Episode 143- IM John Donaldson returns

John Donaldson (center) at the 2006 Olympiad in Turin. (also pictured, Gata Kamsky, Alex Onishchuk, Hikaru Nakamura)

John Donaldson (center) at the 2006 Olympiad in Turin. (also pictured, Gata Kamsky, Alex Onishchuk, Hikaru Nakamura)

More than 2.5 years after our first interview it is once again an honor to talk chess with renowned chess author and historian IM John Donaldson. As we discuss, John has remained extremely busy despite recently retiring as Director of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in San Francisco. In addition to co-authoring acclaimed books about Bobby Fischer and Akiva Rubinstein, John is a member of the Samford Fellowship Committee and has served as the Captain of many U.S. Olympiad Teams. So as always, we had much to discuss! Please read on for many relevant links and timestamps. 

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0:00- Intro- We begin by discussing what is new with John's ongoing research related to his series of books about GM Bobby Fischer, written with IM Eric Tangborn.

Mentioned: Bobby Fischer’s Final Years: A Memoir, GM William Lombardy, IM Anthony Saidy 

11:30- When he retired from the Mechanics' Institute one of John’s goals was to play chess competitively more often. Has he been able to achieve this goal? Which older players inspire him? 

NM Han Schut, IM Anthony Saidy, USCF Master Viktors Pupols

20:00- John has been the captain of the U.S. Olympiad team many times, He explains the selection process for determining the next team for the U.S. Olympiad. 

Mentioned: Khanty-Mansiysk, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Sam Shankland, Jeffrey Xiong, Hikaru Nakamura 

24:30- What is Samford Fellowship, and how do its recipients get selected?

Mentioned: Allen Kaufman, Sam Sevian, Hikaru Nakamura, Awonder Liang, Joel Benjamin Wesley So, IM Christopher Yoo, 

32:00- More Olympiad talk! Who will be the strongest teams in the next Open Chess Olympiad? What are John’s favorite Olympiad memories? 

Mentioned: 38th Chess Olympiad (2008), GM Viswanathan Anand, GM Pentala Harikrishna, GM Vidit Gujrathi, GM Gata Kamsy, GM Vassily Ivanchuk 

44:00- Is drug testing necessary in chess? How thorough is the monitoring for computer assistance at the Olympiads? 

Mentioned: IM Kenneth Regan 

49:00- We discuss John’s 2 volume work on legendary GM Akiva Rubinstein (co-written with IM Niklay Minev) , which is available on Forward Chess and Amazon. A Patreon supporter of Perpetual Chess wonders if there is hope for a 3rd edition of the book and also asks John’s opinion on whether Peak Rubinstein could have beaten GM Emanuel Lasker for the World Championship. John did not dodge the question! 

Mentioned: Michael Negele, Positional Decision-Making in Chess, Dynamic Decision-Making in Chess 

1:00:00- John shares some memories about notable recent passings in the chess world. This includes Fischer-era chess commentator Shelby Lyman, Chess Historian Dale Brandreth, and GM Pal Benko 

Mentioned: Steve Brandwein , Henry Kissinger, Karl Burger, IM Jack Peters, GM Michael Wilder, Albrecht Buschke, John Rather, Oscar Shapiro, USCF Master Fred Wilson 

1:19:00- Has John read any standout chess books lately?

Mentioned: Quality Chess, Chess Evolution, Thinkers Publisher, McFarland, Mongoose Press, New in Chess, Russell Enterprises, Everyman Press, Andy Soltis, 300 Most Important Chess Positions, The Survival Guide to Rook Endings, The Woodpecker Method , The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian , Opening Simulator - King's Indian Defence, Perfect Your Chess , Learn From the Legends 

1:36:00- John reviews the performance of the U.S. Teams at the 2019 World Team Championship.

Mentioned: GM Darius Swiercz, GM Sam Sevian, GM Alex Onischuk, GM Alex Lenderman, GM Elshan Moriadiabadi, GM Melik Khachiyan, GM Alejandro Ramirez, Carissa Yip, Rochelle Wu, GM Zviad Izoria

1:41:00- Thanks to John for coming on! You can email him here

If you would like to help support the podcast, you can do so here.

Episode 142- USCF Master Han Schut (Adult Improver Series)

Han gives a simul at National Chess Day, photo courtesy of Han Schut

Han gives a simul at National Chess Day, photo courtesy of Han Schut

This week the Adult Improver series returns with another great guest. Fifty-five year-old USCF Master Han Schut is a Certified Chess Steps Trainer, a blogger, and a chess parent. His daughters Donna and Lisa were both top Dutch scholastic players, and Lisa is the youngest ever Dutch Women’s Champion. She won it at the age of 19. 

Han returned to competitive chess in 2013 and has since seen his rating steadily climb from 2120 to a recent high of 2270.  Given the age and relatively high rating from which Han started, this is quite an accomplishment! How did he do it? What resources did he use?  How does he combat Father Time? What do we need to know about the Steps Method? Tune in to find out. Timestamps and relevant links below:

Click here to download the episode

0:00- Intro and discussion of the Steps Method. The Steps is a Dutch chess curriculum which is designed to take you from the Novice to the Master Level. You can order Steps books here. Han also asks some questions from Patreon supporters of the podcast relating to the qualifications for becoming a Certified Steps Trainer and how to “mine the data” of the LiChess Online database . 

Mentioned: Perpetual Chess Patreon Page, Rob Brunia, IM Cor van Wijgerden, GM Loek Van Wely, GM Erwin L’ami, Chess Tutor discs, LiChess Opening Explorer, Hiarcs Opening Book Subscription 

30:00- We transition to talking about Han’s chess playing and chess improvement more generally.  Han shares how he has managed to continue to improve into his 50s, and answers a few questions from supporters of the podcast about how to budget one’s chess study time. 

Mentioned: Chess Steps, Step 3 Books, 100 Endgames You Must Know (Chessable version), Perfect Your Chess, Chess Structures, Keep it Simple 1. D4 (Chessable Course) . Grandmaster Repetoire 1. e4 , 1. d4 : Dynamic Systems, Game Changer, Chess for Life, Vladimir Chuchelov, Alex King, IM Ali Mortazavi, Fred Wilson 

1:04- Han retells a great story from his blog relating to former World Champion, GM Boris Spassky. 

Mentioned: Daniel Yarur Elsaca

1:15- Han shares some advice for other parents based on his experiences as a chess parent. 

Mentioned: GM Robin Van Kampen 

1:18- Goodbye. Keep up with or contact Han via his Chess.com account

Episode 141- Isaac Steincamp

Photo courtesy of Isaac Steincamp

Photo courtesy of Isaac Steincamp



Isaac Steincamp is only 22, but has already been quite busy making a name for himself in the chess world. He is an expert level chess player, and after recently graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, he has begun working at Chess.com as The Lead Solutions Architect. In  the past he has been a chess streamer, has made videos for ChessOpenngsExplained.com, and he founded Chess Summit. In our conversation, we talk about how Isaac got his new gig, what is going on at Chess.com, and Isaac’s chess improvement recommendations, both for his own game and for other players. Please read on for timestamps, links and more details. 


