Nittel Nacht 5780

Last year before Gillie Shanowitz, Director of New York Hebrew, hired us to run our first Shabbat Class ( our next one is coming up on Jan 18, 2020), she was impressed about how many Chabad Shluchim (emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) I knew well.  Over the years, several Chabad Rabbis, including Peretz Chein of Chabad of Brandeis, Mendy Turen of Chabad of Springfield and Rav Shaye Gerlitzky of Chabad Tel Aviv University have become dear friends and mentors. Peretz has inspired me to abide by ufartazta, meaning to always get outside of my comfort zone. Mendy took me to Chabad Headquarters for the first time and allowed me to spend a full shabbat there with his family. Shaye inspired me to go to Slichot services at the Western Wall in Jerusalem last year, which turned out to be a life-changing inspirational experience.

When I explained to Gillie that “ I knew a lot of Chabadnicks for a non-Chabadnik, she said “I like everything you say except for one thing- ‘you don’t think you are a Chabadnik, but you are.”

Last night I had the honor of attending Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway for its annnual Nittel Nacht Chess Party .  As Jews were often forbidden from appearing in public on Christmas in the Middle Ages, Christmas Eve is the one day of the year that is a Chabad Custom to not study Torah. Instead, every year you can find Chasidic Jews and others of all ages playing slow and blitz chess games. The 30ish players that showed up last night ranged from absolute beginner to master.

After grabbing a delicious shawarma laffa and latke for dinner at Prime Avenue for dinner with Daniel Slavin and Michael Raphael, we headed over to 770 at around 8:00 PM. I played consecutive blitz games until 10:50 PM and went undefeated. However, I did play a few master level players, including Jeremiah Smith who joined us there.

It was great to see a familiar face, that of Expert Moshe Uminer, a friend used to frequently play at the Marshall Chess Club. We were both shocked to see each other; he also was pleasantly surprised when I told him I now put tefilin on almost each day. Nittel Nacht at 770 was a great experience because it showed the communal aspect of chess; no matter what age or background one is, he could participate. While a majority of participants were Chasidic Jews, they were most certainly open to people of other backgrounds. At the end of the Lubavitcher Renee was famous for saying “Labels are for shirts.”

Chess and Judaism are both opportunities to meet people. Wherever I travel, I look for chess and Jewish communities. For instance, when I traveled to Buenos Aires in 2015, I played and tied for third place in a blitz tournament at Club Argentino and observed Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur at Chabad of Palermo Soho. Learn more about my chess community ventures here. 

Gratitude for our 2019 Premier Chess Award Winners

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

John F. Kennedy

I am forever grateful for the instructors, clients, networking partners and friends who showed up at our Second Annual Premier Chess Holiday Party at Accupuncturist Dr. Anna Folckomer ’s office this past weekend.

When I started Premier Chess in July 2017 , I did not think we would be in 70 schools and companies, including the law firm Kramer Levin, within a period of 2.5 years. However, hard work does pay off and with the addition of Solomon Shechter Manhattan , we did cross the 70-school finish line last week.

While it was my second time hosting the event, it was my first time giving yearly awards. Congrats to the winners:

Premier Chess Couple of the Year: Dr. Anna Folckomer and Ted Griffith

Premier Chess Parents of the Year: My mother Cindy Arth and father Keith Rabin, President of KWRINTL

Premier Chess Support of the Year: My uncle Adam Rabin

Premier Chess Fan of the Year: Steven Mitlitzky, the only player, other than I, to have played in everyone one of our Blitz Tournaments

Premier Chess Student of the Year: Ryan Huang

Premier Chess Networkers of the Year: BNI Chapter 54

Premier Chess Phyiscal Trainer of the Year: Mike Murray of Atomic Total Fitness

Premier Chess Education Partners of the Year: Mike Papapavlou, Owner of Guitar Guide Guru and Michael Deutsch, Owner of Hands on Hoops

Premier Chess Assistant Instructors of the Year: Serena and  Markus Cuellar 

Premier Chess Instructor of the Year: Phil Rosenberg

Premier Chess Girlfriend of the Year: Mandy Gottlieb, who’s about to finish her masters in special education at Lehman College 

Without the support of these people and many more, Premier Chess would not grow, flourish and prosper.   I would like to thank our winners, and the rest of our instructors, partners and friends for making this a wonderful holiday season.

Why do Curriclum Chess Classes?

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Premier Chess currently teaches critical thinking skills, pattern recognition, healthy competition and more through curriculum classes to students in pre-school through high school,in schools including Summit School and PS 14.

