216 episódios

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 PerpetualChessPod.com

Perpetual Chess Podcast 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 PerpetualChessPod.com

    EP.202 - Dr. Frank Brady

    EP.202 - Dr. Frank Brady

    Dr. Frank Brady has led a long and distinguished career both in and out of the chess world. Before retiring, he was the Chairman of the Department of Mass Communications, Journalism, Television and Film at St. John’s University. Frank is also the Founding Editor of Chess Life Magazine, and is well known for writing multiple books about Bobby Fischer, who Frank knew since Bobby’s teenage years, and about whom he is a leading authority. Dr. Brady is best known for his best-selling and brilliant 2011 biography of Fischer, Endgame: Fischer’s Rise and Fall from Remarkable Prodigy to the Edge of Madness. In our conversation, Frank shares many personal recollections about his interactions with Bobby, including a first-hand account of what it was like to be at the famed Fischer-Spassky Match of the Century in Reykjavik in 1972. Frank contextualizes the brilliance and the faults of Bobby Fischer, and tells some great stories from his personal experiences.  You will not want to miss this first hand account of chess history! Please read on for more details, relevant links, and timestamps.  

    0:00- Dr. Brady's free Zoom lecture on the hit Netflix miniseries Queen's Gambit takes place November 17th at 7pm New York time. It is done in conjunction with the Marshall Chess Club, and you can register here:


    02:00- What was it like to attend the “Match of the Century” between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in person in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972? 

    Mentioned: Shelby Lyman, Harold Schonberg, Fred Cramer, Don Schultz, GM Max Euwe, Jack Collins, GM William Lombardy, GM Larry Evans 


    10:30- Frank discusses the question of whether Bobby knew who his father was, and whether he was aware of his Jewish heritage.  

    Mentioned: FM Donny Ariel, Hans Gerhardt Fischer, Paul Nemenyi, The Wicked Son by David Mamet, IM Karl Burger, David Delucia, GM Pal Benko, Gardar Sverrisson


    18:30- How would Frank describe Bobby’s personality? 

    Mentioned: IM John Donaldson’s  interview with GM Jesse Kraai of ChessDojo: 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEm8unB18EI , Chess World Magazine, Carmine Nigro, GM Samuel Reshevky 


    28:00- What chess improvement advice did Bobby Fischer give to Frank Brady? 

    Mentioned: Perpetual Chess Episode 86 with Fred Wilson, Perpetual Chess Patreon page, GM Reuben Fine, Bernard Zuckerman 


    32:30- Does Frank think that Bobby Fischer had Asperger’s Syndrome? How did Frank find out Fischer’s IQ? 

    Mentioned: Stuart Margulies, Ariel Mengarini, Milton Hanauer, Gardar Sverrisson, Robert Mundell, Zita Rajcsányi


    40:15- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. If you would like to learn about the chess brilliance of Bobby Fischer utilizing their patented Movetrainer technology, you can check out GM Garry Kasparov’s My Great Predecessor’s Volume 4, among other books and courses: 



    41:00- Frank answers a question from the Patreon mailbag relating to the history of The Log Cabin Chess Club. 

    Mentioned: Elliott Forry Laucks 


    47:00- More Patreon mailbag questions: What were Bobby’s political views before they became more radical?  When was Bobby’s chess peak? Does Frank think that Bobby was clinically insane? 

    Mentioned: GM Tigran Petroisian, GM Mark Taimanov, GM Bent Larsen 


    52:00- What did Bobby’s Icelandic friends from his later years think of Bobby? 

    Mentioned: Magnus Skulason


    53:30- Friend of the podcast Douglas Griffin asks Frank whether he is aware of Fischer being particularly influenced by GM Isaac Boleslavsky.

