Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Balance Between Staying Present and Looking Forward: A Lifelong Journey

By Laura Kovall

"If you take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves."

While training for my sixth marathon this past fall, on a unseasonably warm day in September, I was running the 18 mile tune up race sponsored by NYRR.  It was only 830am, it was about 80 degrees with the combination of sunshine and humidity, and as I was heading onto my last of the three loops, I started to think ahead.  I was on mile 12; how was I going to feel at mile 15, 16, and 17....

"No Laura," I told myself.  "Stay focused.  One mile at a time."

As a typical type-A goal oriented New Yorker, I am always looking forward.  I do not have a five or ten year plan per se; but I do spend a lot of time thinking ahead.  If I want to run a marathon, I need to get a training plan together.  If I want to grow my business, I need to be strategic in my marketing, my sales, my schedule and my planning.   As a parent, there is no shortage of planning events, after school activities, camps, as well as making sure there are the right clothings, shoes, apparel, food, snacks, gear...the list goes on. And on. 

And, we all know what happens when we make plans...

Finding the balance between making things happen and letting things happen is a lifelong journey.  Being in a state of flow is often when I have my best moments; my best ideas.  When I am running, I am able to tap into a meditative state, after about 20 minutes.  It is there when I am often most content and focused.  When I am training my clients, whether it be privates, livestreams, or in a group setting, while I have a general strategy and plan,  I tap into my intuition and will pivot depending on what they need.  

Being present is key; and yet, without any plans, any strategy, our lives would be chaos.

I remember when my daughter, Sophia, was only a few months old; it was the summer of 2012, I was working in the Intelligence Bureau of the NYPD as an analyst, and I was on maternity leave.  Often, while she was doing tummy time, or playing on her mat, I would just sit back and watch.  I wanted to see what she gravitated towards; what she- not me- wanted to do.  This continued to when she was a little older, in the playground.  And it has continued to today.  It was through observation, being present, where I was able to truly see Sophia.  And, it is also through seeing her, where I need to help guide her towards activities that suit her, and help her make decisions.  

About a year ago, I learned how to play chess.  As I now approach my 41st birthday, it wasn't until I was closing in on my 40th year of life when I noticed that Sophia, then five, had taken an interest in the game by playing with my father.  As Sophia and I have now started to play together on a regular basis, I have noticed that chess is the perfect opportunity to practice the balance between staying focused in the moment yet thinking ahead.  It is exactly like training for a marathon; or working on any fitness goal.  Any move I make in the moment will affect the long run.  And, if I overthink or overanalyze, I will not be able to move, whether it be literally moving forward with a run, or moving a chess piece.  

And Sophia, now almost seven, notices this too.

"Mommy," she will tell me.  "If I move my pawn here, then you will take my bishop, and then I can take your rook but if I do then you would be able to take my queen and if you do then I will lose because I don't know how to win without my queen."

While I appreciate Sophia's inner monologue and understanding how she thinks, I have told her that is not good strategy to let her opponent know what she is thinking.  And now that she has started taking lessons with Evan and Premier Chess, I am sure that will change.  

Laura Kovall, a born and raised Upper West Side Mom, is a former CNN and ABC producer and NYPD analyst turned six time marathon runner and fitness entrepreneur.  Laura's speciality is working with pre and post-natal moms, as well as figuring out safe, challenging, efficient fitness routines for the busy and traveling parents and busy person.  Check out her site:, and her fitness offerings

Monday, January 7, 2019

Personal Finances: The Importance of Chess Strategy in Life

by Andrew Anastasio, MSM Lead at DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation

Chess is thrilling, complex, and intelligently designed. It requires strategy, preparation, and confidence in your approach. It is about outsmarting your opponent and having complete control over your own decision-making. You have to trust yourself and your gameplan; if the person you’re playing senses weakness or notices a momentary lapse in concentration, they could strike quickly and promptly overmatch you. However, if you have done your due diligence and understand why longevity in your approach to chess is important, you will see vast improvements, make positive mental strides regarding your in-game decision-making and, hopefully, have a little fun while doing so.

