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.

 

 

A Guest Sermon at Lincoln Park Jewish Center: Queen’s Gambit and Parsha Bo, January 23, 2021

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Shabbat Shalom, LPJC Community. May this sermon raise the levaya of Chaim Schneur Zalman Yehuda  Ben Aaron Leib  and help the refuah shleima of my dear cousin Tzofit Ben Reviva.

The parsha begin with the word “Bo”, meaning to come. Hashem instructors Moses to come with Pharoah, not to go, meaning Hashem would escort him. One should always trust in Hashem.

Levi Welton and his Young Professional Community

In 2017, I was doing sales for On The Spot Photo Magnets and sent a cold email to Rabbi Levi Welton asking what he is doing for photography at an event. He told me he was all set in terms of  photography at the event but I should show up. I did and we instantly became close. In 2018, Levi became the rabbi at the Shul and I started coming regularly. In 2019 and 2020 I hosted chess Shabbaton events at the shul.

Today in 2021, I am here doing this talk and am committed to soon becoming a member of the shul! Back in March, like all of us, I faced uncertainty at one by one, the 80+ schools we serve, shut their doors. However, as Rabbi Mark Wildes, Founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience, said, one must use the the coronavirus as an opportunity, not a problem. We quickly pivoted to virtual learning and continued our success, as mentioned in Dylan Mclain’s recent New York times article.

In Parsha Bo, we read about the last three of the 10 plagues:

8)Locusts
9)Darkness
10) Slaying of the First Born

We learn that we should  have a calendar based on the moon, a Passover offering, matzah and bitter herbs. We also learn that one should respect the firstborn. I am now making a haclachta (commitment) that I am going to call my brother once per week.

The parsha also teaches us that the Jews asked the Egyptians for gold, silver and garments, showing that they left Egypt wealthy. Not only does Beth Harmon leave the orphanage, but she also soon shows her materialism as she travels with her new mom and asks for items like clothing, chess sets and more.

with Tefillin on at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on my Oranim Birthright Trip in 2008

Parsha Bo also introduces the important mitzvah of tefillin, which one binds on his arm and head. Rabbi Moshe Scheiner of Chabad of West Palm Beach, explains in this Facebook video how the English word for tefillin is “phylacteries”, which is of the same root as “prophylactic”, a common chess word which is used to explain how players like Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov made moves to prevent future counter-play.

In Peninim on The Torah, Rabbi AL Scheinbaum shares a beautiful tefillin story:

A yeshiva high-school student David volunteered at a nursing home. Like a Chabad shaliach/mercenary, he would often walk around, asking the residents if they would like to dawn tefillin. One day one of the residents got angry at him as he did not want to put on tefillin and soon brought David to his room. He explained how he and his father were the only two for a while to survive from the Holocaust. Soon after just for putting tefillin on, his father was murdered.

The tefillin was the only thing that the man was able to keep from his father so for many years he equated it with death. A few days later, David was looking for the 10th person to make a minyan and his elder agreed to take part. When David asked if he would like to take his tefillin, his elder reluctantly agreed. After that David, would help him put on tefillin on each day… until a few months later when he unfortunately passed away. The elder’s daughter called up David explaining how he saved him and that he passed away with his tefillin on. You never know what one small act of kindness can do. I now make a second hachlachta, which is to put tefillin on each day, except of course for Shabbat and Yom Tov, before 10:00 AM.

Elizabeth Harmon is a fictional prodigy, loosely based on Bobby Fischer, Judith Polgar and other top players. National Master Bruce Pandolfini, my podcast guest, and Grandmaster Gary Kasparov were advisors on the film series so the chess was fairly accurate.

Moshe told Pharoah that not only grown men should leave Egypt to serve Hashem. Torah study should begin at a young age and even babies should be exposed. When Elizabeth Harmon was a young orphan, she saw her school janitor playing chess in the basement. When she first expressed interest what he was doing, he said that girls do not play chess and told her to go upstairs. To the contrary, Rabbi AL Scheinbaum writes “If the parent has no desire to respond, the parent has severed his/her relationship with the child.” As Elizabeth Harmon insisted, the janitor eventually taught her and she ended up being a top player in the nation; you never know what type of impact one teacher could have.

As Parsha Bo teaches us to remember Exodus, l’dor v’dor, from one generation to another, Elizabeth Harmon teaches us to remember The Cold War.

Both stories show how we can depart our limitations and become wealthy. Elizabeth Harmon is an orphan who would not let her challenges stop her from international fame. She reminds me of my podcast guest Pastor Bill Wilson, who 50 years ago was left on a street corner by his mother for 3 days in Florida and now runs Metro World Child, an incredible non-profit that supports 200,000+ children around the world with food, education, sponsorship and much more.

