Guidelines vs. Rules

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

The king moves one space in any direction; that is a rule.

Develop, control the center and castle as soon as possible; that is a guideline.

In a podcast episode with business coach Sharon Richter, we spoke about the important of knowing the “rules of the game”. Of course, in addition to how to move the pieces, we were also referring to the position evaluation and basic strategy. While one should follow basic guidelines like developing knights before bishops, trading when up material, etc., it is important to think at the board and not automatically rely on them. 

In this easily winning position, my student Luke decided to use the guideline to trade when you are up material and played 19…Bh3. While he did eventually win the game, it would have made more sense to think at the board more and realize that white has a king near the center that can easily be attacked. Better would have been to not rush to trade and play 19…. Bf5+.  A sample winning variation would be:

20. e4 Rad8
21. exf5 Rxd4+
22. Kxd4 Rfd8+ (winning a queen)

In the Sicilian Defense, there is often a tension with the white knight on d4 and black knight on c6. The general guideline tell us that you want to let your opponent be the one to relieve the tension; i.e, white does not want to play Nxc6 and black does not want to play Nxd4. However, in this position, Grandmaster van der Wiel played 7.Nxc6 against Grandmaster Ulf Anderson. His idea was to get some quick development and a strong attack….. Several moves later, they got to this position:

In this position,  van der Wiel played the crushing blow 15.. Nxd5 and found himself in a winning position. See the full game here.

This position arises from the 150 attack against the Pirc Defense, a variation I read about in Attacking With 1.e4, a book described in this post. According to basic opening principles, black should castle kingside in this position. However, if he plays 5…0-0, he will be walking into trouble. White will play 6. Bh6 and black will have a tough time defending against a quick attack after a simple plan of exchanging bishops, marching up the h pawn to trade on g6, and playing for mate. Black is much better off delaying castling with 5….c6.

One should distinguish guidelines and rules. Do not play an idea just because it is the type that a chess teacher would fundamentally recommend. Do not forget to analyze of the board and make the best move. Disability Lisa Cunningham, once shared how when on deadline and or trial, an attorney needs to learn how to take everything he knows about law and think on their feet. On or off the board, be confident, distinguish rules and guidelines and use your intuition and you will be successful.  

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.

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.

Mindfulness, Meditation and the Art of Chess

By Francine Steadman Krulak, Founder of BuddhaBooth 

Mindfulness can be thought of as the practice of filling our mind with the present, moment by moment. Pushing out all of the other external forces of daily life that would seek to control our conscious thought process.

Meditation is the process by which we use mindfulness to help center our thoughts, often by focusing on one specific object, thought or activity to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.

These are two concepts that can seem foreign to many people in the year 2020 when every moment of every day seems to be in a state of perpetual flux. Yet, the very obstacles that would seek to impede our achievement of this higher level of mental clarity are also the reason they are so important. Meditation and mindfulness have been proven throughout the ages to offer countless benefits to both mental and physical health.

Our team views meditation and mindfulness more as an art form than as an activity. And there is no artist that stands to benefit more from solitude than a chess player. While “game” is the word most commonly used to describe chess, it is more of an artform or sport of the mind. Professional athletes are known for leveraging the power of meditation prior to a major sporting event and then draw from that focus for the duration of the match. The same holds true for writers, painters and sculptors before they sit down at their medium of choice to bring a vision to life.

by Bruce Rolff

Chess players are no different. The entire match is won or lost in the mind of the opponents; one wrong move or momentary lapse in focus is all it takes to suffer an insurmountable setback. The more mentally prepared a player is prior to sitting down at the board, the better their chances of being victorious. Conversely, the more relaxed and focused a businessperson or student is, the more effective they will be at tackling the tasks at hand.

Alone, BuddhaBooth and chess currently offer countless users ways to focus and tap the inner power of the mind. But the combined partnership of the two can open a new world of possibilities.

Four Ways to Network and Grow Your Business

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

As we enjoy teaching students aged 3-100+ in school programs, corporate classes, virtual group classes, private lessons and more, we meet lots of great types of people and organizations. The 90+ organizations that we’ve partnered with so far range from Grace Church School to the law firm Kramer Levin to Village Care.  As we work with a variety of organizations and individuals, it helps to have many close partners and networking groups.

I would love for you to check out one of the four networking groups I am in:

1) Business Networking International Chapter 30

Business Networking International is a massive worldwide networking organization with 270,000 members in 9,500 chapters. Check out this recent podcast episode with the founder Ivan Misner. I am the co-founder of a new chapter, which meets on Wednesdays at 7:00 AM. We have great education, real estate, legal, banking and other industry professionals and focus on building relationships and passing referrals. We are meeting virtually until at least the end of the calendar year. Eventually we will transition to meeting in person midtown.

2) Jewish Business Networking Manhattan

On Thursdays at 9:00 AM, I meet with a great bunch of Jewish professionals on Zoom.  When COVID-19 craziness ends, we will transition to meeting back in in person. Check out this business and life lessons in chess presentation I gave for the group in this morning’s meeting.