Click here to download the episode

0:00- Intro. We begin by discussing how Isaac ended up with the position of Lead Solutions Architect at Chess.com 

Referenced NM Sam Copeland, Aran S, Nick Barton 

9:00- As the Deputy Commissioner of the Pro Chess League, Isaac gives us a rundown of all that is going on with the Pro Chess League, including the Summer Series, which is winding down. 

Referenced The Pittsburgh Pawnsgrabbers, IM Greg Shahade, Reykjavik Puffins, IM John Bartholomew, Chessbrahs 

24:00- We dive deeper into the Fischer Random World Championship, which is a year long competition which begins on Chess.com and culminates in a live championship in Norway in October. 

27:00- We digress into a discussion of the 2019 FIDE World Cup, my favorite event on the 2019 Chess Calendar. Email me if you would like to run a World Cup Pool and I will help promote it. :) 

31:20- Chess improvement! A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks about the status of Isaac’s quest for the US Chess National Master Title. Why does he think he has plateaued of late?

Mentioned: GM Eugene Perelyshteyn, FM Gabe Petesch 

42:00- What has helped Isaac improve the most?

Referenced Endgame Essentials, 100 Chess Master Trade Secrets, Chess Structures, Chess.com Survival Mode, IM Hans Niemann, IM Casper Schoppen 

49:00- Another supporter of the podcast asks Isaac to share his views on the importance of “storyboarding” each game of chess. 

54:00- Goodbye! You can keep up with and contact Isaac via Twitter and His Chess.com account 

Episode 140- GM Aman Hambleton

Photo courtesy of GM Hambleton

Photo courtesy of GM Hambleton

26 year old Grandmaster Aman Hambleton is one of Canada’s top 10 players and,  among other distinctions, he has represented his country in the Chess Olympiad multiple times.  Of course, he is best known as one of the founding members (along with GM Eric Hansen) of the extremely popular chess streaming team known as the Chessbrahs. In our lengthy and entertaining conversation we discuss topics ranging from Chessbrah origins, to the business of being a chess streamer to the struggles Aman endured to earn the Grandmaster title. This was a fun one! Please read on for timestamps and relevant links. 


Click here to download the episode


0:00- Intro! We kick things off by discussing all that goes into creating a vlog, like this awesome Reykjavik Open Tournament Recap Vlog  that Aman and the Chessbrahs recently released. 

8:00- We transition to discussing the business of Chessbrah. How many employees does Chessbrah have? What project are they working on outside of chess? This includes a discussion of the origins of GM Eric Hansen and Aman forming Chessbrahs. 

Mentioned: Aman Hambleton’s old blog 

14:00- Aman tackles the first of many questions (thanks guys!)  from a Patreon Supporter of Perpetual Chess. This question relates to how much income Twitch streamers can expect to make. Other questions relate to advice for getting into chess streaming.

29:30- GM Hambleton fields some listener questions about how GM Yasser Seirawan joined team Chessbrah, what his favorite Yasser story is, and Aman even does an impromptu Yasser impersonation! 

Mentioned: Trailer Park Boys. Chess World Cup 2019 (which the Chessbrahs will be covering), Second City Improv , GM Vidit Gujrathi 

45:00- Another listener asks about how many mice the Chessbrah’s have broken due to chess rage, and whether people complain that the Chessbrah’s sometimes suggest moves to each other. 

Mentioned: GM Robin van Kampen, FM Lefong Hua 

51:45-  Chess improvement!  How much has Aman trained his blndfold chess abilities?  

Mentioned: Jeff Coakley

58:00- Aman talks about the immense challenge it was for him to get the GM title, and about what motivated him and enabled him to get it.  

Mentioned: The Taimanov Bible: A Complete Manual for the Sicilain Player, Aman explain his win vs GM Shirov to Fiona Steil-Antoni, or play through Hambleton-Shirov 2017 here 

1:08- Another listener asks about the history of the opening containing a queen sacrifice that Aman has dubbed  “the undefeated opening”. 

Mentioned: Check out one of Aman’s blitz games with the Undefeated Opening with it here. Englund Gambit game from Reykjavik Open vs. Lars Laustsen here

1:12- A listener asks, has blitz helped Aman’s chess, can it help ours? Does Aman play better or worse chess while streaming? 

1:24- Who have been Aman’s toughest online blitz opponent?

Mentioned: GM Alireza Firouzja, GM Sergei Karjakin, GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen-Hambleton 2017 

1:28- Spurred by another listener question, Aman assesses the current health of the Canadian Chess Scene 

Mentioned: GM Pentala Harikrishna, GM Vassily Ivanchuk, GM Sam Shankland, GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly, GM Wang Hao, GM Wesley So, GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Leinier Dominguez 

1:38- How can one become a Chessbrah? 

Mentioned: GM Yasser Seirawan, John Urschel, Chessbrah Norway Chess 2019 Coverage 

1:44- One last listener question- How does being a chess professional/well known personality help or hurts Aman’s dating life?

1:48- Goodbye! Here is how you can keep up with Aman and the Chessbrahs: Aman’sTwitter, Aman’s Instagram, Chessbrah Twitch, Chessbrah Youtube Channel, Chessbrah TV Twitter

If you would like to help support the podcast, go here.

Episode 139- Author Sasha Chapin

Sasha Chapin.jpg

Sasha Chapin is a writer who has just published his first book, All the Wrong Moves, a Memoir about Chess, Love, and Ruining Everything. Sasha’s book tackles themes quite familiar to many chess enthusiasts: Chess love, chess addiction, chess improvement, the inevitable intersection of chess and real life, and how to grapple with one’s own chess limitations. Sasha’s book is a fun read which resonated with me, and features mentions of many prominent chess players and personalities. For another perspective on Sasha’s book, you can read the Washington Post’s review of his book here. For more details, timestamps, and relevant links please continue reading.

Click here to download the episode



0:00- We begin by discussing how Sasha was able to get a book deal with Doubleday to write a “chess memoir,” and how he approached writing the book once the project was a reality.
Mentioned: GM Vassily Ivanchuk, Gm Alexander Morozevich, IM John Bartholomew, GM Ben Finegold, GM Eric Hansen, GM Var Akobian, IM Eric Rosen, GM Peter Svidler, Video of GM Magnus Carlsen and Peter Svidler doing post-mortem analysis
17:33- We transition from talking about chess streamers and announcers to Sasha’s favorite chess books. Mentioned: My System by Aron Nimzowhich, Chess for Zebras by Jonathan Rowson
21:00- A Patreon supporter of Perpetual Chess asks what helped Sasha the most in terms of chess improvement. As Sasha tells it, his greatest improvements came from some key insights that GM Ben Finegold provided during their lessons. .
32:00- Another Patreon supporter asks how to prevent one’s ego from ruining one’s chess mood, and also asks for Sasha’s input about the pros and cons of playing live vs. online.
39:00- Does Sasha think that chess is inherently addictive?
43:00- We circle back to what Sasha’s chess routine was like during the time that this book takes place. Was he working at the time? What did he study? How many hours per day did study? Mentioned: Chess Tempo Tactics Trainer
48:00- Sasha discusses a bit of his impressions of some of the places that he visited while writing this book, including St. Louis, and Hyderabad, India.
54:00- We wrap by talking a bit about Sasha’s future plans. You can keep up with Sasha via Twitter, Instagram, or his email list

All the Wrong Moves is now available from Amazon and many other book sellers.
If you are in the Los Angeles area you can go see Sasha Chapin discuss his book on August 20. Details here.
If you would like to help support the podcast, you can do so here.

