Twas the Day of the Chess Tournament

 

By our 38th Podcast Episode Guest and Author Molly Coy, Founder of Coys Camps and Classes 

Set to the rhythm of The Night Before Christmas,  Twas The Day of the Chess Tournament is the story of a team’s first time playing in a chess tournament. While it is a fictional story, the actions and feelings do occur with new chess players on a regular basis. This is the perfect story to give a child embarking on their first chess tournament although it would also be good for kids reflecting on their first tournament. Coach Coy is based on I, who believes healthy competition is important while still maintaining a great overall attitude. She also believes that chess is a great way to facilitate important life skills as well.

Sales is a Chess Game

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Before founding Premier Chess, I co-founded Pillar Sales, a sales outsourcing firm and closed deals upwards of 5 million dollars at Oracle and Rapid 7. When I would interview for new roles, hiring managers would often ask me the common question “Why do you like being in sales?” When I answered because I liked the analytical nature of it, my interviewers most often would not believe me, thinking I was just interested in the money. To the contrary, sales is analytical like a chess game. In both sales and chess, one should look for low-hanging fruit, recognize the process and review his games.


One of the biggest takeaways I got from my sales training at Oracle with Bill Petersen is that one should always look for the low-hanging fruit. When a sales representative first receives as territory, it can be overwhelming as he has lots of account and does not know where to start. While it may be tempting to go after the ‘whales’, the companies with the most revenue that may have a lot of buying power, it is best to go after one’s install base, identifying opportunities for his customers to upgrade where needed. Likewise, in a chess game, the goal of a chess game is checkmate, as that is the only way to win a game. However, one cannot blindly attack and aim for checkmate if the position does not justify such a plan. One should always look for his opponent’s weaknesses and determine an applicable plan.


For instance in this position, white would not go for a king side attack as black’s king is relatively safe. On the other hand, he would try to move his knight to c4 to put more pressure on the backward d6 pawn.

A chess game and sales both have distinct processes. In the opening of a chess game, a player develops his pieces, controls the center and castles to prepare for the middlegame. Likewise, in the beginning of the sales process, discovers budget, ability, need and timeline and identifies an opportunity. In the middlegame, a player  excecutes a plan, while a sales representative offers a proposal and negotiates. In the endgame, a player tries to increase his advantage to get a winning position, as a sales person tries to close a deal.

                                                                                                                                                                            In chess and sales, it is important to always analyze your mistakes and figure out what you can do better. The good thing about a chess game and a sales deal, is there is always another one. My former Vice President at Oracle Kevin Mcgee used to often say “there is only one way to overcome a lost deal- to go find another one.” To better on the next sale or game, one should objectively figure out his areas of improvement, whether it be in the opening, middlegame or endgame.


While there is no question one has to have a drive to make money to be sucessful in sales, an analytic mindset can also help. Whether you or sales person, entrepeneur or other revenue generating employee, chess can help. Off and on the board, look for the low-hanging fruit, recognize the process and review your games, and you will be sucessful.

 

Strategy in Chess and Business

By Jill Valdez, Founder and COO of Link Consulting

‘There sits on my shelf a beautiful wooden chess set. The box has some nicks on it, a couple of pieces are missing the felt bottom. But there it is for all who visit to see.  “Why would it be out on display?” you may ask.  It sits there because of the sentimental value.  It once belonged to my husband’s father, and it holds memories of a precious relationship solidified by many years of playing chess together.  My husband remembers with great fondness the patience his father showed when teaching him the game.  And he remembers with great pride the first time he legitimately beat his father.  There were conversations that took place over a game of chess that might have been missed otherwise.  Words of wisdom and encouragement, gratitude and love, were exchanged over that board.  So of course, this old chess set sits on display!

Sadly, this old chess set does not get used as much as it used to.  My husband has tried to teach me the game, and I simply flounder.  I know what all the pieces are, I know the rules of the game, but he beats me every time!  And it’s not because I’m not interested – chess is fascinating to me and I could watch people play for hours!  When “The Queen’s Gambit” came out on Netflix, I was jealous of her skill and ability to master this game.  I’m an intelligent person, but there seems to be a block in my brain when I start to play chess.

This is the same type of block that happens for many of my clients when they are trying to solve the puzzle of how to meet business goals.  In chess, a player – as my husband has told me- has moves already created in their mind.  If their opponent moves a piece in a certain spot, the player already knows what move they will make to counteract it.  The flaw of this thinking for business owners and managers is that they continue to make the same move, regardless of the outcome.  They don’t always assess the situation for new opportunities and adapt their next steps accordingly.  It’s like a player who only uses one chess piece and then plunges to a rapid loss because they don’t know what to do when they lose that piece.

