The Art Of Learning Chess

Being a kid I remember being told quite a few times that this was the best instant of my life, and I never knew for sure what they meant, and probably would just nod away whoever was expressing their own bit of bitterness to a child. Looking back, being a chess player myself, I realize that perhaps they were somewhat right. Quite possibly our younger years (12-18) are extremely relevant to what a good part of our life is going to look like. In my case I stopped playing chess at 12 and tried out other sports, and now that I work within the chess industry, I have to catch up the time loss in which I didn’t study chess, so I could become a prolific chess enthusiast again.

I was a somewhat quiet and jovial kid, started coming regularly to the chess club of my hometown at an early age (so early there weren’t any tournaments available for me yet), and eventually went through the different stages of basic understanding of Chess. Once I knew how to move the pieces, I was able to remember certain openings and basically gain 100 rating points every year. I was 12 years old and one of the higher rated of my category in my country, but I stopped training, competing and improving in any meaningful way.

Our destiny isn’t predefined, or at least I like to think mine isn’t. So every effort put into a positive direction will come back at you, and brighten your life, at some point. On the other hand, laziness and not getting involved within our community might have a tremendous impact on the dynamic of your future. Now that I am an adult, I still believe I can start learning again and investigating the sport of chess again, while self-consciously noticing and realizing the different course of actions that my learning curve is taking.

For kids attending chess programs, we want them to realize that on their own. With time, patience, kindness and the right mindset we teach them the way of life while learning how to get chess. Once they get there, that’s when their mindset becomes of the utmost importance. You can show a group of kids an opening, or even a game, and hand them over more knowledge than 10 hours of private lessons could. It’s possible, everything kind of is.

Memorizing, Understanding And Drawing Conjectures

At a job interview I’d set up two different positions. My interviewer asked me to come up with a lesson plan, or at least something that they could learn from. After quickly introducing ourselves we set those up (see below). Black’s arrangement is the same in both diagrams, but White’s one differs a little. In one he’s already castled while in the other he’s not, and the c2 pawn is occupying the c4 square.

Black can play e5

If you know a little bit about the King’s Indian then you probably know why playing e7-e5 is fine here. White is controlling that square twice and you are defending it only once. However Black’s dark-squared Bishop is x-raying the h8-a1 diagonal. So if White goes pawn grabbing, Black will be able to play Nxe4, at the right moment, and get his pawn back with an equal position.

Black shouldn’t play e5

Why is Black unadvised to play that exact same move here ? Isn’t the g7 Bishop still there, ready to jump into the game at the right moment ? He surely is but White has castled and his c2 pawn is still on c2.

Frank’s late pal, Pal Benko

Frank is a chess player. He participated in the Bankers Athletic Leagues quite a while ago. Now he harbors New-York, spreading his own memories and vision of the world through lengthy and insightful conversations. We had the chance to encounter him at the Chess Forum, a vibrant shop where chess amateurs come and go and usually play blitz games. So what about Pal Benko ?

Benko was famous as the man who, in 1970, stepped aside for Bobby Fischer to enter the World Championship Cycle. But he was also praised and recognized as an innovative opening theoretician, endgame genius and a brillant problem solver. Born in Amiens, France in 1928 to a vacationing Hungarian family, Benko grew up in Budapest, Hungary. The memorable chess player received an invitation to the 1957 World Student Team Championship in Iceland, where he played on the first board. That’s when a new chapter of his life begin as he decided to walk into the American Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland and asked for asylum.

At first working as a mutual fund salesman, it didn’t take him long to get back to his first calling. Indeed Pal Benko started making a living with chess, and back in the 60’s it was much easier said than done. The prizes were definitely not as important as they are today, at least for major international events. Anyway the reborn chess master was thriving and even set a record winning 4 U.S. Chess Open in a row (1964-1967). His most famous game was a loss, against Fischer in a game during the 1963 U.S. Chess Championship during which the audience was stunned by Bobby’s 19th move.

In his career, he also devoted a lot of his time to writing chess articles. For instance he was a long-time columnist for Chess life from 1971 to 1981. Moreover he and the Polgar family have had an everlasting friendship, as they all live in Hungary at some point and would go on vacation together. He was also a long-time trainer and mentor of the Polgar sisters, so no wonder they’ve been so successful. Susan Polgar visited him in Hungary shortly before he passed away. Chess grandmaster Pal Benko lives on through his books, columns and games.

Perception of your own position.