As the Jews went from slavery in Egypt to Klal Yisrael, Elizabeth Harmon went from impoverishment and addiction to widespread success. Both cases required teamwork.

Let us all be inspired by Elizabeth Harmon, the modern day Moses. Live up and be strong. Trust in Hashem. As Rabbi Wildes said, consider all of your challenges opportunities, not problems. Despite the challenges of Coronavirus, we have been successful, with exposure in the New York times and recent contracts with Berkshire Hathaway and Google. We may not know it but Hashem always a plan. Shabbat Shalom!

11 Books for Chess Improvement

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Compared to most chess masters, I have read a minute amount of chess books cover to cover, likely under five. I made master mostly because I played 950+ rated tournaments and went over all of my games with some help of my coaches.

With that said, there were certainly several books that helped me grow from beginner to master:

Beginner Books

(Suggested Rating: Unrated-1200)

1) The Chess Tactics Workbook by Al Woolum 

Chess teachers probably make more photo copies from this book more than any other. It has lots of great practice for beginners and some intermediate players, ranging from piece movement exercises to forced checkmate in three puzzles.

2) How to Beat Your Dad in Chess by Grandmaster Murray Chandler

My coach National Master James Lewis gifted me this book when I was 12-years-old and I now teach with it all the time. While the title is funny, it is actually good for children and adults. It demonstrates 50 key checkmating patterns, including the Anastasia’s Mate, Arabian Mate and the famous Greek Gift sacrifice.

Here is a fun fact about the Arabian Mate that I once learned from David Macenulty: The reason it is called “Arabian Mate” is that when chess was invented in Persia, there were only pieces that move exactly the same way that they move know- the rook and the knight.

3) Pandolfini’s Endgame Manuel by National Master Bruce Pandolfini

My podcast guest Bruce Pandolfini  signed “future master” on my copy of the book when I was 8-years-old; his prediction came true! I learned lots of the basic checkmates and fundamental endgames through this book.

Intermediate Books 

(Suggested Rating: 1200-1800)

1) Michael Adams: Development of  a Master by Bill and Michael Adams


Former World Champion Bobby Fischer’s second Grandmaster Bill Lombardy once shared me some key advice: Go over full games!

My father Keith Rabin, President of KWR International, bought me this book in a used bookstore as a child but it wasn’t until years later that I read it. One late night at the Chess Forum, the late Bill Lombardy told me I was spending way too much time reviewing openings and endgames and that I should pick a top player and review all of his games and focus on transitions. I therefore picked up this book and started focusing on all of perennial British Champion Mickey Adam’s games and learned a lot of about openings, preparation of attacks, middlegame strategy and more.

2) Modern Chess Strategy by Ludek Pachman 

Before my first lesson with Grandmaster Leonid Yudasin, he suggested I carry all of my chess books so he can make some reading recommendations. When I showed them all, he instantly suggested Modern Chess Strategy. This book has helped me evaluate positions and come up with the best middlegame plans based on positional factors. For instance, if your opponent is expanding in the center,  you should get counter play in one of the wings.

3) Winning Endgame Strategy by Grandmaster Alexander Beliavsky

This book was another recommendation of Yudasin and taught me most of the fundamental endgame knowledge I know.

Advanced 

(Suggested Rating: 1800+)

1) Counterattack! by Grandmaster Zenon Franco

I have been using this book a lot with many of our intermediate and advanced students in recent years. It gives a lot of ideas about attacking, psychology, defense and more. One main point of the book that I learned was how one should always spend time searching for additional candidate moves that may not appear so obvious.

Openings

(Suggested Rating: 1200+)

Students rated under 1200 should have a few basic moves as white with either 1.e4 or 2.d4 and black against both moves but should not do any serious openings study. Students above 1200 should still primarily focus on middlegame themes and endgames but should have a basic repertoire.

One should focus on opening books that have full games, rather than variations, to abide by the teachings of Bill Lombardy.

These are two of the opening books that helped me the most:

1) Beating the Sicillian 3 by John Nunn and Joe Gallagher

While this book is a little old and does not have the latest and greatest theory of the Open Sicilian, it is a good overview of all the lines and shows lots of instructive games, including a few from the authors themselves.

