Hi all. Sorry, no new Perpetual episode this week. I am in the middle of moving and have had some unforeseen issues. I hope to be back next week sometime. Enjoy the Candidates tournament!
This week marked the triumphant return of the hilarious and informative GM Jan Gustaffson to Perpetual Chess. Jan was one of my first guests on this podcast, and it was fun to have him back. He and his buddy, GM Peter Svidler, are gearing up to cover the FIDE Candidates tournament for Chess24.com beginning March 10. Jan revealed his own favorite to win the tournament and gave detailed information about the playing style of every player in the field.
We also talked about a variety of other topics, including his book and podcast recommendations, what it was like to work on Magnus Carlsen’s team, and whether or not we should be jealous of his life as a chess announcer.
My guest this week is St. Louis based, Hungarian born GM Denes Boros. Denes is a strong and active chess player, a chess reporter, and his frequent lectures at the St. Louis Chess Club are popular events.
Denes is also a student of psychology, so we talked a lot about the intersection of psychology and chess. He offered suggestions for some common issues that plague tournament players, such as time-management and nervousness/anxiety issues.
We also talked about the history of chess in Denes's native Hungary, about the upcoming FIDE candidates tournament), and lots more. Thanks to Denes for joining me.
Chess writer, teacher and book reviewer John Hartmann is not a titled chess player, but man, does he know his chess books! In our conversation, John reveals his list of "desert island" chess books and gives chess book recommendations of all shapes and sizes. We talk of chess memoirs/game collections, books about chess tactics, endgame books, and even about chess software. John also tells the unique story of how he got into chess as a somewhat troubled teen and how he became a book reviewer for the USCF's venerable Chess Life magazine. Lastly, John gives an overview of the increasingly popular Chess Steps curriculum and all of the details about why he finds it so helpful for his students and his chess study.
Mark Crowther is the founder, editor, and writer behind the indispensable online periodical The Week In Chess (TWIC). In our conversation, we talked about Mark’s origins, TWIC’s humble beginnings, and how he manages the workflow of writing about and publishing a relentless torrent of chess games played by top players. Mark and I also talked about the chess world more broadly. He shared a rumor he recently heard about the next FIDE election and discussed his own chess playing, plus shared book recommendations. Thanks to Mark for joining me in a great conversation. You can follow him on twitter here, or read and support The Week in Chess here.
ere is a picture of his favorite recent chess books. :)
This week GM Elshan Moradiabadi joined me. In addition to being a former champion in Iran, Elshan is a chess trainer and author. During our interview, Elshan explained why he and his fiance, WGM Sabina Foisor, have relocated to North Carolina and how they are enjoying life there.
We also discussed Iran's unique chess history- chess was banned there from 1980 to 1999. Elshan shared the prevailing theories on the reasons for Iran's ban. He also explained how he was able to ascend to the GM level, despite his native country's checkered chess history. Before I let him go, we touched on some perennial Perpetual topics, such as his experiences at chess Olympiads, the role of luck vs talent in chess, book recommendations, and his favorites in the upcoming Candidates tournament. Thanks to Elshan for a great talk. You can email him here. If you enjoy this podcast, you can support it here. To take the Perpetual listener survey, go here.
This week’s guest on Perpetual Chess is two- time Canadian Chess Champion turned hedge fund analyst, GM Pascal Charbonneau. In our conversation, Pascal tells us how chess helped him break into the finance industry, and he gives advice for anyone contemplating such a transition. He also looked back fondly to a time when he was more active in chess, and talked about what he misses most.
Pascal has so many chess stories and accomplishments to share. He has beaten Vishy Anand in a classical game and has spent time with legends like GMs Karpov and Aronian. He also talked about how he finds time to play in The Pro Chess League as a working dad. Thanks to Pascal for a great talk, you can email him here.
