Perpetual Chess Podcast

By Ben Johnson

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Perpetual Chess features weekly conversations with the chess world's best players, promoters, and educators about their lives, careers, current projects, and best practices. Learn more at

Episode Date
EP.117 - Stjepan Tomić (Adult Improver Series)

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:


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


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

Mar 12, 2019
EP.116 - GM Michal Krasenkow
GM Michal Krasenkow 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.


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.
If you would like to help support the podcast, go here.
Mar 05, 2019
EP.115 - GM Jan Gustafsson returns again

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, 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 Read on for details and timestamps about all that we discussed:

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.

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


Feb 26, 2019
EP.114 - 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, plus recommendations and contact information, please read on:


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.

Feb 19, 2019
EP.113 - GM-Elect 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.


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 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

Feb 12, 2019
EP.112 - 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. Gamechanger is now available from New in Chess, Chessable, and  Forward Chess, and will be released on Amazon in the US on February 15.


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.


Feb 05, 2019
EP.111 - GM Jacob Aagaard
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 on.  

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 👋



Jan 29, 2019
EP.110 - USCF Master Michael "F-pawn" 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.
This episode is brought to you in part by Check it out if you haven't already!



Jan 22, 2019
EP.109 - 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.

Jan 15, 2019
EP.108 - 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 Aagard 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 placed 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

Jan 08, 2019
EP.107 - IM Greg Shahade Returns (again)

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 

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

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.  

This episode is brought to you in part by 

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



Jan 04, 2019
EP.106 USCF Master Vinesh Ravuri (Adult Improver Series)
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 or contact him about chess lessons here
This episode is brought to you in part by Chessable
If you would like to help support the podcast, go here
Dec 24, 2018
EP.105 - 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, 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
This episode is brought to you in part by Chessable
Dec 18, 2018
EP.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 hesitance 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:
Abramovich-Benjamin 1984 game not online, but an excerpt can be found in his new book :)
This episode is brought to you in part by
To support the podcast, go here
Dec 11, 2018
EP.103 - GM Jóhann 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
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
Dec 04, 2018
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.  
Nov 27, 2018
EP.102 - World Championship report with IM Eric Rosen and IM Kostya Kavutskiy
On a rest day (after Game 8) 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.  
Nov 20, 2018
EP.101 - GM Pontus Carlsson Returns
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
Nov 20, 2018
EP.100 - Carsten Hensel (Author, Former Manager of GM Vladimir Kramnik)

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

Nov 13, 2018
EP.99 - Chessable CEO and Co-Founder 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 features 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.
  • To celebrate the release of Christof Sielecki's Chessable book in print form, Chessable is having a giveaway/contest. Enter here
  • Chessable meet-up in London on November 20, during the World Championship
  • Geert van der Velde's free courses include Carlsen-Caruana move by move, and the Olympiad Tactics Trainer
  • IM Christof Sielecki's. aka ChessExplained 's repetorire against 1. e4, featuring Fabi’s Petroff, wil be released next week, and can be found here
Nov 06, 2018
EP.98 - GM Michael 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 Tournament (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. 
If you'd like to help support the podcast go here
Oct 30, 2018
EP.97 - USCF Master Alex King
Alex King is a 29 year old Memphis,Tennessee based USCF Master. He is also a full time chess teacher, an 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 here
If you'd like to help support the podcast go here
Oct 23, 2018
EP.96 - Cristobal Cervino (Adult Improver series)
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 or chesstempo
Oct 16, 2018
EP.95 - USCF Master and Cognitive Scientist 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
To support the podcast go here. 
Oct 09, 2018
Ep. 94- USCF Master and Author 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.

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


Oct 02, 2018
EP.93 - Tarjei Svensen
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,, 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
If you are interested in supporting Perpetual Chess go here
Sep 25, 2018
EP.92 - Grandmaster Lev Alburt
Editor’s Note- The audio quality on this interview is somewhat lackluster, 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



Sep 18, 2018
EP.91 - Grandmaster Andy 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. 
Sep 11, 2018
EP.90 - International Master V. Saravanan

V. Saravanan is an International Master, a chess journalist and a voracious reader of chess books. Saravanan resides in Chennai, India, but joined me from St. Louis where he had just concluded covering the Sinquefield Cup for Chessbase. We discussed: 

  • IM Saravanan’s impression of the St. Louis Chess Club, and of the tournaments  he had just covered. 
  • Stories and impressions of Super GM Viswanathan Anand who he has known for decades. What makes Anand a special talent and person? Saravanan also shares broader perspective about the Indian chess boom. 
  • Saravanan expounded on the incredible YouTube video he did, showing off his chess library to IM Sagar Shah. He rattled off a few more favorite chess books and shared his views regarding chess improvement. 

Thanks to Saravanan for an entertaining and informative conversation. Follow him on twitter here

To support the podcast go here

Sep 04, 2018
EP.89 - International Master Kostya Kavutskiy Returns
This week on Perpetual Chess, one of my earliest guests returns for an update on his life and travels. Twenty-five year old IM Kostya Kavutskiy is an active chess player, teacher, writer and content creator.  We catch up with him after his busy summer of traversing 3 continents while playing and coaching chess.  
Kostya discusses the highlights of his trip, and the primary chess lessons he derived from his summer of high level competitive chess. (This includes a discussion of a position where he agreed to a draw in what was actually a winning position.) Check out the game here
We also cover:
  • Chess improvement advice focused on methods of analysis of one's own games, plus some fresh chess book recommendations. 
  • A breakdown of some of his favorite chess announcers, both in the English and the Russian languages. 
  • A discussion of how he uses chess engines, and what it means when two different engines give starkly different evaluations. 
Thanks to Kostya for joining me.   He has a Patreon page on which he shares great chess educational content. Check it out here. You can also follow/contact him via twitter or his webpage
Tu support the podcast go here
Aug 28, 2018
EP.88 - Grandmaster Yannick Pelletier (hosted by Macauley Peterson)
Today's show was recorded in Switzerland: Biel to be exact, home of the 51st International Chess Festival — which included a GM tournament won by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov ahead of Magnus Carlsen — and also the birthplace of today's guest, Grandmaster Yannick Pelletier. In chess, he's the Tournament Director in Biel as well as an accomplished player and commentator, but also polyglot and soon-to-be art/design/lifestyle media entrepreneur. Check out his YouTube channel and new magazine project Yunomi. Pelletier has been the Swiss Champion six times, and although he doesn't play more than a few tournaments a year nowadays, he has won three games from Magnus Carlsen, including one after Carlsen became World Champion. Yannick talks about life as a chess professional both before and after having kids, provides a history of the Biel Festival plus gives the 101 on how the Swiss manage to get along so well despite having multiple official languages.
Macauley Peterson (Editor in Chief of ChessBase News) guest hosts once again, and he strongly suggests you support Perpetual Chess either via Patreon or using this special link at the ChessBase shop. Perhaps a video series from Yannick himself — he's recorded several and also contributes to ChessBase Magazine!
Aug 21, 2018
EP.87 - Stacia Pugh (Adult Improver Series)

This week on Perpetual Chess, the popular adult improver series makes its triumphant return, with another great guest. I am joined by Stacia Pugh. Stacia has only been playing tournament chess for a few years but has seen her rating rapidly rise to 1777, including a 300 point rise in the past year. What's her story? How did she do it? Stacia joins us to discuss exactly that. 

