Episode 109- GM Mauricio Flores

Photo courtesy of GM Mauricio Flores

Photo courtesy of GM Mauricio Flores

This week’s guest on Perpetual Chess is Chilean Grandmaster, acclaimed chess author and newly minted Applied Mathematics Ph. D., Mauricio Flores. Mauricio and I covered a wide variety of chess related topics. Check them out below:

0:00- Introduction and we discuss Mauricio’s outstanding book Chess Structures. Mauricio explains how the idea for the book occurred to him and how he went about writing it. This includes a discussion of how Mauricio managed to become a GM despite a relative lack of resources in Chile, and the changes he made in his playing style as his study time became more scarce. How did he get great at tactics? Mauricio recommended CT-Art. He completed the entire tactics course 4 times!

16:00- How did Mauricio find out about the possibility of getting a chess scholarship in the United States, how did chess change his life? How did he find life in the US when he enrolled at  University of Texas at Brownsville as an 18 yr. Old? What is next for Mauricio on the heels of finishing his math Ph. D?

25:00- Mauricio answers a question about his thoughts on other chess “structure books”, and reveals what he believes to be the most important aspect of writing a chess book.

34:00- Mauricio discusses his playing career and talks about why he is unable to compete much these days. We also discuss the Pro Chess League- Mauricio will be playing for his hometown Minnesota Blizzard along with IM John Bartholomew, GM Andrew Tang and others.

39:00- Book recommendations. Mauricio is a big fan of Quality Chess books such as  Grandmaster Repetoire: 1.e4  , Learn from the Legends, and also of 100 Endgames You Must Know.

43:00- Mauricio gives his perspective on what the implications for chess could be of AlphaZero’s ascent.

50:00- What is the difference between 2500 level GMs and Super GMs? What steps would Mauricio take if he were to focus only on improving his chess even more? Mauricio can be reached via email here.

Click here to download the episode

Episode 108- IM Tania Sachdev

Photo Courtesy of IM Tania Sachdev

Photo Courtesy of IM Tania Sachdev

This week’s guest is well known chess competitor, presenter and Red Bull Athlete, IM Tania Sachdev.  Check the timestamps below for discussion topics. 👇👇

0:00- Introduction and discussion of what to watch for and who is playing at the upcoming Gibraltar Chess Festival, where Tania, along with GM Simon Williams and IM Jovanka Houska, will be a part of the announcing team.  We also talk about the 2017 controversy at Gibraltar involving former Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan.

14:45- We segue into the schedule of upcoming tournaments in which Tania plans to compete These include the India Team Championship, and the Reykjavik Open The interview Tania mentions, which she conducted with GM Boris Gelfand at the 2018 Gibraltar Chess Festival, can be viewed here. Tania mentions that she always studies Mark Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual before a tournament. She also recommends the books Positional Play, and Thinking Inside the Box, both of which are part of the Grandmaster Preparation Series by GM Jacob Aagaard.

23:26- What was it like to train with renowned trainer GM Jacob Aagaard? Tania tells a great story regarding the memorable advice GM Aagaard gave her as she struggled to keep up with stronger players at a training camp.

30:33- Actionable advice for chess players looking to improve. Tania emphasizes that remembering GM Aagaard’s fabled 3 questions when playing helped her game immeasurably. (The 3 questions are:  What is your worst place piece? What is my opponent intending? What is your opponent’s weakness?)

33:50- How did Tania became a representative of Red Bull India, and what is the nature of her role as a Red Bull athlete?

37:50- How are things changing for women in Chess within her native India?

41:00- Tania discusses how she spends her time away from the board when at home in Delhi.

You can keep up with Tania on: TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

This episode is brought to you in part by Chessable

If you would like to help support Perpetual Chess, you can do so here

Click here to download the episode

Episode 107- IM Greg Shahade returns (again)

Photo Courtesy of Greg Shahade

Photo Courtesy of Greg Shahade

This week on Perpetual Chess, Pro Chess League and US Chess School founder IM Greg Shahade makes his annual return to the podcast. Instead of giving a detailed description of all that we discussed, my New Years Resolution for the podcast is to endeavor to provide timestamps of the major topics that each guest addresses. Below, you can find this week's timestamps, including any relevant links. As always, you can keep up with Greg on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  

0-20:50- Greg previews the upcoming Pro Chess League season. It returns on January 8 on Chess.com 

20:50- Greg discusses his ideas for improving the format of the World Chess Championship. The blog posts with Greg's suggestions that we referenced are here and here.

