Upper West Side Activities With Guitar Guide Guru And Hands On Hoops

Mike, Evan and Michael met and became business partners. Premier Chess has linked up with many different people and Mike found his way onto our pathway around a year ago, just about right after he decided to switch from teaching guitar to make Guitar Guide Guru a full-time gig. On the other hand Michael has been teaching really young kids to play basketball, and recently ended up reaching out to us.

Mike who runs Guitar Guide Guru thinks that guitar made him a happier person and that’s the reason why he’s chosen to make it a career, after figuring out who he was and what he liked doing the most. Anybody can want to express themselves at one point or another in their life, and wanting to play some sort of instrument is pretty common. So what’s a better way for your kids, or your own self, to have a unique direction that guitar would grant you? To each his own, and playing music helped Mike to find a good direction, and to experience life without so much bitterness that one’s lack of interest in schools can withhold. After a while and looking back at it, it’s maybe not just fate that has brought together Guitar Guide Guru and Premier Chess, just as how Mike ended up working around the one instrument that he’s spent so much time playing with as a kid, but maybe positive circumstances and a lot of effort.

Basketball is great too, and that’s perhaps why Michael, from Hands On Hoops, decided to teach it to our youngest generations of young minds. Those transferable skills, that one can utilize later on, for his, or her own life, are what’s enabled us all to become more productive and happier member of our society and different communities. How were we supposed to understand what work, or fun were without experiencing both in a short amount of time? That’s what seems to be Michael’s philosophy with basketball. Why not having fun and learning how to understand both fundamentals and pivotal skills that will probably facilitate everybody’s life and make us a more successful and well articulated community?

If you want to experience what it’s like to meet us all at once, you should join us at Barnes and Nobles next Sunday, where each of us will be present sharing with you what’s our work like, and how you can also be apart of your child’s development into becoming a chess master. It will be on 2289 Broadway, NY 10024, and will start at 4 PM, just click here.

A Successful Partnership
Michael Deutsch, Mike Papapavlou and Evan Rabin

What goes on around your community?

How do we know what communities are for, or just how to define one? I see this a lot in and around school classes : “What is a community?”. In fact as a teacher, I’ve gotten used to hear out plenty of different figurative speeches from various program directors, or just school principals, indicating that “Chess should be included” in as many school programs as possible, or that working around kids is some sort of blessing. And how can someone not agree on that!? Chess should benefit anyone’s upbringing into a fully fledged person, or chess player into a fully grown player. But as far as being able to determine whose school districts, and which charter schools should have access to an informative, educational and lively chess program, that’s not so clear. Well in my case, growing up in a suburban area of France,  school funding didn’t have much to do with my access to the culture or the game. Not that my school didn’t have proper internet equipment, or just school furniture, but school principals back then didn’t know, nor understood much about chess. But that was back then.

Figuratively speaking, there is nothing holding back schools to have a chess program or not. It’s simply a matter of social-economics, or perhaps just economy. I’ve taught in different parts of the city and, and I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a child, student or teacher, not appreciate anything related to the class that I’d went to teach.

Obviously chess doesn’t have to be everywhere for any schools to be considered somewhat adequate to its students. But in my case chess helped me a lot pass on time during weekends, and just regular school days too. I mean there are a lot of schools picking up chess as extra-curriculums as well as regular class hours, and that’s maybe why there has been a lot more young and talented chess players from the U.S lately.

 

 

Chess Growth, Culture And Tour

Writing helps me do things. As a chess player I could sit around all day, watch a few opening videos, play a couple of online games and go through a dozen of pages related to a specific material I’ve meant to look at. Now that I have a platform to share my passion on through an actual audience, I tend to not feel like evading responsibilities as much and I have probably been somewhat more responsive to my environment and my community.

Last week I had the chance to have a short conversation with Mike Klein about his upbringing as a chess teacher and an ambassador of Chesskid. You can find most of what we went over right here (click on it). We tried to have a structured timeline in which every posts could be associated with 3 different topics. Monday was meant to be “Chess Growth”, Wednesday was going to be “Chess Culture” and Fridays ones were to connect to “Chess Tour”.

Today is Friday, for most readers, and on that day we want our audience to be able to read an informative, and insightful article remotely or wholly related to Chess. For example Stacy Jacob, a lawyer quite knowledgeable about the immigration policies, told us how asylum seekers tend to be pretty much moved around like pawns.