  • - Stacia retells how she got into chess, and shares how the male and youth dominated chess world has treated an adult woman. She also discusses how she is managing to turn her love of chess from a hobby into a career. 
  • - She gives tons of study advice, including book recommendations and a discussion of the study habit that she feels helped her chess the most. To see her recommendations and those of all the other Perpetual Chess guests, go here. (and scroll way down)
  •  Stacia even made a list of her top 10 chess improvement tips for Perpetual Chess listeners; it can be found at the bottom of this capsule. 
To reach Stacia and/or track her progress, you can follow her on twitter here, or contact her and read her blog on, here
If you would like to help support the podcast go here
Stacia's top 10 improvement tips:
  1. Maintain balance between hard work and passion
  2. Game Analysis - always learn from your mistakes
  3. Work with a coach or stronger player
  4. Tactics book with themes
  5. Teach or explain what you learn (helps solidify)
  6. It's not about rating; it's about learning
  7. Patterns make you better
  8. OTB and community will inspire you and keep your interest
  9. Don't forget end game
  10. Openings choices should be chosen by someone else!  (that knows what they're doing)
Aug 14, 2018
EP.86 - USCF Master Fred Wilson

This week's guest on Perpetual Chess is USCF Master Fred Wilson. Fred is a chess author, teacher and for forty-five years, he has run a business, selling used and rare chess books! He also still competes actively, and he recently became one of the oldest US chess players to attain the USCF Master title for the first time, at the age of 71. How did he do it? Fred joins us to tell us just that, as we discussed the following topics:

  • His #1 piece of advice for older chess players, along with plenty of study tips and recommendations of chess books.
  • His stories from his time hosting a chess interview show, "Chess and Books with Fred WIlson,"  in the early 2000s for the Internet Chess Club. Fred discusses his favorite guests, and reveals what has become of the audio files of these interviews. 
  • His memories of a few of his encounters with Bobby Fischer and other NY chess personalities. 

Thanks to Fred for joining me, check out the books he has written here
You can see the list of books he is currently selling here, or visit his store in NYC at:

41 Union Square West (at 17th Street), Suite 718,  New York 10003. 

Aug 07, 2018
EP.85 - FIDE Master Mike Klein
FM Mike Klein is an old friend of mine.  He also is a guy who has been involved in many facets of the chess industry. Mike was a scholastic champion, he's a great chess teacher, he was recognized as chess journalist of the year in 2012, and now he writes, edits, and creates content for and (for the latter he goes by the moniker "Fun Master Mike"). Here is what Mike and I discussed:
  • Mike's newest project, an entertaining and informative chess-free podcast, called Extreme Travel Odysseys
  • Chess advice relating to competing in, studying, and teaching chess
  • Stories from his reporting assignments, including the times he spent playing tennis, soccer, and basketball with the likes of Magnus Carlsen, Rex Sinquefield and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and others. 

Thanks to Mike for joining me. You can reach him via here. Subscribe to his podcast here
Jul 31, 2018
EP.84 - FIDE Master Carsten Hansen
The popular and prolific chess author, FM Carsten Hansen is my guest this week. By his current count, Carsten has written 26 chess books.. The depth of his chess knowlege is quite impressive, but his knowledge of chess openings is a particular specialty.
 Carsten and I discussed the following topics:
  • Carsten's latest book, The Full English Opening.  How did he pick the topic, and what is the story of how he came to love the English opening?
  • How did his initial venture into the world of writing and publishing chess books come about? He also shares some insider intell on how the chess publishing business works, including the impact that Print on Demand may have on the industry in the future. 
  • Carsten's favorite chess players, advice for chess improvement, and a couple of book recommendations that  have not previously been suggested on Perpetual Chess. 

Thanks to Carsten for joining me.   You can buy his books here, Follow him on twitter here, and check out his webpage here

To support the podcast go here

Jul 24, 2018
EP.83 - Grandmaster Paco Vallejo
Thanks to 5 time Spanish National Champion, GM Paco Vallejo, for being my guest on Perpetual Chess this week.   GM Vallejo had just returned from the Leon Masters Chess Tournament, featuring GM Wesley So, and young talents, GM elect- Ramesh Praggnanandhaa and IM Jaime Santos. Paco recapped the event for listeners, with a particular emphasis on the peculiar "dual blunder" that helped him get by IM Santos in the opening round.
 Other topics covered in our conversation:
  • Paco discussed the experience of serving as a second to GM Topalov, and revealed why he is unlikely to pursue a similar job again. 
  • Paco discussed the challenges he has faced in his life away from the board over the past few years, including family issues and a vexing tax issue courtesy of the Spanish government. 
  • Paco gave detailed chess improvement advice to hungry chess students, and even gave some advice for male chess players looking to meet women!
You can follow Paco on twitter here.or via his website here
To support the podcast go here
Jul 17, 2018
EP.82 - Frederic Friedel (Co-Founder of Chessbase, hosted by Macauley Peterson)
Summer substitute Macauley Peterson takes another turn on the mic, this time close to home with a sort of guided oral history by ChessBase co-founder Frederic Friedel. Frederic tells stories of meeting Garry Kasparov, Nigel Short, Viswanathan Anand and many others for the first time, and later hosting them at his home in a suburb of Hamburg. There may be something in the water there because it seems like practically every World Champion and challenger since Kasparov has spent time with the Friedels over the past 35 years.
You'll learn how ChessBase came to be, how Vladimir Kramnik felt about an early version of Fritz, what endgame kept Peter Leko up at night, which Leonard Barden book Frederic keeps in arms reach, and much more. 
Check out bonus material and support Perpetual Chess using this special link at the ChessBase shop.
Jul 10, 2018
EP.81 - Judit Sztaray (Executive Director of Bay Area Chess)

Judit Sztaray, the Executive Director of Bay Area Chess, is my guest this week on Perpetual Chess.  Bay Area Chess, based in San Jose, California, is the largest provider of chess classes on the west coast of the US, with programs in over 100 schools.  Bay Area Chess frequently runs tournaments as well as its classes, and Judit has a great deal to share about the goals and the work of the organization. In my conversation we discuss:

  • The recent simul they hosted, conducted by Former Women's World Chess Champion Hou Yifan. Judit discussed how an event like this comes about, and how the event was received in the Bay Area. 
  • The origins of BAC and how Judit wound up as Executive Director. Judit also discussed the funding of their program and the challenges she and her team can face in looking to raise money for BAC and for the Pro Chess League. 
  • The role of Bay Area Chess' as supporter of the San Jose Hackers of the Pro Chess League. Judit reviewed their 2018 season and talked some about how they recruited world class players like Grandmasters Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Rauf Mamedov. 
Thanks to Judit for joining me on the podcast.  You can reach her via email here, and learn more about Bay Area Chess here
Jul 03, 2018
EP.80 - Grandmaster Genna Sosonko
This week’s guest on Perpetual Chess is the eminent chess author, GM Genna Sosonko. GM Sosonko has enjoyed a distinguished career as a chess player.  He  was once in the top 20 of the world's players and has helped train chess legends like Mikhail Tal and Viktor Korchnoi.  But in recent years he has become best known for his beautiful chess writing. 
In our interview, we touch on GM Sosonko’s career and on the story behind his emigrating from the USSR to the Netherlands in the 1970’s, but the main focus of our discussion is his two most recent books: The Rise and Fall of David Bronstein, and Evil-Doer: Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi. We talked about:
  • What made David Bronstein's chess so brilliant? What did his peers think of him?
  • What did those who trained with Viktor Korchnoi' say about him?  Has GM Sosonko met any other chess player who could rival Korchnoi's legendary love for, will to study, and obsession with chess? 
  • What shaped the personalities of these two notoriously prickly chess legends?
In closing, we touched a bit on the modern chess landscape, and of course GM Sosonko told some great stories during our conversation.  He even recommended a book (although it may not be so easy to find. ) Thanks so much to GM Sosonko for joining me for a very entertaining and informative conversation. 
Please buy and enjoy his wonderful books here:
Jun 27, 2018
EP.79 - International Master Malcolm Pein (guest host Macauley Peterson)

Picking up on the theme of FIDE politics from the last episode, ChessBase Editor-in-Chief Macauley Peterson also spoke with IM Malcolm Pein while attending the first stop on the Grand Chess Tour in Leuven, Belgium. Macauley and Malcolm discuss the GCT 2018, which is continuing with more rapid and blitz in Paris, before turning to issues related to the FIDE election. 

Malcolm weighs in on the FIDE / Agon proposed "broadcast policy," the upcoming World Championship in London, why he joined the Makropoulos team, the impact of the pending RCF nomination of Arkady Dvorkovich, whether the election will be free and fair, and of course his old friend Nigel Short

While you listen, swing by the ChessBase shop, using this special link through which any orders will help support Perpetual Chess.

Jun 25, 2018
EP.78 - Grandmaster Nigel Short (Guest Host Macauley Peterson)

Perpetual Chess makes a "zwischenzug" over to Europe where Macauley Peterson, Editor-in-Chief of, is filling in for Ben this week. Macauley caught up with Grandmaster Nigel Short in Leuven, Belgium, at the close of the first tournament of the Grand Chess Tour 2018, the "Your Next Move Rapid and Blitz" tournament, where Short was a commentator. 

The former World Championship challenger is still an active player, but in May he launched a bid to succeed Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as President of FIDE, the World Chess Federation. Shortly before the interview, news broke that in addition to FIDE's current Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos, who declared his candidacy in April, a new candidate from Russia was entering the race: Arkady Dvorkovich, a prominent figure in Russian chess circles who currently serves as Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the FIFA 2018 World Cup, and has deep Kremlin ties, as a former Deputy Prime Minister. 

Short explains why he's in the race, what's wrong with FIDE, and how he intends to fix it.  

If you're interested in browsing the vast ChessBase shop, use this special link to help support Perpetual Chess.

Jun 19, 2018
EP.77 - Grandmaster Josh Friedel
This week’s guest on Perpetual Chess is well-regarded American GM Josh Friedel. Josh is a frequent competitor on the American GM circuit, who also teaches, writes and lectures about chess. We talked about the following:
- His most recent project, a YouTube series called “Autopsy,” in which he does an in-depth analysis of an educational chess game, with an emphasis on highlighting critical mistakes. 
- The matter of prearranged draws in GM games (an issue recently raised by Magnus Carlsen) is there a way to avoid them? 
- Lots of other topics, including what openings we might expect in the upcoming World Championships, reflections on Sam Shankland’s torrid 2018, and a couple of fun stories about Kasparov and Karpov. 
Thanks to Josh for joining me.  Check out his new YouTube series here, follow him on twitter here, and Facebook here
To support the podcast go here
Jun 12, 2018
EP.76 - Andrzej Krzywda (Adult Improver Series)
This week on Perpetual Chess, by popular demand, we begin an occasional series which will be called "Adult Improvers".  For Adult Improvers we will feature a guest who is making significant strides in improving his or her chess performance, and focus extensively on how that improvement is being attained. The first such guest is Polish Candidate Master Andrzej Kryzdwa.  Andrzej had been hovering around 2100 FIDE for over 20 years when he decided to devote a significant amount of his time to pursuing the International Master title.  Andrzej is 38 years old, runs a small business, and is married with two children, so the time that he can devote to this pursuit is limited. Nonetheless, in the past couple of years, Andrzej has shown great success, culminating in a recent tournament with a 2579 Performance Rating, his first IM Norm (!), and a FIDE rating now well north of 2200. How did he do it? We discuss the following details of Andrzej's inspiring story: 
  • How does Andrzej find the time to study? What is his routine?
  • What, specifically does he study?
  • What "clicked" in the tournament where he earned an IM Norm?  Did he feel like a stronger player at the time of that achievement?
  • What is next for Andrzej?
  • What resources does he recommend for other adult improvers?
Thanks so much to Andrzej for joining me, you can follow his journey and contact him on his facebook page, "From 2100 to International Master,"  here
To support the podcast go here
Jun 05, 2018
EP.75 - Grandmaster David Navara
On this week’s Perpetual Chess I talk to Super GM David Navarra. GM Navara is the eight time champion of the Czech Republic.  He has been ranked as high as #14 in the world, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him. GM Navara and I discussed the following- 
- His busy schedule of upcoming tournaments 
- His most memorable chess achievements, including being a part of the winning European Club Cup winning team in 2013, and playing with the likes of Kasparov and Karpov. 
- His advice for improving your chess play and enhancing your chess intuition.
Thanks to GM Navara for joining me for an insightful interview.
May 29, 2018
EP.74 - Grandmaster Irina Krush
My final guest live from Nashville was none other than the seven-time winner of the US Women’s Championship, GM Irina Krush. 
Irina and I had a fun discussion, and covered the following topics:
- Her reflections on the most recent US championships in St. Louis. (Irina finished in 3rd place)
- How does she recover from tough losses? This is a crucial skill for all chess players to develop, and no, it doesn’t get much easier for grandmasters. 
- Why did she decide to devote herself full-time to chess while some of her peers have sought work in other fields? How does she manage to play so much while also teaching and writing about chess?
Irina had many tales to tell, including stories of playing blitz with Magnus, playing future World Champ Hou Yifan when she was just 11 years old, the Olympiads and more. Thanks to Irina for a great chat. 
  • To see the puzzle from Shereshevsky's new book mentioned by Irina, go here. Black to move and win. 
  • To support the podcast go here
  • This is the last "Friday bonus" podcast, Perpetual returns to weekly Tuesday releases next week. 
May 25, 2018
EP.73 - Fide Master Sunil Weeramantry

