broiled and grilled salmon or trout with sautéed or roasted veggies
Walnuts: all nuts are a great source of those omega-3 fatty acids we just talked about, but walnuts in particular have been linked to improving cognitive test scores in a study out of UCLA.   These nutty guys get their added brainpower thanks to specific omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).  Not only does ALA improve cognition and alertness, but is also lowers blood pressure, which helps you to stay cool, calm, and collected while contemplating your next move. 
Extra Pro-tip: make sure you stay well hydrated.   Hydration is key in keeping energy levels up and preventing a sluggish mind and body.  Bring a water bottle and keep filling it up.  If plain H20 isn’t for you, then drink unsweetened tea, either hot or iced. 
And for when you are heading to a tournament, here my top 5 brain-boosting snacks on-the-go: 
  • A banana with walnuts: pack 2 tablespoons of walnuts in a ziplock baggie and toss them into your bag with a banana the combination of omega-3’s from the walnuts. Also this combo of fiber and protein will help to keep you full and satiated. 
  • 1 cup of blueberries with a plain Greek yogurt.  This combo will boost your brainpower and fill you up so that a grumbling stomach doesn’t distract you from beating your opponent. 
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds. You can roast your own or check out these delicious lemon-teriyaki pumpkin seeds that come in a single-serving snack size.  These crunchy guys will give you that needed zinc while also adding some satiating protein to you between turns. 
  • Tuna salad with whole grain crackers.  The night before a tournament, take a 6-ounce can of tuna and mix is up with a little bit of mustard or a touch of mayo, add in some chopped carrots and/or celery and pack it in a container for game day.  Then in a Ziploc bag add in 5-10 whole grain crackers.  This combo is sure to help you win by both boosting your ability to concentrate on the and preventing any hunger vibes from creeping in. 
  • A part-skim cheese stick and 1 cup of sliced strawberries.  This sweet and savory combo will give your energy and focus a boost.  The berries will also help to add in some extra hydration to prevent any sluggishness. 
Keep in touch with Brigitte on Instagram and Facebook or to get healthy recipes and wellness-focused blog posts by visiting BZ Nutrition.   And if you would like to work one-on-one with Brigitte to get your own personalized nutrition plan email

Meditate & Be Super Ready For Your Chess Matches!

Meditation is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

This practice is an effective way to connect mind & body while improving attention and self-awareness, which promotes a healthier and happier life. It can be done by anyone, of any age, regardless of his or her practice level, so that a state of calm and relaxation may be achieved.

These are a few of science-based benefits of meditation: controls anxiety and depression, reduces stress and fear, increases self-confidence and positive emotion, enhances self-awareness and relaxation, helps ignore distractions, lengthens attention span, helps manage ADHD, better sleep, increases memory retention and recall, improves cognitive skills and creative thinking, lessens worries and impassivity, reduces blood pressure, improves breathing and heart rates, increases immune function, and hundreds more.

Therefore, meditation is one of the best ways to enhance mind and brain abilities. With a calm, relaxed and focused mind one can stay in the moment rather than worried about results.

By: Nilcee Kitani Schneider -Meditation & Wellness Coach, Reiki Master and Motivational Speaker. Creator of the M.O.T. (Mother of Twins) Meditation and the OlderWise Programs.

Get to know Nilcee:




Instagram: @Nilcee.Reiki.Meditation

The Art Of Learning Chess

Being a kid I remember being told quite a few times that this was the best instant of my life, and I never knew for sure what they meant, and probably would just nod away whoever was expressing their own bit of bitterness to a child. Looking back, being a chess player myself, I realize that perhaps they were somewhat right. Quite possibly our younger years (12-18) are extremely relevant to what a good part of our life is going to look like. In my case I stopped playing chess at 12 and tried out other sports, and now that I work within the chess industry, I have to catch up the time loss in which I didn’t study chess, so I could become a prolific chess enthusiast again.

I was a somewhat quiet and jovial kid, started coming regularly to the chess club of my hometown at an early age (so early there weren’t any tournaments available for me yet), and eventually went through the different stages of basic understanding of Chess. Once I knew how to move the pieces, I was able to remember certain openings and basically gain 100 rating points every year. I was 12 years old and one of the higher rated of my category in my country, but I stopped training, competing and improving in any meaningful way.

Our destiny isn’t predefined, or at least I like to think mine isn’t. So every effort put into a positive direction will come back at you, and brighten your life, at some point. On the other hand, laziness and not getting involved within our community might have a tremendous impact on the dynamic of your future. Now that I am an adult, I still believe I can start learning again and investigating the sport of chess again, while self-consciously noticing and realizing the different course of actions that my learning curve is taking.

For kids attending chess programs, we want them to realize that on their own. With time, patience, kindness and the right mindset we teach them the way of life while learning how to get chess. Once they get there, that’s when their mindset becomes of the utmost importance. You can show a group of kids an opening, or even a game, and hand them over more knowledge than 10 hours of private lessons could. It’s possible, everything kind of is.