32:10- We discuss Greg’s love for Puzzle Rush on Chess.com

37:45- How necessary are chess books for improvement in the modern chess era?  The game we were discussing between FM Christopher Yoo and GM Le Quang Liem can be seen  here.

44:00- A listener inquires, whatever happened to the book that Greg discussed writing in his first appearance on Perpetual Chess?

49:10- Greg ranks his top 5 chess players of all time!

53:15- Greg’s advice for improving at blitz and action chess, including a fun story about a high stakes blitz match between Greg and GM Jan Gustafsson.

1:03:45- We devolve into non-chess related talk from this point forward- this includes a discussion of Greg’s Crossfit strategies and peccadillos, plus Greg tells the story of when he tried out for American Idol, and reveals some of his favorite songs.  

Click here to download the episode

EP.106 USCF Master Vinesh Ravuri (Adult Improver Series)

Photo courtesy of Vinesh Ravuri

Photo courtesy of Vinesh Ravuri

This week the popular, chess improvement-focused, "adult improver" edition of Perpetual Chess returns, but with a twist. This week's improver, USCF Master Vinesh Ravuri of California, is just 17 years old. Nonetheless, I felt that motivated chess players of all ages could learn from the meteoric rating gain that Vinesh has shown in the past few years (over 1000 USCF points since 2014). Check out his US rating graph here. Here is a bit more detail about what Vinesh and I discussed:

  • Vinesh told the story of how he got into chess, and shared why he thinks it took multiple exposures to the game, in both the U.S. and India, for a passion for it to take hold. 

  • Vinesh and I discussed the many ways to try to improve at chess, and discussed which methods have been most effective for him. Spoiler: he has done a ton of tactics puzzles. 

  • Vinesh shared a few book recommendations for different levels, and talked about the challenges he has faced as his rating has climbed and his free time has become more scarce. 

Thanks to Vinesh for joining me, you can root on his San Jose Hackers in the upcoming Pro Chess League, and track his games here

Click here to download the episode.

Episode 105- GM Alexandra Kosteniuk

Photo courtesy of GM Alexandra Kosteniuk

Photo courtesy of GM Alexandra Kosteniuk

This week’s guest, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, has won countless chess titles but is probably best known as The 12th Women’s World Champion and a perennial threat to retake that crown.  GM Kosteniuk stays extremely busy, as in addition to being playing frequent top-level chess, she streams chess on twitch for chess.com, has been announcing high-level events and also somehow finds the time to work on her chess, spend time with her family, and even run marathons. In our conversation, Alexandra and touched on all of these facets of her life, and she tackled the following questions:

  • What does she think of the format of the Men's World Championship? What about the announced changes in the Women's World Championship Candidates Cycle?

  • What does she advise to study when one feels like they have hit a plateau? How can one maintain perspective when struggling at the chessboard?

  • What advice would she give to young female chess players who may feel daunted by the preponderance of men playing chess?

For someone who has had so much success, Alexandra clearly has a grounded perspective on chess and on life. When she is not battling at the board, you can follow her on twitter here

Click here to download the episode

Episode 104- GM Joel Benjamin


A giant of US Chess, GM Joel Benjamin, joins me this week. In addition to being a 3 time US champion, and hosting a weekly chess show on the Internet Chess Club, Joel has just published his fourth book, Better Thinking, Better Chess.  

Naturally, Joel and I began our conversation by discussing some topics covered in the book such as:

  • What are the causes of and potential solutions to typical mistakes that Joel sees in his students, such as a failure to generate candidate moves, and a hesistance about sacrificing the exchange?

Joel and I also discussed the following: 

  • What was GM Benjamin's impression of the World Championship? Should the match format be changed?

  • What are Joel's favorite chess games, stories and books? Joel has some great stories! 

Joel Benjamin has had a long and storied career, so needless to say, this was an entertaining conversation. Thanks to Joel for joining me. In addition to his excellent new book, Liquidation on the Chessboard, and American Grandmaster, also come highly recommended. 

