How to Make Staying Inside Safe and Fun for Kids

By Amy Collett, Founder of Bizwell

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Having children home from school or daycare means finding ways to keep them entertained throughout the day. This can be a major challenge, especially for parents who are trying to work from home. Often, it feels like the only option is putting them in front of a screen. However, many parents feel guilt and worry that their little ones are not getting the stimulation they need to stay healthy.

Here are a few (mostly) screen-free ways to keep kids occupied throughout the day:

Learn Chess from Premier Chess

Have some messy fun with finger paint.

Build a pillow fort.

Do these science experiments with household items.

Teach them to cook.

Take advantage of the benefits of classical music by setting aside daily personal listening time.

Avoid boredom with these boredom busters for teens.

Let them enjoy some screen time.

Children can get restless and bored easily, but having a stock of great activities on hand keeps them (and you) sane. When your kiddos start getting stir crazy, turn to one of the fun items on this list and see if they have a fun time with it. Make a note for particularly successful games or activities to bring out again at a later date. Before you know it, you will have something to turn to anytime your kids need something to do!

 

Planning in Chess and Cybersecurity

By Uri Rozenblat, Founder and CEO of Tech-Alert

Chess and cybersecurity have many similarities. Whether you are a business owner, employee, a mother, a father, or an individual at home, your goal is to protect your most valuable asset. In chess, you call that asset, the king.

In cybersecurity, it is your business, home, family, identity, etc.

Hackers and other malicious players are your opponents, trying to capture your king through sophisticated thought-out attacks. In chess, the game is mostly for fame, but in life, it’s usually for money or other malicious intent.

You know what a Pawn is. Do you know what it means to “have been Pwned?”

Check out this helpful free tool related to protecting your identity.

Did you know that today, information is worth more than oil? Your data and sensitive information are worth a lot of money.

Core concepts in chess or cybersecurity are to protect ourselves, detect the next attack, and respond quickly to foil our opponent’s attack.

In short, protect, detect, and respond are a must if we are to survive.

Protect:  people have anti-virus and at least one person they consider their IT expert. Your mindset is I AM SECURE; the reality is that it’s A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. Having a tool (anti-virus) that provides some security does not fully protect you. So, you have an anti-virus and IT person…

When was the last time you looked at your anti-virus log?

And, let’s say you opened the log and read some IT gibberish; what does it mean?

I don’t know IT all. Who is your expert security team with the experience to help with what you have to do next?

Detect and protect is where most of us fail. We live with a misconception that tools will protect us. A tool without someone to wield it is not very effective and mostly even useless. If you are that expert, that’s great, but most of us need real experts to protect and respond quickly to threats, just as chess players need good coaches to get to the next level.

Learn more about how Tech-Alert can help protect individuals and businesses alike here. Tech-Alert is one of our esteemed corporate partners. 

 

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 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.

 

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.

Impromptu Snow Day Camp Update

By Sophie Lee, Operations Intern

Old-Fashioned 'Snow Days' Still A Thing In Marblehead | Marblehead, MA PatchKids all along the East coast are rejoicing as a massive snowstorm hits, resulting in a snow day for many. However, snow days aren’t what they used to be as many parents already work from home and must continue to do so despite the inclement weather. Premier Chess CEO, National Master Evan Rabin, made the last-minute decision to offer an impromptu Snow Day Camp for students in PreK-8th grade and we ended up getting 30 registrations so far. Like our winter virtual classes, the camp is taking place over Zoom, making it accessible to students in a variety of locations. The camp offers students an opportunity to learn from coaches, play in tournaments, and socialize with other students. There was a large turnout for the morning session and the afternoon session starts shortly, at 1 pm, and will go until 4 pm.

Today our students a nice exercise break with our podcast guest Joshua Margolis, Founder of Mind Over Matter Fitness.

Stay posted to see which special guests may lead breaks this afternoon and tomorrow.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children can not just go play in the snow with friends like they normally would on a snow day, so the camp offers a way to keep students entertained and mentally stimulated while school isn’t in session. There is still time to sign up for the afternoon session today and second day tomorrow, sign-ups can be found here. We hope everyone is staying warm and safe, and hopefully, everyone can all play a game of chess while snowed in.

Partnership with The Chess in Education Coalition

By Sophie Lee, Operations Intern

Premier Chess is excited to announce that we have recently joined The Chess In Education Coalition (CIE). We are glad to be growing our partnerships and to be a part of this wonderful coalition. CIE’s mission is to “create awareness of chess as an educational tool and to provide resources for the education community”. 

Chess in Education

Our CEO, National Master Evan Rabin, recently spoke to Jerry Nash, National Chess Education Consultant with Chess in Schools, on his podcast where they spoke about chess and education.

We are very proud to be partnering with this wonderful organization. We also look forward to helping in spreading the word about the power of chess as an educational tool. Stay tuned for a virtual fundraiser we are hosting to raise money for the organization.