Three Lessons from a Friend’s Wedding in Cyprus

By National Master Evan Rabin

Earlier this month I travelled to Cyprus to attend the wedding of one of my good friends and business partners. As I celebrated the wedding, consorted with friends and adventured there and in Israel, I learned three important lessons- to not care and results will come,  just have fun, and go. 

For many years, caring too much about results prevented me from accomplishing what I wanted. When I worked at Rapid7, my former manager Tim Hubbard shared how rather than focusing on one’s quota, a sales rep should focus on doing all the small steps- phone calls, emails, proposals, etc. and that would lead to achieving his goal. In the past I would be nervous about asking women to dance as I was so focused on whether or not they would like me. Now that I recently got married and the pressure was off, as I was just casually finding dance partners without any romantic intentions, I found it very easy to ask.

With Brandeis Team by Crosstables in 2011

Similarly, I used to struggle at tournaments, being way to focused on results. Instead of focusing on my last-round game, I would venture to crosstables and other boards, checking out prize situations, how much I would likely win based on win, draw or loss. Since then, I have always tried to dedicate myself to the game, calculating carefully and coming up with the best moves, focusing on what is under my control. Then after the game, I would check out the ‘money situation’.

Since I graduated Brandeis University in 2012, I’ve had much fewer late nights out; these days if I am out and about at 1:00 AM over the weekends, that’s late! However, in Cyrpus, I found myself in the club until 5:00 AM and questioned why I was there, other than because I had friends from the wedding with me. I wanted to go to sleep early and wake up the next morning to check out the beach or another tourist site; however sometimes it’s okay to break the rules. As John Lennon said, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”

It’s important to distinguish between rules and guidelines anyway. While perhaps  it may have made more ‘sense’ to not go out to the club so late and leverage my limited time in Cyprus more, ultimately I had fun in the club and that is what counts. In Podcast Episode 75 , I asked Grandmaster Alex Lenderman what his top chess improvement tip was and he said to have fun! If you enjoy studying endgames more, learn them. If you enjoy studying openings more, learn them. Whatever study method gives you the most pleasure is generally the best for you.

Since this trip was only a few weeks after my own wedding, a few of my mentors discouraged me from going, saying that I should not be away from  my wife during our first year of marriage. However, I ultimately decided to just go as my wife insisted it was okay, as she would be busy with tax season anyhow. Sometimes it is best to follow your instincts and just do something if your heart tells you, even if there are some potential cons about it.

Won’t you come out and play? In September 2008, I was going to cancel a trip to Albany, New York to play in the New York State Championship. I just got back from my Birthright Israel trip and was jetlagged and uprepared. However, I figured worst comes to worst, I would have a bad a tournament. I decided the show must go on and made the trip….I ended up having one of the

Photo by Polly Wright

best tournaments of my life, tying for 5th place and winning the U-2100 prize.

While you travel and absorb new life experiences, try to learn as many lessons as you can. This past trip I learned how to not care and results will come, just have fun, and go! What did you learn on your last trip?


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