Our chess’ knowledge is somewhat representative of our strength over the board. Knowing opening moves, remembering how to convert a theoretically winning endgame into an actual victory, and turning a somewhat better position into a favorable game are some of the aspects that assess a player’s skills. But what happens when we fall into our opponent’s preparation, or if the game just shifts in a variation that you aren’t quite so familiar with ? Understanding a position that you have never even encountered is what chess is about too. Having the right mindset, experiences and instinct to properly evaluate what you can’t do, if not what you must play !

You’re looking at a variation of the French reached via the Tarrasch. White opted for a line in which his d4 pawn seems to be hanging. Black doesn’t necessary have to capture it, but a lot of players do while thinking their opponent just blundered. Let’s see what that get them into !

White just dropped a pawn but that’s not all of it. First of all White’s development is really simple and while he’s already castled and only one move away from connecting his rooks, Black is still a couple of tempo away from doing likewise. Black’s most consistent answer seems to be Qb4, harassing White’s Queen (that you’d never want to trade at this stage of the game), since letting her sit on the 4th rank could allow a possible Queen lift to the kingside, that may be really dangerous for Black if well timed. Now let’s see how wrong can things go for Black if not assimilating the ins and outs of his own game (Black should focus on developing its queenside pieces for now, after throwing in a Qb4).

Hypnosis and the Art of Chess Learning

So how is hypnosis related to chess and how can it help in learning the game?

Hypnosis works by bypassing your “critical factor” or analytical mind in order to access your subconscious mind which is the seat of all behavioral change. It can help facilitate learning on all levels by tuning into how you learn and process new things and how your way of learning is different than your teammates or opponents. Some of us may be more dominant visual, auditory, kinesthetic or even “auditory digital” in the ways we learn. Bringing awareness to your dominant way of learning or “representational system” will help you know how to us use your dominant method of learning to your advantage to achieve even higher levels of learning. You have heard the expression “super-learner”. Well you can become one when you explore some of the many menu items hypnosis has to offer.

Now I mentioned “bypassing the critical above” and you may be wondering what that is. How many times have you been emotionally moved by a movie? Maybe you even laughed or cried at the movie, or seen Spiderman climb up the side of a building. Now we know that the sequence of pictures passing in front of a projector screen is not real, yet in order to enjoy the experience and get involved, you allow yourself to suspend the conscious judgement and critical faculties of the mind and accept the imagery of the movie as real. This is a glimpse into how hypnosis works.

Some of the learning techniques in hypnosis will take your through the four phases of mastery:
1. Unconscious Incompetence – You do not know that you do not know (I don’t even know
the rules and strategies in Chess and I do not know that I don’t even know)
2. Conscious Incompetence – You know that you do not know ( I don’t know what rules or
strategies to implement but I am aware that I don’t even know)
3. Conscious Competence – You know and act consciously (more intermediate/advanced
levels as you are still learning to feel ease and focus with it)
4. Unconscious Competence – You know and act subconsciously (here your chess playing is
flowing naturally because you are not even thinking about it but the “technique” is there)

In addition to helping you tune into and access your dominant way of learning, hypnosis can help you with eye focusing techniques designed to expand your awareness and relax your nervous system. When you think of hypnosis you may think of slowing down which does happen but it is a process of active imagination as well so you will feel more energized, awake and alive after a session. Hypnosis has no side effects and can help with ADD, ADHD, cravings, anxiety, stress, peak performance and lots more.

An Interview with Chess Instructor Kola Adeyemi

Q & A with Kola Adeyemi:


B: I would love to start with hearing about how your general experience was.
K: I’ve known Evan for quite a while now, upwards of 10 years when we went to Tanzania. When he reached out to talk to me about the opportunity to teach chess there, I thought it was an amazing idea. We ended up staying with Make a Difference Now, a program with a guesthouse right next to Mt. Kilimanjaro during a seven-day period. During the day we would make it to the school, teach for a few hours, and make it back to the house. For me, the most rewarding part of the experience was seeing the kids pick up something new and actually want to do it. By the end of the week, we had kids playing chess at a beginner level, but more than that was the notion in their eyes that they were going to take the skills they learned and develop it beyond the singular week that we had with them. I also think they learned a new activity over which they could bond, create a society and even a school. We ended up nominating a kid to be the president of their chess club and he took that duty with honor. I’m pretty excited to see what comes back when Evan goes again with the rest of the team.
B: What was the initial reaction when you were first introducing them to chess? Were they happy to learn it at first? Was it confusing to them?
K: Initially, the kids were unsure what it was. Upward of 50 kids participated at the height of the class and maybe four of them had seen the game before. Initially, we just wanted to make sure they understood what we were saying so we tried getting participation at the beginning. It was hard to break their shells, given our foreign nature and their lack of experience with the game. But I think that Evan did a great job getting them to participate – getting them to play in games and to see what chess would look like. He tried to explain to them why chess could be good for them academically. I think that by the time we got to the third day of the seven-day period, we finally had broken the kids out of that shell. From then on, it was more of the kids asking questions and figuring out the rules of the game.
B: How much time did you spend with them on a daily basis?
K: That was a function of their schedule, because we tried to jam our chess lessons in during the time they have their normal activities. I would say we had maybe three or four hours on average per day. As you can imagine, teaching someone who has never played chess before with roughly 20 total hours throughout the week was challenging. As you would expect, some people picked it up better than others. By the end of the week, we had created some followers and players of the game. We thought that by creating that community around chess, we could encourage the kids to continue to teach each other chess. We tried to create this kind of environment of competition to spur their desire to be better.
B: You mentioned Make A Difference Now as the program that you stayed with. What role did they play in the entire program?
K: MAD is a phenomenal organization. From what I had heard about them before I decided to go, I was already deciding if I wanted to physically attend the trip or to just donate to MAD itself. Charissa has a strong passion for what she’s doing, and it very much shows. In their case, along with housing us, providing us with a driver and making it feel like home for us, they partnered with Evan to bring us there, identifying the fact that learning chess would be beneficial to the students in Tanzania. Second, they interacted with the school to make sure that they were open to the idea, and lastly they prepared the school to receive us. It was helpful to have MAD staff be there with us on certain days to introduce us to some of the kids. In terms of facilitating the entire process, it was excellent, but they also set the whole thing up.
B: Were there any language barriers when you were there and if there were, how did you overcome them?
K: We found that in Tanzania, most of the kids spoke satisfactory enough English to understand what we were saying. I would say that as is usually the case, when you have someone from an English speaking country go to these places, you have to slow down how quickly you speak. It’s not that they cannot understand what you’re saying; it was mostly just a matter of making sure that we were speaking clearly and slowly enough. We encouraged them to stop us and ask us questions. We used a lot of repetition, continually saying that when you start the game, you need to have three objectives.  You must control the center, the castle and to develop your pieces. That way, when we got around to actually playing the game, some of these rules were actually a chorus in their minds.
B: What kinds of concerns did you have initially before attending the program in Tanzania, and how were those concerns pacified? Did any of them stay prevalent?
K: My biggest concern was whether or not the program was going to be well organized. In my mind, I was hoping that we’d be going there to teach the kids and that they would be excited to play the game. My concern was quickly removed upon my arrival – you can tell from the beginning if something is well organized. Upon entering the MAD home, we immediately conducted an orientation with some of the staff. It was very clear that they had planned out the entire schedule for the week. When we made it to the actual school, I can tell you that these kids were very well behaved, beyond their age. One of the jobs of a chess instructor is to make sure the kids are listening, but this wasn’t an issue. It’s just a testament to the preparation that the organization had, because they really knew that we were coming.
B: How many other volunteers came with you and Evan?
K: Besides Evan and myself, we had two other people from the US, and one other guy who was actually local. When chess players move to different cities, they like to get an idea of where chess is happening. He came to teach English at one of the local schools, but he had done a search about where he could teach chess and an advertisement from MAD came up about Evan coming to teach chess in the area. He joined us and volunteered his time to teach the kids. That made about five instructors total for the week, which was a good number, but if were to expand to other schools, it would certainly be helpful to add more.
B: If you were to go on the program again, what would you change this time around?
K: This question would depend on if we were sticking with the same school. If we did, I would want to do a lot of question and answer sessions, just to get a sense of some of the mental errors that the kids have been making over the last few months. I remember when I was first learning chess, I would castle the wrong way on the queen side. I would want to make sure that issues like this were out of the way. I would also like to introduce teaching material, or at show the kids where they could go to in order to read up on more strategies about the game. Because the kids don’t always have access to the Internet, it may be a bit difficult; but we could certainly share that with the teachers of the school and have them print out some of that material for them. I certainly benefited from encyclopedias when I was a kid, going to high school in Lagos, Nigeria. I remember going to the library, just looking for any materials that I could get. Lastly, I think the program could benefit from the kids being able to interact more with the instructors once we leave the country. Whether that means playing online with us, asking for advice, or having a pen-pal relationship, some kind of mentorship present could be very helpful. Starting with a new school, trying to find a way to break the aforementioned shell more quickly would be helpful.
B: Where do you see this program going in the next few years?
K: My perception was that this is only going to get bigger. Sure, it is starting in Tanzania, but it can become regional. It could be broader; it could be across the continent itself. I think my main excitement comes from the kids being able to understand that there are different ways to interact with the outside world. The ability to play in chess tournaments outside of Tanzania, to get better and to actually represent their country at an Olympiad is a very exciting prospect. I know that Tanzania doesn’t have as many strong players, so there is a great opportunity. There is also a possibility for sponsorships and tournaments. I am hoping that there is a way that these kids could be connected to schools in the US. I know a lot of schools and colleges here who have chess scholarships, and I know that there are many students in Tanzania who would definitely benefit from that opportunity. This could only get bigger, and I’m really excited to see where it goes.
Apply today at https://www.gomadnow.org/events/2019/7/11/teach-chess-in-africa while spots are still available!