“Chess helps with getting kids used to patience and stamina

Sheila Agalia, Principal of St. Peter’s School in Yonkers.

Here are several of the reasons curriculum classes are a great option:

Transferable Skills: Through teaching rules and basic strategy, we illustrate thought process,scientific planning, evaluation, coordinates and basic business lessons that will be useful in otherclasses, extra-curricular activities and everyday life.

Great Exposure to Chess– Rarely will an elementary school student inquire about learning chess if he is never exposed the game. Since in a curriculum class, all students needs to learn, all children will have a chance to learn. By the end of a semester, students will typically be able to play a legal game of chess with basic strategy and be ready to compete in tournaments.

Gateway to Club: Often curriculum classes will act as feeder into the after-school program. While curriculum classes will enable to students to get acquainted with the game, club will help them get ready to represent their school at tournaments.

This is what a typical 45-minute curriculum class will look like:

20 Minutes: Interactive Lecture

20 Minutes: Related Activity/ Free-Play

-5 Minutes: Clean-Up

To learn more, about our curriculum class options, please contact Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin at (917) 776-1306 or evan@premierchess.com.

Tribute to Jersey City

I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I rarely crossed the Hudson River to Jersey City until recent years. However, when I started Premier Chess 2.5 years ago, I realized many of the schools in Jersey City have never been reached out to regarding the idea of setting up chess programs. Soon after, Jersey City Global Charter School Jersey City Global Charter School became one of our first school programs. A few weeks after, the School’s Open House happened to be on the eve of Rosh Hoshana so I decided to go to a meal at Chabad of Hoboken. 

Recently we have noticed two tragedies in Jersey City:

1) On Monday, November 18 our wonderful instructor National Master Lev Khariton, who taught f/or us at Jersey City Global Charter School, Waterfront Montessori  , Embankment School  and Grace Church School ,passed away from a stroke, leaving behind his wife, three children and one grandchild. In addition to being an amazing teacher, Lev was a fantastic player,  storyteller, poet, entertainer and much more.

2) Several weeks later, as we approach the holiday of Hanukkah, we are devastated to hear of the terrible, anti-Semitic shooting and murder of six at the JC Kosher Grocery. Mrs. Ferencz, devoted mother, wife and a pillar in the community was gunned down in cold blood. The grocery which was their source of income now stands destroyed, raked by bullets and covered in the blood of innocents.

On Saturday at our 1st Annual Premier Chess and Top Level Chess Grand Prix Tournament #31st Annual Premier Chess and Top Level Chess Grand Prix Tournament #3, we will have a silent auction.  50% of the money raised will go to Lev Khariton’s family. The remaining half will go to JC Victims Charidy Campaign. If you have a product or service you can donate to auction, please email evan@premierchess.com.

Upper West Side Activities With Guitar Guide Guru And Hands On Hoops

Mike, Evan and Michael met and became business partners. Premier Chess has linked up with many different people and Mike found his way onto our pathway around a year ago, just about right after he decided to switch from teaching guitar to make Guitar Guide Guru a full-time gig. On the other hand Michael has been teaching really young kids to play basketball, and recently ended up reaching out to us.

Mike who runs Guitar Guide Guru thinks that guitar made him a happier person and that’s the reason why he’s chosen to make it a career, after figuring out who he was and what he liked doing the most. Anybody can want to express themselves at one point or another in their life, and wanting to play some sort of instrument is pretty common. So what’s a better way for your kids, or your own self, to have a unique direction that guitar would grant you? To each his own, and playing music helped Mike to find a good direction, and to experience life without so much bitterness that one’s lack of interest in schools can withhold. After a while and looking back at it, it’s maybe not just fate that has brought together Guitar Guide Guru and Premier Chess, just as how Mike ended up working around the one instrument that he’s spent so much time playing with as a kid, but maybe positive circumstances and a lot of effort.

Basketball is great too, and that’s perhaps why Michael, from Hands On Hoops, decided to teach it to our youngest generations of young minds. Those transferable skills, that one can utilize later on, for his, or her own life, are what’s enabled us all to become more productive and happier member of our society and different communities. How were we supposed to understand what work, or fun were without experiencing both in a short amount of time? That’s what seems to be Michael’s philosophy with basketball. Why not having fun and learning how to understand both fundamentals and pivotal skills that will probably facilitate everybody’s life and make us a more successful and well articulated community?

If you want to experience what it’s like to meet us all at once, you should join us at Barnes and Nobles next Sunday, where each of us will be present sharing with you what’s our work like, and how you can also be apart of your child’s development into becoming a chess master. It will be on 2289 Broadway, NY 10024, and will start at 4 PM, just click here.