Today's guest on Perpetual Chess is renowned chess teacher and author, FM Sunil Weerumantry. Sunil has been teaching chess in the New York area for more than 30 years and has coached more national scholastic champions than one can count. He is also the step dad of GM Hikaru Nakamura and his brother Asuka, who also broke many US Scholastic records as a child. Sunil and I discussed:

  • The great new book he co-authored with Alan Abrams and Robert McClellan called Great Moves: Learning Chess Through History. I highly recommend this book for chess teachers and chess history buffs. 
  • Sunil's story of growing up in Sri Lanka, making his way to New York, and becoming a chess teacher. 
  • What does one need to be "talented at chess"? Did he notice it in Hikaru and Asuka? 
  • Stories from travels with Hikaru and meeting chess legends
Thanks to Sunil for joining me. You can order his book here. To support the podcast, go here
May 22, 2018
EP.72 - Coach Jay Stallings returns

My second guest  this weekend  in Nashville, Tennessee marked the triumphant return to Perpetual Chess of popular chess teacher Jay Stallings. 

  • Jay gave an update on the status of the publication of the instructional chess books that he has been working on, which are an amazing resource for chess teachers, and for which he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign. You can order them here
  • Jay explained the difference between a "growth mindset" and a "fixed mindset", and shared what chess players can learn from Beyonce and baseball player Trevor Bauer. 
  • He discussed upcoming travel plans, including plotting a potential trip to the upcoming World Championships
  • Jay suggested a few future Perpetual Chess guests.
Thanks much to Jay for joining me again, it is always fun to hear his ideas and absorb his enthusiasm for chess. 
To support the podcast go here
May 18, 2018
Ep. 71- Carol Meyer (USCF Executive Director ) and Mike Hoffpauir (President of USCF Board of Directors)
This weekend at the biggest annual scholastic chess tournament in the United States, the Elementary School National Championships, I was honored to interview US Chess Federation (USCF) Executive Director Carol Meyer, and the President of the US Chess Board of Directors, Mike Hoffpauir.  They both devote a big part of their lives to chess, and I think you will enjoy it as:
  • Carol and Mike both talk about their backgrounds and share how they became involved with the USCF
  • Carol discusses her vision for the USCF and discloses short-term and long-term plans that the organization is undertaking
  • Carol and Mike discuss the role that the USCF plays with an American in the upcoming World Chess Championship
  • Mike and Carol discuss some changes that they are implementing at future scholastic tournaments in light of a recent controversy. 
We also got some book recommendations and discussed the overall health of the USCF. Thanks to Carol and Mike for an insightful and fun interview.  
May 15, 2018
EP.70 - Grandmaster Akshat Chandra
This week’s guest is talented 18 year old GM Akshat Chandra. The former US Junior Champion spent some of his formative scholastic years in both India and the U.S., so he was able to offer some perspective on the differences between the two chess cultures. He also shared some insight about things that contributed to his swift improvement In chess, and shared his thoughts about the upcoming World Championship match. 
Last but definitely not least (13:00),  we discussed the recent controversy that surrounds Akshat, as he finds himself defending against allegations of using engine assistance in online play. In a recent blog post, Akshat gave background information, about closing his account due to allegations of impropriety, and flatly denied these allegations. Subsequently he agreed to come on the podcast to discuss the issue with me. 
There has been a lot of public discussion of this controversy, such as in this chess Reddit thread In our conversation, Akshat tells his side of the story. This was a tough conversation to have and to summarize, so I encourage you all to listen to it yourself. Thanks to Akshat for joining me . You can follow him on twitter here, and check out his twitch streams here
To support the podcast, go here
May 08, 2018
EP.69 - International Master Kassa Korley

My guest this week is 24-year-old IM Kassa Korley. Kassa is a strong young chess player, a YouTube steamer, a Duke University graduate, and he also works for a tech education startup. During our conversation he answered the following questions:

  • Why does Kassa hate draws, what does he do to avoid them?
  • How is Kassa's chess game progressing? He was the youngest African-American National Master in US history in 2008. Is his long-stated dream to become the 2nd African-American GM still alive?
  • What was it like studying and playing chess in Denmark, of which he is also a citizen?
  • What modern elite chess player shaped Kassa's game the most?
  • What advice does he have for self-directed players looking to improve at chess?
  • How and when did he meet and play blitz with Magnus Carlsen
Thanks to Kassa for joining me, you can follow him on YouTube here, and reach him via email here.
This episode is brought to you by Silver Knights Enrichment, if you are interested in working for them, check out their current opportunities here
May 01, 2018
EP.68 - US Chess Federation Director of Publications Dan Lucas

This week’s guest on Perpetual Chess is the Director of Publications for the US Chess Federation, Dan Lucas. Dan has just launched a great chess podcast of his own which Perpetual Chess listeners are very likely to enjoy, "Cover Stories with Chess Life."

We discussed: 
- What inspired the USCF’s new podcast
- How did Dan become the editor of Chess Life magazine,  the USCF’s flagship magazine?
-What does he look for in quality chess journalism? 
- What book about chess that is not a “chess book” altered the trajectory of Dan’s career? 
- You can email Dan here
- To support the podcast go here
Apr 24, 2018
EP.67 - Grandmaster Vidit Gujarathi

This week it is my honor to talk with India's 3rd highest rated player, twenty-three-year-old rising star, GM Vidit Gujrathi. Gujrathi is at the forefront of India's torrent of chess talent, and is coming off a year in which his rating increased significantly. His recent highlights include a comfortable victory in the prestigious Tata Steel Masters' section and a feisty draw with Black vs. Magnus Carlsen at the Isle of Man tournament. In our conversation, we discuss those events, as well as the plans Vidit is making to try to ascend to another rung on the Fide top 100 ladder. We also discuss:

  • How Vidit has worked to overcome slumps
  • His thoughts on the World Championship
  • How he rates India's chances in the 2018 Chess Olympiad. 
  • Whether GM Anish Giri gave him any twitter lessons when he worked as Anish's second. 
  • Thanks to Vidit for joining me, you can track his progress on his Facebook page
  • To support Perpetual Chess, go here
Apr 17, 2018
EP.66 - Silver Knights Chess Founder Adam Weissbarth
My guest this week is Adam Weissbarth, a USCF National Master and the founder of Washington, D.C.- based Silver Knights Enrichment program.  With 14 full-time employees, and more than 5,000 students participating in Silver Knights classes per week,  Silver Knights is one of the largest providers of afterschool chess instruction in the United States. 
In our conversation, we discuss Adam’s modest beginnings as an independent chess teacher.  He talks about the planning and the detail that went into the growth of this large and impressive organization. Spoiler alert- there was a TON of hard work and hustle involved. 
In addition to discussing the history of the business, Adam shares some chess improvement advice, gives some recommendations and weighs in on the potential impact that the upcoming World Championship could have on the popularity of chess You can email him here. To support the podcast go here
Apr 10, 2018
EP.65 - Grandmaster Yaroslav Zherebukh
In the midst of a very busy month of high profile competitive chess, talented young GM Yaroslav (“Yaro”) Zherebukh joined me for a fascinating conversation.  Yaroslav talked about his upcoming events: the collegiate chess final 4 (our interview was recorded before it took place), the Pro Chess Leage live finals, and last but definitely not least, the upcoming US Chess Championships.  Yaro started strong in last year's U.S. Championship, highlighted by a round 7 win over Fabiano Caruana, so he shared some lessons that he learned from that tournament. 
Naturally, Yaro also weighed in on the candidates and handicapped the World Championship in November. He looks forward to a highly competitive match. Thanks to Yaro for taking time from his busy schedule.
  • You can contact him via here.
  • To support the podcast go here
Apr 03, 2018
EP.64 - Grandmaster Melikset Khachiyan

This week's conversation is with renowned chess trainer, Grandmaster Melikset Khachiyan. Melikset has had many incredibly accomplished chess students, but his most accomplished of all is undoubtedly GM Levon Aronian. Because Melikset knows Aronian well, he talked about the special qualities of Levon's talent, and what has gone wrong for him at the 2018 FIDE Candidates tournament.  After that we delved into GM Khachiyan's own approach to chess improvement.  He told me how he managed to climb out of a slump, revealed  the name of a favorite endgame composer is, and he recommended a handful of chess books. Along the way, Melikset told some amazing stories. What was it like to study under former World Champion Tigran Petrosian? How did he end up in a hotel room drinking whiskey with Boris Spassky? How did he make his way from Armenia to the US? You will hear the answers to these questions and much more in this interview- I think you will enjoy it!

  • GM Khachiyan can be reached via email here
  • To support the podcast go here
Mar 27, 2018
EP.63 - International Master Asaf Givon
My guest this week is 23 year old Israeli IM Asaf Givon. In addition to being a 2480 FIDE rated player, Asaf is a YouTube streamer and highly regarded chess instructor. In our conversation, Asaf gave a lot of advice on how listeners can improve their own chess games.
We also touched on the ongoing FIDE Candidates tournament, talked about the storylines emerging from it, and the likely opponents of Magnus Carlsen in the next World Championship match. Asaf also gave some perspective on chess in Israel and assessed the opportunities for a chess professional there. Lastly, Asaf told a great story about the experience of playing and analyzing with GM Michael Adams. 
Mar 22, 2018
EP.62 - Grandmaster Jan Gustafsson Returns

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 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 chess 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.

  • Be sure to watch the Fide Candidates on Chess24
  • Follow Jan on twitter here.
  • To support the podcast go here
Mar 06, 2018
EP.61 - Grandmaster Denes Boros
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.

  • You can follow him on twitter here
  • You can email Denes here
  • To support the podcast go here
Feb 27, 2018
EP.60 - John Hartmann, Book Reviewer for Chess Life Magazine

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. 

  • You can check out John's reviews here and contact him here . 
  • You can view his full list of recommendatons here
  • To support the podcast go here
Feb 20, 2018
EP.59 - Mark Crowther, founder of The Week in Chess

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

Feb 13, 2018
EP.58 - Grandmaster Elshan Moradiabadi

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 chess 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

Feb 06, 2018
EP.57 - Grandmaster Pascal Charbonneau
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. If you enjoy this podcast, you can support it here.  To take the Perpetual listener survey, go here
Jan 30, 2018
EP.56 - Grandmaster Pepe Cuenca

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.  

Jan 23, 2018
EP.55 - International Master Greg Shahade Returns

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 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, 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

Jan 15, 2018
EP.54 - International Master John Donaldson

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


Jan 09, 2018
EP.53 - Grandmaster Nils Grandelius

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 shared some behind-the-scenes 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 enjoy this podcast, you can support it at Patreon or by buying chess improvement videos at using the promo code "PERPETUAL." 

Dec 26, 2017
EP.52 - GM Ben Finegold Returns

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


Dec 19, 2017
EP.51 - IM Andrey Ostrovskiy

 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 using the promo code "PERPETUAL."  The game analysis video we discuss in our interview is here

Dec 12, 2017
EP.50 - Jennifer Shahade

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 popular 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. Tune in to hear what she said. 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  using the promo code "PERPETUAL." 


Dec 05, 2017
EP.49 - Woman Grandmaster Tatev Abrahamyan

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 reports on 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.


Nov 21, 2017
EP.48 - Jonathan Corbblah

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

Nov 14, 2017
EP.47 - Grandmaster Cristian Chirila

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

Nov 07, 2017
EP.46 - International Master John Watson

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.

You can email John here, and you can watch his Internet Chess Club/Youtube show, "Ask the Master"  on Tuesday's at 6 here.

Oct 31, 2017
EP.45 - International Master Sagar Shah

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 watches the world elites up close, and in our talk, he shares some observations from this unique perspective. Additionally, Sagar has his ear to the ground in the Indian chess world, so he tells us which Indian talents to watch for, and tells 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

Oct 24, 2017
EP.44 - Grandmaster Jesse Kraai

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. 

Oct 17, 2017
EP.43 - Grandmaster Loek Van Wely

Loek Van Wely is the 8 time Dutch National Champion, and he has played against and analyzed with many of this era's greatest chess players. Which one of them impressed him the most? He answers that question when he joins the podcast this week.   We also talk Dutch chess history, tales from his chess travels, and Loek discusses what it was like to work with GM Kramnik, as he reflects on his life, career, and the current chess landscape. You can contact Loek via Facebook here.