Episode 138- USCF Master Dan Heisman

Photo courtesy of Dan Heisman

Photo courtesy of Dan Heisman

This week the popular Chess Author, Presenter, and USCF Master,  Dan Heisman joins me. As someone who has been teaching adults (and kids) chess for decades, Dan has special insight into the way that amateurs should think about chess and also knows the ways that they actually do think about chess. It was a pleasure to pick Dan’s brain and to hear some of his stories! Please read below the break for many more details, relevant links, and timestamps. 

Click here to download the episode



0:00- Intro and we begin by discussing of why Dan recently decided to launch his instructive new Youtube Channel

Mentioned: Kurt Schneider (chess master and creator of College Musical) , GM Daniel King’s Youtube Channel, John Bartholomew’s Youtube Channel, Christof Sielecki’s Youtube Channel, Back to Basics Tactics, John Nunn’s Learn Chess Tactics, The Evaluation of Material Imbalances by GM Larry Kaufman 

19:00- Dan talks about how he transitioned from working as an engineer to teaching chess full time in the 1990’s.

 Mentioned: Bobby Dudley, NM Daniel Benjamin, Arthur and Matthew Traldi, Everyone’s Second Chess Book by Dan Heisman 

27:20- A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks for tips for how a 1700 rated player should approach teaching a 1300 rated player.

Mentioned: Chess for Zebras by GM Jonathan Rowson, Thought and Choice in Chess by Adriaan DeGroot, FM Charles Hertan 

44:40- Another Patreon supporter writes to ask whether it is important to use an actual chess board rather than screen when solving tactics. 

Mentioned: Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation by GM Jacob Aagard

52:30- Another Patreon supporter asks a question relating to how much time to spend studying the opening versus other aspects of chess.

 Mentioned: WGM Jennifer Shahade, NM Mike Shahade, Ruy Lopez Riga Variation, GM Andy Soltis, Howard Stern, The World’s Most Instructive Amateur Games by Dan Heisman 

1:13- Chess books! Here is the link to Dan’s excellent recommended chess books page.

Mentioned: John Bain’s Chess Tactics for Students, Logical Chess Move by Move
, The World’s Most Instructive Amateur Games, The Art of Logical Thinking by GM Neil McDonald, Tim Krabbe’s Chess Curiosities, The Joys of Chess by Christian Hesse , Pawn Power by Hans Kmoch, Alekhine’s My Best Games of Chess 

1:22- Dan breaks down what you can find in some of his own books.

Mentioned: Is Your Move Safe, The Improving Chess Thinker, The World’s Most Instructive Amateur Games, Everyone’s Second Chess Book , A Guide to Chess Improvement: The Best of Novice Nook, GM James Tarjan 

1:31- Dan tells stories from the time that he spent teaching chess to the famous radio host Howard Stern, and from his encounters with former World Champion GM Garry Kasparov 

1:39- Goodbye and final plugs! Links: Dan’s Youtube Channel, Dan’s Website , Dan’s Twitter Chess Tip of the Day

Episode 137- IM Erik Kislik

Photo courtesy of IM Erik Kislik

Photo courtesy of IM Erik Kislik

IM Erik Kislik is a popular American chess trainer and author who is now based in Hungary. We talk about Erik’s first book,  Applying Logic in Chess, which lays out his a framework for how to think about chess, and his just-released new book, Chess Logic in PracticeChess Logic in Practice expands on this framework and provides concrete examples to augment your chess understanding (more details about Erik's new book can be found at the bottom of this description). During our conversation, we discuss Erik’s favorite game collection chess books, and Erik shares lots of chess improvement advice based on his experiences as a player and coach. For relevant links, timestamps, and more details about all that we discussed, please continue reading below the break. 


Click here to download the episode


0:00-  We begin by talking about how Erik developed the framework that he lays out in his first book, Applying Logic in Chess, which he expands upon in his new book Chess Logic in Practice. This includes a detailed discussion of an updated version of the point values in chess, as laid out by GM Larry Kaufman (who is also the designer of the Komodo engine.) 

GM Kaufman’s point values:

Pawn – 1

Knight – 3.45

Bishop – 3.55

Rook- 5.25

Queen- 10

Mentioned: The Kaufman Repertoire for Black and White: A Complete, Sound and User-Friendly Chess Opening Repertoire, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy by John Watson 

Botvinnik-Tal 1960 World Chess Championship, John Nunn’s Secrets of Practical Chess (This book coined the term- Loose Pieces Drop off, aka “LPDO”), Jon Speelman’s Chess Puzzle Book 

34:00- Erik answers a couple of questions from a Patreon supporter of the podcast, about how one can analyze his/her own games and what to do if one doesn’t have time to play tournament games, but understands the importance of playing serious games for improvement. 

Mentioned: Perfect Your Chess, Imagination in Chess , IM Stefan Kuipers, Ed Latimore

56:00- What are some of Erik’s favorite game collection books? What is it like it live in a chess hub like Budapest, Hungary? 

Mentioned: Chess by Lazslo Polgar, Winning Chess Strategies by GM Seirawan, Kramnik: My Life of Games,GM Peter Lukacs, IM Lazslo Huzai, GM Peter Prohaszka, Vishy Anand: My Best Games of Chess, Victor Bologan: My Selected Games 1985-2004, Alexander Alekhine’s Best Games

1:14- What methods did IM Kislik’s best improving( most improved?) student, Thomas Callea, use to get better?  

1:20- What plans does Erik have for sharing free content on his Youtube Channel and elsewhere? 

Mentioned: Martin Shkreli, IM Kislik’s working list of 500 games you should study 

1:29- Thanks and goodbye! You can keep up with Erik via his YouTube Channel, and The Internet Chess Club. His books, Applying Logic in Chess and Chess Logic in Practice are available from Amazon and many other book sellers.

Courtesy of Erik Kislik, here is a bit more about what you can expect to find in Chess Logic in Practice:

The book Chess Logic in Practice consists of Thinking Concepts, Positional Concepts, and exercises. The first two chapters deal with pursuing the most direct idea as actively as possible and, conversely, when the logic of that idea doesn’t work and how to fix it. The first essential type of thinking concept stressed is related to urgency, and the second thinking concept emphasized relates to your sense of danger (addressed in the chapters Overpressing, Only One Way to Lose and Unlikely Draws).

In Part 2: Positional Concepts, a heavy emphasis is on
• understanding piece exchanges (with three separate chapters to increase our positional understanding)
• sensing the quality of pieces (with chapters on various weak pieces)
• grasping and creating weaknesses
• appreciating difficult moves we tend to miss or misevaluate
• defensive play concepts like tenacity and the queen’s value and role in defense;
• maneuvering in closed positions.

With this book, players will learn how to analyze with helpful thinking methods and apply them practically in their games, developing their ability to handle common situations with a clear thought process.