The chess games Joel mentions are:

Seirawan-Benjamin 1979

Portisch-Benjamin 1987

Abramovich-Benjamin 1984 game not online, but can be found in his new book :)

This episode is brought to you in part by Chessable.com

To support the podcast, go here

Click here to download the episode

Episode 103- GM Jóhann Hjartarson

Photo courtesy of GM Hjartarson

Photo courtesy of GM Hjartarson

GM Jóhann Hjartarson is a legend of Icelandic Chess and has a firm place in the chess history books. He is best known for defeating GM Viktor Korchnoi in a match during the 1988 Candidates Cycle (before succumbing to Anatoly Karpov), but he is also the 6 time champion of Iceland, and the 2 time Nordic Champion.  Jóhann took some time out from his duties at the World Championship in London, and we discussed the following:

  • His impressions of the World Championship, and what his responsibilities were as a member of the Appeals Committee for the match. 

  • Perspective and stories from the height of his chess career, when he was among the top players in the world and crossed swords with all time greats like Kasparov, Karpov and Korchnoi.  

  • What led him to decide, at a time when he was  near the peak of his chess powers, to  transition from playing chess full time to working as a lawyer? Does he regret this decision?

  • Has he kept up with the changes in study habits among world elites? What are his favorite chess books? 

This interview was quite a treat for me as a fan of chess history, and I think that you will enjoy it too.  Thanks so much to Johann for sharing his experiences! 

This episode is brought to you in part by Chessable.com

GM Hjartarson's favorite game of his own, Game 1 of his match vs. Korchnoi is here

His favorite game by any player, Spassky vs. Fischer, Game 13, is here

If you would like to donate to support the podcast, go here

Bonus Episode - IM Mark Dvoretsky (2004 Interview with Fred Wilson)


I am off this week, but I have some awesome bonus content for you. Have a listen to the January 7, 2004 interview that Fred Wilson conducted with the now-deceased, legendary chess trainer, author, and player IM Mark Dvoretsky. This is one of the many great historical chess interviews that I am posting on the Perpetual Chess Patreon page for those who donate $3.50 per month or more.  Fred WIlson's archive will also feature old interviews with GMs Andy Soltis, Arthur Bisguier, Maurice Ashley, Lubomir Kavalek and many more. 

Here are a few of the questions that Fred asked of IM Dvoretsky in their conversation:

  • Did Mark agree with GM Lev Alburt's suggestion that Boris Spassky had more chess talent than Bobby Fischer as a youth?

  • How many positions did IM Dvoretsky have in his legendary file of positions for titled students to study?

  • What were some of his favorite chess books of all time (besides his own)?

  • What did he think of Peter Svidler's prospects of becoming World Champion in 2004? Was there any other young talent he thought might ascend to the highest title? 

So much chess history is shared within this 90 minute conversation that it is difficult for me to do it justice in a summary.  Just listen and enjoy! 

The Perpetual chess t-shirt and hoodie sale ends on December 4- get one here while you can.  

Click here to download the episode

Episode 102- World Championship report with IM Eric Rosen and IM Kostya Kavutskiy

2018 Benasque Open 1 - Maya Nelson (2).jpg

On a rest day for the World Championship in London, friends of the podcast (and previous guests)  IMs Eric Rosen and Kostya Kavutskiy were nice enough to take some time and give Perpetual listeners a taste of what its like to be attending, reporting, and photographing the dramatic, ongoing World Chess Championship between GMs Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana. This episode is meant to have more of a "breaking news" feeling than your typical Perpetual Chess interview, so it's a shorter interview, but we covered a lot of ground.  To wit:

  • What was the mood like at the venue in Game 8 as Fabiano Caruana missed his best chance for a win over Magnus Carlsen? What openings might we see in the remaining games? 

  • Is there a clear rooting interest among the people attending the match? Does either player have more vocal fans?

  • What are the conditions like for spectators? What about for photographers like Eric Rosen and his colleagues?

 IM Kostya Kavutskiy has done some great write-ups and game analysis for US Chess for the games that he has attended, while Eric Rosen has taken over the US Chess twitter account in addition to taking great photos like this one,.  You can keep up with their great content in the following places: 

To support the podcast or purchase a limited edition Perpetual Chess t-shirt or hoodie, go here and/or here, respectively.  

