A Brief History of Chess

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

Chess is one of the oldest games that is still around today. Although no one knows the exact location where the game came from there seems to be a consensus that the game originated in India around the 8th century. However, Persia helped shape the game as well. When you take a look at the chess board you’ll notice that each piece is a character. The Islamic world was vast, but they rejected gambling/gaming. However, when they learned of the game of chess they began playing it.

This was during what the historians call the Islamic Golden Age which began around the time of the creation of chess. During this time the Islamic Empires stretched out into Africa, Asia, and Europe. This allowed for the game of chess to spread quickly in the three continents.

By the 9th century the game came to Russia from Northern Europe. The game quickly spread across the country and people happily adopted the new past time. What was great about chess was that it could be played by anyone in any class. This allowed for the game to really grow during these times and spread throughout the world. In 2019 Russia had schools teach students chess instead of having a third period of physical education.

During the later middle ages the game became very popular in Europe, but it was not until 1851 that the first international tournament was organized.  In 1886 Wilhelm Steinitz, an Austrian-American, became the first world chess champion.

Since then the game has rapidly evolved. In 1924 a few years after the first World War France took initiative and established FIDE, The Federation Internationale des Echecs. Over the last century we have seen many great chess players: Bobby Fischer, Emanuel Lasker, Boris Spassky, Samuel Reshevsky, and many others.

It’s incredible to be able to play a game that was created over 1000 years ago. Even after all this time chess is still one of the World’s favorite past times.

Now Streaming: Premier Chess Twitch LIVE

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura has single-handedly made chess a main-stream activity through his Twitch stream. While Twitch is primarily used by video gamers,  due to COVID-19 and cabin fever, many chess players have started streaming. Several months ago  our Jersey City School Programs manager National Expert Sean Finn  suggested I started streaming. While I thought it would be fun, I did not the see the value in doing it. However, when Former Hong Kong Chess Champion Andrew Koenigsberg   recently told me how many players were on it and how I could build a community. With some intiial guidance from him and some more design work from Liza Orlova, I was able to launch Premier Chess stream.

Thanks to our stream, we have made friends with fellow streamers and fans all around the world. So far, we got two children, including “Ladnayana“, to attend our virtual camp through Twitch.  We would like to thank all the streamers, including FM Anna-Maja, GM Alex Lenderman, Fortuna Chess Coach and GM Benjamin Bok, who decided to become ambassadors for our camp.

Furthermore, I would like to thank these streamer friends who have joined an informal Twitch networking group and have helped one another boost our follower and viewer counts:

  1.  Andrew Koenigsberg, MadQuickChess
  2. Felix Lopez, Chesswithfelix
  3. Angel Lopez, CoachAngelNYC
  4. John Hendrick , ChessCoachJohn
  5. Todd Bryant, StrongChess
  6. William Aramil, DynamicChessInc
  7. Dustin Hopkins, KingsideCoaching

    Follow our stream and send an email to evan@premierchess.com and you can arrange for yourself a complimentary 1-hour virtual private lesson. 

Behind the Game

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

Chess is one of the most popular games in the world. What’s so different about this game is that it is played in every country with the same rules. It’s similar to music as musical notes are the same in every language so is chess. All one needs is a board and the 32 pieces to play the game. No language is required to play the game allowing competitors from any country to play against each other. Chess is a game that brings people together.

Sports are generally associated with certain countries. What’s different about chess is that it is a universal game. Magnus Carlsen is the current Chess World Champion and he is from Norway. Another one of the top chess players in the world, Ding Liren, is from China. Ian Nepomniachtchi is a Russian chess player, while Levon Aronian is from Armenia. These are just a few of the top chess players in the world and they all come from different countries.

The game of chess was created in the 6th century so it seems that the game has spread all over the world. The game doesn’t belong to any country, and the game is not dominated by any country either. It’s a game of critical thinking and can be played by anyone from any background.

If you go to city squares you can find people playing chess on the street. The games brings people together from all sorts of backgrounds. Now as we remain indoors during Covid-19 many players have started playing chess online. You can now play against someone on the other side of the world. Chess is not just a fun game, as it also creates a community, as portrayed in CEO National Master Evan Rabin’s  US Chess travel tips article.

Chess in the Olympics?

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

The last time the Olympic Games were cancelled was in 1940. Japan was going to be the first non-Western country to host the Olympics. However, after Japan declared war on China the games were cancelled.

