Chess is An Art of Titans

By Dmitriy Belyavskiy 

Chess is a wonderful, exciting and intellectual game, which has been around for almost 1,500 years, played around the world by different ages from schoolboys and schoolgirls to scientists, artists, and even “played” by politicians and world dictators.

History of chess does not keep the exact record where precisely this wonderful and intellectual game originated at first. Chess historians haven’t found any written proof yet that chess existed before the 7th century CE. However, some believe chess originated in India in about the 6th century CE and is said to have been the creation of an Indian philosopher who set out to invent a game symbolizing a battle between two Indian armies. He called his game chaturanga, which means army game. War was the chief means by which territory was annexed or rulers defeated in ancient India, so the newly developed game was very relevant.

There is no evidence as to when chess actually reached Europe, so historians put the date between 700 and 900, and the first contemporary evidence of the knowledge dates back to the year 1010 when the Count of Urgell left his rock-crystal chessmen to the Convent of St. Giles at Nimes (France). The early medieval times were the years of the Crusades and the church dominance and the looming 1215 Magna Carta, and because of these pious and liturgical times one of the chess pieces was called a “bishop.” The name of this piece, which moves diagonally, is still preserved.

Vikings brought chess to northwestern Europe, eventually spreading over the entire European continent. Just when you thought that Columbus discovered America, half a millennium before that, a Viking, Eriksson did a “discovered check”-one of the types of a check in chess-sailing by or even possibly setting foot in the New World. Vikings were brave, intelligent and explorative warriors constantly fighting wars and conquering new territories, and the chess game was the perfect imitation of their lives.

Both the rules of the game and the names and shapes of the pieces have changed over time. Still, we can find some resemblance, e.g. a piece that looks like a tower or castle called a Rook, and used to be called a castle about 500 years ago…And still, we have a special move called castling when a Rook and the King are switching places and this is the only time when a player can move two pieces at once. Nonetheless, by 1290 the differences had become so great that it was necessary to draw up a set of rules to govern play when players from different countries met. About 1500(!) innovations started to reappear, and it was not until 1900 that uniform rules were adopted throughout Europe. Today FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Echecs, World Chess Federation), founded in 1924, unites more than 150 countries.

The game was at one time the pastime of the nobility, but it gradually spread to the lower classes. It was played a lot in ghettos, and by the 16th century, it had become a recognized pastime for Jews on the Sabbath and other festivals. Jewish people throughout the millenniums have greatly appreciated and cherished intelligence and education, and chess was always to represent that. There is still an inside joke amongst the Jewish people, that every Jewish “kindale” (means a child in Yiddish) is an Albert Einstein and either has to be a violinist or a chess player, preferably both.

Knowledge of chess became an essential part of the equipment of the troubadour and traveling minstrel. This was during the Shakespearian and Cervantes times when manners, courting, and chivalry still existed. Imagine, instead of saying, “Hey babe, you wanna go out” you would say something like, “excuse me, my fair lady, would you care for a game of chess?” How sexy and orgasmic this is!

Eventually, chess became the game of intellectuals, as the first chess books were written and published, for instance by a great 18th-century chess player and theoretician, Philidor, who was also a prominent composer. Philidor considered both chess and music as art, and famously said, “The pawns are the soul of chess.”

Prominent chess players had been gathering in cafes in two major cities, Paris and London, which were considered the chess capitals of the world, and finally the very first international chess tournament was played in London in 1851. This was soon followed by the first chess world championship match when Wilhelm Steinitz defeated Johannesburg Zukertot in 1886, becoming the very first chess world champion.

By the late 19th century and early 20th-century chess became very popular around the world, thanks to the prominent grandmasters and the champions. They showed how intellectual the chess is, and its benefits to the brain. A good example, which illustrates just that, is chess and science. Many prominent musicians, chemists, physicists, naturalists, and indeed philosophers not only spend much of their spare time playing chess but also were fabulous and very strong chess players. A famous Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev was a strong chess player of the first category.