2) Attacking with 1. e4 by Grandmaster John Emms

Bobby Fischer once said “1.e4 is best by test.” While that may be true, I’ve been an 1.e4 player pretty consistently my whole chess career. I have dabbled with 1.d4, the English and 1.Nc3 over the years but 1.e4 has always been my main opening move. While a 160-page book certainly cannot fit in all lines against 1.e4, this book provides a nice survey. I enjoy its lines against the Pirc, Modern, Scandinavian, Alekhine and unorthodox defenses in particular. I do not agree with the suggestions of the Closed Sicilian, Bishop’s Opening and the Kings Indian Attack against the French. This book also does not show complete games; however, you can take the games quoted and search for them on Chessgames.com  or Chessbase Online.

For d4 players, I would suggest Grandmaster Boris Avrukh‘s 1.d4 series:

1)Volume One: D4, D5 Lines

2) Volume Two: D4, Nf6 Lines 

There are many black opening books that helped me; too many to name. If you would like a suggestion regarding a particular black opening, check out the great supply at our close partner Chess4Less. What chess books have helped you to improve the most? 

2020: A Year in Review

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

When National Master Jesse Lozano, National Master Bob Holliman, Shelby Lohrman and I won “Best Team Name” at the United States Amateur Team East last February with “Caruanavirus”, I had no idea the virus would have a major effect on my life.

“Caruana Virus” at 50th United States Amateur Team East, Feb 15-17, 2020
Bd 1: Jesse Lozano, Complete Chess
Bd 2: Evan Rabin, Premier Chess
Bd 3: NM Bob Holliman
Bd 4: Shelby Lohrman, American Chess Equipment

Two weeks later I did my last trip in several months, down to Raleigh, North Carolina for the United States Amateur Team South.

with Make a Difference Now student Revo on Duke University Campus

Shortly after, one-by-one, all of the 80+ schools we serve closed their doors. While this year most certainly had lots of challenges, I took a key lesson from Rabbi Mark Wildes, Founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience, shared last spring: “Use the coronavirus as an opportunity, not a problem.Some of my highlights of 2020 have been pivoting the virtual world, our new school programs that started since the pandemic,  my podcast and our rise in public relations: 

Pivoting to the Virtual World:


In mid-March, I got plenty of emails and calls from all our schools, telling us that they were shutting down. At first I thought some of our schools would operate, in particular our programs outside of New York, but one by one, they all shut down, especially after the New York City Department of Education announced the closing of all its schools. I quickly realized we would have to drastically pivot our business if we wanted to keep it alive. I had an in-person meeting with my friend Greg Magarshak, owner of Qbix to see what he could do for us in building a community platform.  As I did not know what our cash flow would look like for several months, I ended up looking for more cost-effective solutions.

Working with Brian Wilmeth, our Director of Virtual Programs, we ended up building a simple solution for virtual group classes with a combination of Zoom and Lichess.org. Before COVID-19, we did do some private lessons virtually but we did not run and group classes online. Since then we have converted many of our school programs and corporate classes to virtual classes, have had 300+ students in our camps and 100+ students in our group classes for all ages and skill levels. Thanks to the abolishment of geographical boundaries, we have also had the honor of working with students all over the nation and beyond, including one student from The Netherlands, a few in Israel and several in Canada.

Not only were were able to convert our programs to virtual learning but we have also started several new programs since the pandemic, including:

1) New American Academy Charter School 

Technically this program started a week before the pandemic but Brian Wilmeth only taught one class in person. I honestly thought this was the first school that would stop chess for the year since we just started but the school’s Director of Teaching Olawa Gibson was enthusiastic as could be about chess and would not let the school’s doors closing stop the chess program kicking off with full-steam. Since then the school’s chess program has grown to 40+ kids,  the students have been frenzied in classes, tournaments, ChessKid practice and more. We have also been in constant communication with Olawa Gibson and Lisa Watkins, the school’s Marketing Director, and we look forward to seeing the school’s progress.

2) DOROT

In October, we started facilitating a virtual intergenerational program for 25 Westchester high-school students and senior citizens. Each week I do a short lesson and hop around between breakout rooms as the seniors are playing against high schoolers.

3) Yeshiva of Flatbush 

We started our program at The Yeshiva of Flatbush earlier this month after one of my private students, who is a senior at the school, introduced me to the principal. We have started several of our school programs thanks to parent referrals but this was the first time we got warm introduction by a student.  Every Tuesday afternoon, I teach a 1-hour after-school program for their Yeshiva League team, which has 20 players, including 1 female student. Will she be the next Beth Harmon? That is too be determined; meanwhile, read my Queen’s Gambit review.

Podcast:

It feels like it was yesterday when my good friend Adam Shuty, the owner of Atomic Total Fitness, encouraged me to start a podcast; however, it was December of 2019 when that happened. On the contrary, in 2020, I recorded 121 inspirational podcast episodes about business, life and chess. Some of the highlight guests include National Master Bruce Pandolfini, Grandmaster Susan Polgar, Business Networking International’s Founder Ivan Misner, and Metro World Child’s Founder Bill Wilson. Stay tuned for many great episodes in 2021 and beyond.