Next would be Monday, a day during which we aspire to deliver technical articles on the strategies that revolve around the actual game of Chess (openings, endgames and more). This can always vary, as adaptability isn’t a trait that’s only required to become an understanding player, but also a wise individual and an intelligent employee.

Finally comes Chess Culture. The chess community is going through changes quite frequently. Sometimes with its rules, and occasionally with its federation(s). So we want to educate ourselves as well as others  with everything surrounding these matters! Premier Chess is unbiased so keep that in mind when reading our Blog posts, but if you can’t agree that the any QGD like games aren’t boring I won’t be of any help.

Act Naturally.

They are going to take me to the movies and all you have to do is act naturally! On Friday, November 1, I was doing a hike to the Griffith Observatory before the Los Angeles Open began. As I approached the Hollywood sign I couldn’t help but start singing the Ringo Starr song “Act Naturally”. This made me start thinking about the importance of going with one’s instincts and not overthinking it. The portion Lech Lecha says “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” There, G‑d says, he will be made “ While it is important to calculate for every move you make on and off the board, one should strongly consider his instincts.

One exercise I have done with students several times is showing them certain positions. Once I would show a position, I would ask the student what move he would play on the spot. While he would hesitate to give an immediate answer, I would ask him to pretend he had only 1 second left on the clock. Often the answer he would give would not be any different than the move he suggested after thinking for a few minutes.

The day after the Los Angeles Open, I went outside my comfort zone, paddle boarding in the Pacific Ocean by the Santa Monica Pier. While I have paddled several times before in Boston, Seattle and elsewhere, it was the first time doing it on the Ocean in the waves. I had difficult standing up on the board, not because I could not do it, but only because I kept overthinking the process and kept telling myself I had to remain kneeling on the board. Sometimes you need to abide by Nike’s suggestion and just do it.

In that vain, we should get inspired by the famous words of Hands on Hoops Skills CEO Michael Deutsch: “Say yes and figure it out later.” While one most certainly need to do some preparation before agreeing to do something, one needs to be confident and move forward without too much thought. I constantly remind students that I rather them be confident about incorrect answers and then I confident about an incorrect answer. One expert student constantly finds himself in time pressure. While he often does get good positions out of the opening and middle game, he almost always has to blitz out his remaining moves, not giving him much of a chance. When I’ll ask him why he spends so much time in relatively common basic opening positions, he will say that there were all these complications. However, he generally just wastes time just second guessing himself.

To the contrary of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “Failing to Plan and planning to fail”, one should not go overboard with precautionary measures. I know too many entrepreneurs that spend way too much time preparing their corporate collateral, fancy logos, documentation, team, etc. Many businesses will take 1-2+ years to get off the ground before they generate revenue. To the contrary, I did not incorporate Premier Chess until we had a check we could not deposit because it was written out the company name. Then through a ton of emails, calls and networking, after 2 months in business in September 2017, we were in 14 schools and had 10 instructors on our team. Now we have 43 instructors on our team and run programs in 69 schools and several companies, including the law firm Kramer Levin. While its most certainly important to maintain a high level of product/service, for a business to grow, it’s also important to remain confident and not waste too much time doing non-revenue generating activities.

While it is important to conduct blunder checks to make sure your instincts are sane, you shouldn’t necessarily over think every thing you do, whether that be in life, business or on the chess board. While an attorney knows the law in and out, at the end of the day when he is on trial, he needs to make quick decision! In the words of Guitar Guide Guru CEO Mike Papapavlou, “Pame” (let’s go)!

CEO of Premier Chess in Los Angeles
(NM) Evan Rabin at the Los Angeles Open

A Profile Of A Chess Player.

Shernaz Kennedy fell in love with chess when she was four years old. Her family introduced her to chess, perhaps as a lark, never really expecting a small child to understand the complexities of the board, but that proved to be their blunder! Like every child she loved to play, she loved the lure of competition, and chess had it all. What the four year old could never imagine was how chess would take her to grand places and eventually even introduce her to her idol Bobby Fischer, and then bring her right back to her beginnings of chess, but this time as a teacher.

Shernaz’s family continued to encourage her love of chess no matter where her father’s career took them. She made friends through her chess teams and while competing in tournaments and, despite the general discouragement of female players, she competed in some of the most prestigious tournaments internationally. Shernaz competed in the 1986 Chess Olympiad and earned the title of Woman’s International Master in 1987.