It has been 80 years since then and the Olympic games have once again been canceled due to the virus. Although the games are not completely cancelled, they will be postponed to a later date.

After the Olympics in Tokyo, the next Summer Olympics is to be held in Paris, France in 2024. A few new sports were proposed to be added to the Olympic Games, one of them being chess.

Recently a campaign was launched to include chess in the Paris Olympic Games in 2024. Due to the campaign FIDE has decided to advocate for chess by nominating it for the Olympic Games. The sports director for the Olympic Games in Paris had criteria for chess to be allowed as a sport. That Chess has a tradition in France and that the game must speak to the youth of France.

However, this is not the first time FIDE has advocated for chess to be a part of the Olympics. Unfortunately chess is not recognized universally as a sport as it does not involve any actual athleticism.

Hopefully with this new criteria proposed by the French Sports Director for the Olympic Games Chess will become a part of the Summer Olympics.

Can you do your job in Space?

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

Ariel Piekes, an IP attorney, wanted to enlighten his colleagues on how passionate they were about their profession. He asked them “can you do your job in space?” While this is meant to be rhetorical it is thought provoking. National Master Evan Rabin, the CEO of Premier Chess immediately knew his answer was “yes.” Doing your job in space is no menial task. Being separate from the rest of the world is an arduous task, but it can be done. Someone who is so devoted to their work and passionate about what they do would be able to accomplish such a task.

Chess would be a difficult board game to play in space. With a low amount of gravity the pieces may have trouble staying in place so a magnetic chess board might be ideal. Although this question is not meant to be taken literally  last week two Russian astronauts aboard a space station played against a chess grandmaster who was on Earth. The astronauts had an electric chess board with them and they played against Sergey Karjakin. They did this in celebration of the first Space-Earth chess game played 50 years prior.

The astronauts managed to end the game in a draw against the grandmaster showing that one can function well while in space. While this story strays from the point it does show the reality of chess in space.

The question also proposes how far one would go to continue their passion. Imagine your profession was no longer able to be performed from Earth, but could only be done in space. Could you envision yourself going onto a space station for months to continue your dream? This would require sacrifices, but most of us sacrifice so we can continue our passion.

To really see how passionate you are about your profession ask yourself this question: Can you do your job in space? This may illuminate for yourself how passionate you are about what you do.

Rating Points On And Off The Board

Let’s say that there is someone who’d be rated around 2000, and who’d want to improve at chess and so to feel a certain increase, in any way, shape or form, in his or her own chess rating. It’s probably normal to feel as somebody whose rating is probably not quite right, or high enough. Like we might have already witnessed a chess player saying that “ratings don’t matter” or that chess blitz is just “more fun”,and not that both statements aren’t just merely emotional and perhaps associated to the fact that usually, the “chess player in question” is just a mere expert, but perhaps that the reason why 2300+ rated players are more likely to consistently outplay 2000+ rated ones are primary associated to the amount of time one’s been putting into learning about his/her game. So let’s say that for someone who would feel like ratings are justifiably used and even more importantly, somewhat representative to his or her understanding of the game, then there might be a specific “chess routine” to develop around our daily habits to be able to better ourselves, through Chess.

  • Puzzles matter

I’m not a great fan at looking at a diagram for hours and going over lines that might never actually occur, but that’s not the main source of my reasoning that leads me into believing that doing puzzle isn’t really the thing that’s going to impact my rating, in any meaningful way at all. As a 2000 player, I try not to rely too much on them but they still come in handy to convert a dominating middle game position into an actual winning endgame.

  • What is winning and what is not?

Based on my rating I might think that I might outplay a, let’s say 2100+ player, right? I mean as far as being 100″ USCF ratings points over my USCF ELO” I could still end up with the more “convenient middle game”.

Well,I believe that whether or not you can memorize plenty of chess openings, chess endgames or just generally chess patterns, tactics show on and off, and it’s not too much about how many diagrams you can shove into your brain cells, but it also comes down to what kind of “chess routine” one follows.

  • But “What Is Chess Routine”?

Well (FM) Mike Klein pretty much said that it’s really not so much about what you know or what you enjoy doing, it’s also what goes on around you and what makes you into what you’ve become. The DOE might allow a certain amount of money, that might benefits one’s learning access into becoming a proficient chess player or not, but as far as being apart of a chess club, or  a school district’s project, you don’t have to just rely on the city’s initiative to naturally hand out money every now and then.

