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 !

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[Site “MCC”]
[Date “2019.10.25”]
[Round “7”]
[White “Ian”]
[Black “Michael”]
[Result “1-0”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 {This move order offers Black quite a lot of alternative. Of
course it depends how comfortable you are playing certain openings, nevertheless
giving your opponent that much choice may be unsound if you’re not aware of it.}
2…c6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.e4

(5.a4 {This is another popular move and here Bf5 and Bg5 seem to be played quite often at the really high level.} 5…Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Nb6 {Here White has also tried Ne3 and e3} 8.Ne5 a5 9.f3 Nfd7{[#]} 10.e4 Nxe5 11.exf5 Nec4 {Doesn’t look like the preferable option} 12.Qb3 Nd6 13.g4 g6 14.Bf4 gxf5 15.O-O-O {And I would take the White side of this game.})

5…b5 6.a3? {With White, you want to move your a pawn to a4 and not e3, so this misstep should allow Black to play more aggressive.}

(6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 e6 8.axb5 Nxc3 9.bxc3 cxb5 {[#]And White tried to play Ng5 followed by Qh5 in many games, leading to interesting complications in the middle-game.})

6…e6 7.Be2 {I would play Nb.d7 possibly moving it again to b6 next move. Quickly developing my minor pieces to perhaps strike in the center with c5 for instance, undoubling my pawns and opening lines.} 7…a6 8.O-O Bb7 9.Bg5 Be7 10.e5 Nd5 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Qd2 h6 13.Ne4 O-O 14.Nd6 {Having planted an octopus knight within Black’s
territory doesn’t make his position feel right.} 14…f6 {Feels a bit flimsy but Black’s solid position can justify such a provocative move.} 15.Nh4?! Rd8? {Instead Black should have just captured on e5 forcing trades.} 16.Ng6 Qc7 17.f4 Rxd6 18.exd6 Qxd6 19.Bf3 Nb6 20.Rae1 N8d7 21.Bg4 f5 22.Bh3 c5 23.Rd1 Be4 24.Ne5 Nd5 25.g3 Nxe5 26.dxe5 Qb6 27.Bg2 Bxg2 28.Qxg2 Rd8 29.Qf2 a5 30.Rc1 a4 31.Rfd1 Qc6 *

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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.

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[Event “Vesuvio Chess Festival”]
[Site “Boscorecase, Italy”]
[Date “Nov 30, 2019”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Rabin, Evan “]
[Black “Mansugo”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]

1. e4 Nc6 2. d4 {Black’s 1st move Nc6 allows a certain flexibility. In this
position both d5 and e5 have been played a lot.} 2… d6

(2… Nf6?! {Here White
can play e5 and get back into the Alekhine, but d5 should give him a solid
advantage!} 3. d5 Ne5 4. f4 Ng6 5. e5 Ng8) 3. d5 Nb8 4. c4 e6 5. Nc3 exd5 6.
cxd5 Nf6 7. Nf3 {[%csl Yd6,Yd5,Ye4,Rf8,Rc7][%cal Rf3e5,Rb5c6,Gc6e5]If we compare this position to a Benoni-type position there are
certain similarities and difference we should notice. White has a central e4-d5
pawn chain. But Black’c pawn is still on c7 unlike in the Benoni where he is on
c5. Moreover Black hasn’t played the move g6-g7.} 7… Be7 8. Bd3 O-O 9. h3 c6
{I think c6 makes a lot of sense since c5 would make the queenside appear like a
benoni while still having Black’s dark-squared bishop sitting on e7, which
wouldn’t help out Black’s diabolical plan on the Queenside. The h8-a1 diagonal
is a thing.} 10. O-O cxd5 11. exd5 h6 12. Bf4 Re8 13. Rc1 a6 14. Bb1 Nbd7 15.
Re1 Bf8 16. Rxe8 {Perhaps keeping more pieces on the board would be interesting
since Black’s position seems to be somewhat cramped.} 16… Qxe8 17. Qd4
{Centralizing your pieces is almost always a good thing.} 17… b5 18. Nd1 {The
opening part is definitely over and an original game occurred.} 18… Bb7 19.
Ne3 Rc8 20. Re1 Qd8 21. g4 Qb6 22. Qd2 Qc5 23. Rd1 Nb6 24. Nf5 Qxd5 25. Qxd5
Bxd5 26. N3d4 Nc4 27. b3 Ne5 28. Ne3 Bb7 29. Ndf5 Ne4 30. Bxe4 Bxe4 31. Nxd6
Nf3+ 32. Kf1 Bxd6 33. Bxd6 Kh7 34. Bf4 Rc6 35. Nd5 Rc2 36. Nb4 Rb2 37. Nxa6 Rxa2
38. Nc5 Bc6 39. Rd6 Ra1+ 40. Ke2 Re1+ 41. Kd3 Be8 42. Rb6 Rh1 43. Ke4 Rxh3 44.
Kd5 Rh1 45. Rb8 Rd1+ 46. Ke4 Bc6+ 47. Ke3 Rc1 48. Nd3 Rg1? 49. Rb6 Bd5 50. Rxb5
Bc6 51. Rc5 Ba8 52. Rc8 Bd5 53. Bg3 Ng5 54. Nc5 Rb1 55. Rb8 Re1+ 56. Kd4 Bf3 57.
Bf4 Ne6+ 58. Nxe6 Rxe6 59. Be5 f6 60. Bc7 Bxg4 61. b4 Bf3 62. b5 h5 63. Rd8 h4
64. b6 h3 65. Kc5 Re5+ 66. Bxe5 fxe5 67. Rd3 h2 68. Rxf3? h1=Q 69. Rb3? Qh4 70.
b7 Qd4+? 71. Kb5 Qd7+ 72. Kc5? Qe7+? (72… Qc7+ {This would have allowed Black
to secure the win.}) 73. Kc4 Qf7+ 74. Kc3 Qc7+ 75. Kd3 Qb8 76. Ke4 Kg6 77. Rb6+
Kf7 78. Kd5 Ke7 79. Kc6 Qe8+ 80. Kc5 Qb8 81. Kc6 Qd6+ 82. Kb5 {Now this is a
dead draw. White made somewhat of a fortress.} 82… Qb8 83. Kc6 1/2-1/2

