A Tribute to Scott Chaiet, Chess Teacher and Torah Student

Last week we lost one of the most enthusiastic chess players who ever exsisted, National Expert Scott Chaiet. A few weeks before the COVID-19 Pandemic began I was analyzing a game with Scott, our mutual friend Fedor Khrapatin and a few others late at night after a round of the United States Amateur Team East in Parsippany.

Scott Chaiet playing with his teamates (Fedor Khrapatin and Paul Song) at the Amateur Team East

He was so estatic about the game that I felt like he was sports commentator. He had a true passion for identiying beautiful combinations, art on the chess board.

Scott worked as an engineer for the Metropolitan Transit Authority for many years and recently retired. Over for the last few, he often told me he would soon retire and work part-time for Premier Chess. I told him “just tell me when and you will be hired.” Unfortunately, before he could do so, he shockingly had a heart attack and stroke and passed a few weeks later.

In addition to chess, Scott and I bonded over our common passion for torah study. Neither of us grew up wth observant Jewish families, who kept Shabbat or Kashrut. However, as adults, we both decided that we wanted to learn torah, Jewish laws, holidays, etc. in more detail. At the funeral, his rabbi spoke about how he started regularly going to morning services at the synagogue and asked to learn torah. It was due to him that the synagogue started offering a weekly class on Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of Our Fathers. Likewise, I learn a lot from many of mentors, including Rabbi Mark Wildes, Founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience, Rabbi Levi Welton and Rabbi Mendy Brukirer, Director of Outreach at Meor Manhattan.

Rabbi Levi Welton taught me how the Lubavitcher Rebbe compared a Jew to a pawn in chess.

The Rebbe playing with father.

A Jew naturally is of a lower status than Angels. However, when a Jew prays, he could rise his status above them. While a pawn is the lowest value piece (1 point), it could promote to a queen (9 points), above a bishop, or knight (3 points) or a rook (5 points). Scott was a certainly a pawn who promoted himself to live in heaven. While his body is no longer with us, his soul will live forever. Come celebrate his life in a memorial tournament on September 11, organized by Tyrell Harriott.

5 Replies to “A Tribute to Scott Chaiet, Chess Teacher and Torah Student”

  1. Scott Chaiet was my long-time friend and coworker at the MTA. He was one of the first people I met when I started working there many, many years ago. He will be missed. I am so sorry to hear of your passing. I will try to make it to the chess tournament on Sept 11 at Asser Levy Park to say hello.

  2. Words cannot describe what I am feeling with the passing of Scott Chaiet. We worked together for 2 decades in the MTA. A very intelligent person with extremely deep thoughts. The number of lunches we had, the walks in the park, the deep conversations. I just cannot believe he is gone. He was more than a friend, he was my soul brother. After his retirement i thought at least 2 more decades of deep conversations. He will be dearly missed.

  3. Just learned about Scott’s passing from a friend, and I am stunned by the news. I remember Scott as a chess fanatic, and as a teammate in MTA in the Met League, which we won 2 years running in the ’90’s. y condolence to his family, and the family of chess players world-wide.

  4. I knew Scott as a Torah Student, as Evan so aptly describes him. Scott was my Partner in Torah for nearly nine years. Every week on Sunday night we would study the weekly Parsha. How Scott looked forward to that learning! And how much breadth and depth of Torah knowledge Scott acquired in those years through his independent study and his attending many, many classes. Scott cherished the large library of Torah literature that he amassed.
    It is shocking and hard to absorb that Scott, such a youthful, energetic, thinking, inspired and driven persona is no longer with us. Certainly he has left a very positive and inspiring impression on the many people he has been involved with – at work (his intellect’s passion); at chess (his heart’s passion); at Torah study and practice (his soul’s passion).
    May his soul be bound with the Source of Life

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