At the same time many chess champions and professional chess players (grandmasters) earned a doctoral degree. Emmanuel Lasker (1868-1941), the second world champion had a doctoral degree in math, Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946), the fourth world champion had a Ph.D. in law, Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995), the sixth world champion obtained his doctorate in math and cybernetics, and in 1949 he published a major work on electrical engineering called Regulation of Excitation and Static Stability of the Synchronic Machine. Garry Kasparov (1963- ), the 13th world champion was born on April 13th, lived in a building number 13, got admitted into a university on June 13th, and finally became the 13thworld champion. How about that for a superstition! Richard Reti (1889-1929) a famous Austro-Hungarian/Czechoslovakian (now the Czech Republic) grandmaster and a chess theoretician also studied math (obtaining later Ph.D.) and physics at Vienna University. He also set a blindfold simultaneous record by playing 29 games simultaneously in 1925 of which he won 20, drew 7 and lost 2. After he finished, the grandmaster left the building and forgot his briefcase. The grandmaster was chased down the street by one of the event organizers, telling him, “Doctor, you forgot your briefcase, here it is.” Reti at first became embarrassed and then exclaimed, “Thank you very much! Forgive me; I have such a bad memory!”

Most grandmasters were highly educated people, scholars, and also absent-minded geniuses, yet with a great sense of humor. While playing in the New York 1924 chess tournament, an Austrian grandmaster and one of the wittiest, Savielly Tartakower, visited the Bronx Zoo. There he became friends with a local orangutan, Susan, and the very next day dedicated the opening to his new friend, dubbing it as the “Orangutan Opening.”

One of the greatest chess players ever, a Polish grandmaster, Akiba Rubinstein, who sadly never became the world champion, once played in a tournament and was extremely preoccupied with the upcoming game. He left his hotel room thinking about the game, went to a local restaurant, ordered a three-course dinner, ate it, paid the bill, and left the restaurant, still thinking about the upcoming game. Then he took a walk around a lake still thinking about the upcoming game. After that, he came back to the very same restaurant, ordered the very same three-course dinner, ate it to complete astonishment of a waiter, paid for it, and left the restaurant, absolutely oblivious that he did exactly the same thing 30 minutes ago, still thinking about the game.

Regrettably, for the first half of the 20th century most chess players struggled financially unless they were born into a wealthy family. Chess was financially unappreciated, and the better part of chess players was forced to play exhibition games, simultaneous display games to entertain the crown in order to make the ends meet. A very few were lucky in finding Maecenas, i.e. generous patrons of art, including chess, who would fund their living expenses, tournaments, and even matches for the chess crown. Before 1948 a challenger for the chess crown must have provided with a $10,000 prize money, while the chess champion had a luxury not just go for the prize money but to pick and choose whether he wants a convenient opponent or just go for a real challenge. $10,000 was a lot of money back then.

Dawid Janowski, a Polish/French grandmaster, and once a challenger for the chess crown in 1910 had had a Maecenas for a long time. Janowski had a very ill-temper, and also was an inveterate gambler. Once, after winning a tournament in Monte Carlo in 1901, he lost all the prize money-a few thousand dollars-he just won in a casino at the roulette wheel. Janowski due to his bad temper managed to fall out with his Maecenas when the latter asked the grandmaster for a game of the chess and the former replied that he doesn’t play with tailor’s dummies. Dawid Janowski died in poverty from tuberculosis in 1927. Many prominent and famous chess players of the first half of the 20th century shared this very ill fate, dying in poverty as paupers or dying in mental asylums and/or suffering from schizophrenia, including the American master, the greatest chess master of his era, Paul Morphy, as well as Akiba Rubenstein and the first world champion Wilhelm Steinitz. It was not until the 1950s when the Chess Federation established international chess rules and laws, including the format for the qualifying matches, and the match for the chess crown. Still, financially chess was greatly unappreciated. As of today, compared to other sports and arts, chess players make such a minuscule amount from $20,000 to $100,000 a year, and sometimes even less, in addition to paying their own expenses and accommodation fees. The match for the chess crown only has a fund of only $2.5-3 million divided between the winner and the loser in the ratio of 60 to 40.

After the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War chess became a very powerful political and ideological weapon between the USA and the evil Russia/USSR. It seemed like Russia had hegemony over chess since the end of WWII, spending a fortune on it, paying a fortune to the soviet champions. In the Soviet Union, this manifested in receiving a 5-room apartment in an elite neighborhood, a car, a dacha (a country cottage), an ability to attain good food, and also availability to travel abroad and buy Western products.