It is in this way that chess and managing personal finances share some striking similarities. To manage your finances correctly, you must build a strategy, understand how to apply this strategy, and outmaneuver your opponents (namely bankruptcy, credit debt, and student loans) so that you can ultimately triumph. Personal finance is not a game of luck. Sure, we can’t decide our starting point in life, as we can our first move in chess. However, we can decide our subsequent moves, and to begin with an understanding of the dangers and pitfalls of mismanaging your finances is an excellent starting point. That’s where DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation comes in. We are a New Jersey-based non-profit whose mission is to educate the youth of our country and aid them in understanding what personal finances are all about. We believe that it is imperative that the high school students of today become the financially literate adults of tomorrow, and hopefully that they will be able to execute their own unique strategies when it comes to finances so that they can avoid financial ruin.

To introduce our financial literacy program we have designed an intensive, 60-hour curriculum known as the FitKit which can be taught in all public school systems and has been tailored to the individual needs of the students. Through the program, students learn an array of important information regarding personal finance. They are shown how to balance a checkbook, manage a bank account, and avoid credit debt and the dangers of utilizing rotating credit. They also have a little fun along the way; DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation offers online games and video content throughout the program to ensure the curriculum is interactive and relevant to our youth.

In chess, the necessity of preparation cannot be understated. As with anything competitive, practice makes perfect, and having an understanding of the fundamentals sets the Chess Masters apart from the amateur enthusiasts. The same can be said for managing personal finances. It begins with learning the basics, implementing what you have learned in a positive and constructive way, and then creating an idiosyncratic strategy that fits you individually. DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation wants to help give students the jumpstart they need to lead financially successful lives that are free of unnecessary debt. That way, they will have more time to focus on improving that chess game of theirs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

An Interview with Simone Assboeck, Owner of Dance Together NYC

By Premier Chess CEO Evan Rabin 

E: Tell me a little about Dance Together NYC.

S: I love to create a community where people think they do not have rhythm and will find out that’s not true and they could happily navigate the dance floor. They can check something off their bucket list and fulfill a dream. They were nervous and didn’t think they could dance. My passion is to show that everyone is a dancer.

E: What ages and skill levels do you deal with? S: My earliest student ever was 2.5 in diapers. My oldest client was 75 years-old. The peak group is mid-20s to 60s. Range is from total beginners, never having step foot onto dance floor, to people who have taken classes elsewhere.

E: What types of dance do you teach?

S: I teach the whole spectrum of Latin and Ballroom dancing; e.g, Swing, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-cha, Hustle, etc.

E: How long have you been teaching dance?

S: I have taught for 15+ years.

E: Tell us a little about your own dance career. 

S: I started out Latin Ballroom back home in Cologne, Germany when I was 7 as a social activity. It turned into a competitive style when I was 11. When I came here in my 20s, I shifted my focus to perform more and choreograph based on songs.  

E: Tell us a little about the difference of performing and competing in Germany and the U.S.

S: One major difference was the financial aspect. In Germany, you didn’t have to pay admissions fees to the dance clubs, regional and national competitions. In Germany within a radius of 60 kilometers, I could compete in six different locations. When I came here, the competition was not as developed so I had to fly to all of the competitions and stay in hotels and pay registration fees.

E: Describe your teaching methodology. 

S:What differentiates me is that I try to design a curriculum according to their capabilities and learning curve and push them as much as I can without underwhelming them. I have a good intuition about what’s too much and too little. I have an analytical mind which helps me see where something needs to be corrected and how to correct it. My goal is to get you on the dance floor as fast as possible and to be creative.

E: What is the correlation of dance and chess?