Despite my failings at chess, I am very good at business strategy, with a twist.  Just as a master chess player can assess a board and think 6 steps ahead to a victory, I can look at a business and assess what the obstacles are and provide a strategy to overcome those obstacles resulting in new opportunities. But I’m not looking at marketing or processes or any of those classic fundamentals.  My focus is on what is actually happening when the people are working.

As a chess player does, I’m looking at the pieces that make up the organization.  I’m looking at roles, and the people who occupy those roles.  I’m looking at how they interplay with each other.  I look at management that is moving those pieces around.  The question that is asked, “Is the right person in the right role?”.  In other words, is the Knight where it needs to be to guard the Queen?  Is the Pawn out of the way so that the Bishop can attack?

My clients get the opportunity to reset the board.  I remind them of what pieces they need, what the characteristics of those pieces are, and how to best activate them for a victory.  People who work with me are taught how to best interact with each other, and to lead a team with minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, and low turnover.  They are given the strategy to motivate their employees to be their best in order for the company to win.

As exhilarating as it is for a chess player to implement their best strategy for a victory, I get the same rush when working with business owners and managers to improve company culture, teaching staff how to best communicate with each other and their clients, directing managers to effective hires, and so much more.  Just as a chess player loves setting up the board for a new game against a worthy opponent, I love teach strategies that will develop employees from average to amazing, bringing more certainty to the future, without service disruption.

All this talk of chess has inspired me to give it another go.  Perhaps this time I might be able to break the mental block and actually present a challenge to my husband?  And I hope you are inspired to learn more how to get your amazing team members in place!  Email me at jvaldez@linkconsulting.info to learn tips you can start today.

Thank You All for the Downloads on Our Podcast Downloads

Thank You For 3000 Downloads!

We would like to thank you all and show our immense gratitude for the support that you have given to the Premier Chess community. We have reached a great feat of 3000 downloads on our podcast with CEO and National Master Evan Rabin and cannot even begin to express how much that means to us. Premier Chess will continue to look to you all for support and provide all that we can to make your chess experience a little bit better. Thank you guys once again!!!

*** We also had the pleasure of winning Best Podcast 2021 by the Chess Journalists of America!”

Queens Gambit Review Pt2 (Major Spoilers)

By Somaiya Ahmed, Summer Intern

Ep.2: “Exchanges” 

 

Episode Two of “Queens Gambit” takes us a few years into the future. Beth is now a teenager moving into her first home. She experiences insecurity trying to adapt to the changes of her new environment; however, she finds positive and negative ways to cope.  

 

This episode previews the beginning of Beth’s chess career while displaying her ongoing issues with addiction and loneliness. There is a lot of storytelling which calls for an array of camera shots to commemorate.

 

Down below I have analyzed three of my favorite shots from episode two, commenting on their cinematic elements. Check it out! Also don’t forget to check out the chess glossary too! 

 

Timestamp: 3:15

 

Beth and Jolene together, looking out the window. Jolene smokes a cigarette while Beth looks out endearingly. The lighting is cast towards Beth, spotlighting her viewpoint while Jolene is half lit. The two characters are positioned together in a wide shot. Feelings of nostalgia and hope are ever present as we watch the two grace the screen. 

Timestamp: 30:25

 

An overhead shot of Beth staring into the ceiling as chess pieces appear rapidly. Beth’s half lit face displays a sense of eeriness due to the unnatural splitting of light; however, the lighting communicates a supernatural event taking place. The cinematic and graphic work done here effectively constructs Beth’s mental world, a place in which chess dominates. 

 

Time Stamp: 52:21 

 

A haunting shot of Beth staring into a window reflection of her deceased mother. The camera racks its focus from Beths to the dreary look of her mothers eyes.The dim blue lighting is paired with a soft gaussian blur, providing feelings of melancholy. A shot that speaks of many feelings. 

 

Chess Glossary: click the hyperlinks to learn more about the chess terms and ideas mentioned in episode 2! 