In our case we might once in a while, try out a certain Gambit and beat a 300- lower rated opponent in a certain opening we don’t know so much about, but that doesn’t mean that one truly master it.

That’s why we’re trying to level out the different kind of access one might get as far as being able to learn about chess, rather that just deliberating whether or not one could just get. So there is nothing wrong with practicing puzzles every now and then just to kind of hope to improve on how much we could get done during an actual “OTB” game.

 

 

 

How Does Chesskid Empower Scholastic Chess? With (FM) Mike Klein!

It’s no easy task to stay relevant in the Chess Business nor World, for more than a decade if not just years. Kids grow up, mentalities evolve, for the better or for the worse, but Chess remains one of the most marvelous and perplexing sport. And nobody understands this better than Fide Master Mike Klein, who has been playing chess since he was four years old, and “can’t remember not being able to play chess”. In fact Mike was North-Carolina’s best Junior player, and went on to become a successful and prolific chess teacher as well as chess ambassador of chess.com’s growing interface : Chesskid. What are the shifting behaviors from the components of the Chess Culture and Sport that he’s noticed, and why his association with Chesskid is decisive in bridging the social-economic gaps around the access to Chess educative and learning resources?

Like many others, M. Klein ended up in New York City, trying to follow his passion, and started out working with Chess In The Schools by 2001. Back then he was just a competitive chess player and had no idea what teaching was really like. That’s why he was a perfect recruit for this organization, since Chess In The Schools’s trademark is to basically fabricate professional instructors out of non-teaching chess enthusiasts who just want to understand how teaching work. As as a matter of fact, Mike thinks that if it was not for all that training, he wouldn’t have been as successful as he is today.

In retrospective “there wasn’t many different powerhouses around the U.S” while “nowadays we have really strong programs in Texas, Florida, California, Arizona, Seattle. But back then, even though it was the National Championship each Spring, it was really just a question of which New-York-City school will win.” However he kept on practicing, playing, improving and eventually becoming a FIDE Master, which for those who don’t know, is just one step away from International Master. Even though “Fun Master Mike” didn’t have a lot of “big tournament wins”, he kept up with chess throughout his youth, successfully taking over North Carolina’s high-school chess division, remaining its champion for five consecutive years (1993-1997).

Fast forwarding Master Mike moved back where he grew up to start his “own chess teaching organization, called Young Master Chess and over the years that grew to about 15 schools.” Eventually he started using the Chesskid’s website which wasn’t as completed as it now is, and part of that reason was Mike Klein’s original experimenting with the platform, and spontaneous communicating to its developers. He “was giving the website so many ideas, for features and how to improve, that they eventually they basically hired” him to work on the back end of their product, and develop it into the subtle and ingenious program that it’s become.

Introspectively “nowadays if you’re not a master by ten, then you’re no one” and “there’s probably a chess club in the majority of the elementary schools in New-York-City”. That being said practice makes perfect but daily practice makes better. So “even if you’re in an active club, in order to improve at anything you need to do it more than once per week[..]”. That’s why Chesskid’s role is even more primordial now that Scholastic Chess has become a thing. However kids tend to quit the game when they get to Junior-High or High-School just simply because they’re not as absorbed, challenged and satisfied with the Sport as they were when they first picked up Chess. In some cases they go to their weekly Chess Club, but after a couple of years, their leaning curve slow down and they move on to a different sport.

“Chesskid is just trying to be an auxiliary resource for kids that are already getting coaching once a week, but also to be the main resource if you’re in an area of the world that has no chess culture. We’re trying to level the accessed information just like Magnus Carlsen did, playing online growing up, but for kids.” Perhaps not every chess scholar thrives to become a profusely accomplished chess player, and turn into the next youngest American Chess Master, but “whenever you’re good at something you’re much more likely to stay with it”. Try it out yourself and create your kid his/her own Chesskid account. You can also unlock special features, and support Premier Chess by getting a discounted Gold Membership, just follow this link! We are currently in the process of handing over free Gold memberships to all of our students. Thank you Chesskid, and (FM) Mike Klein for your time and consideration.

Fide Master Mike is a great teacher
(FM) Mike Klein teaching a ChessKid lesson

Unity- On And Off The Board.