As we think of her many accomplishments, we remember how it all started when she was just a four year old at home, playing around with family. Shernaz has always felt that chess is best when shared and learned early. She looks upon chess with the fresh perspective every chess player must embrace when approaching the board: every opponent is new yet familiar, every match is there for the win, and which strategy will be my lucky charm today! So she took her smile, confidence, and winning strategy to schools in New York City hopeful she could teach other children the joy of chess, the joy of tenacity, the joy of sportsmanship, and the community. She recruited her good friend, NM Bruce Pandolfini. At that time Bruce was the manager of the world renowned Manhattan Chess Club at Carnegie Hall. They worked side by side as Shernaz focused on the children and Bruce managed the business intricacies of creating National Champions. They remain a wonderful team. Schools welcomed their focus, commitment, and creative approach and soon recognized the value they brought as their students became more involved and advanced in tournament play.

Today Shernaz is the backbone of Top Level Chess. Top Level Chess emphasizes the many components of the sport of chess from the life skills of critical thinking, sportsmanship, and logical thinking, to the strategic skills of openings, middle, and end game conundrums. Recognizing that each child enjoys and appreciates different aspects of chess, Shernaz has developed a team of coaches who can coach the next champion or the avid player at any level. This team includes Grandmasters and National Masters and teachers. Top Level Chess provides programs to after school programs in its own space, online, and privately. Shernaz coaches her students at the top tournaments: The Cities, The States, The Nationals, and The World Championships, but you can also find her competing with her own team. Shernaz remains in love with chess!

On that note, we are glad to be partnered with Top Level Chess and encourage you to be apart of this association, by signing up your children to their upcoming tournament at the Churchill School, on November 16th (click here for page event). Our CEO, (NM) Evan Rabin, actually learned chess through Shernaz as a second grader at the Churchill’s Elementary School.

(WIM) Shernaz Kennedy
(WIM) Shernaz Kennedy still is an active and strong chess player

A Lawyer Tells Us How Chess And The Immigration Policies Can Be Compared.

Chess is pretty often compared to many things, but are analogies with chess and other various subjects really relevant ? Perhaps not always, but lawyer Stacy Jacob draws us a really pertinent description of the overall immigration laws and justice system in which she puts side by side the divergence of the immigration policies and the consistency of the rules of chess.

Ms. Jacob previously worked within the Department of Juvenile Justice (now called ACS) at which point she identified the sport as a great tool of redefining some of the youth’s strategic approach on their perception of any situation. In fact it forces players to keep an objective mindset along the games to better their chances of thriving and winning. Moreover anyone involved with regularly playing the game will benefit from a physiological well being, for instance Stacy noticed that chess allowed young people in detention to “refocus their energy onto something more positive and constructive that consistently helps with their brain development and their ability to think in a more strategic fashion.”

Today she concentrates on immigration law and she’s been successfully overcoming its constant modifications. Indeed if we take a look at it over a period of 30 years we’ll see that “the forms changed, the processes changed and there’s a certain adaptability that is necessary when working with the immigration system”. At this point I’m sure you see where this is going. Yes ! Similarly to a chess game, asylum seekers for instance seem to be “moved about like pawns, like chess pieces, and not necessarily appreciated for what their contribution is”. And that is why thinking like a chess player could allow you to somewhat catch up with the ramifications of the politics and the laws, by recognizing your role on that board, sometimes sacrificial, even though “every member is important from a strategic point of view”. We’re not saying that Gambits are bad and we all know that Magnus Carlsen played the Benko when he was a teenager, but as he ever lost against one ? Maybe on a bad day.

Unfortunately “from the government perspective not every member is treated with that necessary respect, so in some ways the immigration system ends up looking like a chess game for better or for worse. An attorney will have to fully understand the aspect of immigration to understand how they can help their clients the best.” Moreover there are many particular chess opening just like there are different types of immigration, and “if a person is doing asylum and their expertise is in asylum then they’re called up to understand all aspects of that and keep current with any changes”. In like manner if you play the King’s Gambit you better have opened a book or two before moving your King to c1 or you may lose your cool at some point.

Now “fortunately with chess the rules generally don’t change unless you adopt something special for anybody else or you say we’re going to set a timer to it, or some specific general aspect of it, somebody may agree to change, but the rules are the rules and you can depend on that internationally. Unlike immigration it is not an internationally dependent matter. If you go to a different country their rules of immigration are going to change. Chess is chess whether it’s in Russia or Malaysia or America, for the most part. In our country, how we do immigration is very specific to our needs” and the way chess established its own set of universal rules centuries ago, without adjusting any of its core values and principles, demonstrate a certain coherence and cohesion with the worldwide community that’s grown around this amazing sport while the continual revisions of immigration laws demonstrate the absence our absence of stability compared to how do do chess in America.