S: To navigate the dance floor, you need to pre-think your next move. Even though you need to be specific, you want to think the big picture. Pieces have a way of moving but you also want to be open minded so you don’t need to make the same sequences of moves according to a recipe. You have to be a quick decision maker in both chess and dance. From a leader and follower’s perspective, you need to be in the moment and react accordingly. In documentaries, they teach chess players how to be relaxed and grounded. In dance, you can tense up as you need to rest in your mind to not get lost in the forest.

E: Tell us how you help students make quick decisions. 

S: We do breathing so muscles stay lose. We calm minds down by seeing ourselves in slow motion so we can become fast. To be fast, you need to slow down. In the beginning that could be difficult so I often stay slow down and throw in different moves.

E: What main lessons can chess players learn through dance? 

S: One lesson is to be physical in the flow. Even though you are sitting and thinking, there should be a flow.

E: What can dancers learn through chess? 

S: I think focus and concentration can help get the point across to your partner. You need to sharp, especially as a leader. Chess players forget their surroundings. It would be interesting to see how chess can expand to a group experience.

 E: is there anything else you like an add?

S: If you were to play a game as a group, give everyone input and see where this will go. It would be interesting to see how people can play without commenting.

E: Thank you. We do often actually do this in tandem simuls. If anyone has questions, what’s the best way to contact you?


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Grateful for Chess in Tanzania!

An Interview with Christopher, Make a Difference Now Student at Royal School of HIMO

by Jack Mo, 1st Annual Make a Difference in Africa Trip Volunteer (June 11-18, 2018) 

I am a Penn States student, who enjoyed being one of the volunteers on the 1st Annual Make a Difference in Africa trip in June, 2018. Here is my interview with Christopher, one of one of Make a Difference NOW (MAD)’s sponsored students, who was one the 65 kids we taught: 
Jack giving a lesson on basic 
Christopher at Demo Board.
In background, is Eric, who won our in-class tournament. 


Please share a little bit about your upbringing and how 
Make a Difference Now (MAD) has affected your life.


 Without MAD, I would face many challenges. I'm now literate because MAD helped me. Being illiterate would make me end up being in the streets doing child labor in order to have something to eat. MAD is providing all my basic needs such food, clothing, shelter and access to medical services. MAD gave me access to sports such as basketball and recently this year I had exposure to professional chess players and I can now play chess.  MAD has affected my life in general and I can see my future dream in near future. 


What do you want to do in the future after you graduate from Royal School of HIMO? 

 I've got short and long term dreams. Right after graduating, I would like to  meet with my family and to get exposure to village life and help with  household chores and farming. I want to meet students in government schools who did not have access to best schools to help them with their classes. I will also be working for my high school applications and college applications to start in the Spring of 2019.


Tell me a little bit about the experience you had learning chess from the Premier Chess team back in June.  


I got many experiences such as confidence in playing chess (could play previously but without the basic skills and with no confidence). I learned how to establish a collaborative environment.  I enjoyed how you and the team made students participate by providing the pencils and the trophy. You taught the techniques to win chess competition and ways to refresh my mind through chess.


What was your favorite part about the experience? 

My favorite part is the knowledge on the techniques of winning chess competition because I can apply them in many aspects while playing chess. 


What lessons did you learn from chess that may help you in other areas of life

Collaboration, corporation and the aspects of winning chess


How much chess is being played in the school currently? 


Chess have been played in our school every Wednesday but during the last few weeks of schooling, when we're preparing for exams, we don't play. 


What types of lessons would you like to learn when we return to school in July?  

 In July next year, most of us will be in other schools since we have already graduated. However, I would like to learn more on the chess techniques. Additionally, if possible when you come back in July, teaching using two languages will be very helpful. Most of MAD students have access to international volunteers and they've got used to English speakers but now only one MAD student, Peter, will be around.  It is better to have a translator who will translate to the students with simple English and if possible use two languages, English and Swahili. 


If there is one thing we can improve on for our next teaching trip to Royal School, what would it be?