    Mentioned: Douglas Griffin’s blog: https://dgriffinchess.wordpress.com/

    GM Hein Donner  


    56:00- What were Frank’s in

    • 1h 30 min
    EP.201 - FM Peter Giannatos

    EP.201 - FM Peter Giannatos

    FM Peter Giannatos,is the Founder and Executive Director of the Charlotte Chess Club and Scholastic Center (CCCSA), which is an award-winning chess club based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 2007, Peter has taken the club from a small group meeting in a local library to a thriving organization with a large scholastic program, indispensable international tournaments, and a rapidly growing Twitch presence. In our conversation, Peter shares a lot of his hard-won wisdom about how to help build a vibrant local chess community, and he also discusses the difficulty that the club has faced recently due to the pandemic. Given the exploding popularity of chess, Peter is optimistic that any “brick and mortar” chess organization which can survive the lockdown period will come out of the Covid period better than ever.  Lastly, Peter is a  very accomplished chess player (2390 USCF peak rating) and improver in his own right, so he concludes the interview with some chess improvement tips and a few great book recommendations. Many of the details and timestamps related to the topics we discussed can be found below. 


    0:00- We begin our conversation by getting into reliving the modest beginnings of the Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy, which has gone from being run at a local library to a beautiful brick and mortar facility, with city-wide outreach and international tournaments. 

    Mentioned: Grant Oen, FM Mike Klein, GM Daniel Naroditsky, Bradley Juopperi, Ursula Smith


    28:30- GM Ben Finegold has built a successful chess center in Atlanta and credited Peter with helping him get started. How did Peter help? In this segment Peter also discusses how the pandemic has affected the chess center. 

    Mentioned: CBS Sunday Morning chess story featuring GM Maurice Ashley and WFM Alexandra Botez: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/online-chess-makes-its-biggest-move/, Silver Knights Chess Academy, Kids Chess, Chess Achieves, Raleigh Chess Academy 


    40:00- Perpetual Chess is proud to be brought to you in part by Chessable.com. Check out one of their latest, Lifetime Repertoires, Sam Shankland’s 1. d4, from former US Champion Sam Shankland. The course is on sale for a limited time, check it out here: 



    40:30- Peter discusses the rough beginnings and then growth of Charlotte’s International Norm tournaments, which are well-regarded tournaments that enable young talents to earn GM and IM norms. 

    Mentioned: FM Yuriy Krykun, GM Michael Brown, IM Kassa Korley, Grant Oen. DGT Smart Boards, GM Pragganandha, GM Aman Hambleton, IM John Bartholomew, FM Gauri Shankar, IM Brandon Jacobsen


    57:30- We discuss the Chess Center’s relationship with GM Daniel Naroditsky, Twitch Streaming, and their popular “Daniel Naroditsky vs. the World” Online events

    Mentioned: Castle Chess Camp, Episode 191 with GM Daniel Naroditsky- https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-191-gm-daniel-naroditsky/id1185023674?i=1000489096841

    Charlotte Chess Center Twitch Channel- https://www.twitch.tv/charlottechesscenter, GM Wesley So, GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, GM Jan-Krzysctof Duda, GM Vladimir Fedoseev, GM Rauf Mamedov, GM Salem Saleh, GM David Bronstein 


    1:10:00- Peter has made huge gains in his rating in his 20s. What advice does he give for improvement? Where did he learn about all of the chess greats that he covers in his Learn from the Legends Twitch Series.  

    Mentioned: chessgames.com, Douglas Griffin’s twitter page, The Art of Sacrifice in Chess, GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Magnus Carlsen, Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, GM Alexander Shabalov, GM Vassily Smylov, GM Tigran Petrosian, GM Mikhail Botvinnik, GM Vladimir Kramnik, Simple Chess, NM Matthew Noble, Perfect Your Chess (Out of Print but Available on Kindle!), 


    1:22:30- Thanks s

    • 1h 31 min
    EP. 200 - GM Boris Gelfand

    EP. 200 - GM Boris Gelfand

    On episode 200 of Perpetual Chess we are joined by a legend of chess, GM Boris Gelfand! GM Gelfand has been one of the world’s top players since the 1990’s, has amassed countless tournament titles, and played a breathtakingly close World Championship match with GM Viswanthan Anand in 2012. He is also an acclaimed author, and has released recently two new books in cooperation with GM Jacob Aagaard and Quality Chess Books. The books are Decision Making in Major Piece Endings, and Technical Decision Making in Chess. Both are highly instructive reads which lay bare the thought processes of an elite chess player. In our conversation, we discuss his books and their implications for chess improvement.  GM Gelfand also  shares highlights of and reflections on his own life at and away from the chessboard. As always, read on for timestamps and related links. 