3) Astoria NY Entrepreneur Club 

This group normally meets at a different restaurant in Astoria each time twice per month. While I look forward to resuming our in-person meetings, I enjoy our bi-weekly Zoom calls. Our next meeting will take place Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM.

4) Riverdale Business Networking Group

Group meets on Zoom on Wednesdays, bi-weekly. Next meeting is on November 11th at 8:30 AM.

If you are based in New York metropolitan area  and are looking for ways to build relationships and grow your business, email me at to learn more about or visit one of these groups.

Playing Chess: Breaking Down Walls

By Viviana Premazzi, Founder of Global Mindset Development ,Eliana Zuliani, Giulia Cianciulli and Enrico Bertolaso

We help organizations to work effectively across cultures. We help people to learn cross-cultural communication and negotiation strategies and to develop competencies to lead and work in an intercultural team. Moreover, we mentor companies during the internationalization process, helping them to build and understand the opportunities and challenges of the global market.

Probably now you are wondering: how is this linked to chess?

But the right question here is: what does chess teach us about cultures?

Playing chess can connect cultures and people. It is based on intellectual challenges and logical skills. People’s ability and their willingness to learn and improve is the only thing that matters.

Interestingly enough chess was created between India and Persia centuries ago, like most of the religions in the world had their origin in that geographical and cultural area.

In particular, chess has been used to teach war strategy and leadership to kings and rulers. Leading a kingdom, an army or a company as well as playing chess requires, as a matter of fact, strategic thinking and a global mindset.

  1. Strategic thinking and managing cultural differences

Playing chess can be used with an educational purpose. It can teach you how to manage a problem, how to find a solution, evaluating different strategies and moves.

The game, indeed, can help to develop problem solving skills, taking into consideration costs and benefits and consequences of single action. It also improves accountability skills.

In a multicultural organization you have to manage cultural differences and consider their intersectionality. There’s no one approach that fits all. A good manager or an organization committed to diversity and inclusion are able to evaluate various approaches. Then they choose how to act in a specific situation, considering all the consequences and the whole scenario. Diversity and inclusion should be part of the business strategy like a single move in chess cannot be considered isolated from the whole game.

2. A Global Mindset

When you play chess, you have to have a bird-eye on the chessboard. You have to look at all your pawns and your opponent’s ones. This is what in business and, in particular in intercultural management, we call Global Mindset. The Global Mindset considers the broad perspective, not only your single organization, your region or your country. It is being able to see everyone in their potential and their differences and see where and how you can “use them” for the benefit of the organization and the game.

3. Chess for breaking down walls

Almost since its origin, chess has affirmed itself as a democratic game, it is not only for the elite but everyone can play and learn strategies and skills. It started in the Indian sub-continent then came to Europe and now is played internationally online and in-person. It is based on fair played and equal opportunities.

4. One last tip: Be the Knight!

The knight’s move is distinctive and unique. Whereas all the pieces move in straight lines just in one single direction, the knight moves in an “L-Shape”. It can move two squares horizontally and one vertically and vice-versa.

We wish this kind of movement in your life! How can you be and move like the knight?

When you work in multicultural realities, remember to show your main direction but also to consider the other possible paths. The more you know about the other’s perspective, their skills and characteristics, the role they can have in the game, the more you can develop a winning team, committed and ready to succeed.

Last but not least: because of its movement the knight starts from a color square and ends up on another one. Being like a knight for us means also building your personal journey without the fear of changing your context!

For more about the global chess community, check out National Master Evan Rabin’s Premier Five Chess Travel tips

Chess and Executive Functioning Skills

By Ari Braverman, Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps Group

It is no secret that playing chess is a healthy activity for everybody–but it has particularly positive effects on school-age kids. It’s a social outlet and an excellent way to spend time that doesn’t require a device or any expensive equipment. One of its chief benefits is that it encourages the development of executive functioning skills, which are defined by Merriam-Webster as “the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities…that control the skills…required for goal-directed behavior.” Here are some specific examples of chess-related executive functioning skills–and how they’re essential components of school performance

  • Planning – We could also call this one “strategy,” and it’s one of the most important things a kid can learn how to do. It’s no secret that good chess players map out their games several moves in advance. Well, good students do the same with their schedules, mapping out daily homework, long-term projects, extracurricular activities, and events. Tip: Encourage the learner in your life to use a planner that works for them, whether it’s an app or old-fashioned wall calendar.
  • Time Management In chess, hasty decisions could cost someone the whole game, and the same is true in homework and on tests. While it’s important not to waste time, learning how to move mindfully through a math problem, for example, or taking the time to close-read a short story or an essay is a necessary part of engaging with school work. Details are important–and often mean the difference between the right answer and the wrong one, and the grades that result. Tip: Help your student develop a step-by-step process for going through their assignments thoroughly but efficiently. 
  • Organization – A good chess player has to be able to keep track of lots of moving parts using just their brain. The older students get, the more important this skill becomes: ideas–and assignments–get more complex. Kids must be able to understand how to scaffold concepts and how to relate them to one another in order to build a comprehensive knowledge base. Tip: Make sure your kids understand the connections and throughlines present in everything they’re learning. For example, use a graphic organizer or outline for essay planning.

