National Master Evan Rabin’s College Essay about Winning the U.S Chess Championship Team East

By National Master Evan Rabin

This was my college essay that I wrote back in 2007, which helped me get accepted to Brandeis University

When I see myself on the May 2007 cover of Chess Life magazine, I feel a sense of stunning accomplishment. After thousands of matches and countless hours of practice, my tenacity was rewarded when I served as captain of the first place team at the 2007 U.S. Amateur Team East Chess Championship (USATE). This achievement served not only as a milestone of personal growth but also to motivate my decision to pursue a business career. Four years ago, I played in the USATE for the first time and had a hard time even finding a team. This year, I put together a team and led four other players. One came from as far as Tennessee and after a long weekend of competitive play we came home with first place honors.

In 2003 I entered high school without a clue of what I wanted to do in the future. My desire to imamprove myself motivated me to pursue a demanding International Baccaleureate (IB) curriculum with an elective in IB Business Higher Level. This rigorous course has opened my eyes to the methods companies use to achieve their objectives. It is one thing to learn such concepts in the classroom but to get a true sense of what they mean it is essential to apply them to real life problems. Therefore, when I began to think about this year’s USATE tournament, I decided to see if I could use these principles to develop a winning strategy.

First, I took on the recruitment process to form the best team possible. I began by initiating a research effort, looking at teams that had won the USATE in previous years. As companies perform reverse engineering to evaluate the strengths of their competitors, I conducted an analysis studying other top-rated teams.  This led to a conclusion that it was best to have four players with ratings close to 2200, the maximum allowed team average. I realized this would give us a competitive advantage over the many teams that focused their resources on players with extremely high ratings. That is because to meet the 2200 maximum average, their remaining boards would have to be rated significantly lower.

I carefully selected a team using this strategy, and made sure my teammates knew each other so they were able to cooperate and have high morale. One teammate suggested the team name “Beavis and Buttvinnik” incorporating the movie Beavis and Butthead and the 1950s world chess champion Mikhail Botvinnik.

Beavis and Butt-head titlecard.pngMikhail Botvinnik - Wikipedia

When we were nominated for “ best name prize,” our team spirit received a boost. Other teams also recognized us more, especially when we were fighting on the top boards for first place. This nomination showed me the importance of both a company’s name and brand equity. Our cooperation and spirit was noted during the last round when my teammate Nick came back to the boards with four cups of water for those of us who were still playing. A grandmaster saw this action and said, “Your team is a lot nicer than ours.”

Winning at the USATE was a high point in my life. It allowed me to see myself in the role of manager and showed me how much I can achieve when I apply myself. It also demonstrated how academic studies can be applied in a real life setting. The desire to learn more about business influenced me to take a college course in microeconomics at New York University last summer. This experience provided further depth to my understanding and gave me further insight into preparing for college.

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