Memorizing, Understanding And Drawing Conjectures

At a job interview I’d set up two different positions. My interviewer asked me to come up with a lesson plan, or at least something that they could learn from. After quickly introducing ourselves we set those up (see below). Black’s arrangement is the same in both diagrams, but White’s one differs a little. In one he’s already castled while in the other he’s not, and the c2 pawn is occupying the c4 square.

Black can play e5

[fen flip=true csl=Yc4,Ye1 cal=Ye7e5]rnbq1rk1/ppp1ppbp/3p1np1/8/2PPP3/2N2N2/PP2BPPP/R1BQK2R b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

If you know a little bit about the King’s Indian then you probably know why playing e7-e5 is fine here. White is controlling that square twice and you are defending it only once. However Black’s dark-squared Bishop is x-raying the h8-a1 diagonal. So if White goes pawn grabbing, Black will be able to play Nxe4, at the right moment, and get his pawn back with an equal position.

Black shouldn’t play e5

Why is Black unadvised to play that exact same move here ? Isn’t the g7 Bishop still there, ready to jump into the game at the right moment ? He surely is but White has castled and his c2 pawn is still on c2.

[pgn flip=true navigation_board=above]
[SetUp “1”]
[FEN “rnbq1rk1/ppp1ppbp/3p1np1/8/3PP3/2N2N2/PPP1BPPP/R1BQ1RK1 b – – 0 6”]
[PlyCount “9”]
[SourceVersionDate “2019.11.18”]

6… e5 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Qxd8 Rxd8 9. Nxe5 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 Bxe5 {[%csl Rb8,
Rc8,Rf6,Yg1,Rg7,Rh6][%cal Gc2c3,Yc1g5,Ye2c4] Compared to the first diagram, where White’s King wouldn’t be castled and his c2 pawn would be on the c4 square, here White stands better. Black got his pawn back but Black is not quite developed yet and White’s pieces can get positioned optimaly. The fact that White’s c2 pawn is still on his starting square is a big deal. Not only
we can move it to c3 (which will protect the d4 square) but it also doesn’t
restrict our light’s square Bishop’s prospect.} *

Frank’s late pal, Pal Benko

Frank is a chess player. He participated in the Bankers Athletic Leagues quite a while ago. Now he harbors New-York, spreading his own memories and vision of the world through lengthy and insightful conversations. We had the chance to encounter him at the Chess Forum, a vibrant shop where chess amateurs come and go and usually play blitz games. So what about Pal Benko ?

Benko was famous as the man who, in 1970, stepped aside for Bobby Fischer to enter the World Championship Cycle. But he was also praised and recognized as an innovative opening theoretician, endgame genius and a brillant problem solver. Born in Amiens, France in 1928 to a vacationing Hungarian family, Benko grew up in Budapest, Hungary. The memorable chess player received an invitation to the 1957 World Student Team Championship in Iceland, where he played on the first board. That’s when a new chapter of his life begin as he decided to walk into the American Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland and asked for asylum.

At first working as a mutual fund salesman, it didn’t take him long to get back to his first calling. Indeed Pal Benko started making a living with chess, and back in the 60’s it was much easier said than done. The prizes were definitely not as important as they are today, at least for major international events. Anyway the reborn chess master was thriving and even set a record winning 4 U.S. Chess Open in a row (1964-1967). His most famous game was a loss, against Fischer in a game during the 1963 U.S. Chess Championship during which the audience was stunned by Bobby’s 19th move.

[fen cal=Gf1f6]r3qr1k/pp3pbp/2pn4/7Q/3pP3/2NB3P/PPP3P1/R4RK1 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

In his career, he also devoted a lot of his time to writing chess articles. For instance he was a long-time columnist for Chess life from 1971 to 1981. Moreover he and the Polgar family have had an everlasting friendship, as they all live in Hungary at some point and would go on vacation together. He was also a long-time trainer and mentor of the Polgar sisters, so no wonder they’ve been so successful. Susan Polgar visited him in Hungary shortly before he passed away. Chess grandmaster Pal Benko lives on through his books, columns and games.

Perception of your own position.

Our chess’ knowledge is somewhat representative of our strength over the board. Knowing opening moves, remembering how to convert a theoretically winning endgame into an actual victory, and turning a somewhat better position into a favorable game are some of the aspects that assess a player’s skills. But what happens when we fall into our opponent’s preparation, or if the game just shifts in a variation that you aren’t quite so familiar with ? Understanding a position that you have never even encountered is what chess is about too. Having the right mindset, experiences and instinct to properly evaluate what you can’t do, if not what you must play !

[fen flip=true csl=Rd4,Gf3,Gc3,Rc6,Rb6,Rc5 cal=Gd1a4,Yd2f3]r1b1kb1r/pp1n1ppp/1qn1p3/2ppP3/3P4/2PB1N2/PP1N1PPP/R1BQ1RK1 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

You’re looking at a variation of the French reached via the Tarrasch. White opted for a line in which his d4 pawn seems to be hanging. Black doesn’t necessary have to capture it, but a lot of players do while thinking their opponent just blundered. Let’s see what that get them into !