My guest this week is Spanish Grandmaster/chess24 streamer/civil engineer Pepe Cuenca. As a chess streamer, Pepe has an inimitable and energetic style. Pepe talked about how he cultivated that style and what his not-so-secret ingredient is (Red Bull). He also recapped a recent tournament he competed in in Argentina and gave the rundown on the Spanish chess scene. Lastly, Pepe gave us some helpful recommendations. He told us which International tournaments we should attend, which chess books to read, and he helped us handicap the Candidates tournament. Follow Pepe on twitter here, or Facebook here. If you enjoy this podcast, you can support it here.
This week marks the return of the very first Perpetual Chess guest, IM Greg Shahade. With the Pro Chess League set to resume Thursday, January 18, Greg told us about the changes that he and the Chess.com team have cooked up with the goal of improving the viewer experience. He also reeled off the names of some of the top players slated to play this year (Carlsen, Anand, Nakamura, MVL, Caruana, among others). Greg talked about the rules that are in place to incentivize teams to recruit top players, including strong female players.
Greg also named a few favorite chess books and relayed advice that he absorbed in his younger days when he took a few lessons with the legendary trainer, IM Mark Dvoretsky. Lastly, Greg and Ben reminisced about the time Greg had a chance to play Garry Kasparov in a simul in 1997. Be sure to tune in to watch the Pro Chess League starting Thursday, January 18 on chess.com.
My guest this week is renowned chess author, International Master John Donaldson. Along with his co-author, IM Eric Tangborn, IM Donaldson recently completed and released a 5 volume biography of Bobby Fischer. So naturally, John and I did a deep dive on the life and legacy of chess legend Bobby Fischer. John tackled several unanswered questions about Fischer's life that drove him to undertake this project. He also shared some memories about the recently deceased grandmaster Bill Lombardy, with whom John spent some time shortly before he died.
Following that, we discussed the venerable Mechanic's institute Chess Club in San Francisco, where John is the Director of the Chess Room. Along the way John gave some detailed and practical chess improvement advice and book recommendations. Thanks to John for joining me. You can buy his books here, and he can be emailed here.
This week I enjoyed talking with Sweden's highest rated chess player, the impressive young Grandmaster Nils Grandelius. Despite his being only 24 years old, Nils has had a wealth of experience in the chess world, including having played and held his own against such titans as Carlsen, Caruana, Kramnik, and Anand. Nils discussed those experiences with us and talked about what he thinks he needs to improve to ascend toward that level.
He also revealed some details about what it was like to work as part of Magnus Carlsen's team in the last World Championship match. Before we ended our conversation, Nils touched on his affinity for playing bughouse and named some of the world's best bughouse players, and shared his upcoming tournament schedule. Thanks to Nils for a great interview. Follow him on twitter here. If you would like to donate to the podcast, you can do so here.
To mark the one year anniversary of Perpetual Chess, Ben Finegold returned as our first repeat guest. When Ben first talked with us in January 2017, he talked about plans for The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta, and in the past year GM Finegold and his wife, Karen Boyd, have seen the club go from dream to reality. Ben shared the surprises and successes that they have encountered during the club's first year.
We also talked about the chess world more broadly, as Ben discussed the FIDE Candidates' Cycle (and why he picks Wesley So to win every event), and his plans for the upcoming Pro Chess League. He also told some great stories, old and new, from his chess travels. Follow Ben on twitter here, watch his YouTube lectures here. If you would like to donate to Perpetual Chess you can do so here.
IM Andrey Ostrovskiy joined me this week for an insightful conversation. We started off discussing the biggest news in the chess world, as Andrei gave his perspective on what Alphazero’s landmark success means, and doesn't mean. We then dug into Andrey's background. Andrey talked about why he made the move from his native Ukraine to Germany a few years ago and transitioned from his family business to working as a chess professional. Andrey was also happy to share some ideas about improving one's calculation and chess-playing skills. Lastly, Andrey answered a long-festering question of mine about how players of his caliber can tell when an opening line has become obsolete. Thanks to Andrey for joining me. Check out his YouTube channel here,and follow him here on Twitter. If you enjoy this podcast, you can support it at Patreon or by buying chess improvement videos at ChessUniversity.com using the promo code "PERPETUAL." The game analysis video we discuss in our interview is here.