Oct 10, 2017
EP.42 - James Altucher
James Altucher is a best-selling author, successful entrepreneur, popular podcast host, and most recently, aspiring comedian. Of most importance to Perpetual Chess is his title USCF Chess Master.  We asked him to join us because we wanted him to tell his own chess story and talk about the significance of chess in his own life. Of particular interest to James is the debate about whether talent or hard work is more determinant of success in chess and in other challenging pursuits. He shares his opinions on this matter, and he also talks podcasts, poker, Jim Cramer, the crafting of a comedy act and much more. You can follow James Altucher on twitter here and visit his website here.  
Oct 03, 2017
EP.41 - Grandmaster Judit Polgar

GM Judit Polgar needs no introduction to the Perpetual Chess audience, but here's one anyway.  Chess legend Judit Polgar joins me this week to tell us what she has been up to since retiring from tournament chess three years ago. As Judit shares, she has been keeping busy with family, chess education initiatives, and with organizing the upcoming Global Chess Festival on October 14, 2017, in Budapest, Hungary. We also talked about today's top players, the FIDE World Cup, and why she thinks top level chess is a different game from when she was competing actively. Follow Judi Polgar on twitter, here, To buy Judit's excellent books- go here

Sep 26, 2017
EP.40 - Grandmaster Robert Hess

GM Robert Hess is this week's guest on Perpetual Chess. Young GM Hess already has loads of experience as a chess competitor, announcer, and coach. (He coached some of the most talented youth for the U.S. as well as the women's Olympiad team.)  We talk about all of these things, as well as the FIDE World Cup, sports, and whether or not he was a "rival" of Fabiano Caruana when they were both top scholastic players from New York.  Follow GM Hess on twitter here, and on here.

Sep 19, 2017
EP.39 - Coach Jay Stallings

"Coach Jay" Stallings has taught over 35,000 students to play chess over the past 23 years. Jay takes us back to the beginning (1994) when you counted full-time chess coaches nationwide on your fingers. Jay shares with us many of the teaching tricks and recommendations for improvement that he has gleaned from years of experience as he has refined what ultimately became Coach Jay's Chess Academy. He also assesses the general state of the chess world; discusses some of his current projects, including a Kickstarter project aimed at sharing his educational materials and promoting chess; and the Sean Reader Fund, which, among other programs, provides financial assistance to those who love chess but can’t afford tournaments and classes. Thanks to Jay for sharing his enthusiasm for chess, contact Jay here.

Sep 12, 2017
EP.38 - Grandmaster Danny Gormally

GM Danny Gormally joined me to recap his experience at the recent British Chess Championships. In addition to discussing his near-miss there, Danny also reveals which GMs could be found at the pub after the rounds and analyzes the impact such unseen factors can have on one's results. He also talks candidly about the challenges of playing chess for a living with a FIDE rating around 2500. 

Lastly, GM Gormally gave his perspective on the upcoming Candidates cycle for the World Championship and had some names to watch in the FIDE World Cup and beyond. Follow Danny on twitter here, and buy his book here.

Lastly, due to popular demand from you, I have started a patreon page which will allow those of you interested in supporting the show monetarily to do so.  As a bonus, anyone who signs up for the $2 a month plan, will be part of an exclusive email list where I’ll let you know the guest ahead of time, and you’ll be able to submit questions that I'll include in the episode.  If you’re interested, please head to

Sep 05, 2017
EP.37 - Fide Master Alisa Melekhina
Alisa Melekhina is a practicing lawyer who has managed somehow to write a book while working long hours at a major law firm. We talk about her book, Reality Check, which details the parallels between the worlds of chess, business, and law.  We also discussed Alisa's scholastic chess career, women's chess titles, and how her Eastern European heritage affects her psychology during tournament chess games. Check out Alisa's website here, follow her on twitter here
Aug 29, 2017
EP.36 - IM Eric Rosen

This week IM Eric Rosen joined me to give a report from the 2017 Sinquefield Cup, where he has been doing some reporting. I also asked him to recap his epic Summer Chess Europe trip.  We also talked about Eric's favorite podcasts,  some ways to improve your chess game, and the secrets of the robust scholastic chess scene in the state of Illinois (which I kept calling Chicago for some reason. :-) ) . Thanks to Eric for a great conversation, follow him on twitter here, check out his website and blog here

Aug 15, 2017
EP.35 - Writer Sean Williams

On the heels of his terrific profile of GM Levon Aronian in the New Yorker, freelance writer Sean Williams joined me from Berlin to talk more about his subject. I was interested in hearing how this profile came to be published in one of my favorite magazines,  and in hearing more behind the scenes details from this excellent writer. He also gave us some writing tips and reading recommendations. Follow Sean on Twitter here. Read his Aronian profile here

Aug 08, 2017
EP.34 - Woman International Master Fiona Steil-Antoni
I caught WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni just before she hopped onto her next plane for a chess tournament in Sicily. We discussed the production of Fiona's excellent travel/chess vlogs, and she shared insights into the chess culture in her native Luxembourg. Fiona also dissected her own chess game and recounted the ups and downs its had recently. Fiona is well-traveled and has lived in several European cities, so she also shared her favorite European tournaments to visit as well as a favorite non-chess destination. Follow Fiona's adventures on Facebook and twitter. Watch her vlogs on her Youtube channel
Aug 01, 2017
EP.33 - Rex Sinquefield

The founder of the St. Louis Chess Club, Rex Sinquefield is my guest this week. We have a timely conversation about the upcoming Sinquefield Cup, and about how Garry Kasparov's return to competitive chess came to be. We also talked about his vision for the future of chess, his favorite chess openings, finance, and baseball.  To donate to the St. Louis Chess Club, click here.

Jul 25, 2017
EP.32 - Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura

Perennial top 10 Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura was kind enough to join Perpetual Chess for an expansive interview. We talked about Garry Kasparov's upcoming return to competitive chess and about Hikaru's experience training with Kasparov. I asked him to handicap Kasparov's chances in St. Louis, and his answer may surprise you.  We also touch on a myriad of other topics of interest to chess fans, including computers in chess, Hikaru's passion for trading stocks options, and his training methods.  Enjoy this ringside seat to elite level chess. You can follow Hikaru on Twitter here

Jul 18, 2017
EP.31 - Grandmaster Eugene Perelshteyn

As someone who spent formative years in both the former Soviet Union, and the US, Eugene Perelshteyn has studied with and competed against many iconic chess players and trainers. Eugene discusses the different approaches he encountered from various trainers and also discusses how he approaches helping his chess own students. We also relive Eugene's playing career highlights, which include winning the Samford fellowship in 2001. Much more recently, he had the opportunity to play Anish Giri in the 2017 Reykjavik Open. To reach Eugene, look for him on his instructional chess website, Chess Openings Explained, or message him on  

Jul 11, 2017
EP.30 - Grandmaster David Smerdon

GM David Smerdon is one of those people who seems to find more hours in the day than the rest of us. In addition to being the #2 player in Australia, he recently completed his Ph.D. in economics and landed a job as an assistant professor in his native Brisbane. David also manages to stay quite active in and vocal about chess, particularly on his excellent blog. In our conversation, we discuss David's experiences representing Australia at several Olympiads, including the 2016 Olympiad in which he drew against Magnus Carlson. We also talk about gender in chess and his economic research away from the board. Naturally, I didn't let David escape without coaxing him to dish some excellent chess advice as well. David gives great tips on how to play against higher rated opponents and also offers a book recommendation. Please enjoy our interview, and then check out David's blog here, follow him on Twitter here.