Episode 136- IM Kenneth Regan

Photo courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Regan

Photo courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Regan

Dr. Kenneth Regan is an International Master, an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of Buffalo, and is one of the world’s foremost experts on using predictive analytics to help detect computer-assisted cheating in chess tournaments. With the chess world abuzz about the alleged cheating of GM Igors Rausis, I thought it would be the perfect time to invite Dr. Regan to join me to discuss all of the challenges faced by those who work to stop chess cheaters from undermining the integrity of our beloved game. Naturally we also discuss IM Regan’s other research and hear stories and reflections on his background as a strong chess player. (Dr. Regan was the 1977 US Junior co-champion and broke the record of Bobby Fischer as the youngest USCF Master!)  Please continue reading for more details, links and timestamps. 


Click here to download the episode.

 

0:00- Intro. We begin by discussing some background about the Igors Rausis cheating scandal and the issue of engine-assisted chess in tournaments more generally. As Kenneth explains, his work involves using predictive analytics to assess the probability that a person received engine assistance in a chess game or series of chess games. 

Mentioned: 2006 Kramnik-Topalov World Championship Match (aka “ToiletGate”)Frederic Friedel, Alekhine-Capablanca 1927 , Tamal Biswas 

21:00- According to Dr. Regan’s metrics, what was the best played chess match in history prior to Fischer-Spassky 1972? 

Mentioned: So-Karjakin 2019 

26:00- Dr. Regan’s discusses some of the inherent challenges of his work detecting possible cheating in live chess tournaments, including the issue of the risk of “false positive” results in his algorithm. 

Mentioned: Howard Goldowsky’s 2014 Chess Life Feature of Kenneth Regan

39:00- A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks Dr. Regan what club players can do to detect and deter potential cheaters. 

44:00- How does online cheating differ from live tournament cheating? 

Mentioned: Daniel Sleator of the Internet Chess Club, Danny Rensch and Mike Klein of Chess.com

46:45- Another supporter of the show submits a list of questions for Dr. Regan touching on topics ranging to his own experiences with cheating to his background as a strong chess player, to where he sees the next battle being fought in the realm of chess cheating. 

Mentioned: Dennis Monokroussos’ The Chess Mind Blog , Dr. Regan’s Ted Talk ., IM Regan’s blog post,  London Calling , Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O Neil 

1:05- How surprised was Dr. Regan by the rise of neural networks like AlphaZero and Leela?

1:09- We talk a bit about Dr. Regan’s own chess career. How did he improve? What were his favorite chess books?  

Mentioned: Sam Copeland’s interview with Kenneth Regan 

Pawn Power in Chess, My System,Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess, Laszlo Szabo, Jaan Ehlvest, Rafael Vaganian, John Fedorowicz,  Tarjei Svenson article summarizing Magnus Carlsen’s dispute with Norwegian Chess Federation 

1:19- Goodbye! Keep up with IM Regan via his blog and his professional page.

Episode 135- GM Vladimir Tukmakov

Photo Courtesy of Thinker’s Publishing

Photo Courtesy of Thinker’s Publishing

This week it was my honor to interview renowned player, author, and trainer, GM Vladimir Tukmakov. GM Tukmakov was once one of the world's top 20 players and was the 1970 Ukrainian national champion. More recently, he has switched his focus to coaching and writing about chess. He has had 4 chess books published in English, including the excellent new book Coaching the Chess Stars, which we discuss in great detail. This book shares his memories and annotates some key games from his time coaching teams such as the Ukraininian, Dutch and BeloRussian national teams, and from working with individuals like GMs Wesley So and Anish Giri, who currently sit #4 and #5 in the world, respectively.  Please read on for timestamps and relevant links. Enjoy! 


Click here to download the episode



0:00- Intro

2:30- We launch right into discussing Coaching the Chess Stars . GM Tukmakov tells us how he had the idea for this book, and he retraces the arc of his career as a chess trainer. 

11:00- GM Tukmakov reflects on his experiences working with the legendary former World Champion Finalist Viktor Korchnoi.

 Mentioned: GM Gyula Sax. GM Dmitri Gurevich GM Jan Timman 

21:30- What was it like to work on the team of former World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov during his 1998 FIDE World Championship Match with GM Viswanathan Anand? 

Mentioned: IM Mikhail Podgaets, GM Alexander Onischuk, and GM Ivan Morovic

34:15- GM Tukmakov discusses some details of working with Super GM Anish Giri

Mentioned: Chess24 Jan Gustafsson interview with Magnus CarlsenThis Anish Giri tweet 

42:00- After working with Anish Giri for a few years, the next player with whom GM Tukmakov worked was GM Wesley So. GM Tukmakov discusses what it was like to work with this “pure chess talent.”

Mentioned: GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Ding Liren, David Cox’ Chess.com interview with Wesley So 

55:30- GM Tukmakov coached GM Vugar Gashimov, (who died tragically young) when he was a member of the Azerbijani National Team. You can read more about Vladimir’s interactions with GM Gashimov in Coaching the Chess Stars

58:30- We talk a bit of chess books and chess improvement. Mentioned: Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953, Paul Keres Best Games of Chess 

1:04- Thanks and good bye, GM Tukmakov can be reached via email here

If you would like to help support the podcast go here.

Episode 134- Megan Chen (Adult Improver Series)

Photo courtesy of Megan Chen

Photo courtesy of Megan Chen

This week the always popular Adult Improver Series returns with another rapidly rising adult guest. Megan Chen is a 24 year old software engineer and enthusiastic chess player. Since resuming tournament play in 2015 Megan’s USCF rating has ascended from 961 in 2015 to a peak rating of 1909! How did she do it? We discuss that in great detail, and as usual, you can find the links and timestamps below the break. The short answer, of course, is that she did lots of hard work on her chess and played in tons of tournaments. 


Click here to download the episode.

0:00- Intro. Megan talks about how she rediscovered a passion for chess in college at Carnegie Mellon after many years away. Mentioned in this segment: USCF Masters Beilin Li and Grant Xu 

8:00- Once Megan recommitted to chess as a serious hobby, what did she do to help improve her game? She found stronger players to review her games, and found her coaches, Ryan Murphy and WGM Nazi Paikidze

Mentioned: Chicago Chess Meetup , Combinative Motifs by Maxim Blokh , Illinois Chess Association article about Megan Chen 

18:00- Megan answers a question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast about how she structures her lessons and study time.

29:00- What change in Megan’s lifestyle helped her game of chess the most? What are Megan’s current goals in chess? How is she approaching a current slump in her results?  

40:00- Megan answers some more questions from Patreon supporters of the show. They relate to the best way to spend one’s chess study time, choosing coaches, seeking book recommendations for a new player rated around 900, and her biggest challenge as an adult improver is. . 

Mentioned: Chess: 5334 Problems Combinations and Games, and Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess Twitlonger post from IM Alexander Katz LiChess Coaches Page, Chess.com coaches page

56:00- What are Megan’s favorite chess books?

Mentioned: Combinative Motifs by Maxim Blokh , Active Pieces by Jay Bonin, Imagination in Chess, Attacking Manual Volume 1 and Volume 2 by GM Jacob Aagard 

58:00- As is becoming a tradition in the Adult Improver Series, Megan gives her opinion of the importance of various study methods in the quest for improvement. These methods include: Studying Openings, playing blitz, having a coach, studying endgames, doing tactics, exercising, and watching chess broadcasts and videos. 

Mentioned: 100 Endgames You Must Know, SIlman’s Endgame Course, Chess.com Endgame Practice, Nazi Paikidze’s Endgame Renaissance Video 

1:12- Does Megan have any longer term chess goals? 