Being a good student requires a lot more than memorizing facts and writing some good sentences. It takes time, attention, and well-developed executive functioning skills. Chess is an excellent way to encourage that kind of growth in your kids.

New Group Class for Seniors Starting October 9



Fall 2020 Virtual Group Class for Seniors

Friday Mornings at 11:00 AM EST

October 9-December 18 (No Class on 11/27)

Class will be taught by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin, who has run programs for all ages and skill levels through organizations ranging from the law firm Kramer Levin to the nursing home Village Care.

Classes will be held on Zoom and feature and incorporate live lecturespractice games and puzzles. We will have a 8-1 student-teacher ratio.

Here are some of the reasons why seniors should learn chess:

1) Chess keeps one’s mind sharp as it is mentally stimulating.

2) Chess helps relieves stress.

3) There is some research that shows chess lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

For live commentary and tidbits from previous classes, see

Cost for 10 sessions is $199.

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

Register here


Hell is Canceled

by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin
If COVID-19 taught is one thing, it is how small the world we live in is. One person getting sick in a remote place in China can cause most countries to shutdown. Fortunately, in New York things are slowly picking back up with businesses open with modifications, schools doing blended learning, students learning in pods, etc.

Yesterday evening I was playing tourist on a Circle Line tour around Manhattan, and by chance met Wencke Braathen, a wonderful playwright and author. When I told her I own a chess company, she mentioned she knew a couple who ran tournaments in Las Vegas. She was surprised when I immediately told her that she must be referring to Janelle and Al Losoff. While unfortunately the Gaming Commission did not allow the National Open  to happen this year as they banned events with 50+ people, they will be back to bigger and better things in June, 2021.

Meanwhile, wanted to share  Wencke’s musical which is called “Hell is Canceled!” and is a hilarious take on archangel Michael and Lucifer as old roommates in Angel College who have so definitely gone in different directions in their lives; Michael up and Lucifer down. After Michael is lowered down to Hell and announces that this department is canceled by decree of Mr and Mrs God, Lucifer arranges for Olympics in Hell to give his people an opportunity to get out before it freezes over. When Michael comes back to help his old friend, he can’t get back to Heaven, and finds himself stuck in Hell with Lucifer and a lost soul. To his amazement, maybe his angelic perfection wasn’t as perfect as he thought, and maybe Lucifer isn’t such a bad guy after all. And who is Lucy, the lost soul?

There is lots of room for comical situations with singing plants in God’s greenhouse, cameos with the people of Hell as they return to Earth Life creating businesses based on Lucifer’s teachings about Fire, and people of Hell claiming their power back when they hear that they’ve fueled the fire with their guilt and shame all these years. The iconic song “Euphoric Sophomoric Seraphim” is sung by Archangel Michael expressing his wish to be able to do that merging thing that humans do, all the time, all in sparkles and rainbows. Lucy’s song “Childbride burning” is a chilling, but rousing country song. We have a gay wedding between archangels and a celebration of the unification of Heaven and Hell, on Earth as it was intended from the beginning. The show has a sincere tongue in cheek approach to everything, somewhat reminiscent of Monty Python. The concept of Hell being over is a good message in our time when the corona virus has changed so many people’s lives dramatically. Things have been turned upside down, and angels and demons might have to become friends.

There are 28 songs over two acts with four scenes in each act. The show needs one stage design throughout that gets minor changes. “Hell is Canceled!” needs 12 actors.

Wencke wrote the book and the lyrics, the music is composed by Gerald H. Bailey. We’re both members of Chicago Writers’ Bloc and the Dramatist Guild. Wencke had another play read on Zoom by the Dramatist Guild, and has won a competition with CWB with a short play about a car and a toaster called “Moonlight in Turquoise”. She has been active with the Chicago Dramatists. Contact her to learn about play or if you have any connections with producers.


Remote School Centers

By National Master Evan Rabin


As many families are navigating in-person classes, virtual learning, blended options, etc, we are working with families to provide extracurricular activities for pods.

In event your child is doing remote learning option but needs daily supervision, consider our partner  Kid’s in the Games’ Remote School Centers.

They are renting facilities on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and in Tribeca beginning September 21st. Students will rotate between blocks of remote learning based on their school schedule, socially distanced physical activity, and a variety of games and activities.

They will be placed in pods of 8-10 students, and grouped by grade level, from Kindergarten through Grade 8. All students will have access to dedicated Kids in the Game coaches to monitor learning and provide assistance when needed.

More Details

  • Days Are Structured As Follows:
  • Drop off at 8:00am, pick up at 3:30pm
  • Three hours of guided remote learning where students are supported by Kids in the Game staff while they participate in their individual, school-outlined workload
  • Three hours of sport-specific training for your child to meet sports, fitness and PE goals

    See more information here:

Upper West Side Location

Tribeca Location

Upper East Side Location