Click here to download the episode

Episode 101- GM Pontus Carlsson Returns

Pontus Carlsson pictured on top right in New Orleans with Lisa Batiste,  MD Greg Ward  and Christopher Reimonenq. Photo by Thunder Lens Productions.

Pontus Carlsson pictured on top right in New Orleans with Lisa Batiste, MD Greg Ward

and Christopher Reimonenq. Photo by Thunder Lens Productions.

Almost 17 months after his first visit to Perpetual Chess, GM Pontus Carlsson returns to discuss his latest projects and the recent developments in the chess world (including the World Championship). Among the topics we talked about are:

  • Pontus' recent trip to New Orleans for a philanthropic initiative.  He has helped launch Business meets Chess and Kids, an organization that pairs business leaders with underprivileged kids in tandem chess, with the goal of using chess as a form for networking and mentorship for the younger generation. Pontus told stories from his trip and talked about future plans for this inspiring effort. 

  • Pontus gave a couple of great book recommendations and gave some advice for infrequent tournament competitors who are trying to shake off some rust (for example, say, the host of this podcast). 

  • We talked about a couple of the themes emerging from the ongoing World Championship match, and Pontus shared some stories and perspectives from past experiences having met and talked with the likes of Magnus Carlsen, Veselin Topalov and Anish Giri. 

This guest is always entertaining, with plenty of wisdom to share, so there is lots more to enjoy from our conversation. You can reach Pontus via his website here

If you would like to buy a limited edition Perpetual Chess t-shirt or hoodie, you can do so here. (A portion of the proceeds will go to  Business meets Chess and Kids ) 

To support the podcast via Patreon, click here

Click here to download the episode.

Episode 100 - Carsten Hensel (Author, Former Manager of GM Vladimir Kramnik)

Passfoto Carsten.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Carsten Hensel

My guest this week is Carsten Hensel.  He is a chess organizer and author who  has also spent time as the manager for two elite players- GMs Vladimir Kramnik and GM Peter Leko. Much to the benefit of chess fans, he has written a book about his experiences managing GM Kramnik, called Vladimir Kramnik - The Inside Story of a Chess GeniusThe English version of this book will be published by Quality Chess later in November. The published excerpts and this interview suggest that this book will be a must read for those interested in GM Kramnik and/or modern chess history. Here are a few of the highlights of what Carsten Hensel and I discussed:

  •  How did he first encounter GM Kramnik, and how did they come to develop a working relationship?  Carsten reflects on some of Kramnik's most famous matches- a disappointing Candidates loss to GM Alexei Shirov in 1998,  followed by a thrilling World Championship victory over Garry Kasparov in 2000. 

  • What was it like to be the manager of both World Championship participants in the 2004 Leko-Kramnik World Championship match?

  • As a high-level chess organizer and promoter, what are his thoughts on how to pitch corporations on sponsoring chess players and events?

This was a fascinating conversation, as Carsten has had a ring side seat to much of modern chess history. Thanks to Carsten for chatting- you can email him here

If you are interested in learning more about hearing Fred WIlson's old interviews (as mentioned in the introduction) go to the Perpetual Chess Patreon here

Click here to download the episode

Episode 99- Chessable Co-Founder and CEO David Kramaley


This week I talked to 31 year old programmer, chess player, and entrepreneur David Kramaley, who is the co-founder and CEO of Chessable, a fast growing chess-educational start up.  During our conversation,David and I discuss

  • How he caught the "chess bug" in his early 20's. and how that enthusiasm ultimately led to the launch of Chessable. With its co-founder, IM John Bartholomew David launched Chessable in February of 2016. 

  • What lessons did David learn from his prior startup, Sharkius? What is he doing to make sure he strikes the right balance between product development and marketing? 

  • What new products are forthcoming from Chessable? How does David decide which improvements to prioritize?

Of course we also get chess and business book recommendations which can be found here. You can email David here. Some other events/opportunities that came up during our conversation are linked below.    

Click here to Download the Episode.