1:14- Goodbye! Keep up with Megan via her LiChess and Chess,com accounts, or join her in the Chess.com club Play Like the Masters

Episode 133- GM Pentala Harikrishna

Harikrishna.jpg

This week I am honored to joined by Super GM Pentala Harikrishna! Harikrishna has been World Junior Champion, Asian Individual Champion, and he has been ranked as high as #10 in the world. In between tournaments, while home in Prague, GM Harikrishna joined me to assess his most recent tournaments, reflect on his career, and to talk about his recently released Chessable course, which provides a complete repertoire against the French Defense. Please read on for many more details, notes and timestamps. ..


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0:00- GM Harikrishna has been quite busy of late, so he begins our conversation by discussing his two recent most GM tournaments, The Shenzen Masters, and The TePe Sigeman Chess Tournament. GM Harikrishna finished in second place in both tournaments. 

Players mentioned: Anish Giri, Nihal Sarin, Gawain Jones 

Games Mentioned: Harikrishna-Giri 2019, Harikrishna-Sarin 2019

8:35- Does GM Harikrishna have a special knack for endgames? How does he prepare for an invitational GM tournament

11:45- Why did GM Harikrishna recently move from Belgrade to Prague? 

Mentioned: Nový Bor Chess Club, GM David Navara 

15:00- We talk about chess in India, includiing whether living away from India affects GM Harikrishna’s sponsorship with Bharat Petroluem Corporation Limited? We also briefly discuss some of India’s young phenoms including Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa and Nihail Sarin 

19:00- As a former top junior player and World Junior Champion, what advice would GM Harikrishna give to other strong young players? 

25:30- We talk about GM Harikrishna’s new Chessable Course, called French Toast: How Harikrishna Fries 1… e6  . This includes a question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast about the challenges GM Harikrishna faced in trying to tailor an opening course for players of a wide range of experience levels. 

Mentioned: GM Magesh Panchanathan, IM Dmitri Schneider,  Harikrishna-Rapport 2019 (Watch GM Hari analyze his the game here),  Adams-Gupta 2018 

36:30- We talk chess improvement. GM Harikrishna weights the importance of solving studies, and answers a question from friend of the podcast, Moonmaster 9000 about whether it is important to memorize games. 

Mentioned: Domination in 2,545 Studies 

44:00- What is GM Harikrishna’s favorite game of his?

Mentioned: Mamedyarov-Harikrisha 2016, Bobby Fischer 

48:00- We say our goodbyes. You can check out GM Harikrishna’s Chessable course here, and can keep up with him by following him on twitter here.

To help support the podcast, go here.

Episode 132- FM Alex Dunne

FM Alex Dunne is the author of over 12 books,  including the recently released, Fred Reinfeld, The Man Who Taught America Chess. Alex is also an ICCF Correspondence Chess Master, and is well known for  his popular column about correspondence chess in Chess Life magazine, called The Check is in the Mail. In our interview we discuss Fred Reinfeld, correspondence chess, chess improvement, Bobby Fischer and more. Please read on for more details. 


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0:00- We kick off by discussing Alex’s latest book,  Fred Reinfeld, The Man Who Taught America Chess. We discuss the life and legacy of Fred Reinfeld. Reinfeld was a top 10 player in the US, and is probably the best selling chess author of all time. He was also one of the first Americans to make a living from chess, and managed to do so despite coming of age during The Great Depression. 

Mentioned: Israel “Al” Horowitz, Irving Chernev, Fred Reinfeld Whales and Whaling . 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate . Keres Best Games of Chess. 1931-1940 

18:00- Alex discusses how correspondence chess has changed at its highest levels, and assesses the future of correspondence chess. We also discuss the nuts and bolts of how correspondence games are transmitted,  and the rules regarding when book/engine assistance is and is not allowed in correspondence chess. 

27:45- Alex has written a book about chess books, and has over 2,000 chess books titles in his library, so naturally I had to ask him about chess books. 

Mentioned: My Great Predecessors, Vassily Ivanchuk: 100 Selected Games, Mato Jelic’s YouTube Channel , The Complete Chess Course by Fred Reinfeld 

36:00- It took Alex about 20 years to go from the expert level to the master level, and then he continued to ascend up to a peak rating over 2400 USCF. How did he improve so much as an adult?  Mentioned. Interview with Bob Ferguson and Alex Dunne 

42:00- Alex reminisces about playing ping pong with Bobby Fischer as a teenager. Also mentioned GM Arthur Bisguier, GM Larry Evans 

47:00- How did Alex get into chess writing? 

49:30- Goodbye! You can email FM Alex Dunne here.

Episode 131- GM Nico Checa

Photo by Michael Atkins,  courtesy of GM Nicholas Checa

Photo by Michael Atkins, courtesy of GM Nicholas Checa

17 year old GM Nicolas "Nico" Checa is one of the young stars of the American chess scene. He recently tied for first place in the 2019 National High School Chess Championship. With a 2617 USCF rating, he is #7 on the US Chess top 100 Under Age 21 List, and has beaten Fabiano Caruana in the Pro Chess League. On top of that, Nico is a regular 17 yr old, with other interests and activities competing for his time. In our interview Nico talks about how he finds time for everything, and shares a lot about his approach to chess and chess improvement. Read on for links and timestamps.

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0:00- Intro. We launch right into a discussion of how getting the GM title has changed Nico’s tournament selection and preparation.

Mentioned in this segment: GM Ruifeng Li, GM John Michael Burke, IM Advait Patel, IM  Praveen Balakrishnan

8:00- As Nico finishes his junior year at Dobbs Ferry High School, he touches on his after-high school plans, and discusses the reasons that he and his family never felt that home schooling was the right choice for him.

15:30- What “gaps in his play” did Nico need to plug in order to reach the strength to get the GM title?

Mentioned in this segment: IM Alexander Katz, GM Jacob Aagard

Game: Checa-Katz 2018, 2019 Philadelphia International , 2019 US Junior Championship

23:55- How did Nico discover and get so good at chess anyway?

Mentioned: Marshall Chess Club  Books: Chess Secrets: Giants of Power Play by Neil McDonald,  Learn from the Legends, Chess Champions at Their Best by GM Mikahil Marin,

The books of GM Jacob Aagard, Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games

Games: Checa-Smirin 2016, Fischer-Byrne 1956

40:30- Who are Nico’s favorite chess players? Mentioned: Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Bobby Fischer, Botvinnk,

44:30- Fast chess vs. slow chess we settle the debate once and for all!! Just kidding, but Nico weighs in and shares his ideas about the roles of classical chess and rapid chess in the chess world. Mentioned: Greg Shahade

47:00- We discuss Nico’s interests outside of chess, including soccer and political science.  Mentioned in this segment: GM Parham Maghsoodloo

56:00- Goodbye! Keep up with Nico via Chess.com

Episode 130- IM Eric Rosen returns

Photo by Austin Fuller of the  St. Louios Chess Club

Photo by Austin Fuller of the St. Louios Chess Club

Nearly two years after our first interview popular Chess YouTuber, Twitch streamer, Photographer, Author, and yes, chess player, IM Eric Rosen returns to Perpetual Chess. As we discuss, a lot has changed for Eric in the past two years, including his place of residence and many of his professional responsibilities, but he remains a great person with whom to talk all things chess. Read on for more details, timestamps and links.