It was only until a young prodigy Robert Fisher stormed and climbed at the very top of the “Chess Olympus.”

Not only was he was defeating and eliminating his opponents, but he was also simply humiliating them. Finally, at the peak of his form in 1972, Fisher defeated Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland and became the 11th world champion. This was an extremely heavy blow for the soviets especially when the blow came from the Americans. So they threw all their dark forces, evil, and conspiracy to return the chess crown back to the “evil empire.” To make a long story short, the late Bobby Fisher was stripped from the chess title and a new soviet chess player, a very mediocre and talentless, Anatoly Karpov was crowned as a new champion…Viktor Korchnoi, a soviet Jew grandmaster and Soviet Champion in 1960, 1962 and 1964 was persecuted a lot for being Jewish and for refusal to help Karpov defeating Bobby Fisher. Korchnoi secretly fled to Switzerland, becoming a dissident, and played Karpov twice in 1978 and 1981 becoming the challenger for the World Championship, but lost twice because he was pressured and blackmailed by the Soviet authorities since he still had his family in the USSR…

Nowadays, chess is still greatly marginalized and unappreciated both intellectually and financially. The 13th world champion Gary Kasparov, just like Bobby Fisher grieved and lamented that chess isn’t paid much, let alone that compared to other sports it is very minuscule. Kasparov argued that boxers, who entertain the crowd by throwing punches are paid 20-30 million dollars, and the chess players, who use their brain cells, and the grey matter for 5-6 hours, merely are paid anything. Kasparov tried to sign a contract with General Motors to boost chess popularity.  However, with no avail; after the contract had expired, GM refused to extend it. Sadly, many chess players nowadays, choose something else, terminating their chess careers, because chess won’t provide and put food on the table. As a very young man in 1999 at the Chess World Championship in Las Vegas, I had an opportunity to talk to Valery Salov, who was once ranked the third best chess player in the world, in the mid-90s. He told me that he was going to retire from chess because it didn’t provide for his family as he was struggling financially. He added that realistically only 10 best players in the world can survive playing chess professionally

So, what is chess? Is it an art, sport, a great tool for education and improvement of one’s counting abilities, or merely a game that played and enjoyed by millions? The answer might not be an orthodox one, however, should not be a shocking either. Chess is everything! Most important chess is an art, as the fourth chess world champion Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) once noticed. Indeed chess is an art of titans, which helps to develop memory, mathematical and analytical skills, sense of responsibility, perseverance, and improves problem-solving, critical thinking, scientific method, and approach.

Chess is an amazing game and sport of beauty, art, and intelligence. Whether one is playing blindfolded, solving chess problems, showing great endurance by playing a 6-hour chess game in a chess tournament or simply playing a pastime easy game with a friend, he or she is exercising and improving memory, math, calculation, analytical skills, and most important critical thinking. So perhaps next time when parents watch their children playing video games, watching Star Wars or something like that, or even playing outside with a baseball, football or basketball, maybe they should consider chess. It won’t hurt!


“Carpe Diem” — Press Opportunities Abound for Chess Pros Following the Popularity of “The Queen’s Gambit”

Now is the Time to Increase Brand Awareness for your Chess-Related Business with Public Relations Outreach

By Andrea Pass

According to Netflix, The Queen’s Gambit is its most-watched limited series with 62 million accounts watching within the first 28 days of release. The show is based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name about a female orphaned chess prodigy who battles addictions to pills and alcohol while beating male grandmaster after male grandmaster.

From the public relations standpoint of “The Queen’s Gambit,” a whole new audience of chess players has emerged as a result of the show. estimates adding 12.2 million new members since the start of the pandemic and the show’s debut. This means an opportunity for businesses in the chess category to seize the day and become part of media coverage of the resurgence and, for some, newfound appreciation for the game.

Working with a professional public relations professional can certainly lead to increased media coverage in print, broadcast and online press. Ongoing earned media placements translate to growing brand awareness, staying relevant and, ultimately, driving sales. Each interview provides opportunities to secure new business, new clients, and new chess players.