Minimize the speed of teaching and have a Swahili translator. 


Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with Premier Chess volunteer team? 


The experience with chess has helped me think mathematically. 


If I may, would love to ask you two follow up questions: 


Please do! 


Can chess program be part of employment to people? If so, how?


Chess can absolutely be a platform of employment. I teach students in the classroom and individually either in-person or online. If you are interested in learning more about how you can make money through chess, the other volunteers and I would love to provide some guidance. 


Are there several teams/ chess clubs in your home area? 

Jack: I am the president of the Penn State chess club, where we meet for club every week. We are in the process of starting rated tournaments on campus. Meanwhile, I do frequently travel to my hometown Pittsburgh and other cities for tournaments. I should note, I also look forward to playing with you again down in the Kilimanjaro region next July! Thank you for your time and see you soon.     

For more insights about our 2018 trip, see CEO National Master Evan Rabin's article in the December issue of Chess Life.  Apply for 2019 trip, which will take place July 11-18, here!

Friday, November 16, 2018

In Case You Missed it- Jim Egerton's Business on the Board Talk at UBS

Thanks to all who showed up for our Business and Finance Event at UBS in Midtown Manhattan last evening! In case you missed it, here's the full video of National Master Evan Rabin's introduction, Business on the Board CEO Jim Egerton's talk and Rabin's World Championship Update:

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

First American World Champion Since 1972?!

First American World Champion Since 1972?!

Image result for fabiano caruana magnus carlsen

This Friday, November 9, World Champion Magnus Carlsen will take on Fabiano Caruana, the first American challenger since Bobby Fischer in 1972 in the first game of the 2018 World Championship Match in London!

In 2016, I had the opportunity to attend one of the games of the match Magnus played against Challenger Sergey Karjakin in our home turf of New York City. I even had the honor of getting on Norweigian television as I stood by Magnus' manager Espen Agdestein during the press conference!:!/video/134450/mann-forvirrer-direktesendingen

One day in 2000, my former teach Alan Kantor took me to the tournament, warning me that as a 1000-rated player, I would likely lose all of my games. After losing eight or nine straight games, I saw an eight-year old kid and thought to my self "Wow- I could finally win a game in this tournament". I started playing against him and he blundered a queen. Sure enough I ended up blundering one back and went on to lose the game. I asked him what his name and rating was; he shockingly told me he was "Fabiano Caruana" and had a rating of 1833. At the time, I heard of his name but didn't know what he looked like.

Since that day, I had the pleasure of watching Fabiano grow up a chess player in New York. Gary Ryan, the co-organizer of our 1st Annual Grace Church School and Brooklyn Friends School Grand Prix, was one his first teachers.

One day many up and coming juniors, including GM Robert Hess, GM Marc Arnold, Fabiano and I were running around, letting off some steam between rounds at a Marshall Chess Club tournament. Fabiano's father Lou told him he couldn't hang out with us and had to prepare for the next game.

A year or two later, Fabiano was already a strong master and moved to Europe to take chess on as a full-time career. I do have the honor of being able to say I drew him in one action game at one of his last few tournaments at the Marshall before he moving to Europe when he was already a master:

In 2006, I saw Fabiano at the Eastern Open when his dad Lou expressed how that was one of the few tournaments he would play at the U.S at the time as it was mostly 1 game per day.

In 2015, Fabiano returned to the United States, living in St. Louis and has been the top player in the country.

To date, Fabiano has played Magnus in 33 classical games. These were the results:

-10 Magnus wins
-5 Fabiano wins
-18 draws

The match, which will last from 11/9 to 11/28, will be directed by Stephane Escate from France.

Time Magazine, NY Times and The Guardian have already covered articles about match; let's see how much the major publications cover the match as it begins.

While you can follow the mainstream media, you can also keep up with the match via these four platforms:


2)Revealing the Power of Chess to the World of Business & Finance/ World Championship Update, 11/15



Let's go Team Fabi!!!