 

Sicilian Defense 

 

Modern Chess Openings: Walter Korn (book)

Business on the Board

By Evan Rabin, CEO of PremierChess

In May, I kicked of a Premier Chess Program at a middle school at an impoverished neighborhood in Brownsville, NY by asking “Why Play Chess.” I got some typical answers, including “It’s Fun.”, “It helps you think” and “Competition is fun.” They were shocked how I explained the white and black plastic pieces could be used as a vehicle to help them get into high school, college and a good career. I then explained to them how chess has influenced me to become a critical thinker, get into enterprise sales at Oracle and Rapid7, cofound a sales outsourcing startup Pillar Sales and ultimately form Premier Chess, which teaches life lessons through the game for all ages and levels for organizations ranging from Thistlewaith Early Learning Center to Grace Church School to the law firm Kramer Levin to the nursing home Village Cares. If you’ve met with me recently, I’ve probably showed you my copy of Jim Egerton’s Business on the Board (2016), which illustrates the tactical and strategical lessons business leaders could learn through the game. Here are some of the highlights:

 

 

“Contextual leadership is ….Transformational in the Opening (Andrew Gove of IBM)…. Situational in the Middlegame (military leaders)…. Results-Basedin the Endgame (Bill Gates)”(15).A good leader has a blend of these qualities and could adapt to all of these qualities. The opening of a chess game is like a brand new startup that is innovative and changing the marketplace. In the middlgame, one has to evaluate the position given his success or lack thereof in the opening and determine whether he should keep the status quo or go for complications. Finally in the endgame, one has to take his advantage and convert it to a win as a sales rep needs to close a deal. 

 

To demonstrate the importance of transformational leadership, one could compare the first two months of my stints at Oracle and Rapid7. At Oracle, it took me 2 months to get a territory and another to get an official . To the contrary, at Rapid7, I knew on my interview process that I  was going to be on the State, Local and Education team and a few days after I started that I was going to cover the Northeast. Rapid7 used the basic opening principle of  “creating an organizational environment with every piece contributing in fewer than twelve moves.”(24). 

 

One also learns that each piece needs to have its own job and that every move needs to have a purpose. Every single move in the opening should be related to developing a piece, controlling the center or castling to make the king safe. My team at Oracle (which covered Infrastructure sales in Eastern Canada) illustrates this concept well as we divided and conquered with our expertise of sales. Another young sales rep Jake and I were the team experts on prospecting. We looked up to Mike for operations advise. Herb, who became promoted to our manager, was the expert on legal and pricing conversations. Diane was the “go to” for teaming agreements. 

 

Situational leadership occurs as chess players orchestrate their strategic plans and related tactics. Grandmaster Alexander Kotov says, “ It often happens that a player carries out a deep and complicated calculation but fails to spot something elementary right at the first move”(60). This is exactly why we tell students before making a move, they should also do a blunder check, making sure they don’t miss anything that is obvious. Sales people will often get “happy ears” and invest a lot of time into a deal thinking it would definitely come in without doing any basic research. I made this mistake when working a non-existent deal with a bio-tech company in Ontario while at Oracle. Without doing enough research about BANT in the beginning (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline), I built great rapport with my champion at the company and decided to give them a loaner unit for a month. Towards the end, my engineer and I realized he was just trying to spin our wheels and use our engineered system for R and D. 

 

 

In World War II, Stalin and Roosevelt famously allied because they had the common enemy of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Likewise,   “In 199 Elon Musk’s X.com and Peter Thiel’s Confinity were locked in a heated battle to be the first company to supply eBay with an electronic payment system…. Rather than risk the possibility of losing it all, its perfectly acceptable in chess to offer your opponent a draw.” Rather than neither party getting the solution first, Musk and Thiel decided to merge their companies.  

 

One of the craziest aspects of working at Oracle is the internal competition you face as a sales rep. In addition to competing with IBM, Dell, HP, Cisco, etc. Oracle servers reps have to compete with many of Oracle’s product lines, including the storage team, cloud team, etc. One of the biggest deals I closed at Oracle was for the 407  ETR, a privately owned highway, which goes from Ontario to Quebec. The client ws looking into one of Oracle’s flagship products, the Oracle Database Appliance, which has an option for additional storage capacity, and ZFS storage, which was sold by another team. Many of my colleagues thought I should work independently and try to sell the client the additional storage capacity so I would get a bigger deal size but in the end working closely with the storage rep proved to be valuable as we closed a deal for $600,000 CAD in servers and $400,000 CAD in software.

 

“Strategy is all ways there; it’s the tactics that come and go.” (60) In chess, it is not only important to understand all the different types of tactics but its important to be able to intuitively feel positions and see when tactics are in the air. Likewise, most professionals need to be able to develop a strong intuition and judgement skills. A sales person needs to know how to respond to  surprises on the phone, a lawyer needs to know how to respond to a judge in a trial, a managerial accountant needs to give quick advice on decisions like build vs. buy. Similarly, in a chess game, the player needs to decide whether he is going to develop his pieces normally or “buy” a lead in development by gambiting a pawn or two. Kevin McGee, a Senior Vice President at Oracle once told my team “You are usually not going to get a customer to buy something when he doesn’t need it but you could get creative and escalate timeline”.  I started trying methods like reverse timelining and developing  interesting price structures. 