A Successful Partnership
Michael Deutsch, Mike Papapavlou and Evan Rabin

What goes on around your community?

How do we know what communities are for, or just how to define one? I see this a lot in and around school classes : “What is a community?”. In fact as a teacher, I’ve gotten used to hear out plenty of different figurative speeches from various program directors, or just school principals, indicating that “Chess should be included” in as many school programs as possible, or that working around kids is some sort of blessing. And how can someone not agree on that!? Chess should benefit anyone’s upbringing into a fully fledged person, or chess player into a fully grown player. But as far as being able to determine whose school districts, and which charter schools should have access to an informative, educational and lively chess program, that’s not so clear. Well in my case, growing up in a suburban area of France,  school funding didn’t have much to do with my access to the culture or the game. Not that my school didn’t have proper internet equipment, or just school furniture, but school principals back then didn’t know, nor understood much about chess. But that was back then.

Figuratively speaking, there is nothing holding back schools to have a chess program or not. It’s simply a matter of social-economics, or perhaps just economy. I’ve taught in different parts of the city and, and I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a child, student or teacher, not appreciate anything related to the class that I’d went to teach.

Obviously chess doesn’t have to be everywhere for any schools to be considered somewhat adequate to its students. But in my case chess helped me a lot pass on time during weekends, and just regular school days too. I mean there are a lot of schools picking up chess as extra-curriculums as well as regular class hours, and that’s maybe why there has been a lot more young and talented chess players from the U.S lately.

 

 

Rating Points On And Off The Board

Let’s say that there is someone who’d be rated around 2000, and who’d want to improve at chess and so to feel a certain increase, in any way, shape or form, in his or her own chess rating. It’s probably normal to feel as somebody whose rating is probably not quite right, or high enough. Like we might have already witnessed a chess player saying that “ratings don’t matter” or that chess blitz is just “more fun”,and not that both statements aren’t just merely emotional and perhaps associated to the fact that usually, the “chess player in question” is just a mere expert, but perhaps that the reason why 2300+ rated players are more likely to consistently outplay 2000+ rated ones are primary associated to the amount of time one’s been putting into learning about his/her game. So let’s say that for someone who would feel like ratings are justifiably used and even more importantly, somewhat representative to his or her understanding of the game, then there might be a specific “chess routine” to develop around our daily habits to be able to better ourselves, through Chess.

  • Puzzles matter

I’m not a great fan at looking at a diagram for hours and going over lines that might never actually occur, but that’s not the main source of my reasoning that leads me into believing that doing puzzle isn’t really the thing that’s going to impact my rating, in any meaningful way at all. As a 2000 player, I try not to rely too much on them but they still come in handy to convert a dominating middle game position into an actual winning endgame.

  • What is winning and what is not?

Based on my rating I might think that I might outplay a, let’s say 2100+ player, right? I mean as far as being 100″ USCF ratings points over my USCF ELO” I could still end up with the more “convenient middle game”.

Well,I believe that whether or not you can memorize plenty of chess openings, chess endgames or just generally chess patterns, tactics show on and off, and it’s not too much about how many diagrams you can shove into your brain cells, but it also comes down to what kind of “chess routine” one follows.

  • But “What Is Chess Routine”?

Well (FM) Mike Klein pretty much said that it’s really not so much about what you know or what you enjoy doing, it’s also what goes on around you and what makes you into what you’ve become. The DOE might allow a certain amount of money, that might benefits one’s learning access into becoming a proficient chess player or not, but as far as being apart of a chess club, or  a school district’s project, you don’t have to just rely on the city’s initiative to naturally hand out money every now and then.

In our case we might once in a while, try out a certain Gambit and beat a 300- lower rated opponent in a certain opening we don’t know so much about, but that doesn’t mean that one truly master it.

That’s why we’re trying to level out the different kind of access one might get as far as being able to learn about chess, rather that just deliberating whether or not one could just get. So there is nothing wrong with practicing puzzles every now and then just to kind of hope to improve on how much we could get done during an actual “OTB” game.

 

 

 

Chess Growth, Culture And Tour

Writing helps me do things. As a chess player I could sit around all day, watch a few opening videos, play a couple of online games and go through a dozen of pages related to a specific material I’ve meant to look at. Now that I have a platform to share my passion on through an actual audience, I tend to not feel like evading responsibilities as much and I have probably been somewhat more responsive to my environment and my community.