Curriculum Classes with Premier Chess

Premier Chess is proud to offer curriculum classes to schools and programs within the New York City area! Our offerings cater flexibly to your classes’ time constraints, and are an extremely productive and fun way for your students to spend their class time. 
Curriculum classes are comprised of our very own instructors coming in at any time during the day to teach chess for 40-60 minutes. These classes can be available to any level of chess players and are open to any age group. Premier Chess currently has curriculum classes set up in 4th and 5th grade classrooms with X14, and at Summit Middle School where we teach students between 6th and 8th grade.
These classes are organized comprehensively and efficiently to maximize our time with your students. We will consult teachers preemptively about any special concerns that they may have, along with any special circumstances that we may need to cater to for each student. This includes but is not limited to working with students with learning disabilities, shortening or lengthening the class sessions, and providing materials that the school may not have readily available.
Here’s why you should bring a chess class to your school:
– Students can represent your school in leagues, improving teamwork skills & your school’s reputation
– We strengthen your students’ critical thinking and memory by studying opening, middle game, and endgame strategies
– Chess helps with analytical thinking and foresight
– Students can make friends with and establish connections with fellow chess players in their classroom and all over the nation!
The following is what a sample schedule of a curriculum class looks like:
20 Minutes: Chess Lesson
20 Minutes: Chess Exercises/Free Play
5 Minutes: Clean Up and Discussion
Check out our latest testimonial from a satisfied Premier Chess customer:
“Premier Chess was a hit in the classroom for both students and teachers.  In fact, it was so successful in our school that we had to expand our after school program due to such a high demand. The lessons are engaging and informative, and the aspect of competition really gets the students excited to learn more and improve their skills.” – Carly Ayala, Community School Director of PS14
Please contact CEO Evan Rabin at evan@premierchess.com or (917) 776-1306 to set up a curriculum class, and check out www.premierchess.com for more information!

Premier Chess First Annual Grand Prix Series Standings

Premier Chess has had a wonderful turnout in its first annual Grand Prix Series. Hosted by Grace Church School and Brooklyn Friends School, the series of tournaments has featured 44 competitors to date. The final tournament will be held on Sunday June 2, at the Grace Church School, in the heart of New York City at 46 Cooper Square, New York, NY.

The top three finishers will receive Amazon Gift Cards, while fourth to seventh place finishers will receive gift certificates to American Chess Equipment, one of our partners that provide the highest quality of Chess Equipment. Additionally, trophies will be handed out to the top 25% of participants, and medals will be given out to all participants with 2.5 points or more that do not win a trophy.

For a first place trophy in an individual tournament within the Grand Prix, three points are awarded. As such, two points will be awarded for a second place trophy, and one point will be awarded for a third place trophy. Additionally, five extra points will be awarded to each participant that plays at least one tournament in each school. After these scores are calculated, they will be multiplied by the number of tournaments in which the contestant participates. Therefore, if a contestant plays in all six tournaments, their total score will be multiplied by six.

Entry into a tournament costs $40 if the contestant signs up at least one month prior to the event. This fee becomes $50 if the contestant signs up a week prior, and becomes $60 if the contestant signs up by 12:00pm on the say of the tournament or onsite. The final tournament takes place on Sunday, June 2, leaving less than a week to sign up with the $40 fee. 

Without further ado, the following is a breakdown of the Grand Prix thus far:
In our first tournament, Sylvie Vanderbilt of PS 58 and Darvin Lee of PS 124 tied for first place. Aarav Roy of JCGS and Soren Maholtra of OLP came in second, with Luke Luo of PS 50 and Justin Lee of PS 124 in third. 

The second tournament saw Jackson Swift of Brooklyn Friends tie with Stefano Revegano of Knox School for first place. Second place went to Aditya Shingh of Riverdale, Graydon Leicht and Leo Zhang of Avenues. Last but not least, Nathan Barry of Knox School tied with Roy (JCGS) and Andrew Buchanan of SA Union Square to take home third place.