 

“In business and in chess, you can beat your competition if you know your landscape better than your opponent.”(230). Both business and chess requires a combination of analyzing historical data and thinking of your own ideas on the board. 

 

When I was at Rapid7, one of the action items was looking at current and lost business opportunities in the pipeline. There was one opportunity with a a gentleman who manages IT for a county in upstate New York. My colleague who previously managed the account, wrote that the guy was waste of a time with no budget; he confirmed this in person. However, I took what he said with a grain of salt and reached out to the prospect. We built rapport and a few months later I closed a deal with him after he received Cyber Security grant from New York State. 

 

When students play openings and endgames they’ve already learned before, they will often rush and not pay enough attention. A few weeks ago I taught a private student a new line in the French defense (1.e4, e6.) I then had him regurgitate  the line and purposely played a slightly different move order, testing to see if he would notice the change. As expected, he quickly played the same response as in other variation and ended up quickly getting a big disadvantage. 

 

A player will also get a financial loss if they mishandle a threat. “Three scenarios can happen… [he] can underestimate the threat by not seeing it….nail the threat by understanding it and taking appropriate action to diminish any damage….[or] overestimate the threat by thinking the situation is the worst.” In each of these methods to respond to threats, a player can go wrong, whether in chess or business.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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International Chess Day

By Josue Peralta, Summer Youth Intern

International Chess Day begins on July 20th and was started back in 1966. The day was voted in by the UN counsel and was agreed upon unanimously as to encourage more people to play chess around the world and to celebrate the start of FIDE (World Chess Federation) . It was proposed by the UNESCO after FIDE began as the organization was established since they manage and organize games from around the world.

Chess itself goes farther back than that with players spanning the many years it has been played, so it has been some time since chess has gained some global and official recognition from. Chess has came up from being a game people used to pass the time or to out smart their opponent to being a world competition. Recently the FIDE World Cup has been going on during the day of July 20th in remembrance of International Chess day as many strong chess players from around the world compete for the title and world champion.

Today International Chess Day is celebrated by 178 countries around the world and all under FIDE supervision all the 178 countries at least have majority of their population play chess at some point in their lives.

Leah Zimmerman, Connecting Chess

By Leah Zimmerman, Intergenerational Resolving Conflict Expert

I was 11 watching my grandfather play chess with his brother-in-law, his sister in law’s husband. 

We were up in the Catskills where my family spent summers together. Somedays I was just bored enough to sit and watch for a while. 

They both sat there motionless looking at the board. Occasionally their eyes flicked upward or glanced at the clock. 

While they didn’t open their mouths, I could tell from the energy in their arms when they moved that they were feeling different things and responding to each other. 

Immediately after a move, one might widen his eyes, another might twitch his mouth. 

It was a lot like a conversation. Only with chess moves. 

Even if I had been sitting and watching, their conversation when the game was over felt like intruding into an intimate dialogue. I never really knew what they were talking about, and it sounded like a foreign language to me. 

Now, as an adult expert on conversations, I realize that in many ways that when they were playing Chess, they were having a conversation. We think that conversations happen through words and get caught up in the surface meaning of what we say. 

But, the true impact of a conversation lies in the moves that are hidden beneath the surface. 

When someone opens the conversation with an enthusiastic, “Hi!! How ARE you!! It’s been so long!!” it immediately brings a certain energy and expectation to the other person. 

Typically, the other person will counter with a reciprocal move, “Yes!!! So great to see you!!” 

The first line is an opening and the second line is a response that keeps the energy going. 

Imagine what would happen if the response instead was, “No, I just saw you last week. What are you talking about?” 

That would be a conversation move that changed the whole energy of the conversation. 

How would you counter that latter move? 

Would you take on the speaker’s countering tone and challenge them back? 

Would you let it go? 

Would you respond with a hearty, “Lol!!! It doesn’t matter! It just feels so good to see you!” and give a big hug? 

Those are all conversational moves that represent different conversational strategies. 

Here is another example: 

Your mom yells at you for leaving your dirty dishes in the sink (or is that only my mom?).

How do you respond? 

Do you blame her for a messy kitchen and that you needed to get out of there fast? 

Do you apologize and tell her she was right. Maybe you should go do that now. 

Do you silently walk away? 

My mom could get tense like this when a lot of us were visiting her small kitchen at the same time. I just calmly looked at her and said, “Mom, what’s wrong? How can I help?” 

Can you see how each possible response affects the trajectory of the conversation? 