It was my pleasure to interview my longtime friend, two-time US Women's Champion Jennifer Shahade this week. Jenn is a well-known chess player and announcer, but she stays busy with many other roles as well. Her books, Play Like a Girl and Chess Bitch aim to attract more women to chess. She is also the Mind Sports ambassador for PokerStars, editor of the US Chess Federation website, and a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame. We had a fun, wide-ranging talk about how Jenn juggles her many roles, as well as her most important role of all- the mother of almost -1 -year-old Fabian. Jenn and I traded stories about her growing up in a game-centric household, and about her ascendance in chess and poker. When I asked Jenn whether she'd be writing another book, she did not dodge the question. You can hear her answer in our interview. You can find Jenn on Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to tune it in to watch Jenn and GM Yasser Seirawan and the rest of the team announce the The London Chess Classic. If you enjoy this podcast, you can support it at Patreon or by buying chess improvement videos at Chessuniversity.com using the promo code "PERPETUAL."
WGM Tatev Abrahamyan was my guest this week on Perpetual Chess. Tatev recounted the challenges of moving from Armenia to Southern California with her family at the age of 13. Tatev's family moved for economic and professional reasons, but the young chess talent quickly made a mark on the American chess scene while slowly acclimating to American culture and language. After overcoming the culture shock, Tatev has built a nice life for herself as a chess professional who plays, teaches and announces chess events all over the world. She gave us some simple advice for improving at chess, discussed the past and future of the U.S. Women's Chess Championship and, of course, we talked about penguins. :) Follow Tatev on Twitter here.
In addition to being an USCF expert, chess teacher, and blitz specialist, Jonathan Corbblah is a game show wizard! He has appeared on 12 game shows and is a Jeopardy champion. In our interview, Jon tells us how chess helped inform his knowledge of trivia and how chess players can improve their trivia games. Jonathan also has many funny stories to tell about his brushes with fame in New York City. Among other adventures, he has played basketball with Magnus Carlsen and slow chess with George Soros. Lastly, Jonathan leaves with an impassioned defense of his controversial "never resign" policy. You may not always agree with him, but you will definitely be entertained. Get in touch with Jonathan on Facebook or chess.com.
GM Cristian Chirila is a chess player, journalist, coach and commentator. He talked with me about why he believes that's its necessary for a modern chess professional to wear many hats, and about what he likes about each of the roles that gen plays. Cristian also discusses his youth in Romania and tells what it was like to move to Texas to attend college. Cristian also pulls back the curtain on what it was like to attend the Chess Olympiad in 2016 in order to assist GM Eric Hansen. Lastly, we talk about Cristian's current goal for his own play, and discussed his training methods. Follow GM Chirila on twitter here.
IM John Watson has over 30 chess books under his belt, and several of them are widely considered classics. In addition, John is a renowned chess teacher and player.
In our interview, we discussed numerous interesting topics, including John's recent trip to play in the Isle of Man Tournament, tales from his glory days on the chess circuit (including Mikhail Tal's drinking habits), and John reveals what it felt like to look at a chess board for the first time after suffering a stroke.
IM Sagar Shah is best known in the chess world as a reporter for and co-founder of Chessbase India. Sagar travels the world and covers many of the top tournaments. In this role, he watchesthe world elites up close, and in our talk, he shares some observations from this unique perspective. Additionally, Sagar has his ear the the ground in the Indian chess world, so he tells us which Indian talents to watch for, andtells us what factors have contributed to the many recent successes of Indian chess players. We also talk about assorted topics such as Sagar's own chess ambitions, and the highlights of the recent "teaching tour" of India conducted by renowned chess trainer, GM Jacob Aagard (and arranged by IM Shah). You can read IM Shah's excellent work on Chessbase India, or email him here.
As GM Jesse Kraai tells us, he has completed 3 "major projects" in his life: earning a Ph.D. in Philosophy, writing a chess novel, Lisa, and of course, earning the Grandmaster title. These projects have taken him to many different places and given him perspective on lots of topics. These topics include: chess improvement (obviously), what its like to live in a "chess house," and which tv shows to watch, among many others. Follow GM Kraai on twitter here, check out his blog here.