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

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