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0:00- Intro. Eric discusses why he has set up residence in St. Louis and gives some

details on his most recent tournament, The St. Louis Norm Congress. This includes a discussion of a new video approach Eric recently tried, where he recorded his opening preparation for specific opponent’s and subsequently posted it to YouTubet. Check out one of these YouTube prep videos here. You can see the list of Eric’s most popular YouTube videos here (as we discuss) here.

12:00- Why has Eric decided to deemphasize competing in tournaments as compared to all of his other chess work? Mentioned in this segment: Chessbrahs,  FM LeFong Hua

16:30- A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks for advice in filtering YouTube videos for players in the 1300-1500 rating range. Mentioned in this segment: St. Louis Chess Club’s YouTube Channel, John Bartholomew’s Climbing the Rating Ladder Series


19:30- Another listener question leads to Ben and Eric discussing their favorite drinks to consume while playing chess. Mentioned in this segment: The Queen Side Cafe in Sydney, Australia

23:45- Since Eric is a popular Twitch streamer and I am a Twitch noob, he patiently answered some questions for me about how it works. Mentioned in this segment: Hikaru Nakamura

31:30- Eric reflects a bit on what has changed in his professional life since our first interview, which occured in August of 2017. Mentioned in this segment: Marc Maron interviewing David Letterman

37:00- We talk some chess improvement. Mentioned in this segment: Imagination in Chess , Recognizing Your Opponent’s Resources by Mark Dvoretsky

43:00- Eric answers a question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast regarding whether it is better to study at a fast or a slow pace. Mentioned in this segment: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin , Searching for Bobby Fischer (the book) and the movie  

48:00- One more listener question for Eric relates to how Eric balances all of his differing professional roles. Mentioned in this segment: Calendly.com

54:00- Eric tells the stories of the two different times he has managed to beat World Champion Magnus Carlsen in online chess tournaments. Mentioned in this segment: The Reddit Post about Eric beating ManWithAVan, Unknowingly Beating the World Champion , Playing the World Champion in Chess960, Game Show Network’s New Master Trivia Game (featuring former Perpetual Chess guest Jonathan Corbblah)

1:02- Eric asks me who my current dream guests for Perpetual Chess are. Mentioned in this segment: Timman’s Titans , Yasser Seirawan, Boris Spassky, Maurice Ashley, Perpetual Chess World Championship Report with IMs Eric Rosen and Kostya Kavutskiy


1:05- Goodbye! Follow Eric on YouTube, Twitch, Instagram  and Twitter  

Episode 129- IM Cyrus Lakdawala

Photo courtesy of IM Cyrus Lakdawala

Photo courtesy of IM Cyrus Lakdawala

This week’s guest is the highly productive and popular author and teacher, IM Cyrus Lakdawala. Cyrus has recently published his 40th (!) book, Opening Repertoire 1. d4 2. c4., and already has more books in the works. In addition to publishing multiple books per year, Cyrus also teaches chess for about 20 hours a week, plays in two tournaments per month,  and even manages to meditate, exercise and read very regularly. In our conversation, Cyrus reveals how he accomplishes so much, talks some chess improvement, and tells some fun stories. Read on for details, links and timestamps.


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0:00- Intro. We being by discussing Cyrus latest book, Opening Repertoire 1. d4 2. c4. Cyrus  tells the story of how he decided it was time to try a spicier opening repertoire, after decades of playing "like a chicken.” The results he attained with this experiment pleasantly surprised him.

Mentioned in this segment - IM Dionisio Aldama, IM Tony Saidy, IM Keaton Kiewra

12:00- Cyrus discusses the philosophy behind his unique, very personal writing style. We also discuss Cyrus’ writing routine, and how he reacts to critics.

Mentioned in this segment - John Hartmann, ChessBase interview with Davide Nastasio

21:00- What is Cyrus’ opinion of the rise of engine use in chess study and chess spectacting? How does he use engines in his own game analysis and writing?

25:30- Cyrus answers a question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast asking him to compare his book Opening Repertoire… c6: Playing the Caro-Kann and Semi-Slav as Black to the book A Complete Repertoire for Black Using Solid Systems by Jovanka Houska and James Vigus. This leads  to a broader discussion about how one should choose repertoires and opening books.

34:00 - We discuss Cyrus’ award winning book,  Chess for Hawks. The premise of the book is that everyone is predisposed toward risky or safe chess, and should tailor her game accordingly. Cyrus also discusses what happens when he clashes against his most frequent opponent, IM Dionisio Aldama, who is a “hawk” to Cyrus’ “dove.”

45:00- Cyrus answers a question from another listener about how an under 2000 player should improve at endgames. Aside from his own endgame book, Cyrus recommends studying the games of Rubinstein, Capablanca and Magnus Carlsen. Also mentioned: Timman’s Titans, Kasparov’s Great Predecessors.

52:00- IM Lakdawala tells the story of how he met former World Champion, GM Boris Spassky a couple times, and shares his impressions of him. Also mentioned- GMs Tony Miles and Kasparov.

58:00- Cyrus shares some stories from his teenage years in Montreal, were he earned spending money by playing speed chess for money.

1:01- After five decades immersed in it, does Cyrus ever feel burnt out on chess?  

1:04- Cyrus discusses the benefits and drawbacks of being autistic.

1:14- Goodbye and contact info! You can keep up with Cyrus vi

Episode 128- Doug Griffin (Chess writer/translator/blogger)

Doug Griffin at the Chess Museum in Moscow (courtesy of Doug Griffin)

Doug Griffin at the Chess Museum in Moscow (courtesy of Doug Griffin)

Douglas Griffin is a chess author/blogger, translator, and an indispensable source of historical chess perspective  on “chess twitter”. He is particularly interested and knowledgeable about chess in the Soviet Union. Doug is also a strong player. As a teen, he was one of Scotland’s stronger junior players. His FIDE rating reached about 2270, before his family, his work and his strong interest in chess history overtook his interest in tournament participation. While Doug may not be as well-known as some of the Grandmasters and personalities that have been on the show, our talk was one I looked forward to, and sure enough, it was highly informative and inspiring.. For more information about Doug, you can check out his blog, and his twitter page. Please keep reading for timestamps and many fun links and resources. 

0:00- Intro and discussion of Doug’s intro to the chess world. Mentioned in this segment, GMs Anatoly Karpov, Tony Miles, VIktor Korchnoi. The BBC show, The Master Game

6:00-How did Doug improve in chess and develop an interest in Soviet-era chess and the Russian language? He owes a debt of gratitude to his former teacher IM Danny Kopec, among others.

9:00- Doug transitions to telling some stories about some of the chess greats he encountered early in their careers. Players mentioned are those he saw at the Lloyds Bank London 1984- GM Vishy Anand, Ivanchuk, Spassky, Nigel Short. You can read a bit more about the Lloyds Bank tournament in this Chessbase article by Priyadarshan Banjan Read Doug’s blog post about the Troon 1984 tournament he mentions and about GM Lev Psakhis in his blog post here.  