I call these differences conversational moves. 

We always have a choice as to how we respond, and how we counter moves the conversation in one way or another. 

Often at the root of conflict is that we don’t have the conversational moves that we need to express our feelings, explore misunderstanding and ask for what we need. What we do have are reactive moves that tend to escalate things. 

In Chess you play the endgame to win. What about in a conversation?

In a conversation no one wins. But at the end of each conversation the participants either feel closer in their relationship or farther apart. (You may sometimes feel neutral, but neutral eventually leads to farther apart.) 

This is where we lose a lot of the time. We think that the point of the conversation is to be right, to win the argument. To have what we said be accepted, to win approval, etc. 

But, in a conversation, you are either strengthening a relationship or weakening a relationship. When you play to win the argument, you may be losing in the relationship. 

Here are three moves you can make in a conversation that will advance your relationship: 

1. Listen. 

Without interruption. Without thinking about what you want to say next. Look at the speaker. (Not on your phone.) Lean in.  

2. Get curious about what the other person’s perspective. What does this mean for them? 

3. Empathize with what the other person is feeling. You can say, “that sounds hard” even when you don’t agree with the premise. 

To learn more about making strategic Chess moves, contact Evan. To learn more about making strategic conversation moves, you can find me at my website or on LinkedIn. 

 

Leah is an Intergenerational Resolving Conflict Expert who makes hard conversations easy.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-r-zimmerman-/

https://steppingstoolcoaching.com

 

Cinthia, 2021 Summer Youth Employment Program Intern Introduction

Hello! My name is Cinthia, I am from Brooklyn, NY and am attending Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA with a major in Biochemistry. I will be working with Evan over the summer for his in-person chess camp as well as virtual lessons. I enjoy being socially inclusive and meeting as many people as I can where I can learn from them and vice versa. I practice social cues to keep the younger youth minds engaged, as well as assisting behind the scenes. 

Although I am not very proficient in the sport of chess, I do intend to study and learn about the mental significance of it all. The process of the game itself is much more than moving plastic pieces across a board and I do believe that it will be a great learning experience that will hold longevity in my future career. It teaches one to think strategically and take every opportunity to their advantage no matter how small. It is literally the metaphorical business world easily accessible to your fingertips! I even had a quick 1 on 1 session with Evan to teach me the basic rules of chess in about an hour. I am now even able to play against other beginners with subtle technique and feign the impression of someone with more experience haha! Something that was very motivating to me was when Evan told me that we need more women in the chess world, and what is a more perfect example than a woman like me expressing how beneficial chess is for all genders. More women in chess means more inclusivity and social action in the business world. This is anyone’s world and success can only be made if the correct pressure is applied, even something as futile as playing chess. It can be assured that time will not be wasted with the effort that is put into this chess program and I plan to keep it running full circle for as long as I remain a partner and fellow colleague. 

Well, that is all from me folks and I hope you all would give Premier Chess a try. I already can tell that this will be a great networking opportunity as well as helping young and old minds alike think critically, efficiently, and healthily. There are also several opportunities for personal lessons as well as room for group sessions for your children to remain social and active in this state of COVID-19. Stay happy and healthy all and you will hear from me again. 

Aden Ho, 2021 Summer Youth Employment Program Intern Introduction

“I’m bad at chess,” I’d say before almost every chess game whether with family or friends — who would become foes for the next 60 minutes or so. I learned how to play chess in the second grade of elementary school, but would always lose to my best friend Dario, a champion of Brooklyn at only 8 years old. Checkers seemed to fit me better: more fast paced, less thinking, and I’d often win when playing. I rarely played either game in my free time anyway, and as I grew older and more busy, to me the ancient game of chess became just that. 

About a year ago, my friends started playing more chess. They’d challenge each other whenever we had free time during zoom class (essentially all the time). I’d normally spectate as they played, trying to justify their moves and looking for potential better ones. Watching them play piqued my interest and inspired me to get better at the game I said I was bad at. I was taught at a young age the importance of adaptability and what better game than chess to reinforce that? When I saw Premier Chess as one of the employers under the Infinity SYEP Provider, I knew it would be an amazing opportunity to not only make some money so that I wouldn’t fulfill the stereotype of a broke college student (as early at least, I hope), but also one to learn the facets of the game of chess. 

I’m Aden, I recently graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School under the finance major, and will be attending Bowdoin College in the fall as a prospective economics major. I’m ecstatic and enthused to be working with National Master Evan and fellow SYEP employees (or partners as Evan says) this summer! At the end of it I hope to be able to say “I’m not bad at chess.” Thanks for reading 🙂