Today, consumers absorb an estimated 11 hours per day of content. It is time for chess businesses and chess pros to secure more of that content by participating in interviews. Check out National Master Evan Rabin’s quote in FIDE Master Dylan Mclain’s recent New York Times article

Features, for example on podcasts, reach targeted audiences and wider ranging listeners who might be ready to take the leap to learn chess.

Every press outreach can mean a new relationship for a business.

Media highlights are oftentimes evergreen. They can be shared on social media now and again and again in the coming months and years. This means that public relations secured content becomes part of a business’ marketing arsenal for quite some time to come.

Where to start? Begin by speaking with an experienced public relations professional. That expert will know exactly where to kick off and which media to engage with to book appropriate coverage. Media training is key as is developing targeted message points. Remember that interviews provide editorial information. But, the ultimate goal, is to drive sales.

The worldwide shift and cultural phenomenon of chess due to “The Queen’s Gambit” is opening doors for those in the business of chess to grow.

Carpe diem!

Andrea Pass is the Founder and CEO of Andrea Pass Public Relations. To learn more about her, see her appearance on our podcast

14 Virtual Winter Classes for All Ages Skill Levels, Unrated-Master, Starting January 4

Classes will be taught by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin, Grandmaster Mark Paragua, our Director of Virtual Programs Expert Brian Wilmeth and other experienced instructors.

-All Classes will be held on Zoom and feature and incorporate live lecturespractice games and puzzles.

We have 9 youth options, 4 adult options and 1 senior option for group classes.

-We will have an 8-1 student-teacher ratio for all classes.

-Weekend options are available.

-Discounts available for signing up for multiple classes.

For live commentary and tidbits from previous classes, see

***Use PROMO CODE “gratitude” by end of week for 10% off group classes.

Also coming up is our Virtual Winter Break Camp, December 21-January 1

 Questions: Reach out to Evan Rabin, CEO of Premier Chess at or (917) 776-1306.

Our Streamer Network

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin

The above screenshot is from a late-night simul stream that I did last night.

Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura single handedly brought chess on the Twitch map with his stream; he frequently has 10,000+ concurrent viewers.

Since then, I have been inspired to stream more and more, where I frequently do lessons and live commentary on simuls and tournaments. On Saturday, December 19th at 10:00 AM; I will be streaming Chess in the Schools Online Brooklyn Chess Day tournament. See CIS CEO Debbie Eastburn on this recent podcast episode.

Twitch has been a great way to build community and garner interest for our virtual group classes and camp

Here are our few favorite streamers that we cross-promote with and frequently raid:

Chess Coach John 

Our podcast guest John Hendrick, Founder of Foundation Chess, frequently streams slow games with analysis, most often during the day.

Fortuna Chess Coach 

I never met Jacob Fortuna in person but we have been good friends through each other’s streams. A few weeks ago we did a joint stream, where we shared each other’s videos to analysis one each of our respective accounts. By day he is a programmer but most evenings, he will stream tournaments, simuls, games against viewers and much more.

Mad Quick Chess

National Master Andrew Koenigsberg is a great player and commentator; learn more about him on this podcast episode. He frequently streams bullet, blitz and poker.

BK Chess

Started by Brooklyn Tech H.S. and Edward R. Murrow H.S. seniors Jacob Kulik and Marcus Sutton, bkchess brings students together by playing, commentating, and interacting with chat! All of their proceeds go to Chess in the Schools.

Chess Dojo Live 

ChessDojo is a hub for chess players, improvers, and coaches, run by International Master Kostya Kavutskiy. It has lots of educational content.

While many of us are still in varying degrees of quarantine, Twitch is a great way for us to stay connected. I have also found some great music channels on there, some of which are nice to listen to in the background, while I work. If anyone would like to start but needs assistance, feel free to email me.

What The Queen’s Gambit Can Teach Us About Preparing For the Future.

By New York Life

Everybody’s talking about the personality traits of Beth Harmon, the lead character in the latest Netflix blockbuster The Queen’s Gambit. But her strategic approach also offers plenty of lessons for financial strategies and achieving your life goals.

As the number-one ranked Netflix series at the end of October, The Queen’s Gambit has fast become the latest must-watch mini-series.

