Words By: Evan Rabin
Premier Chess’ students range in geography from New York to the Northwestern Territory of Canada to Sri Lanka! Ever since I played a tournament in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2010, the international chess bug has hit me and I’ve played tournaments in Israel, Spain, France and Argentina and have visited chess sites in India, Canada, England and Iceland.
During my semester abroad at Tel Aviv University, International Master Gabriel Battiglini connected me to several of the chess organizers in Israel. As a result, I was able to play in several tournaments; in one rapid tournament, I defeated two IMs and tied for 2nd place. When in Israel, Battiglini informed me of a norm tournament in Haifa.
I was excited and spoke with the organizer, only for him to apologize as I couldn’t play because my FIDE rating was so low (around 1900 at the time). I then realized the importance of having a higher FIDE rating; around the world, people do not care about US titles. Since then I have neither cared about my US rating nearly as much nor played in many tournaments that are not FIDE rated.
While in India, I was shocked how well-known Viswanathan Anand is; he is a celebrity, like Lebron James is in the United States; EVERYBODY knows him. 9/10 non-chess players in the U.S could not tell you who Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana, etc. are. Most will ask you if Bobby Fischer is still alive.
Most tournaments in the U.S are 2+ games per day, which means if you are lucky you will have an hour or two in between rounds. Very often, you will have a only a few minutes and need to go and stuff a sandwich in your mouth before the next game. To the contrary in Europe, most tournaments are one game per day, meaning you have about 24 hours to prepare for your opponents.
The first few times I played abroad, preparation was a weakness as I never knew how to do research on my opponents and prepare my openings. I wish GM Mesgen Amanov wrote this helpful article many years prior.
Follow his helpful steps to a tee and you will succeed! When I was flying home from Mumbai in 2015, I made the grand decision that I would travel to at least one foreign country per year for the rest of my life. So, far I have accomplished that goal. In December, 2016, I visited Iceland and even did the famous “chess player’s mecca”:
In the words of Jerry Garcia, “If I had to the world to give, I’d give it you.” We all have our challenges on and off the chess board but if you are reading this article, that means you are relatively well off with access to a computer, and internet. Others are less fortunate. In that regard, my company Premier Chess is excited to host a joint-trip with Make a Difference Now in Moshi, Tanzania June 18-27. Make A Difference staff and I will be leading a cultural immersion leadership program, in which we will be teaching high school students and teachers to start up a chess culture in an impoverished school.
We will also be visiting the gates of Mount Kiliminjaro. A safari add-on is optional. Trip is open to high school upperclassmen, college students and adults. For more information, see here. Application is due March 20. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Evan Rabin is a National Chess Master and the CEO of Premier Chess
You contact him with any enquiries at