Jul 04, 2017
EP.29 - Grandmaster Pontus Carlsson

GM Pontus Carlsson speaks several languages, has lived many places, and is, of course, excellent at chess. In our interview, Carlsson discusses his ascent as a young chess talent in Sweden, race relations inside and outside of the world of chess, plus he reveals a grandmaster's secret for how to play while in time trouble.  We also talk abut how GM Carlsson manages to balance a successful career outside of chess while continuing to teach and play chess. Pontus is a fascinating guy.  Enjoy the conversation, then visit his webpage. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook or by e-mail.

Jun 27, 2017
EP.28 - International Master David Pruess

IM David Pruess has been a fixture on the US Chess Scene throughout the 2000s. In our interview, we talk about David's early chess days in the Bay Area, his ideas for improving your tactics, and his complicated history as an early employee with  

David also tells us about his new job, and why he chooses to pursue a career outside of the chess world in addition to teaching chess and chess announcing. Thanks to David for the thoughtful and candid interview, ping him on here and follow him on Twitter here

Jun 20, 2017
EP.27 - Grandmaster Sandro Mareco
Grandmaster Sandro Mareco is the highest rated chess player in Argentina and is currently #89 in the world. GM Mareco gives the unique perspective of a top Grandmaster who brought his rating from 2200 FIDE at age 18 to its current standing at 2659 at age 30.  
Sandro also tells us which up and coming South American players to watch, discusses his work as a chess trainer, and reveals why he should be nicknamed "the Argentinian Turtle."  To reach Sandro you can e-mail him here.
Jun 13, 2017
EP.26 - International Master John Bartholomew

Just 2.5 years after posting his first Youtube video, IM John Bartholomew has become one of the most popular chess YouTubers in the world. John reveals his original motivation for starting his channel and talks about its phenomenal growth to over 38,000 subscribers. He also analyzes the impact his popularity has had on his chess teaching business.

We also discuss chessable, the chess training website that he co-founded. Other topics convered include John's influences, his chess playing career, and why he decided to drop out of law school after a semester. Subscribe to John's youtube channel here,follow him on twitter here.  

Jun 06, 2017
EP.25 - Thibault Duplessis (founder of

Thibault Duplessis is a 31-year-old computer programmer, world traveler, and the creator of one of the world's most popular chess servers,  Thibault tells us of the origins of LiChess, the driving philosophy that led him to create it and about his background in both programming and chess.  We also discuss the issue of cheating in online chess and Thibault's vision for the future of

May 24, 2017
EP.24 - International Master Luke Harmon-Vellotti

For an 18-year old, IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti is rather ridiculously accomplished.. In addition to countless chess achievements, he will graduate from UCLA with a double major and was recently hired by Google for a highly coveted job as a programmer. 

During our interview, Luke talks about the rigorous interview process at Google, discusses the similarities between chess and computer programming and, of course, reflects on his chess career and how his new job will impact his pursuit of the Grandmaster title, Read all about Luke's new gig here, and reach him on his website here
May 16, 2017
EP.23 - Grandmaster Mesgen Amanov

Although just 30 years old, GM Mesgen Amanov has many great stories to tell. In our interview, Mesgen tells the remarkable story of his emigration to the US after growing up in Turkmenistan. He also recounts how he got the idea for his successful chess education site, In addition, GM Amanov reveals his unique college major, tells some GM drinking stories, and gives some helpful chess improvement tips. To reach GM Amanov go to

May 09, 2017
EP.22 - Woman Grandmaster Sabina Foisor

Fresh from an emotional victory at the US Women's Championship, WGM Sabina Foisor joined me to discuss her impressive victory. Sabina's mother, WGM Cristina Foisor, passed away at the beginning of the year, so it has been a trying year for Sabina. Sabina talked openly about her mother's legacy and the loss that Sabina and her loved ones have endured. She also discussed how her mother's passing affected her tournament preparation and gave her perspective while she competed for the title. We also talked about the 2017 Women's World Championship in Iran, cooking, growing up in a chess family in Romania, and Sabina gave a few chess book recommendations. Follow Sabina on twitter here.

May 02, 2017
EP.21 - International Master-Elect David Brodsky

14-year-old David Brodsky has been piling up the norms lately and has recently achieved the final norm necessary to earn the International Master title (pending 20 more FIDE rating points and FIDE approval). We talk about the secrets of his chess success, how he developed his ability to write about chess, how math competitions compare to chess tournaments, and the differences between the FIDE and the US Chess rating scales. Read all of David's excellent tournament recaps and chess advice on Chess Summit

Apr 25, 2017
EP.20 - Grandmaster Timur Gareyev

This week GM Timur Gareyev, aka The Blindfold King, joined me. Timur has rightfully been getting a lot of media attention due to his mind-boggling feats in blindfold chess, but he has a lot of other interests as well.  Timur's hobbies range from skydiving to yoga to traveling to poker. Naturally, we talked a bit about his incredible, record-breaking 48 board blindfold simul, but we also talked about his many travel plans, his business ideas, his chess beginnings in Uzbekistan, and many other topics. Timur is a fascinating guy and I can't wait to see what projects he undertakes in future years. Follow his exploits and contact Timur on

Apr 18, 2017
EP.19 - Macauley Peterson and IM Lawrence Trent, Hosts of The Full English Breakfast

In addition to hosting the excellent chess podcast The Full English Breakfast, both Macauley Peterson and IM Lawrence Trent have had eclectic and interesting careers in chess.  Macauley Peterson has been writing about, and reporting on chess for a long time and most recently has been the Content Director of Chess24. We talk about his various adventures in the world of chess media, as well as his recent profile of Fabiano Caruana in Chess Life. Mr. Trent shares what he learned from being the manager of an elite player, and reveals the "real job" that prepared him for his roles as a chess announcer and chess manager. Follow Lawrence on twitter here, follow Macauley here. Listen to and support The Full English Breakfast via Itunes or here. Watch Lawrence's chess videos on

Apr 11, 2017
EP.18 - International Master Danny Rensch, Vice President

Danny Rensch, International Master, and VP stopped by to talk all things We previewed the upcoming Speed Chess Championship, and reviewed the good and bad of the Pro Chess League's successful first season. We also talked about Danny's dormant chess playing career, shark tank, and how a high school dropout learned to navigate the business world. This was a fun and inspiring glimpse into the future of chess. Follow Danny on twitter here

Apr 04, 2017
EP.17 - International Master Michael Rahal

International Master Michael Rahal has been teaching chess in Barcelona for 25 years and competing in chess since his childhood in England. Rahal breaks down the chess scene in Spain and tells stories of crossing paths with chess elites like Kramnik, Anand, and Svidler. Michael also reveals his persuasive theories on why chess is flourishing in China and India, and why watching television series are so popular with upper echelon chess players. You can watch IM Rahal's videos on ICC and follow him on twitter here

Mar 28, 2017
EP.16 - IM Greg Shahade Returns for a Pro Chess League update

With's  Pro Chess League headed into its Final Four this weekend, Greg fought through sickness to give us a quick rundown of the teams and players that will be playing this weekend, including Carlsen,  So and Caruana. Greg also reflected a bit on the first season of the Pro Chess League and touched on his forthcoming chess book and on the upcoming US Championships. For more coverage of the Pro Chess League final 4 head over to and enjoy the extravaganza. 