The show is a tale of a girl who rises from discovering the game of chess in an orphanage basement to the pinnacle of the chess world – and has got people talking about everything from fashion, to addiction and relationships.

However, the series – and chess in particular – also offers some valuable lessons for life and financial preparations:

Look at the big picture

The best chess players don’t just look at the next move – they anticipate the next few moves and plan their responses accordingly. Taking this approach to your life goals can help ensure you make the right investments, better anticipate how much you need to put aside for the future and understand what sort of life insurance you might need if anything was to happen to you. New York Life offers  tools to help you reach your overarching goals.

The first move is crucial

The Queen’s Gambit takes its name from one of the oldest and best-known opening moves in chess. And, like a game of chess, making the right financial moves early on can  set you up for success. Starting early and making informed decisions can really benefit you later. What’s more, it’s never too late to start making that first move.

Make the most of your position

Chess is all about strategies and game-play – including staying focused when you’re on top. As you achieve individual life goals, make sure you continue to look ahead to the next ones and maximize the opportunities in front of you. You may want to think about wealth management, for example.

Review and react to new moves

Of course, chess – and life – doesn’t always go to plan or stick to the course you were expecting. So make sure you review your  plans along the way, especially at different life stages. For example, if you decide to buy a property, have children or change careers, it’s important to review your financial strategies – so meet with your financial professional or advisor on a regular basis to discuss your situation.

It is for everyone – no matter your status or situation

While Anya Taylor-Joy’s lead character in The Queen’s Gambit certainly had many challenges in her life, she didn’t let them stop her from seeing the big picture and chasing her dreams. Financial preparation  is just the same. Whatever your life stage, however far away some of your dreams may feel and whatever your immediate focus, looking ahead to the future and making a financial strategy can help you get where you want to be in the longer term.

While The Queen’s Gambit is a work of fiction, and lead character Beth Harmon’s focus is clearly on issues other than her financial future, there’s plenty the show can teach us in our approach to future planning.

Starting now, with a focus on the long term, could help you beat the clock in securing the finances you need for your future dreams – and ensure you don’t end up in a financial check-mate. Take a look at some of our tools and resources to get you started.

Editor’s Note: Thank You to New York Life registered agent Veronique Verscheure for informing us of this article, which originally appeared on New York Life’s website here.

Ideas for Hannuakah

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Hannukah will begin sooner than most people realize on the evening of Thursday, December 10!

Did Queen’s Gambit get you into chess as it did for 62 million households ? Read my review, if you have not already.

Here are some ideas for gifts: 

1) Buy a private lesson or semi-private group lesson from us.

2) Shop for equipment by our close partner American Chess Equipment. Check out their director Shelby Lohrman’s appearance on our podcast.

3) Check out these chess related artisanal gifts from Frann Addison Judaica :

The Eight Knights of Hanukkah

This unique menorah incorporates 8 wooden chess pieces (the Knights), a vintage inlaid wood cribbage board, brass, and a hand carved wood architectural corbel, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Checkered Dreidel

Chess pawn as the handle, brass, guitar picks.

Welcome the Sabbath Queen

One-of-a-kind Sabbath Candlesticks incorporating 2 Chess Queens, brass, and alabaster inlaid with lapis lazuli, malachite, jasper, onyx, and mother of pearl.  The Black Queen symbolizes the shadow of the week that has ended, and the White Queen symbolizes hope and the week that will be beginning.  Perfect for someone who loved watching The Queen’s Gambit!

4) Are you looking for more high-end gifts and would like to give back to JICNY, a wonderful cause ? If so, look at this Natan Sharansky signed chess board and knight in their virtual auction, December 6-8.

For many more great options, look at our long list of business partners.

We Would Love to Donate Chess Lessons to Your Cause!


From our Annual Make a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa trip 

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

Who is planning a fundraiser for their shul, school or other type of non-profit? Email if you would like a virtual group lesson for up to 10 children or adults as silent auction/raffle item.

We can also donate a 1-hour lesson as a virtual fundraiser. 

Organizations, including The Cleveland Clinic, Rabbi Levi Welton, and The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey have raised several-hundred dollars through our fundraisers.