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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

[fen flip=true csl=Yc4,Ye1 cal=Ye7e5]rnbq1rk1/ppp1ppbp/3p1np1/8/2PPP3/2N2N2/PP2BPPP/R1BQK2R b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

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.

[pgn flip=true navigation_board=above]
[SetUp “1”]
[FEN “rnbq1rk1/ppp1ppbp/3p1np1/8/3PP3/2N2N2/PPP1BPPP/R1BQ1RK1 b – – 0 6”]
[PlyCount “9”]
[SourceVersionDate “2019.11.18”]

6… e5 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Qxd8 Rxd8 9. Nxe5 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 Bxe5 {[%csl Rb8,
Rc8,Rf6,Yg1,Rg7,Rh6][%cal Gc2c3,Yc1g5,Ye2c4] Compared to the first diagram, where White’s King wouldn’t be castled and his c2 pawn would be on the c4 square, here White stands better. Black got his pawn back but Black is not quite developed yet and White’s pieces can get positioned optimaly. The fact that White’s c2 pawn is still on his starting square is a big deal. Not only
we can move it to c3 (which will protect the d4 square) but it also doesn’t
restrict our light’s square Bishop’s prospect.} *
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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 !

[fen flip=true csl=Rd4,Gf3,Gc3,Rc6,Rb6,Rc5 cal=Gd1a4,Yd2f3]r1b1kb1r/pp1n1ppp/1qn1p3/2ppP3/3P4/2PB1N2/PP1N1PPP/R1BQ1RK1 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

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 !

[fen flip=true cal=Ya2a3,Yc1e3,Ga4e8]r1b1kb1r/pp1n1ppp/1q2p3/3pP3/Q7/3B1N2/PP3PPP/R1B2RK1 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

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).

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[Event “Madrid Oliver Gonzalez Memorial 1st”]
[Site “Madrid”]
[Date “2010.10.14”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Fedorchuk, Sergey A”]
[Black “Anton Guijarro, David”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C06”]
[WhiteElo “2671”]
[BlackElo “2403”]
[SetUp “1”]
[FEN “r1b1kb1r/pp1n1ppp/1q2p3/3pP3/Q7/3B1N2/PP3PPP/R1B2RK1 b kq – 0 12”]
[PlyCount “36”]
[EventDate “2010.10.09”]
[EventType “swiss”]
[EventRounds “9”]
[EventCountry “ESP”]
[SourceTitle “CBM 138 Extra”]
[Source “ChessBase”]
[SourceDate “2010.10.29”]
[SourceVersion “1”]
[SourceVersionDate “2010.10.29”]
[SourceQuality “1”]

{[%evp 0,59,30,27,30,36,36,7,7,11,11,11,11,11,11,-5,9,20,16,16,16,16,8,14,14,
-6,17,-9,41,21,-7,-54,5,-24,-24,-98,53,53,190,190,196,160,304,304,292,288,292,
292,280,289,291,315,410,432,440,492,487,492,487,482,492,493] [#]} 12… Be7 13.
Be3 Qb4 14. Qc2 Nc5 15. Bxh7 Bd7 16. Rac1 Rc8 17. Qb1 Bb5 18. Rfd1 g6 19. Rd4
Bc4 20. Bxg6 fxg6 21. Rcxc4 Qxc4 22. Rxc4 dxc4 23. Qxg6+ Kd7 24. Nd4 a6 25. f4
Rhf8 26. f5 exf5 27. e6+ Kd8 28. Nxf5 Rf6 29. Qg8+ Rf8 30. Qh7 1-0

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