Episode 117 - Stjepan Tomić (Adult Improver Series)

Photo Courtesy of Stjepan Tomić

Photo Courtesy of Stjepan Tomić

This week the Adult Improver Series continues with another inspiring guest. Twenty eight year-old Stjepan Tomić (creator of the Hanging Pawns Channel on Youtube)  learned the rules of and fell in love with chess only a few years ago.  Since that time he has not let a full-time job or a girlfriend (his life currently includes both) interfere with his drive to improve at the royal game.  Stjepan details for us how he created a nine-year plan to become a Grandmaster, and three years into the plan, he has made steady progress, with an ELO peak nearing 1900.  In our conversation Stjepan shares what he has learned about how to manage one’s time, deal with defeat, create a Youtube channel, and of course, improve at chess. Read on for many more details and timestamps:

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0- Stjepan tells the story of how he discovered chess by happenstance in Poland, and breaks down the chess scene in Zagreb, Croatia, where he lives. He also recounts the first steps he took in his study of chess, before he became systematic and serious about this pursuit.

11:45- Stjepan details the nine-year plan he made to become a grandmaster after he decided to commit himself to chess. The video we mention of Stjepan’s, discussing how to deal with defeat, can be viewed here.

16:45- Stjepan answers a question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast- What challenges are unique to the efforts of adults to improve at chess, as opposed to those of kids?

19:00- We dive into a regular feature of the Adult Improver Series, in which Stjepan gives his opinion about the relative merits of some different ways to study chess, including solving tactics, watching videos, playing blitz and analyzing one’s own games. An excellent YouTube video of Stjepan’s discussing his recommended study methods  can be viewed here.  

36:00- Stjepan answers a question from another Perpetual Chess supporter regarding his favorite tactics books, and also rattles off some other chess books which have really helped him. They include: Think Like a GrandmasterMy SystemTal-Botvinnik 1960The Meran and Anti-Meran and The Moscow and Anti-Moscow  by Alexei DreevThe Rules of WInning Chess by GM Nigel DaviesDvoretsky’s Endgame ManualJohn Nunn’s Understanding MiddlegamesWinning Chess Strategies- by GM Yasser SeirawanAttack like Mikhail TalGM Ivan Sokolov’s Winning Chess MiddlegamesConcise Chess MiddlegamesMy Great PredecessorsMy 60 Most Memorable GamesThe Complete Book of Chess Strategy. Grandmaster Preparation: Strategic Play.

43:00- Stjepan discusses the vision behind his Youtube Channel, Hanging Pawns, and its rapid growth. He also gives some helpful tips for other content creators and aspiring content creators. The Youtube Channel that helped Stjepan with his own channel is called Video Creators

56:00 Goodbye and contact info. Here is Stjepan’s Youtube ChannelEmail address, Twitter and Instagram

Episode 116- GM Michal Krasenkow

Photo Courtesy of GM Krasenkow

Photo Courtesy of GM Krasenkow

GM Michal Krasenkow has has battled many legends of the chessboard during the course of his life, and he has been one of the top 10 chess players in the world. He is also a respected chess trainer and author. His recently released and excellent new book, Learn from Michal Krasenkow shares many of his memories and favorite games. In our conversation, we discuss GM Krasenkow’s book in great detail, along with the usual assortment of improvement advice, recommendations, and favorite stories. Please read onward for many more details of this week's podcast.


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0:00- Introduction. Then GM Krasenkow discusses the legacy of chess in the Soviet Union and shares with listeners details from his experience of falling in love with chess in Moscow in the 1970’s. Details include which future grandmasters he studied with, which trainers he worked with, and how classes and tournaments were structured at the fabled Pioneers Palaces that Michal attended.

15:30- GM Krasenkow describes his late teenage years, where he studied Applied Mathematics at University, and shares how he ended up pursuing a career as a chess professional rather than another field. His time in the Soviet Army was one of the factors that pushed him toward chess because he was able to pursue chess while serving in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

28:00- GM Krasenkow describes the impact that the collapse of the Soviet Union had on his chess career in the early 1990’s. He ultimately emigrated to Poland with the help of some local chess players there. He has lived in Poland ever since.