Practice in Chess ?

Chess requires consistent practice and an objective state of mind to keep on getting to the next level. Unlike other sports where presuming that you’re the best may give boost your self-confidence and push you to greater heights, doing so here is probably going to do more harm than good. I’m not saying that believing in you is bad, on the contrary we should believe in ourselves but similarly to other activities, doing something over and over again will get us to where we want only if we employ the right methodology. But which training technique is going to make us improve and should we all have the same approach to become stronger players ?

Opening knowledge is quite primordial when it comes to getting a decent middle-game position and our comfort level with the position we get. For instance at club level the dragon is quite popular at and the likelihood to reach some Tabiya is pretty likely. So you’re an e4 player and you’ve noticed that you’ve been getting this exact same position in the Sicilian and you decide to do some homework, which is a wise thing to do since the Dragon is a dangerous opening.

After a while you memorize a couple of more moves and you go back to your local club and end up with a nagging edge around move 20. But how did that happen ? Remembering moves and just re-playing a line in which White ends up with a slight advantage has allowed you to get good position out of the opening but now what ? And is this chess is supposed to work, just pure memorization ? Anyway your clock is ticking and we must dive back into the game as the you’re out of the opening in even deeper water.

Now you and your opponent traded a few more pieces, you’re a pawn up but the position looks even more unclear to you as you’re not familiar at all with this situation since you’ve never played so good against Jeffrey. Then what are the conditions to be considered an experienced and knowledgeable competitor who is able to convert some sort of advantage into a winning endgame. Well since there are less pieces at this point of the game brute calculations and forced lines should be popping in and out out of your brain. Whether it’s figuring out the best way to bail out of a dangerous situation where your opponent’s pieces are dangerously aiming at your King or thinking through how to rightly put in motion the combination of moves that will allow you to simplify the game into a simple and much better endgame, calculation will be a big part of the equation.

At this point your clock is ticking down to a few remaining minutes and you’re struggling to even remembering if you know how to win this rook endgame. A pawn up but it’s your king is somewhat far away from it and your opponent’s King is getting closer and closer to your only hope for winning. Well in times like that experience may be of importance as far as not feeling overwhelmed by the time pressure and just losing your ability to play right, but more importantly your knowledge of endgame is quite primordial, and nothing better but to do endgame puzzles for that.

Frank’s late pal, Pal Benko

Frank is a chess player. He participated in the Bankers Athletic Leagues quite a while ago. Now he harbors New-York, spreading his own memories and vision of the world through lengthy and insightful conversations. We had the chance to encounter him at the Chess Forum, a vibrant shop where chess amateurs come and go and usually play blitz games. So what about Pal Benko ?

Benko was famous as the man who, in 1970, stepped aside for Bobby Fischer to enter the World Championship Cycle. But he was also praised and recognized as an innovative opening theoretician, endgame genius and a brillant problem solver. Born in Amiens, France in 1928 to a vacationing Hungarian family, Benko grew up in Budapest, Hungary. The memorable chess player received an invitation to the 1957 World Student Team Championship in Iceland, where he played on the first board. That’s when a new chapter of his life begin as he decided to walk into the American Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland and asked for asylum.

At first working as a mutual fund salesman, it didn’t take him long to get back to his first calling. Indeed Pal Benko started making a living with chess, and back in the 60’s it was much easier said than done. The prizes were definitely not as important as they are today, at least for major international events. Anyway the reborn chess master was thriving and even set a record winning 4 U.S. Chess Open in a row (1964-1967). His most famous game was a loss, against Fischer in a game during the 1963 U.S. Chess Championship during which the audience was stunned by Bobby’s 19th move.

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In his career, he also devoted a lot of his time to writing chess articles. For instance he was a long-time columnist for Chess life from 1971 to 1981. Moreover he and the Polgar family have had an everlasting friendship, as they all live in Hungary at some point and would go on vacation together. He was also a long-time trainer and mentor of the Polgar sisters, so no wonder they’ve been so successful. Susan Polgar visited him in Hungary shortly before he passed away. Chess grandmaster Pal Benko lives on through his books, columns and games.