[fen flip=true cal=Ya2a3,Yc1e3,Ga4e8]r1b1kb1r/pp1n1ppp/1q2p3/3pP3/Q7/3B1N2/PP3PPP/R1B2RK1 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

White just dropped a pawn but that’s not all of it. First of all White’s development is really simple and while he’s already castled and only one move away from connecting his rooks, Black is still a couple of tempo away from doing likewise. Black’s most consistent answer seems to be Qb4, harassing White’s Queen (that you’d never want to trade at this stage of the game), since letting her sit on the 4th rank could allow a possible Queen lift to the kingside, that may be really dangerous for Black if well timed. Now let’s see how wrong can things go for Black if not assimilating the ins and outs of his own game (Black should focus on developing its queenside pieces for now, after throwing in a Qb4).


[Event “Madrid Oliver Gonzalez Memorial 1st”]
[Site “Madrid”]
[Date “2010.10.14”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Fedorchuk, Sergey A”]
[Black “Anton Guijarro, David”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C06”]
[WhiteElo “2671”]
[BlackElo “2403”]
[SetUp “1”]
[FEN “r1b1kb1r/pp1n1ppp/1q2p3/3pP3/Q7/3B1N2/PP3PPP/R1B2RK1 b kq – 0 12”]
[PlyCount “36”]
[EventDate “2010.10.09”]
[EventType “swiss”]
[EventRounds “9”]
[EventCountry “ESP”]
[SourceTitle “CBM 138 Extra”]
[Source “ChessBase”]
[SourceDate “2010.10.29”]
[SourceVersion “1”]
[SourceVersionDate “2010.10.29”]
[SourceQuality “1”]

{[%evp 0,59,30,27,30,36,36,7,7,11,11,11,11,11,11,-5,9,20,16,16,16,16,8,14,14,
292,280,289,291,315,410,432,440,492,487,492,487,482,492,493] [#]} 12… Be7 13.
Be3 Qb4 14. Qc2 Nc5 15. Bxh7 Bd7 16. Rac1 Rc8 17. Qb1 Bb5 18. Rfd1 g6 19. Rd4
Bc4 20. Bxg6 fxg6 21. Rcxc4 Qxc4 22. Rxc4 dxc4 23. Qxg6+ Kd7 24. Nd4 a6 25. f4
Rhf8 26. f5 exf5 27. e6+ Kd8 28. Nxf5 Rf6 29. Qg8+ Rf8 30. Qh7 1-0


In Case You Missed it- Jim Egerton’s Business on the Board Talk at UBS

In Case You Missed it- Jim Egerton’s Business on the Board Talk at UBS
Thanks to all who showed up for our Business and Finance Event at UBS in Midtown Manhattan last evening! In case you missed it, here’s the full video of National Master Evan Rabin’s introduction, Business on the Board CEO Jim Egerton’s talk and Rabin’s World Championship Update:

Business and Finance event at UBS!

Posted by Premier Chess on Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hypnosis and the Art of Chess Learning

So how is hypnosis related to chess and how can it help in learning the game?

Hypnosis works by bypassing your “critical factor” or analytical mind in order to access your subconscious mind which is the seat of all behavioral change. It can help facilitate learning on all levels by tuning into how you learn and process new things and how your way of learning is different than your teammates or opponents. Some of us may be more dominant visual, auditory, kinesthetic or even “auditory digital” in the ways we learn. Bringing awareness to your dominant way of learning or “representational system” will help you know how to us use your dominant method of learning to your advantage to achieve even higher levels of learning. You have heard the expression “super-learner”. Well you can become one when you explore some of the many menu items hypnosis has to offer.

Now I mentioned “bypassing the critical above” and you may be wondering what that is. How many times have you been emotionally moved by a movie? Maybe you even laughed or cried at the movie, or seen Spiderman climb up the side of a building. Now we know that the sequence of pictures passing in front of a projector screen is not real, yet in order to enjoy the experience and get involved, you allow yourself to suspend the conscious judgement and critical faculties of the mind and accept the imagery of the movie as real. This is a glimpse into how hypnosis works.

Some of the learning techniques in hypnosis will take your through the four phases of mastery:
1. Unconscious Incompetence – You do not know that you do not know (I don’t even know
the rules and strategies in Chess and I do not know that I don’t even know)
2. Conscious Incompetence – You know that you do not know ( I don’t know what rules or
strategies to implement but I am aware that I don’t even know)
3. Conscious Competence – You know and act consciously (more intermediate/advanced
levels as you are still learning to feel ease and focus with it)
4. Unconscious Competence – You know and act subconsciously (here your chess playing is
flowing naturally because you are not even thinking about it but the “technique” is there)

In addition to helping you tune into and access your dominant way of learning, hypnosis can help you with eye focusing techniques designed to expand your awareness and relax your nervous system. When you think of hypnosis you may think of slowing down which does happen but it is a process of active imagination as well so you will feel more energized, awake and alive after a session. Hypnosis has no side effects and can help with ADD, ADHD, cravings, anxiety, stress, peak performance and lots more.