COMPASSIONATE, FRIENDLY, WELL-ROUNDED, INTELLIGENT, LOVING, EASYGOING, INSPIRATIONAL.

Those are seven words I would use to describe our beloved instructor National Master Lev Khariton, who tragically passed away on Monday, November 18 from a stroke. In addition to teaching for us in Jersey City and Manhattan at Jersey City Global Charter School, Waterfront Montessori, Embankment School and Grace Church School, Lev was a jack of all trades, as a father of 3, beloved husband, translator, poet and much more.

My friend Steve Eisenberg, founder of JICNY, emphasizes how one should not judge another person as he has no idea what the other is going through. On Thursday, November 15, Mr. Lemuer Perez, the principal at Jersey City Global Charter School called me, asking if Lev was coming in. It is against our company policy for an instructor to “no-show” to a class so my first reaction was “Oh-no; how can this be?”. Lev did not pick up his phone; I tried calling him several times and by Sunday night I haven’t heard from him. I then checked his daughter’s Facebook page and was shocked to see “Please pray for my father, Lev Khariton” and knew some thing was wrong. When I messaged her, she said “My father had a stroke. He had brain surgery. He is in critical care…” The next day, he passed away.

In February 2018, I needed a replacement Jersey City Instructor so our mutual friend Expert Fedor Khrapatin referred Lev to me. While he obviously has a great knowledge of chess and teaching experience, I was frankly hesitant to hire him at first since he was older and I didn’t think he’d relate to some of the younger children. I knew he would be great for adult classes or private lessons but not necessarily beginner students under the age of 10. However, since he came as a referral from someone I trust more than most people in the chess world and we had a nice interview, I decided to give it a shot. The students at each of the schools he taught, including some Kindergarten and 1st graders, truly loved working with him. When I told the Middle Schoolers at the Grace Church School Elective the other day that he passed, several kids became emotional and said they would be serious in chess in his honor.

I have had the privilege of watching Lev teach a few times in the classroom at Jersey City Global Charter School, Grace Church School and Embankment School. In each class, Lev would instantly grasp the attention of every student, abiding by David Macenulty’s declaration that every single student in a class should be learning. Two years ago I had the privilege of co-teaching a a kindergarten class with David at Dalton. One day he called on a boy to answer a question and the child said “but I didn’t raise my hand.” I laughed when David replied” Is there a rule that a teacher is not allowed to call on a student when he doesn’t raise his hand?”. No child left behind!

In addition to being a loyal, empathetic teacher, Lev was a fascinating guy. I will never the forget the time I agreed to have lunch with him at the local Mexican joint near Jersey City Global Charter School, a few hours I was to present at the Open House. I thought we’d grab lunch and I would have a few hours afterwards to to do some work before going to the school; I was wrong! I was too intrigued learning about his poetry, travels in Russia, Israel, France and the United States ( he’s lived in all four countries), books and experiences teaching former World Champion Mikhail Botvinik English. I had new clue that the guy I hired was so famous.

14 months later, I unfortunately found myself in Staten Island at his funeral, showing you can not take life for granted. To show my gratitude for living each day, I recite the “Modeh Ani” prayer, which thanks Hashem for being alive. His son, brother, college roommate, other friends and I spoke about different aspects of his life; however, we all expressed how he loved teaching and was always compassionate. The rabbi spoke about how it says in the Talmud that a good person is one who controls his anger. Rabbi Mark Wildes, Founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience, shares how the Ramban suggested that we can all become as good and righteous as Moses. While Lev easily could have went into depression after many hardships, including having to work in a dirty hospital for little money, he always realized the glass full. While he may have not passed away with millions of dollars to distribute in his will, (talk to David Weiss of Matt Nolfo and Associates if you need one of those), he was a happy man, who made a difference in the lives of his family, friends, colleagues and countless students.

As we continue to grow company, we will always miss Lev, who was an integral part of our team; I am forever grateful to Fedor Kharaptin for introducing the two of us, as Lev became a great colleague, friend and mentor. I will always remember our lighthearted conversations when he’d laugh when I’d throw in random words in Hebrew and Russian. These are three ways to commemorate Lev:

Lev Khariton
(NM) Lev Khariton playing Chess

A Game Review From One Of Our Readers.

Chess requires practice, and blitz can be part of that. We’ve probably already all heard someone saying that playing quick games is the best way to get worst at chess, or at least not to improve and grasp fundamental concepts that are required to reach new heights. But that’s not entirely true, playing a couple of short games is just as valuable as studying or analyzing other’s games. Indeed we don’t always have so much opportunities to play slow-paced tournament because those usually take at least a couple of days to come about. Moreover serious USCF rated chess events only occur a couple of time a year all over America. On that note one of our beloved readers provided us with one of his latest blitz game, so we could do a quick review and share it with you all. You can do likewise by emailing us too !

Premier Chess At The “2019 Vesuvio Chess Festival”

It was during Evan’s trip to Italy that Premier Chess’ Facebook page hit 7600 likes. He shared a lot of his experience throughout the country through Premier Chess’ social media, that’s why you should all follow us here! He’s played in the strongest section of the tournament. Indeed his two losses were against International Masters, one of which was definitely not one sided. Anyway we want you to witness one of the game that took place during the 2019 Vesuvio Chess Festival.

Evan Rabin at the Vesuvio Open
(NM) Evan Rabin playing chess in Italy

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

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.

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 !

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 !

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).