14:30- How did Doug learn Russian, and where does he get all of the original sources for his blog? Magazines mentioned:  Shakhmatny Bulletin , Chess in the U.S.S.R. and “64”  Doug bought a lot of his Soviet chess magazine’s from Kimmo Välkesalmi's website. Translator named in this segment: Ken Neat

25:00- Friend/supporter of the podcast, John Hartmann of Chess Life Online (and author of CLO’s Throwback Thursday)  writes in to ask whether Doug has any plans of turning his material into a book and/or launching a Patreon page.  Mentioned in this segment; Ilan Rubin of Elk and Ruby. .

31:45- We discuss an excerpt of  Doug’s most recent blog post, which unearthed a great and prescient quote from former World Champion GM Mikhail Botvinnik regarding an ascendant Bobby Fischer. Read Doug’s blog post here.

38:00- Are there any Soviet periodicals or books that Doug is especially excited to translate? Mentioned in this segment:, IM John Donaldson and  IM Nikolay Minev’s books about The Life and Games of Akiba Rubinstein, GM Razuvaev and Murahveri’s Russian language Rubinstein biography.   Nikolai Krylenko is also mentioned

43:00- Chris Wainscott writes in to ask if Doug has favorite lesser-known Soviet chess players. Doug mentions Andor Lilienthal, Isaac Boleslavsky, Semyon Furman, Ratmir Kholmov, Grigory Levenfish (about whom Doug is writing a book) Books mentioned by GM Genna Sosonko: Russian Silhoettes, The Reliable Past, Smart Chip from St. Petersburg and other tales of a bygone chess era

Also mentioned GMs John Shaw and Jacob Aagard, co-founders of Quality Chess

53:00- Doug and I wax nostalgic about The Chess Informant and he discusses some exciting upcoming projects on which he will work with their publishers.

56:30- Doug names of a few of his favorite chess books amongst those that have been published in the English language. They are: Botvinnik’s Best Games, Smyslov’s Best Games, The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal , Anatoly Karpov: My 300 Best Games , Kasparov on Kasparov, Leonid Stein: Master of RIsk Strategy

1:00- Doug reflects a bit on what helped him become a strong chess player. He credits reading voraciously and being blessed with a good memory.

1:05- On the heels of GM Neil McDonald’s story of meeting legendary GM David Bronstein, Doug shares his own story . Also mentioned in this segment: Jon Speelman, Julian Hodgson, Paul Motwani, Colin McNab, Jonath Rowson, Bojan Kurajica

1:09-  Reluctantly, we discuss non-chess related stuff. Doug discusses his day job and his affinity for hiking and photography. Check out his landscape photography site here. The Dutch online photo archive Doug mentions is here.

1:13- Goodbye! A friendly reminder to read Doug’s blog here, follow him on twitter here, You can email him here.

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Episode 127- GM Neil McDonald

Photo Courtesy of Neil McDonald

Photo Courtesy of Neil McDonald

Neil McDonald is a Grandmaster, a trainer for the British Chess Federation and  a prolific and accomplished author of 37 chess books! He also is a guy who has gathered some great stories to share in his decades in the chess world. His most recent book, Coach Yourself: A Complete Guide to Improvement at Chess is now available from Amazon and many other sellers. Read below the break for more details, links and timestamps.

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0:00- Intro. Neil kicks off with a few great stories relating to chess history. The first connects his mom with a radio interview of former World Champion Alexander Alekhine. You can hear the interview in question here on YouTube. The second story describes an opportunity Neil had to travel to the Soviet Union in 1986 and play legends of the game like former World Champion Mikhail Tal, Oleg Romanishin and many others. Others mentioned in this segment include: GMs Polugaevsky, Vaganian, Portisch, and Spassky, . Ovidiu-Doru Foisor and Sabina Foisor.

22:00- Neil shares a few more stories from his travels, including tales of chess trips to Serbia, Hungary and the Ukraine, interweaving chess and world history.

28:30- Neil tells the story of meeting legendary GM David Bronstein in the mid 1990s. Find out the chess improvement advice Neil got from one the strongest non World chess champions in history. Books mentioned  in this segment: GM Genna Sosonko’s  The Rise and Fall of David Bronstein, and Irving Chernev’s The Golden Dozen.

35:30- Neil fields some questions regarding chess improvement from some of the podcast's Patreon supporters. They touch on selecting opening repertoires, the importance of doing “post-mortems” after a game, . Player mentioned include: GMs Kasparov, Karpov, Korchnoi, Botvinnik, Baskaran Adhiban, Richard Rapport, Chris Ward, John Nunn, Boris Spassky. Books mentioned:The Giants of Chess Strategy by Neil McDonald   Perpetual Chess Episodes mentioned:  Stacia Pugh

1:07- Another listener asks about which of the older authors like Reinfeld and Horowitz are the most instructive to read these days. Authors mentioned: Irving Chernev, Fred Reinfeld, Al Horowitz, Lev Alburt, Raymond Keene. Books mentioned: From Morphy to Fischer The Chess Training Pocket Book

1:17- We plug Neil’s books! Coach Yourself has a wealth of material for players of many levels. Other books mentioned: Chess Fundamentals by Capablanca  Chess Secrets: The Giants of Chess Strategy by Neil McDonald

1:24- Goodbye! Keep up with Neil’s works by following his publisher, Everyman Chess’s webpage or twitter account.

Episode 126- GM Evgeny Bareev

Photo courtesy of Thinker’s Publishing

Photo courtesy of Thinker’s Publishing

This week the esteemed Grandmaster Evgeny Bareev joined me on the podcast. GM Bareev has been ranked as high as #4 in the world.  He has been the trainer of the Russian National Team, and was a vital member of the team that assisted former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik in the early 2000s.

Evgeny is also an acclaimed chess author. His prior book, From London to Elista, (co-authored with Ilya Levitov), won the 2007 Book of the Year, from the British Chess Federation. This year, Thinker’s Publishing  has recently released his new work, Say No to Chess Principles . This fun and informative book contains some great stories and explores the topic of when one should “break the rules” in chess, as shown in Evgeny’s and some other top level games.  In our interview, Evgeny discussed both of his books, shared some stories, and offered some chess improvement advice. Read on for details, links and timestamps.



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0:00- Intro and discussion of Say No to Chess Principles . GM Bareev tells the story of  the idea behind the book and of how the project came to fruition.   He also shares some memorable stories from growing up in the Soviet Chess School which are touched on in his book. People and books mentioned include Boris Postovsky, who headed the Vasily Smyslov School of chess, and the book Devoted to Chess: The Creative Heritage of Yuri Razuvaev . This includes a discussion of whether or not it's important to have a good memory (14:00)  to be a top chess player. According to GM Bareev, former World Champion Anatoly Karpov had a notoriously faulty memory in his prime. Evgeny gives some helpful tips for how to approach chess if you have a bad memory.

23:00- How do we know when to “say no to chess principles” anyway?

28:00- As a former member of his “Team Kramnik,” was  GM Bareev surprised by the retirement of former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik? Evgeny also reflects on some of the stories and perspectives from the classic book From London to Elista. His current take on the some of the stories shared in this book might surprise you. We also touch on Carsten Hensel’s recent book  about his time as the manager of GM Kramnik. You can hear my interview with Carsten Hensel here.