Last week I had the chance to have a short conversation with Mike Klein about his upbringing as a chess teacher and an ambassador of Chesskid. You can find most of what we went over right here (click on it). We tried to have a structured timeline in which every posts could be associated with 3 different topics. Monday was meant to be “Chess Growth”, Wednesday was going to be “Chess Culture” and Fridays ones were to connect to “Chess Tour”.

Today is Friday, for most readers, and on that day we want our audience to be able to read an informative, and insightful article remotely or wholly related to Chess. For example Stacy Jacob, a lawyer quite knowledgeable about the immigration policies, told us how asylum seekers tend to be pretty much moved around like pawns.

Next would be Monday, a day during which we aspire to deliver technical articles on the strategies that revolve around the actual game of Chess (openings, endgames and more). This can always vary, as adaptability isn’t a trait that’s only required to become an understanding player, but also a wise individual and an intelligent employee.

Finally comes Chess Culture. The chess community is going through changes quite frequently. Sometimes with its rules, and occasionally with its federation(s). So we want to educate ourselves as well as others  with everything surrounding these matters! Premier Chess is unbiased so keep that in mind when reading our Blog posts, but if you can’t agree that the any QGD like games aren’t boring I won’t be of any help.

How Does Chesskid Empower Scholastic Chess? With (FM) Mike Klein!

It’s no easy task to stay relevant in the Chess Business nor World, for more than a decade if not just years. Kids grow up, mentalities evolve, for the better or for the worse, but Chess remains one of the most marvelous and perplexing sport. And nobody understands this better than Fide Master Mike Klein, who has been playing chess since he was four years old, and “can’t remember not being able to play chess”. In fact Mike was North-Carolina’s best Junior player, and went on to become a successful and prolific chess teacher as well as chess ambassador of chess.com’s growing interface : Chesskid. What are the shifting behaviors from the components of the Chess Culture and Sport that he’s noticed, and why his association with Chesskid is decisive in bridging the social-economic gaps around the access to Chess educative and learning resources?

Like many others, M. Klein ended up in New York City, trying to follow his passion, and started out working with Chess In The Schools by 2001. Back then he was just a competitive chess player and had no idea what teaching was really like. That’s why he was a perfect recruit for this organization, since Chess In The Schools’s trademark is to basically fabricate professional instructors out of non-teaching chess enthusiasts who just want to understand how teaching work. As as a matter of fact, Mike thinks that if it was not for all that training, he wouldn’t have been as successful as he is today.

In retrospective “there wasn’t many different powerhouses around the U.S” while “nowadays we have really strong programs in Texas, Florida, California, Arizona, Seattle. But back then, even though it was the National Championship each Spring, it was really just a question of which New-York-City school will win.” However he kept on practicing, playing, improving and eventually becoming a FIDE Master, which for those who don’t know, is just one step away from International Master. Even though “Fun Master Mike” didn’t have a lot of “big tournament wins”, he kept up with chess throughout his youth, successfully taking over North Carolina’s high-school chess division, remaining its champion for five consecutive years (1993-1997).

Fast forwarding Master Mike moved back where he grew up to start his “own chess teaching organization, called Young Master Chess and over the years that grew to about 15 schools.” Eventually he started using the Chesskid’s website which wasn’t as completed as it now is, and part of that reason was Mike Klein’s original experimenting with the platform, and spontaneous communicating to its developers. He “was giving the website so many ideas, for features and how to improve, that they eventually they basically hired” him to work on the back end of their product, and develop it into the subtle and ingenious program that it’s become.

Introspectively “nowadays if you’re not a master by ten, then you’re no one” and “there’s probably a chess club in the majority of the elementary schools in New-York-City”. That being said practice makes perfect but daily practice makes better. So “even if you’re in an active club, in order to improve at anything you need to do it more than once per week[..]”. That’s why Chesskid’s role is even more primordial now that Scholastic Chess has become a thing. However kids tend to quit the game when they get to Junior-High or High-School just simply because they’re not as absorbed, challenged and satisfied with the Sport as they were when they first picked up Chess. In some cases they go to their weekly Chess Club, but after a couple of years, their leaning curve slow down and they move on to a different sport.

“Chesskid is just trying to be an auxiliary resource for kids that are already getting coaching once a week, but also to be the main resource if you’re in an area of the world that has no chess culture. We’re trying to level the accessed information just like Magnus Carlsen did, playing online growing up, but for kids.” Perhaps not every chess scholar thrives to become a profusely accomplished chess player, and turn into the next youngest American Chess Master, but “whenever you’re good at something you’re much more likely to stay with it”. Try it out yourself and create your kid his/her own Chesskid account. You can also unlock special features, and support Premier Chess by getting a discounted Gold Membership, just follow this link! We are currently in the process of handing over free Gold memberships to all of our students. Thank you Chesskid, and (FM) Mike Klein for your time and consideration.