Episode 98- GM Michael Rohde

Photo courtesy of GM Rohde

Photo courtesy of GM Rohde

Venerable American GM Michael Rohde has been one of the top 100 players in the world, and he still competes actively on the American chess circuit.   Mike writes frequently for US Chess Online, and American Chess Magazine and is also a practicing lawyer, and chess teacher. 

Here is what Mike and I discussed:

- What psychological dynamics come into play when he plays another strong chess grinder, such as IM Jay Bonin, whom he has played hundreds of times in tournament games? 

- Are there any talented young players he has noticed recently while competing in and reporting on tournaments?

- What are his memories of playing GM Spassky and seeing the young Polgar sisters at the 1987 New York Open, (which was one of the largest and strongest  open tournaments in the world for many years). 

We covered all of this and much more, so listen up! 

 Thanks to GM Rohde for sharing his knowledge and experiences. 

Click here to download the episode

Episode 97- USCF Master Alex King

Alex King reacts as a critical blunder on Board 1 ends his dream of capturing first place in the Chess Train tourney. . Photo by Anežka Kružíková.

Alex King reacts as a critical blunder on Board 1 ends his dream of capturing first place in the Chess Train tourney. . Photo by Anežka Kružíková.

Alex King is a 29 year old Memphis,Tennessee based USCF Master. He is also a full time chess teacher, an accomplished adult improver, and a talented musician. We covered many topics on this week's podcast such as:

  •  Alex's recent return to the U.S. after traveling to Prague in order to board the fabled "Chess Train," through Central Europe.  Alex told us a bit about the history of this unique chess vacation, shared the highlights of his trip and gave us the recap of  his 11 round tournament on the train. 

  • Alex gave detailed practical advice on how to improve one's calculation and blindfold abilities. He also shared many of the adjustments he made to his game after completing college, just before he made a 170 point rating jump to 2350 USCF (26:00). 

  • We discussed the similarities between chess and music, and whether or not Alex likes to listen to music when he's playing and studying chess. 

We touched on assorted other topics such as Alex's unique approach to studying his blitz games, his book recommendations, his thoughts on the world championship, and lots more. Thanks to Alex for a fascinating conversation. You can follow/friend him on Facebook here  or chess.com here

Click here to download the episode

Episode 96- Cristobal Cervino (Adult Improver Series)

fotocris (1).png

Photo Courtesy of Cristobal Cervino

The Perpetual Chess Adult Improver Series charges onward this week with another inspiring tale of chess improvement. This week's guest, Candidate Master and economist Cristobal Cervino, wrote some popular blog posts detailing how he made a 170 ELO point jump (from 1935 to 2102) in a fifteen-month span a few years back. For background, you can read the posts that Cristobal wrote about his approach herehere and here. Cristobal and I discussed:

  • Why is calculation the most important thing to work on for club-level players? What resources did he utilize to improve at it?

  • How should one go about analyzing one's own chess games? How soon after playing should one analyze them? 

  • Why has he plateaued at around the 2100 level in the past few years? Does he have current aspirations of making another push forward? 

Cristobal was glad to share some of his favorite chess books and resources, both for chess improvement and for appreciation of chess history. Thanks so much to Cristobal for joining me. You can find him as "Kingzilla" on chess.com or chesstempo

Click here to download the episode

Episode 95- USCF Master and Cognitive Scientist Christopher Chabris


Photo/illustration courtesy of Christopher Chabris

This week Perpetual Chess features an interview with USCF Master and renowned Cognitive Scientist Christopher Chabris. In the world of psychology, Christopher is best known for his collaboration with Daniel Simons regarding "inattentional blindness". This was most famously demonstrated in the viral Youtube video called  "Invisible Gorilla." Professors Chabris and Simons later published a book expanding on their research and Christopher has published many more interesting studies related to human biases and cognition. But of course, we mostly talked about chess and how Christopher's research relates to chess! 

  • Are there examples of  "inattentional blindness" or other cognitive biases in chess competitions? If so how can we combat them?

  • Detailed advice on how to assimilate chess patterns and improve quickly at the game based on Christopher's experiences and his knowledge of how the brain works. 

  • Stories from Professor Chabris' time in the chess world. He has been in involved in publishing chess books and periodicals (see here), and has rubbed shoulders with Kasparov, Caruana and other chess luminaries. 

  • A discussion of the state of Christopher's own chess game, and some prominent and some lesser known chess book recommendations. 