Rise in Public Relations: 

We have organically built our public relations and online presence through our blog, Facebook page, Twitch stream, podcast and more. However, we also definitely got a lot of outside help! Check out these plethora of articles and podcast episodes were featured in:

How ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Inspiring Women to Take Up Chess, New York Times, December 10, 2020

Pen For Hire Podcast with Matthew Harms, Episode 22, December, 2020

Exclusive: Founder Evan Rabin Talks Bringing Chess To The Masses Virtually Through Premier Chesstristatetaxresolution.com/the-benefits-of-learning-how-to-play-chess

The Benefits of Learning How to Play Chess with Evan Rabin

From Teenage Chess Students to Exemplary Adults

In-Person Chess Teaching in Time of a Pandemic

Use these Lessons from the Game of Chess to Rebuild your Company While the Coronavirus Crisis Fades

Thank you to all of our clients, partners, and others who have helped 2020 be a a successful year for Premier Chess, despite its challenges. While COVID-19 will still certainly be a nuisance in 2020, I am going to do what Michael Deutsch, owner of Hands on Hoops Skills, often suggests: “Control the controlables.”

Here are my business and personal New Year’s resolutions:  

1) Partner with four new monthly corporate clients for lunch and learns.  

2) Record at least 1 podcast episode each week. 

3) Create bigger work life balance; stop working each night at 9:00 PM. 

 

Growing in Chess and Judaism

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

 

I was born and raised on the Upper West Side as a reform Ashkenazi Jew. I had my bar mitzvah at Stephen Wise Synagogue and went to Churchill and Dwight. In 2008, thanks to some inspiration from Alanna Katz, I went on an Oranim Taglit trip. While on the trip, I quickly developed a longing to learn more about Jewish roots and Judaism. Soon after I started regularly attending Peretz and Chanie Chein’s Chabad of Brandeis University

Dancing at Chabad of Brandeis Gala, 2009

and studied abroad with Masa Israel at Tel Aviv University in 2011.

While representing Masa Israel at the 2016 Israeli American Council Conference, I experienced an instance of divine providence as I sat on a table at the gala dinner with a JIC Board Member who a few minutes later introduced me to Steve Eisenberg. After the conference, I started regularly attending JICNY events and went on Steve’s Israel Recharge trip in 2017.

 

Since then, in between my ‘day job’, running Premier Chess, which does corporate classes, school programs and private lessons, full-time, I have spent a lot of time growing in Judaism, in Steve Eisenberg’s Torah classes and the Manhattan Jewish Experience fellowship/senior fellowship.

 

For more about my growth in Judaism and experiences with JICNY, check out my reflection of Founder Jodi Samuels’ book Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine.

 


Whether it is chess, business, life or anything you would like to improve on, you should realize there are transferrable skills on all of the above. A good coach does not just teach his trade but rather demonstrates life skills like confidence, thought process, evaluation methods and more. Therefore, all of the experiences referred to above may have not taught me any openings, middlegames or endgames but they all have helped me improve a chess player.

Virtual Winter Break Camp Update

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

Our 3-day first week of virtual camp flew by. Here are some numbers of camp so far: 

-76+ registrations 

-7 instructors

-8-1 student-teacher ratio

This past week we had a whopping 40 kids in the mornings, split into 5 groups, taught by National Expert Brian Wilmeth, Director of Virtual Programs, Phil Rosenberg, Director of School Programs, Candidate Master Danilo Cuellar, Rockland country Instructor, Abe Salemeh, Manhattan Instructor, and National Master Alan Kantor, Tennessee Instructor . In the afternoon, we had 24 kids in 3 groups, taught by Brian, Phil and Gary Ryan, Manhattan Instructor. In the West Coast Afternoon, we had 5 students, taught by Los Angeles Instructor John Machtig.

I sat in and taught some guest lessons each day and participated in tournaments. Check out a lesson I did about lose pieces yesterday here:

To keep students’ energy flowing, we make sure to do hourly stretch and exercise breaks. Thank you to our close education partner and two-time podcast guest Michael Deutsch, CEO of Hands on Hoops Skills for doing a ball skills demo on day 1.

Stay tuned for some special guests for exercise breaks next week. 

Here are our registration numbers for next week as of now: 

-Morning: 22 students, 3 classes 

-Afternoon: 14 students, 2 classes 

-West Coast Afternoon: 4 students, 1 class 

As always, we expect to get lots of last-minute sign-ups so expect to see at least one additional group per class.