    0:00- We begin by discussing a few quotes from Gelfand, one of which distills his chess improvement advice to a few sentences. GM Gelfand also gives us  his opinion of how to use chess engines, a common topic in his writing.  


    Surya Ganguly interview part 1- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxjBIWngFqo

    Surya Ganguly interview part 2-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFlInDxHMVo


    10:00- GM Gelfand tells the story of the formative experience of seeing an elite level tournament up close when he was just an adolescent in Belarus. 

    Mentioned: GM Mikhail Tal, GM Garry Kasparov, Boris Postovsky, GM Alexander Nikitin, GM Salo Flohr 


    13:30- How can up-and-coming players manage the “curse and the blessing” of great online study tools but also the potential distraction of online bullet chess? 

    Mentioned: GM Alireza Firouzja, GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov 


    18:45- What does GM Gelfand think of the increased popularity of online chess with faster time control? How did he enjoy the recent Chess24 Legends of Chess Tournament in which he competed? 


    23:00- GM Gelfand discusses the increased importance of organizing knowledge as compared to the challenge of acquiring knowledge when he was a young player. 


    25:30- Since GM Gelfand collaborates with GM Jacob Aagaard in his writing, I asked him who wrote a particularly funny quote from Technical Decision Making in Chess. 

    Mentioned: Jumabayev-Gelfand 2016 https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1976537


    30:15- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. Check out their latest offerings here, including a brand new course from GM Yasser Seirawan:



    30:45- GM Gelfand answers a question from one of the podcast’s Patreon supporters regarding the great documentary Album 61.  Album 61 covers his World Championship Match with GM Viswanathan Anand and is available for free with English subtitles on Youtube. 

    Mentioned: Watch Album 61 here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFrevXxAojY


    34:00- On the road to qualifying to challenge Anand for the 2012 World Championship, GM Gelfand faced a must-win game with Black against Kamsky. How did he keep his composure in such a moment ? 

    Mentioned: GM Alexander Grischuk 


    40:00- As a World Championship challenger over the age of 40, did GM Gelfand make adjustments to his approach? 

    Mentioned: GM Surya Ganguly, GM Vladimir Kramnik, GM Viswanthan Anand, GM Alexander Grischuk 


    44:00- GM Gelfand answers another question from the Patreon mailbag relating to his thoughts on the current Candidates cycle, as well as the next one. 

    GM Maxim Vachier-Lagrave, GM Ian Nepomniatchi, GM Anish Giri, GM Fabiano Giri, GM Jeffrey Xiong, GM Danill Dubov 


    48:45- GM Gelfand answers another question relating to the subject matter of his new book, Decision Making in Major Piece Endings. 


    53:30- How can we know when to calculate in chess and when to rely on in

    • 1h 19 min
    EP.199- Dr. Barry Hymer and GM Peter Wells

    EP.199- Dr. Barry Hymer and GM Peter Wells

    This week I am joined by Dr. Barry Hymer and GM Peter Wells, who are the authors of the new book, Chess Improvement: It’s All in the Mindset. Dr. Hymer is a Professor of Psychology in Education, as well as a long time chess enthusiast. GM Peter Wells, in addition to being an active player is a prolific chess author and a trainer for some of Great Britain’s top juniors. As a pair, they are perfectly suited to write a book tackling so many persistent questions related to chess improvement. Our conversation discusses questions such as the following: What is a growth mindset, and how can it apply to chess improvement? What can parents and trainers learn from the approach to nurturing talent taken by the family of GM Magnus Carlsen?  How much of chess talent is determined by genetics? What are Peter’s favorite games of his career? How has Barry managed to go from the 1800 level to over 2000 while in his 50s?  For the answers to these questions and many more, please enjoy the show. You can find timestamps and show notes below. 

    0:00- We begin by discussing the source of  the authors’ idea for this book, and they explain  the research that framed their writing of it. 

    Mentioned: Tim Kett, Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success 


    7:00- What psychological issues in his own chess game did Carol Dweck’s research help Peter address? 


    10:30- Barry and Peter answer the first of many Patreon mailbag questions relating to whether their book is more of a “how-to guide” or more of an overview of research chess players should know?  