34:00- We transition to discussing GM Krasenkow’s chess career. What does he consider the greatest achievement of his storied career? GM Krasenkow also describes what it was like to make a big push to reach the top 10 of the world only to enter a slump, during which he lost more than 100 ELO points in subsequent tournaments.

41:00- We discuss a few of GM Krasenkow’s most memorable games. Michal mentions, Krasenkow-Nakamura 2007 where he was victim to a striking sacrifice by GM Nakamura.  Some of the most memorable victories include Krasenkow-Defirmian 1995, and the elegant Lagunov-Krasenkow 1985 (included in the book, but not online).

47:00- What was it like to attend the lectures of legendary trainer Yuri Razuvaev? What was GM Razuvaev’s teaching style?

48:00- What is GM Krasenkow’s advice for chess improvement? His primary advice is to play in lots of tournaments against stronger opponents.

53:00- Book recommendations! GM Krasenkow recommends IM Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, along with his other classics, and describes what it was like to train with IM Dvoretsky.

59:00- How have computers changed chess in the past few decades?

1:02- GM Krasenkow answers a question from one of the podcast's Patreon supporters about what life lessons chess has given him.

1:07- Story time! GM Krasenkow tells a couple of his favorite stories from time he spent with former World Champion GM Vasily Smyslov in 1995.

1:12- Goodbye and contact information. GM Krasenkow can be reached  here.His book is available from Thinker’s Publishing, on the Forward Chess app, and you can order it in the U.S. from Chess4Less and some other retailers.

Episode 115- GM Jan Gustafsson returns again

Jan2.jpg

This week, the always popular and entertaining GM Jan Gustafsson makes his third appearance on Perpetual Chess. In addition to the broadcasting, streaming and video creation that Jan does for Chess24.com, he also was a part of "Team Magnus" for the 2016 and 2018 World Chess Championships. Naturally we discussed the most recent World Championships in great detail, as well as catching up on what else Jan has been up to since his Perpetual Chess interviews #1 and #2. As always you can keep up with Jan on twitter or by subscribing to and monitoring the calendar on Chess24.com Read below for the break for details and timestamps about all that we discussed:


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0:00- Glowing intro and discussion of Jan’s work as a member of Magnus Carlsen’s team for the 2018 World Championship Match. Jan reflects on his overall thoughts on the match and answers some follow up questions I had based on the excellent Chess24 series “Inside the 2018 World Championship Match”  featuring Jan and GMs Peter Heine Nielsen and Laurent Fressinet.

31:30- More World Championship talk, but now with a focus on the openings that were played.

36:00- Is it really true that a Queen and Knight is better than a Queen and a Bishop?

38:00 What should one do to get back into playing shape after a layoff from competitive chess? (a discussion prompted because Jan will be playing in the Bangkok Chess Club Open in April)

39:00- Coaching Netherlands at Olympiad. What mystery book was Jan pictured reading while the games went on? The Patrick Melrose books

44:00- What is Jan’s favorite Jan Gustafsson game? What about his favorite other people games? Jan mentions his opening prep paying off in the following games:  Naiditsch-Gustafsson 2007 and Gustafsson-Rodshtein 2007  Jan also highlights the modern classic, Wei Yi-Lazaro Bruzon Batista 2015 and Jinishi Bai vs. Ding Liren 2017

49:00- Some idle chit-chat and Jan’s latest pop culture  recommendations. Jan gives a lukewarm recommendation for True Detective Season 3 and did not share Ben’s level of enthusiasm for Atlanta, but is a big fan of the movie Burning.

53:00- Goodbye and what to watch for coming from Chess24. Jan recommends GM Laurent Fressinet’s recent series  Playing the Berlin and teased a blitz match between Magnus Carlsen and Peter Svidler, which you can now watch on Chess24. 

Episode 114- GM Romain Edouard

Photo Courtesy of GM Romain Edouard

Photo Courtesy of GM Romain Edouard

28 year old Grandmaster Romain Edouard has been a top 50 chess player in the world, with a peak rating over 2700, but in recent years, he has been quite busy with other chess related work. He is the author of the highly regarded, Chess Calculation series, and this year, has published,  My Magical Years with Topalov.a book about his time working as the second to one of the strongest players in the world. GM Edouard is also the Editor-in-Chief at Thinker’s Publishing, the publisher of his acclaimed works. For more detail about all that we discussed, please read on:

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0:00- Intro and discussion of GM Edouard’s new book, My Magical Years with Topalov. This book annotates games and shares stories and reflections from GM Edouard’s time working as a second to GM Veselin Topalov, between the years of 2010-2014. Romain shares how the relationship began and how it evolved in the ensuing years.