For a full list of ways we help non-profits, see this post.

Business Lessons from the Queen’s Gambit


By Ezrin Raja, Phoenix Lifestyle Coach 

What does it take to be the BEST IN THE WORLD? 🏆

Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit ♟️

Is a must watch for BUSINESS OWNERS..

To be the best 🥇

In life and business:

You will need certain qualities 📝

Here are 3 important ones: 

You should start adopting:


🎯 If you don’t believe you can, you’re setting yourself for failure

🎯 Start the day with a winning mindset and you’re in a better position of becoming successful


📊 Whilst it is important to have a strategy, what’s more important is having one that is flexible

📊 2020 has taught us to be flexible, resilient and your strategy needs to be the same


💯 You’ll have days when things don’t go your way, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop and pack it in

💯 Keep going, you didn’t come this far to only come this far

Quads at The Hudson Chess Tournament, This Sunday

By Robert Mclellan, Director of Communications and Development at National Scholastic Chess Foundation

The NSCF is pleased to announce we will be having an over-the-board tournament in a most spectacular location! Quads at The Hudson will be held this Sunday, November 15 from 9 am to 3:30 pm.

This is a live over-the-board tournament. Spacious heated covered outdoor playing area allows for social distancing. Individual tables. Limited participants. Face masks required. 

There is a separate skittles area and a separate parent waiting area. Coffee service and snacks from the food truck on premises. PLUS the restaurant opens at 11:30 am. The food is delicious.

The weather promises to be wonderful. The Hudson, 348 Dyckman Street, New York NY 10034, is located in beautiful Inwood Park , overlooking the river. Free parking and just a 10-minute walk from the A train Dyckman Street station.

For this event, we are limited to just 48 participants with USCF Ratings 900-1800.

First Come, First Served.Advance Registration only.

Register here!


Development of a Chess Expert and Programmer

By National Expert Brian Wilmeth

I recently started managing another programmer after being the sole programmer for my company for a long time. Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin asked me for some similarities between programming and chess. Here are my thoughts:

I learned chess at the tennis club after my tennis lessons. In the beginning I would lose pieces easily and fall for the four-move checkmate repeatedly. I usually took about 3-4 times of the same mistake over and over to register that I was doing something wrong.

Let’s contrast that to the time I started programming which was during my junior year of high school. My favorite part of programming was drawing colors to the screen in the form of pixels. This is how most games are done. You could say I had a love for the gaming part of programming.

Later on I decided to tackle the harder stuff and I got a book on programming video games…

I gave up. It was too hard so I did not revisit that until my senior year of college. With chess I never gave up on it and started entering tournaments when I went to high school. Unfortunately, I played a lot less chess when college started.

Why did I give up? What causes anyone to give up in a pursuit of something they enjoy? It was too hard for me I think. Video game programming seemed too hard and reaching beyond my chess rating of 1900 seemed too hard.

What do I mean by too hard? Well in the case of video game programming, I worked from a book. I figured in order to learn this I need to get through this book. Is that really true? Perhaps there was another way. Perhaps my limited thinking of how this must be done was creating the feeling of too hard.

In the case of chess I started to analyze openings very deeply. I looked at how to play against the Grunfeld Defense and looked into that opening very deeply.

I wanted to play as good as the computer. During this time of trying to perfect my anti Grunfeld I thought chess was too hard. Perhaps I was just approaching it wrong? The Grunfeld was just a small part of chess and yet I was putting all my energy into that.

Now I approach chess and programming differently. I have goals that I feel comfortable with in both of them. How good do I want to be? I’m not looking to be a world champion chess player or the best programmer. For chess, reaching a specific rating would be nice and for programming, releasing a Nintendo Switch game would be nice.

Now that I am clear on what I want from these two pursuits, I am less likely to fall in the trap of hating the process, which could just be a sign that I am not clear about what I want and I am going in the wrong direction. In any pursuit, one should be clear of what he wants out of it and he will enjoy it more and get farther.

National Expert Brian Wilmeth manages our virtual classes and program at New American Academy Charter School. He is also a programmer and web designer. He recently did some consulting for KWR International. To learn more about his programming services and coding classes, send him an email at .