    Mentioned: GM Boris Gulko, GM Boris Gelfand, Tim Kett, Henrik Carlsen, GM Erwin L.Ami  

    Henrik Carlsen interview with IM Sagar Shah here- 



    20:00- Another Patreon question- what advice do Peter and Barry have for managing chess study while working full time? 


    25:00- Must “deliberate practice” be inherently unenjoyable?  

    Mentioned: Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers 


    30:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. Chessable is a great way to put in your deliberate practice and learn opening lines, tactical patterns and other aspects of the game. Check out their latest offerings here: 



    31:00- Dr. Barry Hymer is an adult improver who has gained over 200 rating points in his 50s. What has been his approach to chess study? 

    Mentioned: GM Luke McShane, The King’s Indian Attack Move by Move, Bill Goichberg 


    38:30- How will this research affect GM Peter Wells' approach as chess trainer?

    42:30- Another Patreon mailbag question: What does Peter think can be done to help improve the British chess scene, especially for talented juniors? 

    Mentioned:GM Alexander Morozevich, GM Gawain Jones, IM Malcolm Pein 


    48:00- What is the chess scene like in Barry’s native South Africa? 


    50:00- The authors answer another Patreon mailbag question relating to the always controversial topic of the extent to which chess ability is determined by nature as opposed to nurture. 

    Mentioned: Chessdojo, Robert Plomin, GM Bobby Fischer, IM Kostya Kavutskiiy, GM Jesse Kraai, IM David Pruess, GM Luke McShane, 


    1:02:00- The authors interviewed many of the top players of Great Britain, including IM Harriet Hunt and GM Nigel Short. Were they more struck by the similarity of their approaches or their differences? 

    Mentioned: IM Harriet Hunt, GM Nigel Short 


    1:04:30- Another Patreon question- How can parents find the right balance between being encouraging their children and  being pushy with their encouragemen? 

    Mentioned: IM Merijn Van Delft, Angela Duckworth 


    1:15:00- Peter answers a listener question relating to what it was like beating GM Alexei Shirov with the Trompowsky Opening in just 13 moves. 

    Mentioned: IM Wil

    • 1h 33 min
    Book Recap- Talking Winning Chess Strategies with Neal Bruce

    Book Recap- Talking Winning Chess Strategies with Neal Bruce

    This month on “Chess Books Recaptured” we discuss a book that is especially vital for club players, Winning Chess Strategies, by the beloved former top player, turned author and announcer, GM Yasser Seirawan. As the title might suggest, this is a book that focuses on the subtler, non tactical aspects of chess that are not always intuitive for adult improvers. I am joined again by popular guest co-host Neal Bruce. Neal has read many chess books focused on positional chess, and feels that this is the best one. In our recap, we discuss a few of the key concepts, and some of our favorite quotes and games, all of which Yasser explains in his inimitable style. Please read on for more details, timestamps and show notes. 

    0:00- We begin by discussing why Winning Chess Strategies is a beloved and well-reviewed book, and discussing the various formats in which it’s available. 


    April 2020- Book Recap: Talking Woodpecker Method Recap with Neal Bruce 




    December 2019- Book Recap: Talking Reassess Your Chess with Todd Kennedy:


    Winning Chess Strategies is in print, and is available on Chessable among other formats:


    8:30- What guests on Perpetual Chess Have recommended this book? 

    Mentioned: GM Robert Hess, GM Lev Alburt, Stjepan Tomic

    GM Maurice Ashley on the Tim Ferris show:



    10:30- Despite the oft repeated dictum that chess is “99% tactics” Neal and I both think books like this are important. Why? 

    Mentioned: GM Avetik Grigoryan on why chess isn’t just tactics:



    14:00- For what level is this book appropriate? How difficult are the quiz questions? 

    Neal thinks the 1200 to 2000 range.  I think more like 1000-1800 would benefit the most from it. 

    Mentioned: GM Ben Finegold 


    20:45- Perpetual Chess is proud to be brought to you in part by Chessable.com- check out Yasser’s Chessable offerings here:



    21:30- We read a few key paragraphs from the book, and then discuss our favorite chapters. 