17:00- What differentiates GM Topalov’s chess style from other top-level players?

20:00- Romain discusses his most recent chess tournament. He recently played in the super strong 2019 Gibraltar International, and finished with 7 points, as part of a big tie for 6th-22nd place.

25:30- GM Edouard retells how he became the Editor-in-Chief with Thinker’s Publishing, and what that works entails. The two new books that we mention are: Gata Kamsky - Chess Gamer, Volume 1: The Awakening 1989-1996, and Michal Krasenkow - Learn from Michal Krasenkow

32:00- Romain’s gives his chess improvement advice for those with a limited amount of time. 1) Play lots of games 2) Find openings you like and know well   3) Learn Endgames from Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual 4) Practice Calculation

37:30- Discussion of the London Lions of the Pro Chess League, who have had a disappointing season, but just had a strong showing in defeating the Montreal Chessbrahs.

39:00- Discussion of GM Edouard’s favorite game of his own (Edouard-Tkachiev 2010) , as well as his favorite game of all time (Kasparov-Topalov 1999)

43:30- Goodbye and contact info, you can follow Thinkers Publishing on Facebook and their website, and GM Edouard on Facebook and Twitter.

Episode 113- GM-Elect Michael Brown

Photo Courtesy of Michael Brown

Photo Courtesy of Michael Brown

My guest this week is 21 year old GM-elect Michael Brown. Michael just earned his final GM norm in January 2019, but the path to earning the highest chess title has come with many challenges. In our conversation, Michael walks us through how he overcame those challenges, and gives advice for how others can do the same in their own chess journeys. For many more details about our conversation, check out the timestamps below. Michael can be reached via email here.

Click here to download the episode

 

0:00- Intro and recap of the tournament at the Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy  where GM-elect Michael Brown got that elusive and coveted 3rd GM Norm. The dramatic GM Norm clinching-game vs. FM Gauri Shankar that Michael discusses can be found here.

10:00- How did Michael stay sharp as his time became more scarce after enrolling in college? Michael mostly credits study partnering with other strong players, such as IM Keaton Kiewra,and IM Shiyam Thavandiran.

16:30- After graduating from BYU in December 2018 what is Michael’s next professional step?

19:30- We discuss Michael’s memorable experience beating world class GM Yu Yangyi in 2016.  Michael annotates this game in this very instructive Youtube video, and you can also play through the moves here. We then discuss some of the “super GMs” Michael has played in addition to Yu Yangyi.

32:00- Michael tells a couple fun stories of playing at the notoriously strong Chess.com Isle of Man International tournament in 2017 and getting to see and meet the likes of GM Vishy Anand and GM Magnus Carlsen.

39:00- What have been the most challenging periods during Michael’s chess career? How did he get through them? What advice did his trainer at the time, IM Armen Ambartsoumian, give him?

44:00- What are Michael’s favorite chess books? As a young, improving player, he learned a ton from Winning Chess Brilliancies by GM Yasser Seirawan and later used CT-ART to sharpen his tactics.

51:00- What was the connection between his choice of college, Brigham Young University, and his desire to remain dedicated to chess? What other factors went into Michael’s decision as to which college to attend?

59:00- What is going on with the San Diego Surfers of the Pro Chess League?

1:04- Goodbye and contact info

Episode 112- GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan

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Natasha.Regan3.jpg

Photos Courtesy of GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan

This week I am joined by the authors by one of the most anticipated chess books in recent memory,  Gamechanger: AlphaZero's Groundbreaking Chess Strategies and the Promise of AI. GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan have written a fascinating and revelatory book, so I was very excited to chat with them about the background to the book and discuss some highlights from it.

In our conversation, we also touch on other aspects of Matthew and Natasha’s accomplished careers, particularly, how adults can continue to make strides in chess, as discussed in their prior collaboration, Chess for Life.. You can find many more details about our conversation with timestamps below the break. Gamechanger is now available from New in Chess, Chessable, and  Forward Chess, and will be released on Amazon in the US on February 15.

