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 🙂

Matthew Nedderman, 2021 Summer Youth Employment Program Intern Introduction

My name is Matthew Nedderman. I am 19 years old and attend Queensborough community College. I am studying Digital Art and design and am considering getting a Job in the Animation Industry. I have a huge passion for art and design. I have gotten the title of best artist in my senior year of High school. Some interest that I have include Basketball, Art, Animation, Music, and Clothing/Sneakers. I am excited that I was given the opportunity to work at Premier Chess. I am exciting to meet new people and improve my social skills. I am hoping to learn how to play chess because I feel it is a skillset that could benefit me in the future. Learning Chess has a lot of cognitive benefits. Skilled chess players can anticipate an opponent’s next move. To gain the ability to predict what another person will do next, a player must develop the ability to gain the opponents perspective and predict what action they will take next.

     Experienced Chess players have highly developed thinking abilities in Fluid intelligence (The ability to consider new kinds of problems and use reasoning to solve them) and Processing Speed (The ability to swiftly comprehend tasks and respond efficiently to challenges). Chess also improves the memory since the game involves memorizing numerous moves, combinations and their possible outcomes.  Chess also leads to better planning skills. This is because chess games are known for long periods of silence where players anticipate each other’s moves.

Somaiya Ahmed, 2021 Summer Youth Employment Program Intern Introduction

Hello.  My name is Somaiya. I am from Brooklyn, New York. I recently graduated from high school (Brooklyn College Academy), after a year of remote learning and a worldwide pandemic. Quite the usual. Jokes aside, I am proud of myself and my class year for being resilient through it all. I am especially grateful to say that this fall I will be attending Tufts University, through the QuestBridge National Match Scholarship. I am planning to study studio art with a concentration in film and media. I am excited to see what my future holds!


Before my college plans unfold, it is essential that I begin saving up! Thankfully with the help of New York’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), I have earned the opportunity to intern at Premier Chess, a chess teaching business led by National Master Evan Rabin. My work entails promoting the art of chess through my expertise in visual arts. Now you may be wondering why chess? Well, after watching Queen’s Gambit, “Netflix’s most-watched scripted limited series to date,”  I adopted a new perspective for chess. Watching the show’s protagonist, Beth Harmon, dominating games left to right while battling with addiction and loneliness, providing a dynamic viewing experience. I have to praise show creators, Walter Tevis and Scott Frank, for doing an excellent job at capturing Beth’s complex emotions through the game of chess. As a film enthusiast, I found it beautiful how they portrayed the game of chess through the light of emotions and thoughts. 

All in all, I am excited to take my newfound interest in chess and weave it into this summer’s work. With the company of my peers and Mr. Rabin’s supervision, I am certain this summer will be awesome! 

 

Your Health Check Mate   

 

By Efrat Cohen, PT, MPT, PCS, C/NDT, Cert. Schroth Scoliosis Therapist

As a Physical Therapist, I spend a lot of time analyzing how people move and the postures they assume and why they do so. Usually, it is to determine the cause of injury and the manifestation of symptoms.

For quite a while, especially during Covid, I have consulted many clients on their at home workstations. Many have questioned the use of sitting desk and standing desks to help alleviate their symptoms from prolonged sitting. Similar to their creative work stations, most have not realized that their working postures are from ideal. As their work and life stressors increased, their posture worsened. Stress postures, including jaw clenching, forward head, elevated shoulders, crossed legs, only toes contact with the floor, increase many of my clients’ symptoms. With work station modifications, posture education, workstation specific exercises and strategies, clients can resume their work day symptom free.

Amazingly enough, the same rules do not necessarily apply to chess. Many chess players can be seen playing in sitting and standing in all sorts of positions and less than ideal posture based on observation. Hardly any research documents musculoskeletal conditions and symptoms due to the playing of chess. Chess players are under an enormous amount of stress but the stress postures assumed by chess players have not been reported to cause debilitating symptoms.

Research has shown that there are many health benefits to playing chess including enhanced memory, perception, decision making and problem solving skills. Playing chess improves concentration and learning abilities, mitigating dementia, and less chronic disease.

This past year brought some changes to the chess playing world. Many have played virtually with computer simulated games or through tele classes. Recently, in person games have resumed outdoors with the wearing of masks. Here are some suggestions that may help you with these changes:

 In person mask wearing:

1)        Elevate the chess board or sit slightly away from the board

Mask wearing blocks your lower visual field. In order to prevent excess neck bending, you can either sit slightly way from the chess board or elevate the chess board for better viewing.

2)        Create cool environments

Masks trap heat. As temperatures elevate create a safe place for cooling off.

3)        Hydrate

People tend to breathe more through their mouths with use of masks. In doing so, you lose moisture and dehydrate, which leads to fatigue. Drink regularly so you can concentrate on your game.

4)        Posture Correction

Upright posture allows for best oxygenation. While playing take some time to put your feet flat on the floor, with hands on the table move your trunk away from the table and sit yourself up tall.

For virtual gaming and classes:

1)        At desk play

While we enjoying playing games sitting, standing, lying on the floor, etc, take some time to play virtual chess sitting at a desk. It’s good to get in the habit of using technology with more formal sets up plus it simulates how to play chess in person.

2)        Invest in a laptop easel

If you are attending your virtual classes or playing simulated chess games using a laptop, tablet or cell phone, use an adjustable laptop easel to help you simulate more upright play as you would be doing if you were playing in person chess.

3)        Posture Correction

As discussed above, upright posture allows for best oxygenation. While playing take some time to put your feet flat on the floor, with hands on the table move your trunk away from the table and sit yourself up tall.

Here’s to your health and let the games begin!

About the Author:

Efrat Cohen is a graduate of Temple University’s Physical Therapy program. With over ten years of experience working with patients of various ages and diagnoses in New York premier hospitals, including NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases and Hospital for Special Surgery, Efrat has mastered the understanding of how the body moves and what it takes to improve one’s posture.

In addition to her private practice, she created and runs a successful corporate physical therapy wellness program for employees at their work station.

Make the Best Move of Your Career

By Victoria O’Connor, Co-Founder & Director of Undergraduate Services of Arrow Academic Consulting

Plenty of moves can open a chess game—Catalan Opening, King’s Gambit, Queen’s Gambit—but what about opening moves for college? Like preparing for a chess match, it is never too early to start preparing for college. We assist with resume building, application assistance, financial planning, personal/diversity statements, and interview preparation.

We offer individual sessions, or complete packages to accomplish everything you need for college. Meet virtually with one of our experienced consultants to get started. All first consultations are FREE. Use code “CHESS” for 20% off packages until Fourth of July here!