When a principal asks me “Why set up a chess program in my school?”, I answer “Within 2-3 months you will see students making a name for their school in tournaments.” Whether we do curriculum classes, after-school club or professional development in a school, we always love to instill a chess culture. We want chess to be what all the ‘cool kids’ in the school are doing. Psychologist Nava Silton shares how unity is one of the main three pillars of happiness. Whether it be at a the pre-school Thistlewaith Early Learning Center, the law firm Kramer Levin, the nursing home Village Care or Uri Secondary School on our Annual Make a Difference Teaching in Africa trip, we love building communities for students ages 3-100.

Often students of all ages are overwhelmed and do not want to play in chess tournaments because they feel they need years of practice and are not ready. I frequently tell them how they should not overthink it as they will never be ‘ready’ if they keep waiting. A few day after my brother and father I taught me how to move the pieces in second grade, I joined Women International Master’s Shernaz Kennedy’s chess club at the Churchill School. A month after that I won first place in my quad at my first tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club. Two months later I was off to the Nationals with the Churchill team. While I wasn’t the most popular kid at school, I enjoyed becoming good friends with all the folks on the chess team. One of those, Fabio Botarelli, owns Chessability, which specializes in programs for special education schools. On that note we also have the privilege of running curriculum classes for 4th-8th graders at one special education school, Summit.

In order for a school to develop a strong chess community, you need four fundamental players:

  • Administration
  • Faculty Advisor
  • Chess Parent
  • Student Ambassador

While you can get a program started with one one or two of those players bought it in, it is imperative to have all four to get it to grow and have a strong number of students playing in tournaments.

To instill chess cultures, we often get creative. One of our instructors Brian Wolff, who also owns a wellness business, decided to create a chess dollars system at Summit. He hand designed dollars with images of famous chess players- Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Magnus Carlsen, etc. Kids now have extra incentive as they try to earn the most and win fun prizes.

While chess has given many benefits, including critical thinking skills, judgement training, and healthy drive for competition, likely the most substantial one has been the community aspect. I have played chess tournaments in 10 countries and have chess friends all over the planet. Next week I am leaving to Rome to play a tournament in my 11th country. Learn more about my chess travels around the globe here.

Off the chess board, community plays a key role in Premier Chess’ Business Development. Many chess companies stick to their own; however we fine the need to have close partnerships with other chess companies, including:

  • Our Official Equipment Vendor, American Chess Equipment
  • Our Preferred Vendor for Online Playing and Practice: chesskid.com
  • Top Level Chess, who we co-host tournaments with

Check out a full list of closest partners, on and off the chess board, here. If you’d like to meet some of them in person, come join me at one of 3 New York networking groups I am part of:

  • Business Networking International Manhattan Chapter 54, Meets every Wednesday from 7-8:30 at Society of Illustrators.
  • Astoria, NY Entrepreneur Club, Meets on one Tuesday and one Thursday each month.
  • Jewish Business Networking, Meets in Midtown East third Thursday of each month.

Email evan@premierchess.com for more information or to visit any of the above networking groups.

Chess Class at The Grace Church Middle School
Discovering new strategies with students

Dr. Nava Silton’s three ingredients to happiness

Two and half years ago Dr. Nava Silton posted in the UWS Mommas Facebook group that she was looking for a chess camp for her son. Several people recommended ours and after a demo lesson and some back and forth, she signed up her two kids Judah and Jonah. Since then, Nava has become a good friend and inspiration. Last week she did an insightful talk about happiness during The Camp Girls’ Shmini Atzeret lunch. According to her, the three main ingredients are unity, giving and fun, which are three fundamentals we abide by.

With few barriers to entry, chess provides unity among age, religion, socioeconomic class, etc. We teach students ages 3-100 of all backgrounds. Whether it be a preschooler at Chabad of Stamford, a lawyer at Kramer Levin or a resident at Village Care, we teach the same business and life values through the game.
Furthermore at our monthly tournaments at Asiam Thai Cuisine, we will often get a mix of students, young professionals and adults. While during the day, we all live very different lives, we come together in the evening due to our mutual passion of chess. I have had the privilege of now playing tournaments in 10 countries; soon that number will be 11 as I play a tournament outside of Naples during Thanksgiving week.