Click here to download the episode.

 

0:00 Intro, discussion of the genesis of the GameChanger project and how its seeds were sown at the London Chess Classic

5:00- Natasha and Matthew talk about how they approached the project once Demis Hassabis of DeepMind gave them permission to write about AlphaZero

10:00- We get into the meat of the GameChanger book, beginning with a discussion of which players in history Alphazero’s chess style is reminiscent of. Kasparov, Carlsen and Botvinnik are mentioned.

22:00- A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks a question about how Alphazero learned chess. In Gamechanger Matthew and Natasha lay out 4 principles in Alphazero’s approach to learning chess (as well as how other DeepMind programs have learned other games, such as Go): :

  1. Learning rather than being programmed

  2. General rather than specific

  3. Grounded rather than logic based

  4. Active rather than passive

24:00- What openings did AlphaZero gravitate toward, and we can we learn from those choices? Among other openings, Matthew mentions that Alphazero plays the Botvinnik System and the Anti Moscow Gambit against the Semi-Slav, and double king pawn and the Berlin Defense against e4.  

29:00- How will these opening choices and this playing style filter through to the professional and amateur chess circuits?

34:00- Have the authors heard anything about whether Deepmind will continue to improve and deploy Alphazero in chess competitions?

35:00- We discuss Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan’s previous collaboration, Chess for Life. This is a book of interviews and games based specifically on how adults can maintain and/or improve their level of chess play. What was some of the advice for adults that the authors gleaned from their interviews? They mention insights from the games and repertoires of GM Keith Arkell, FM Terry Chapman, GM Pia Cramling and GM Sergei Tiviakov, as discussed in the book. Both Gamechanger and Chess for Life have instructive chapters on The Carlsbad Structure.

43:00- What did the legendary trainer, IM Mark Dvoretsky tell GM Matthew Sadler in what he called “the most instructive 5 minutes of my life?” What else did he learn from a memorable couple of weeks working with Mark Dvoretsky?

48:00- How has Matthew managed to reach his peak rating despite being 44 years old and employed full time?

54:00- Book recommendations! Natasha enjoyed My 60 Most Memorable Games and Chess Bitch. Matthew recommends Small Steps to Giant Improvement, Positional Decision Making in Chess, The Chess Toolbox, and Emmanuel Lasker, Volume 1

56:00- How can we keep up with Matthew and Natasha’s chess work? They have a Facebook page for Gamechanger here, and a Youtube Channel with bonus material related to the book here. They also have a Youtube channel for Chess for Life here.

If you would like to help support Perpetual Chess, go here.

 

Episode 111- GM Jacob Aagaard

GM Jacob Aagaard pictured on bottom left, Photo by David Llada,

GM Jacob Aagaard pictured on bottom left, Photo by David Llada,

This week it was my great honor to get to chat with the acclaimed author, trainer and co-founder of Quality Chess, GM Jacob Aagaard. GM Aagaard is chairing the FIDE trainer’s commission and has worked with elite chess players like GM Sam Shankland and GM Boris Gelfand. Jacob was very generous with his time and wisdom in our conversation.  You can keep up with Quality Chess on their blog, and you can email GM Aagaard here. You can find out more about the Quality Chess Academy here.

For timestamps and details about all that we discussed, read below the break. .  


Click here to download the episode


0:00- Intro and discussion of the vision behind Quality Chess Publishing, co-founded by GM Aagaard in 2004 (along with GM John Shaw and IM Ari Ziegler).

12:40- A brief digression into some Science Fiction shows Jacob has been watching in his scant free-time. He recommends Altered Carbon on Netflix and a German series called Dark.  

15:30- We segue into a detailed discussion of Jacob’s most recent highly acclaimed book, Thinking Inside the BoxAs GM Aagaard discusses in the book, each move in chess can roughly be categorized into one of 4 decision types:

  1. Automatic Decisions (This includes a discussion of this game between GM Sam Shankland and GM Richard Rapport. )

  2. SImple Decisions (This is where Aagaard’s famed 3 questions come into play- 1. Where are the weaknesses?  2. What is the opponent’s idea? 3. Which is my worst placed piece?)