Tournament number three featured Barry (Knox School) tying with John Joseph Gabriel of BBMS for first place, while Revegano (Knox School), Alexander Mason of PS 10 and Vanderbilt (PS 58) took home second place. Third place went to Cooper Hazelrig of Brooklyn Friends, Daiwen Guo of PS 686 BSI and Zion Ogbo of SA Rosendale.

Jacob Katz of PS 29, Jeremy Wen of PS 124 and Wilson Robohm of Haldane won the fourth tournament. A four-way tie for second place came between Amenaide Brown of Hewitt, Ryan Baranovsky of PS 40, Gibson Hope of Calhoun and Buchanan (SA Union Square). Riley Thomson of Churchill, Jameson Wong of Dalton and Kari Phoenix Chen of Compass Charter took home third place.

Zenchi Sun of Avenues and Eric Michaels of BBMS won the fifth tournament, while Mateo Uribe of PS 321, Vanderbilt (PS 58) and Roy (JCGS) took home second place. Third place went to Adam Shtaynberg of SIHA and Katz (PS 29).

As such, the following are the standings for the Grand Prix thus far:


We can’t wait to see the turnout for the final event in the Grand Prix series! Please contact Premier Chess CEO Evan Rabin at evan@premierchess.com or (917) 776-1306 with questions. 

Politics and Chess

From playing chess, I have learned two practices that I use in my working life—teamwork and the act of strategizing.

In chess, each player has 16 pieces to work with. A chess player learns how to use a “team” of pieces to accomplish the task at hand—get to checkmate.

In politics and local government, teamwork is essential to accomplish tasks. To build a road, for example, requires coordination of several groups—the transportation department, water department, electric and/or gas company, and more. If one were to view each department as a chess piece, someone needs to coordinate the workings of each piece. As mayor, I orchestrate teams of people to complete projects.

In chess, each piece has its own way of working. The rook, for example, only moves horizontally and vertically.  The pawn can move forward but not backward. This knowledge plays a part in a chess player’s strategy of how to maneuver the pieces to win.

Knowing how to strategize is very effective in politics and local government. To pass an ordinance, for example, requires the approval from the City Council. To get approval, the information needs to be presented in a way that’s understandable to the Council. Having the knowledge of each Council member’s perspective—similar to knowledge of how a chess piece moves—is necessary to move items forward on the Council’s agenda.  We don’t declare checkmate in our proceedings, but a win is just as gratifying.

Mayor Rothschild is a native Tucsonan. His grandmother moved to Tucson in 1942 and opened a used furniture store, Valley Fair, on South 6th Avenue.
He is a graduate of Canyon del Oro High School, Kenyon College and the University of New Mexico Law School. After serving as a law clerk for District Court Judge Alfredo C. Marquez, he went on to a 30-year career practicing law with the firm of Mesch, Clark and Rothschild. He served as managing partner for the firm and concentrated his practice in the areas of business law and estate planning.
The mayor has a long history of service with many nonprofits in the community and served as Board President for Casa de los Niños, Handmaker Services for the Aging and Temple Emanu-el. He is married, with three children and two grandchildren.

Meditate & Be Super Ready For Your Chess Matches!

Meditation is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

This practice is an effective way to connect mind & body while improving attention and self-awareness, which promotes a healthier and happier life. It can be done by anyone, of any age, regardless of his or her practice level, so that a state of calm and relaxation may be achieved.

These are a few of science-based benefits of meditation: controls anxiety and depression, reduces stress and fear, increases self-confidence and positive emotion, enhances self-awareness and relaxation, helps ignore distractions, lengthens attention span, helps manage ADHD, better sleep, increases memory retention and recall, improves cognitive skills and creative thinking, lessens worries and impassivity, reduces blood pressure, improves breathing and heart rates, increases immune function, and hundreds more.

Therefore, meditation is one of the best ways to enhance mind and brain abilities. With a calm, relaxed and focused mind one can stay in the moment rather than worried about results.

By: Nilcee Kitani Schneider -Meditation & Wellness Coach, Reiki Master and Motivational Speaker. Creator of the M.O.T. (Mother of Twins) Meditation and the OlderWise Programs.

Get to know Nilcee: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT9xgi_dS0E&t=877s

Contact: NilceeKS@gmail.com

Webpage: www.NilceeReikiMeditation.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nilcee.Meditation.Reiki

Instagram: @Nilcee.Reiki.Meditation