Mar 23, 2017
EP.15 - Grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky

GM Alex Yermolinksky takes us through his storied chess career which has spanned decades and has taken him from Leningrad to Rome to several different cities in the US. Yermo has crossed swords with legends like Kasparov and Kramnik, and also enjoyed a time as a dominant force on the US Chess tournament circuit. These days, he lives in  Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and focuses on family, and chess teaching. Alex is an entertaining and outspoken storyteller, so please sit back and enjoy this interview. 

Mar 14, 2017
EP.14 - International Master Anna Rudolf

International Master and Woman Grandmaster Anna Rudolf is an engaging and informative chess announcer and presenter. In our talk Anna candidly discusses her nervous beginnings in front of the camera and what she did to make herself a better presenter. We also discuss the chess culture in her native Hungary, her transition from primarily playing chess to promoting it, and what it's like to work with Judit Polgar.   This was an inspiring and fun talk. Please have a listen. You can reach Anna on Facebook or twitter here, and watch her videos on chess24

Mar 07, 2017
EP.13 -Grandmaster Peter Svidler

It was an honor to talk to GM Peter Svidler about some of his many interests. Naturally, we talk about his illustrious chess career and his near-term tournament plans. Other topics of interest include poker, hearthstone, Norm Macdonald, Radio Jan and Russian chess. This interview was a treat for me so I hope listeners enjoy it as much as I did. Watch Peter’s videos and broadcasts on and follow him on twitter here

Feb 28, 2017
EP.12 - US National Master Christopher Yoo and his dad, Young-Kyu Yoo

10-year-old Christopher Yoo has been making lots of headlines lately in the chess world. He recently became the youngest USCF master in history and has also been entertaining the chess masses with his enthusiastic Pro Chess League Commentary. Christopher and his father, Young-Kyu, joined me to tell us the secrets of Christopher's early successes and his plans for upcoming tournaments. You'll want to stay tuned until the end when Christopher unveils his singing talents. 

Feb 21, 2017
EP.11 - Grandmaster Aleksandr Lenderman

27-year-old GM Alex Lenderman has won prestigious tournaments ranging from the World Open to the World Youth Championship, but he still feels like his chess has room to improve. We talk about why that is the case, his plans for 2017, and of course, we dig deep on his unforgettable experience coaching the gold medal winning US Olympiad Team.  We also talk intuition vs. calculation in chess, as it relates to his interesting game in London vs GM Simon Williams. The Topalov Master Class that Alex references is here

Feb 14, 2017
EP.10 - Kevin Bordi

Kevin Bordi, (Blitzstream on YouTube) has quickly become the most popular chess YouTuber in France thanks to his entertaining and informative videos. In this podcast, we talk about how he built his following. Bordi lived in Moscow for 10 years, and he shares some of his observations about chess in Russia. Other topics include the Cannes team of the Pro Chess League, poker. the NFL and what he teaches his chess students. 

Feb 07, 2017
EP.09 - Grandmaster Ben Finegold

GM Finegold has been a fixture on the American chess scene for decades. In this entertaining interview, Ben reflects on his time as resident Grandmaster at the St. Louis chess club and opines on America's young chess talents. Ben also discusses his recent move to Atlanta and reveals his plan to open a chess center in his new hometown. 

Jan 31, 2017
EP.08 - Grandmaster Sam Shankland

25-year-old GM Sam Shankland is already one of United States' best chess players and he hopes to achieve even greater heights in the chess world. In this interview, we discuss his Chess Olympiad successes, his study habits, his plans for 2017 and his interests away from the board. It was an honor to talk to Sam, so I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. 

Jan 24, 2017
EP.07 - Grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer shares what it's like to be a top-level player in chess-crazed Norway. We also discuss the highs and lows of his playing career, and we're privileged to hear his first-hand perspective on what separates Magnus Carlsen from other grandmasters.


Jan 17, 2017
EP.06 - International Master Christof Sielecki

IM Sielecki (Chess Explained on youtube) started competing in chess at the relatively late age of 13 and only recently turned chess teaching into a career. In this interview, Sielecki shares freely about the beginnings of his chess playing life in central Germany and traces the growth of his hugely popular and informative Youtube channel, which is nearing 25,000 subscribers.  Christof also discusses his chess philosophy and shares practical ideas of how to improve one's results. Follow him on twitter @chessexplained


Jan 11, 2017
EP.05 - Grandmaster Simon Williams

Simon Williams (aka the Ginger GM) is an entertaining and original chess player, educator and personality. In this fun interview we discuss his background, the chess culture in England, and detail his transition from primarily playing chess to teaching chess online. We also talk about his travels, both to international chess tournaments and to local British pubs. To find more about him go to

Jan 04, 2017
EP.04 - International Master-elect Kostya Kavutskiy

Fresh from earning his 3rd and final IM norm, Kostya joins the podcast to tell us about his initial introduction to chess as a young kid in Los Angeles, and then about the event that rekindled his interest in chess as a teenager.  We then discuss his ascendant career which encompasses playing, teaching and writing about chess. You can read Kostya's writing on and in Chess Life and follow him here on twitter.

Dec 28, 2016
EP.03 - International Master Nazi Paikidze

While only 23, Nazi Paikidze has already achieved a great deal in chess including recently winning the US Women's championship. We talk about this experience as well as the Olympiad, and her journey from Georgia to Moscow to Las Vegas. 

Dec 09, 2016
EP.02 - Grandmaster Jan Gustafsson

In addition to being the funniest person in Germany, Jan Gustafsson is a pretty good chess player. He was once among the 100 highest rated players in the world and is widely respected for his vast opening knowledge.  He also co-founded the popular chess site and frequently announces grandmaster tournaments where he provides both humor and insight into top level games. In this interview, we talk about his chess career, new fatherhood, and of course about American pop culture. 

Dec 09, 2016
EP.01 - International Master Greg Shahade

Greg Shahade is an innovative and dedicated chess player, teacher and promoter. He is best known for founding the US chess school, the New York Masters, and the US chess league (now the pro chess league). In this episode, we talk about these projects and others, as well as his sometimes controversial ideas to further popularize chess. 

Dec 09, 2016
EP.00 - Welcome to Perpetual Chess with Ben Johnson

I'm Ben Johnson and I welcome you to the Perpetual Chess podcast. In this quick-hitter I explain why I created this podcast and what my goals are for it. I hope you enjoy it. 

Learn more at

Dec 08, 2016