Stephen Spahn, the headmaster of my Alma Mater Dwight, shares how each student should find their “Spark of Genius” and utilize to make a difference in the world; for me it was pretty obvious chess was it. While chess has proved to be a great source of income, it has also been a great way to give back.
There are currently four ways we are doing that:

  1. If you have a fundraiser, please email us as we’d love to donate a chess lesson to silent auction/raffle. If event is in New York City, we will donate a 1-hour group class with CEO National Master Evan Rabin for up to 10 children or adults, valued at $400. If event is anywhere else in the world, we’d love to donate  a 1 hour online private lesson, valued at $90.
  2. Next Thursday, November 7th, Evan Rabin will be one of the co-hosts at the Christodora Gala. In addition to getting a chance to help raise money, you can meet Evan and bid on many great silent auction items, including a group lesson with Evan himself.
  3. At our 1st Annual Premier Chess and Top Level Chess Grand Prix Tournament #2 on November 16, we will be hosting a silent auction to raise money for esteemed chess teacher Juan Sena, who is unfortunately currently suffering from ALS. Email us if you have a product or service you’d like to donate as auction item.
  4. We are actively recruiting for volunteers for our 3rd Annual Make a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa trip; if you are enrolled in high-school, college or adult, consider applying today!

Giving back allows us to be grateful for all that we have. In New York, we do teach in some relatively poor Title 1 public schools; however, they have many more resources; than the private catholic school we teach at down in Tanzania, which lacks simple items like toilet paper. It is also not uncommon to see kids as young as 3 or 4 taking care of their younger siblings.
While we exceed in our professions and give back, it is also important to have some good clean fun. While hard work is crucial, it is important to have a work-life balance and enjoy everything you do. A chess player should not play a tournament purely because it is going to help his career; he should also enjoy it. Likewise, while chess is obviously our main focus at camps, we make it a point to do some other exciting activities, such as a basketball lesson with Hands on Hoops or field trips to The Brooklyn Museum and Janam Tea. While you may think that hour away from work or study is a distraction, the hour spent enjoying yourself having fun will make you be more productive later on.

Everyone on this earth should be happy! While happiness is certainly not an exact science, we should strongly consider following Nava Silton’s three suggestions: unity, giving and fun. If you put a smile on your face, people will notice it and it will have a domino effect.

What Are Some Of The Components Of The Chess Scenery ?

The Candidates Tournament is approaching as we’re getting closer to the end of the year. It will be held in Russia in March-April of 2020. There are several ways to qualify for this throughout various tournaments and other invitations based on statistics and past achievements. For instance Fabiano Caruana is already in since he was the 2018 Word Championship pretender. On the other hand whoever wins the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament, which is actually being held at the Isle of Man, will also secures himself/herself a spot for the Candidates. By the way whoever wins the Candidates Tournament will be challenging the Word Champion for the title of the strongest chess player.

While the end of the year is arriving, qualifications are becoming more and more scarce. In fact two seats will get taken by the top two finishers of the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix, which takes a huge spotlight on the chess world. Indeed the FIDE Grand Prix is series of four chess tournaments and only the strongest players get invited. There is still Hamburg (4-18 November) and Tel-Aviv (10-24 December) left to be played but at the moment Shakriyar Mameyderov and Alexander Grischuk have gotten the most points.

Finally there is a wild card (who is eligible based on past results in some of the qualifying tournaments and picked by the organizer, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is at the moment qualified to be the wild card) and whoever has the highest rating average will also make it there (Anish Giri right now). Obviously the top two finishers at the 2019 World Cup, Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren, have the right to compete for the 2020 FIDE Candidates. Also it is important to discern the Grand Chess Tour with the FIDE Grand Prix. The 2019 Grand Chess Tour regroups a series of 8 tournaments (rapid, blitz and classical events) in which the prize fund is quite major ($1.75 million this year as its 5th Edition increased the participants to 12 and the tournaments to 8). This ongoing event allows specific players (this year the top 3 finishers of the 2018 GCT final standings, top 4 FIDE rated as of January 1st, top 4 based on the average of the 12 monthly FIDE classical ratings for the period from 1 February 2018 until 1 January 2019 and one nominee by the Grand Chess Tour Advisory Board) to play on the International scenery of Chess and get well compensated for their time, while the FIDE Grand Prix, despite having quite a substantial prize pool, rewards the top 2 finishers by allowing them to participate in the Candidate Tournaments.

Who do you think is going to be playing Magnus Carlsen at the end ?