  3. Critical Moments (positions where there is a large difference between the best move and the next best move)

  4. Strategic Decisions (complicated positions with no clear-cut way to approach them)

34:00- Jacob answers a question from a supporter of the podcast relating to how to use diagrams in chess books.  While answering, Jacob rattles off a few of his favorite chess books. They include GM Romain Edouard’s calculation books,  Imagination in Chess (out of print), Perfect Your Chess, and the Arthur Yusopov series. As a scholastic player, Jacob was a big fan of legendary Danish player Bent Larsen’s books.

42:30- GM Aagaard tells the story of how he became a trainer of other high level players. For any listener looking for a coach, GM Aagaard recommends his former student, Italian GM Sabino Brunello. Jacob also tells the story of how he became one of the trainers of former World Championship Challenger, GM Boris Gelfand and of US Champion Sam Shankland.

52:00- What feat did GM Sam Shankland accomplish that has gone a but under the radar? What does he think of GM Shankland’s prospects for a continued ascent in the world rankings?

1:02- GM Aagaard answers another question from a Patreon supporter about how to work on your chess when you do not have a coach. Jacob stressed the importance of analyzing one’s own games.

1:08- Jacob discusses his upcoming chess camp, The Quality Chess Academy,  which will be co-taught along with renowned trainer R.B. Ramesh.  You guys should sign up for the camp, then after attending you should email me to tell me about the camp. :)

1:15- Jacob discusses another new project of his, chairing the FIDE trainer’s commission.

1:26- Jacob gives his opinion on how big a role rapid chess should play in the World Championship Cycle.

1:35- What will be the next phase of chess, following what Jacob calls, “the digital period"?  Jacob mentions a couple of alternatives to Chess960 that he finds interesting.

1:42- Jacob’s contact info and goodbyes 👋

 

 

Episode 110- USCF Master Michael "F-pawn" Aigner"

Photo courtesy of Michael Aigner

Photo courtesy of Michael Aigner

USCF Master Michael Aigner is a player and coach who is well-known in the Bay Area of California. He has coached many future titled players, and also holds a master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.  Thanks to Michael for an informative and inspiring conversation. Read on for details of all that we discussed.

0:00- Intro and quick discussion of how the Bay Area teams are doing in the Pro Chess League. What distinguishes Michael’s coaching style? Amongst his favorite games to share are those of Mikhail Tal, and any game between Carlsen and Aronian.

8:00- How did Michael get into chess as a teen in the early 1990s? How did he get better quickly in the pre-computer age? (There were a lot of early losses involved.) Michael was not a big chess book aficionado but he learned openings from an encyclopedia called Modern Chess Openings and was a big fan of the book  Mikhail Tal’s Life and Games.

18:50- Michael shares some of the advice he generally gives his students. For example, he thinks 15 minute chess is a good time control to practice online, as it is fast enough to be able to play multiple games, but slow enough to have educational value for the player.

What was it like for Michael to coach future GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Steven Zierk? Michael tells some great stories to illustrate the tenacity and enthusiasm that these top players showed at a young age.

27:30- A brief discussion of what scholastic chess  teachers and US Chess can do to help chess players retain interest in chess past their teen years.

31:00- Michael discusses the special role that chess plays in his life due to his physical condition, called quadrilateral phocomelia. As Michael discusses, this condition means that he gets around in a wheelchair, but this definitely does not deter him from competing over the board.

37:30- Michael answers a question from a listener about how he handles wheelchair accessibility issues in his tournaments.

44:30- Michael answers another question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast, about whether he would recommend chess as a hobby to others with physical disabilities.

48:00- Michael tackles a list of questions sent in from Michael’s friend and sometime opponent, Stewart Katz, relating to chess teaching and competing.

1:00- Michael discusses how he follows top level chess and names a couple of his favorite chess announcers, plus he gives his take on whether the World Championship format should be changed.

1:06- Wrap up and contact info for Michael Aigner- You can keep up with Michael on his website, Facebook, Twitter and his blog.


Click here to download the episode


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

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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

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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)

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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

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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.  


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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)

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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

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Episode 99- Chessable Co-Founder and CEO David Kramaley

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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.