Fide Master Mike is a great teacher
(FM) Mike Klein teaching a ChessKid lesson

COMPASSIONATE, FRIENDLY, WELL-ROUNDED, INTELLIGENT, LOVING, EASYGOING, INSPIRATIONAL.

Those are seven words I would use to describe our beloved instructor National Master Lev Khariton, who tragically passed away on Monday, November 18 from a stroke. In addition to teaching for us in Jersey City and Manhattan at Jersey City Global Charter School, Waterfront Montessori, Embankment School and Grace Church School, Lev was a jack of all trades, as a father of 3, beloved husband, translator, poet and much more.

My friend Steve Eisenberg, founder of JICNY, emphasizes how one should not judge another person as he has no idea what the other is going through. On Thursday, November 15, Mr. Lemuer Perez, the principal at Jersey City Global Charter School called me, asking if Lev was coming in. It is against our company policy for an instructor to “no-show” to a class so my first reaction was “Oh-no; how can this be?”. Lev did not pick up his phone; I tried calling him several times and by Sunday night I haven’t heard from him. I then checked his daughter’s Facebook page and was shocked to see “Please pray for my father, Lev Khariton” and knew some thing was wrong. When I messaged her, she said “My father had a stroke. He had brain surgery. He is in critical care…” The next day, he passed away.

In February 2018, I needed a replacement Jersey City Instructor so our mutual friend Expert Fedor Khrapatin referred Lev to me. While he obviously has a great knowledge of chess and teaching experience, I was frankly hesitant to hire him at first since he was older and I didn’t think he’d relate to some of the younger children. I knew he would be great for adult classes or private lessons but not necessarily beginner students under the age of 10. However, since he came as a referral from someone I trust more than most people in the chess world and we had a nice interview, I decided to give it a shot. The students at each of the schools he taught, including some Kindergarten and 1st graders, truly loved working with him. When I told the Middle Schoolers at the Grace Church School Elective the other day that he passed, several kids became emotional and said they would be serious in chess in his honor.

I have had the privilege of watching Lev teach a few times in the classroom at Jersey City Global Charter School, Grace Church School and Embankment School. In each class, Lev would instantly grasp the attention of every student, abiding by David Macenulty’s declaration that every single student in a class should be learning. Two years ago I had the privilege of co-teaching a a kindergarten class with David at Dalton. One day he called on a boy to answer a question and the child said “but I didn’t raise my hand.” I laughed when David replied” Is there a rule that a teacher is not allowed to call on a student when he doesn’t raise his hand?”. No child left behind!

In addition to being a loyal, empathetic teacher, Lev was a fascinating guy. I will never the forget the time I agreed to have lunch with him at the local Mexican joint near Jersey City Global Charter School, a few hours I was to present at the Open House. I thought we’d grab lunch and I would have a few hours afterwards to to do some work before going to the school; I was wrong! I was too intrigued learning about his poetry, travels in Russia, Israel, France and the United States ( he’s lived in all four countries), books and experiences teaching former World Champion Mikhail Botvinik English. I had new clue that the guy I hired was so famous.

14 months later, I unfortunately found myself in Staten Island at his funeral, showing you can not take life for granted. To show my gratitude for living each day, I recite the “Modeh Ani” prayer, which thanks Hashem for being alive. His son, brother, college roommate, other friends and I spoke about different aspects of his life; however, we all expressed how he loved teaching and was always compassionate. The rabbi spoke about how it says in the Talmud that a good person is one who controls his anger. Rabbi Mark Wildes, Founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience, shares how the Ramban suggested that we can all become as good and righteous as Moses. While Lev easily could have went into depression after many hardships, including having to work in a dirty hospital for little money, he always realized the glass full. While he may have not passed away with millions of dollars to distribute in his will, (talk to David Weiss of Matt Nolfo and Associates if you need one of those), he was a happy man, who made a difference in the lives of his family, friends, colleagues and countless students.

As we continue to grow company, we will always miss Lev, who was an integral part of our team; I am forever grateful to Fedor Kharaptin for introducing the two of us, as Lev became a great colleague, friend and mentor. I will always remember our lighthearted conversations when he’d laugh when I’d throw in random words in Hebrew and Russian. These are three ways to commemorate Lev:

Lev Khariton
(NM) Lev Khariton playing Chess