Thanks to Christopher Chabris for a fascinating discussion!  You can follow him on twitter here, or visit his website here

Click here to download the episode.

Episode 94- USCF Master and Author Elliott Neff

Elliott Neff Headshot 3 (2).JPG

Photo courtesy of Elliott Neff

Elliott Neff, my guest this week on Perpetual Chess comes to us direct from the Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.   Elliott is a USCF Master who founded the thriving Chess4Life chess education organization. He is also a chess trainer who will be releasing his first book, A Pawn's Journey: Transforming Lives one Move at a Time, on October 9.  Elliott and I discussed:

  • Elliott's perspective on the Olympiad. This is his first time attending, so he told us what has surprised him about the event.  He reported on a couple of the teams, including the Ugandan women's team, which he is helping to coach. 

  • How Elliott became a friend and coach of Phiona Mutesi of Queen of Katwe fame. Plus, Elliott gives an update on Phiona's life and chess career since the release of the movie telling her story. 

  • Elliott's recommendations for chess improvement, plus some awesome advice on how to get better at blindfold chess and visualization. 

  • What inspired Elliott to write a book? What impact can chess have away from the chessboard?

Thanks to Elliott for joining me. You can reach him via Chess4life here, or at his website here.

To support the podcast go here. 

Click here to download the episode  

Episode 93- Tarjei Svensen


Photo by Rolf Haug

Norwegian reporter, chess player, and photographer Tarjei Svensen is a frequent correspondent at elite chess tournaments and a popular and indispensable source of information on “chess Twitter.” Tarjei joins me this week to discuss the following: 

- How he gets scoops and manages finances as a chess reporter who is often working independently. 

- His plans for covering the 2018 World Chess Championships and some info on whether his friend and collaborator, GM Jonathan Tisdall, will be writing about the match again this year. 

- Tarjei’s own chess game, including some discussion of encounters with a very young Magnus Carlsen, and a few books that he recommends. 

We also talk about some interesting match-related statistics that Tarjei recently revealed on Twitter, and his twitter recommendations for whom to follow during the World Championships. Tarjei recommends following Olympiu Urcan, GM Jonthan Tisdall, Chess.com, Chessbase, and Chess24

Thanks to Tarjei for taking time from his busy schedule! You can follow him on twitter here, and read his chess coverage here

Click here to download the episode

Episode 92- GM Lev Alburt

Photo courtesy of GM Lev Alburt

Photo courtesy of GM Lev Alburt

Editor’s Note- We had some audio issues on the recording of this interview, so if you would like to read a transcript of our interview, you can do so here.

This week on Perpetual Chess my guest is the 3 time champion of both the US and Ukraine, GM Lev Alburt. Lev is also a very popular chess author and teacher. He has co-authored books, such as World Chess Championships: Karjakin-Carlsen (with Jon Crumiller and GM Vladimir Kramnik,) The Comprehensive Chess Course (with Roman Pelts,) plus many others. Lev also writes the popular Back to Basics column in Chess Life Magazine. I hope you will enjoy our conversation about: 

  • The world champions and chess legends he has known. When did he first hear about future World Champions Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov? Who are the modern-world chess champions he has found to be less likable than the others? 

  • How Lev decided on the unique format for this 2016 Carlsen-Karjakin Match book, and why GM Vladimir Kramnik was persuaded to contribute to the book after some initial hesitation. Of course, GM Alburt also shares his thoughts on the rapidly approaching 2018 World Chess Championship. 

  • Tips and recommendations for chess improvement. The three pillars of Lev's study advice are the 1) play chess competitively 2) Analyze your games and 3) Find time for uninterrupted study. 

There is much more!  Thanks so much to GM Alburt for joining me. You can reach Lev via his webpage here.

Click here to download the episode.

Episode 91- GM Andy Soltis


Photo by Marcy Soltis

This week on Perpetual Chess I am joined by the acclaimed and prolific chess author, columnist and historian, GM Andy Soltis. GM Soltis and I discussed the following:

Of course, GM Soltis also had great stories to share about the likes of Bobby Fischer, Viktor Korchnoi and Mikhail Tal. Thanks so much to Andy for joining me. It was an honor to speak with him. 

Click here to download the interview.