In Memory of Brother John

By National Master Evan Rabin 

When I was 10, I was playing John Kennedy’s tournament at PS 9 one Sunday. As my dad and I ran into a friend a block away before the tournament, he asked us if we knew The Right Move tournament was going on, nearby at Brandeis High School. At the time, we have not heard of the event but after that, I started frequently attending The Right Move Events.

Evan Rabin playing at The Right Move

Since then, I knew Brother John, a kind-hearted samaritan, who volunteered thousands of hours over the years, running tournaments in Manhattan and the Capitol Region.

New York State Chess Association Scholastic Coordinator Danny Rohde says “Brother John was an integral part of the NY Chess community, both in NYC and the capital region at The Right Move.” He also worked for years on a volunteer basis to provide sets and equipment at the Cities and States. He would refuse a paycheck. He instead simply asked for the ability to enter students into the events. Shows you how he was. He will be sorely missed”.

While I truly love running school programs, tournaments, private lessons, etc, I do run a business and I cannot honestly say I do it 100% out of the goodness of my heart like Brother John and another person who comes to mind, Dewain Barber, ‘The Dean of Scholastic Chess’. Dewain donates several hundred thousand dollars to US Chess every year, volunteers to teach and gives away a lot of equipment. Brother John donated thousands of hours and money to chess without the desire for anything in return.

I have many fond memories of playing at the Right Move, meeting some competitors who became titled players like Grandmasters Alex Lenderman and Raven Sturt and International Master Kassa Korley. While these tournaments do not offer the big trophies that others would, they offer lots of challenges and are always free. I also met my friend and mentor National Master Doug Bellizzi and his wife Marianna. Doug would often analyze my games in between rounds. Brother John also always had an exceptional Tournament Director staff with the Mcgreen family (Hector Rodriguez runs their events nowadays).

I was sad last month when I found out Brother John passed away from cancer. While I have not seen him for many years, he reminds me of many great childhood memories and is one of the people who has inspired me to devote my life to chess. I am looking forward to personally playing my first Right Move tournament in many years tomorrow, in honor of Brother John. In his memory, we will have a silent auction at our next tournament on May 12, raising money for The Right Move Foundation. May Brother John’s legacy continue and the Right Move run free, accessible tournaments for many years to come; the road goes on forever.

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