37:00- GM Bareev shares some stories dealing with getting sick at a chess tournament and about how to deal with tough losses. This includes some discussion of Peter Leko, who lost to GM Kramnik for the 2004 World Championship in a very close match.

45:00- Who were GM Bareev’s toughest opponents? Players mentioned include Garry Kasparov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexey Dreev and Alexei Shirov.

49:00- Chess books! Since GMs Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri have been trading barbs about Vladimir Tukmakov’s new book, I asked Evgeny if he had read it. Evgeny does not read all of the chess literature, but has enjoyed the books of Boris GelfandMatthew Sadler and Yasser Seirawan.

54:00- A Patreon supporter of Perpetual Chess asks if GM Bareev uses a particular method as a trainer.

58:00- We talk a bit about how GM Bareev ended up emigrating to Toronto, Canada, and he answers a question from a Patreon supporter comparing chess and literature.

Episode 125- USCF Master Jason Cigan (Adult Improver Series)

Photo by Andrei Botez courtesy of Jason Cigan

Photo by Andrei Botez courtesy of Jason Cigan

Jason Cigan is a 29 year old US Chess Master who recently won the Oregon State Championship. As Jason tells us, he did not begin seriously playing chess until he was 18, but in the past 11 years, he has managed to slowly and steadily gain over 1,000 rating points while working full time as a software engineer . (You can see his US Chess rating graph here.) How has he done it? Listen to the show and you will find out. For relevant links, timestamps, and many book recommendations, please keep reading. :)

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0:00-  Intro and Jason tells his chess story, including how he got into chess, and why it took a while for his passion for the game to fully manifest.


10:25-  So how did Jason improve so much, anyway?  In his opinion, having master level mentors played a big role in his improvement. Jason credits FM Charles Schulien, NM Corbin Yu and NM Jeremy Kane with helping him immeasurably along the way. The video from GM Vidit Gujrath regarding chess improvement can be seen here. Jason is a fan of the books of GM Mikhail Marin and Boris Gelfand, and also Seven Deadly Chess Sins by GM Jonathan Rowson


18:00-  A listener, new to chess, who is 62 year old and recently retired, is eager to devote 20 hours a week to chess books and chess improvement. How should he spend his time, what resources should he utilize? How good can he become? In Jason's response, he mentions that he is a strong proponent of John Nunn’s chess books. I chimed in and mentioned that the listener might want to pursue something more systematic to improve, like the acclaimed series from GM Arthur Yusopov , The Steps Series, or the Susan Polgar series for those brand new to chess.


29:00- As is a regular feature on the Adult Improver Series, we launch into a discussion of how useful various attempts at improving one’s chess games are. Jason gives his opinion on the importance of having a coach, as well as the relative merits of analyzing one’s games, solving tactics, studying endgames, playing speed chess, learning openings,  exercising, and more. Jason benefited from taking lessons with GMs Melik Khachiyan and Sabino Brunello and from playing training games with IM Craig Hilby. One can always look for coaches on the LiChess coaches page

39:00-  Jason answers a question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast,  about whether its important to set up a board when solving tactics. The US Championship summary by Jennifer Yu that I mentioned can be read here.


46:00- How should one approach openings when you live in a community where you play the same players repeatedly?

51:00- Jason tells a fun story related to opening preparation, of a game between GM  James Tarjan and recent Perpetual Chess guest GM Alex Ipatov. Check out the game here. Mr. Moonmaster 9000 asks for some clarification about something Jason wrote: Does Jason believe it's impossible for him to become a super GM?

1:02- A 3 minute digression into the intersection of  the NBA and professional chess. Sorry NBA haters!

1:06- Back on track, Jason talks about the importance of endgame studies in helping your chess game. Jason is a big fan of the book 100 Endgames You Must Know He also mentions enjoying the Yuspov and Dvoretsky features on chess24.com

1:10- Jason discusses his coaching philosophy, and shares the philosophy that he has used to help his student, Gavin Zhang. He emphasizes the importance of studying the classics, and identifying and working on one’s strongest point and one’s weakest points in chess.

1:19- We discuss books on endgames and endgame studies. Jason mentions: Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings by Irving Chernev

Endgame Training by Bernd Rosen

Endgame challenge by John Nunn

Studies for the Practical Player by Mark Dvoretsky

One Pawn Saves the Day by Sergei Tkachenko

Under the Surface by Jan Markos

Chess Structures by Mauricio Flores Rios

Grandmaster Repetoire: 1. E4 by Parimarjan Negi                                                                   

1:30- Keep up with Jason’s progress via his chess.com account here.

Episode 124- GM Alex Ipatov

Photo courtesy of GM Alex Ipatov

Photo courtesy of GM Alex Ipatov

This week I am joined by 25 year old  GM Alex Ipatov. Alex is quite an accomplished chess player who is well known for winning the 2012 World Junior Chess Championship, among many other distinctions. These days, Alex  is graduate student at St. Louis University, and he has recently published an original chess book called Unconventional Approaches to Modern Chess Volume 1: Rare Ideas for Black. His book is available from Thinker’s Publishing, Amazon and Forward Chess. Please read below the break to see more details of what we discussed, as well as relevant links and contact information.



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0:00-Intro and discussion of Alex’s new book. It is based on the thesis that the trend of memorizing too many opening lines  has become unhealthy. Alex believes that we can learn from the very strong GMs who utilize offbeat lines, such as GMs Baadur Jobava and Richard Rapport. Naturally, GM Ipatov also relies heavily on his own chess repertoire to find lines to recommend, but he wishes to stress that adopting an original and practical approach to chess openings is more important than buying his book and copying his lines.

7:30- We discuss Alex’s life away from the board for a bit. He discusses his academic pursuits, his enthusiasm for soccer and how he enjoys life in St. Louis.

11:00-We return to the topic of how the club level player should approach studying openings. A couple supporters of the podcast wrote to ask about how to balance avoiding getting bogged down in theory, while also making sure that they know a bit about classical structures.

21:00- What did Alex think of the news that FIDE is sponsoring a Fischer Random World Championship tournament?

25:00- We delve a bit into Alex’s background. He spent his early years in Lviv, Ukraine. We briiefly discuss the past and future of chess in his native Ukraine. As Alex tells, chess standouts like GMs Vassily Ivanchuk and Yuriu Kryvoruchko, Oleg Romanishin, Alexander Beliavsky, Anna and Mariya Muzychuk, Martyn Kravtsiv  Yaroslav Zherebukh  and Ilya Nizhnik were all born in or not far from Lviv, but many have relocated to different countries.  

29:00- Chess improvement! Why should we study the classics? Which classics should we study? Alex is a big fan of Alexander Alekhine’s Best Games and recommends that stronger players study Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.

One of Alex's own most memorable games is Grandelius-Ipatov, and one of his favorite of all time is Rotlewi-Rubenstein (1907)

39:00- Who does Alex think we might see in the next World Championship? Who are the strongest players he has ever played? What lesson did he learn from GM Vladimir Kramnik when he played him at the 2013 Olympiad?

47:00- How did Alex end up representing Turkey in international chess competitions? Has he lived in Turkey?

50:00- Before we say our goodbyes, we briefly discuss an interesting game Alex annotated in his book with online bullet star, GM Andrew Tang. You can see Alex’ annotation  in his book, but can also see notes to the game here. You can follow Alex on twitter here, or reach him via email here.