    Mentioned: Wilhelm Steinitz, Akiba Rubinstein, GM Jose Raul Capablanca, Aron Nimzowitsch, Tigran Petrosian, GM Anatoly Karpov


    30:00- We discuss a few of our favorite strategic concepts from the book. Mine include good, bad and active bishops, static vs. dynamic advantage and rules for when to attack. Neal highlighted the importance of a strong center, and “target consciousness” among a few other ideas.  


    43:00- We discuss a few of our favorite games from the book. They are:

    Alekhine-Nimzowitsch- https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1012683

    Steinitz-Blackburne- https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1028959 

    Seirawan-Zarnicki- https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1458901

    Seirawan-Karpov- https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1068297

    Karpov-Spassky Game 9-  https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1067812


    Also mentioned: GM Maurice Ashley, Endgame Strategy by Mikhail Sherevsky 


    50:00- Power rankings! Neal ranks his favorite chess strategy books for club players.  

    Books discussed include: Simple Chess, Best Lessons of a Chess Coach, The Amateur’s Mind, How to Reassess Your Chess , Chess Strategy for Club Players, Find the Right Plan, and Modern Chess Strategy, Positional Chess Handbook by Israel Gelfer,Practical Chess Exercises, Blindfold Chess 

    • 1h 12 min
    EP.198 - Ren Escalera (Adult Improver Series)

    EP.198 - Ren Escalera (Adult Improver Series)

    Ren Escalera is a 37 year-old dad and adult chess improver. As Ren describes, he had a brief, but strong, passion for chess as a scholastic player in the Phillipines and has rekindled his love for the game in order to help his talented young son improve. Ren’s son, Scott, is rated 1248 at the age of 7, which is good for #16 for his age in the country! 

    Meanwhile, Ren has seen some vast improvements of his own. Prior to the pandemic, Ren had taken his rating from 1056 to a peak of 1702 in just 1.5 years! How did Ren do it? How did Scott do it? What is next for this powerful father-son tandem?  I think you will enjoy Ren and Scott’s inspiring story, as well as his equally useful chess improvement and parenting reflections. You can find more information and timestamps below. 

    0:00- We begin by discussing how Ren and his son, Scott, became interested in chess. As Ren describes, he loved chess as a kid in the Phillipines but walked away.  He introduced his son to it when he was a young boy, and it was  then that Ren found himself coming back to it. 


    10:40- When did his son start to play tournament chess? How did this affect Scott’s interest in chess? 


    17:00- How many hours per day are Scott and Ren spending on chess? What is their daily routine? 

    Mentioned: IM Angelo Young, Megan Chen 


    22:00- What do Scott and Ren study during their 2-3 hours of training per day? 

    Mentioned: Chess 5334 Problems by Laszlo Polgar, The London System with 2. Bf4 by Ginger GM, Pirc video Damian Lemos, Fundamental Chess: Logical Decision Making by GM Ramesh, Chessking App, Perpetual Chess Episode 190 with Adult Improver Andrew Zinn, Perpetual Chess Episode 42 with James Altucher 


    28:00- With limited finances, how does Ren’s family handle the expense of chess? 


    32:00- Are there times that Scott does not want to do chess? How does Ren handle it? 


    34:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. Winning Chess Tactics by GM Yasser Seirawan is one of their latest offerings. You might find it on sale if you act quickly. 


    35:00- Ren answers a Patreon mailbag question regarding whether he believes its true that club-level players should focus primarily on tactics. After that he discusses his approach to reviewing games. 


     41:00- Ren answers a question from another of the podcast’s Patreon supporters relating to the nature of his rating climb, and whether he has had moments of stagnation and frustration in his quest to improve at chess. 


    47:00- Ren gives a bit of advice about how to allocate chess study time. 


    50:00- Ren gives some advice to a fellow parent about how to potentially introduce his 4 year old to chess. 


    58:30 Ren discusses his goals, and how he thinks he will approach chess as both he and his son continue to improve. 


    1:01:30- Thanks so much to Ren for sharing his inspiring story! You can keep up with him via the Kings Wisdom Chess Club web page, or email him at escalerarv at gmail.com

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1h 8 min

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