199 episodios

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

    • Pasatiempos

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.188 - GM S.P. Sethuraman

    EP.188 - GM S.P. Sethuraman

    S.P. Sethuraman is a Grandmaster and Author based in Chennai, India. GM Sethuraman is known as a dynamic and well-prepared player, and he has earned lofty titles such as the 2016 Asian Chess Champion and the 2014 National Champion of India among many others. He has now put his formidable opening knowledge to use by publishing a new book with Thinker’s Publishing. Beat the Najdorf and Taimanov Sicilians. It offers sharp lines against two of the more popular Sicilian variations. We discuss this book, as well as topics ranging from the life of a traveling chess pro during quarantine, to the highs and lows of his career, to why chess players should practice yoga and meditation.   I also enjoyed our usual discussion of chess books, chess engines, chess improvement and more. As always, please read on for more details and timestamps.


    0:00- We begin by discussing how coronavirus is impacting India and GM Sethuraman, and he discusses his new book, Beat the Najdorf and Taimanov Siclians


    Mentioned: GM Viswanathan Anand, GM R.B. Ramesh, Geert van der Velde of Chessable, Archangel Variation of the Ruy Lopez, Sicilian Najdorf, Siclian Taimanov, Daniel Vanheirzeele of Thinker’s Publishing, Sethuraman-Giri FIDE World Cup 2017, Anand-Ding Liren 2020


    11:30- Chennai is one of the strongest chess cities in the world with both established and up and coming GMs among its residents. GM Sethuraman discusses how chess has grown there and in India generally, and answers a Patreon mailbag question about whether he has picked up any new hobbies during the time he’s been stuck at home.


    Mentioned: GM Baskaran Adhiban, GM Pragganandha, GM Aravindh Chatrambaram, GM Sasrikan, GM R.B. Ramesh , GM Surya Ganguly’s YouTube Channel, GM Wesley So, GM Vidit Gujrathi’s Twitch Channel, Chessbase India YouTube Channel 


    21:30- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. There are great courses for purchase as well as free of charge. One of the latest is GM Pascal Charbonneau’s free, Short and Sweet: Legendary Chess course. Check it out here:



    22:30- What did GM Sethuraman learn from training with GM R.B. Ramesh

    Mentioned: GM Jacob Aagaard, GM Sam Shankland, IM Stuart Rachels 


    29:00- What were GM Sethuraman’s toughest losses and most memorable victories?

    Mentioned: Le Quang Liem vs. Sethurman 2019, Wei Yi vs. Sethuraman 2016, Le Quang Liem vs. Ganguly 2016


    32:00- GM Sethuraman tells a story about how seeing an interesting game, Karjakin-Anand 2006, ignited a fierce interest for him in opening theory and made an impression on his trainer, GM R.B. Ramesh. 

    Mentioned: GM R.B. Ramesh, https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1385670


    36:00- What are GM Sethuraman’s recent preferred books and training methods?

    Mentioned: Python Strategy by Tigran Petrosian, Alekhine’s Greatest Games, Positional Decision Making in Chess by GM Boris Gelfand, Gata Kamsky: Chess Gamer, David Navara: My Chess World


    40:45- How widely available and affordable are chess books in India? What is the “chess business” landscape like there?

    Mentioned: Chess.com India, Chessbase India, Chess24.com,

    44:00- How would GM Sethuraman recommend that club players utilize engines?

     GM Lawrence Kaufman, GM Erwin L’Ami, Stockfish, LeelaChessZero


    49:00 GM Sethuraman takes a couple of questions from the chess Twitter community 

    Mentioned: IM Venkat Saravanan, Tal Chess Club in Chennai, Chessable


    53:45- Thanks so much to GM Sethuraman for joining us. Keep up with him here:

    Twitter- https://twitter.com/sethuramanchess?lang=en

    Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/sethuramanchess/?hl=en

    Book via Thinker’s Publishing (with a link to a downloadable free preview)- https://thinkerspublishing.com/product/s-p-sethuraman-beat-the-najdorf-

    • 59 min
    EP.187 - USCF Master and Cognitive Scientist Christopher Chabris returns!

    EP.187 - USCF Master and Cognitive Scientist Christopher Chabris returns!

    Christopher Chabris is a renowned cognitive scientist, and co-author (with Daniel Simons) of the best selling book, The Invisible Gorilla.  Long-time Perpetual Chess listeners will know that he is also a USCF Master, an adult-improver, and a chess dad, thus making him a great recurring guest.  Since we have been discussing the science of learning a lot in recent conversations, I thought it would be a great time to check back in with someone with specific domain knowledge. Christopher walks us through the latest in scientific research, as it pertains to learning. This includes explanations of spaced repetition and how aging effects chess skill. Christopher also shares some thoughts about ways that chess learning could be properly studied scientifically.   Of course, there was a lot more to discuss than just the science of learning, so Christopher and I also talked about the latest, greatest chess books, what he learned from an online camp with GM Jacob Aagaard. He also told a few more  fun stories from his many chess adventures. As always, keep reading for more information and timestamps. 


    0:00- Since Christopher is a frequent Perpetual Chess Listener, we begin by hearing his perspective on the recent chess improvement tips that have been shared on the show, especially as they relate to the science of learning. 

    Mentioned: Listen to Christopher’s prior Perpetual Chess interview here: https://podcasts.apple.com/jm/podcast/ep-95-uscf-master-cognitive-scientist-christopher-chabris/id1185023674?i=1000421410393

    Also Mentioned: IM Erik Kislik 


    8:45- What do we really know for sure when it comes to chess learning? 

    Mentioned: Spaced repetition. Some of the information cited comes from a study by 

    Yana Weinstein, Christopher R. Madan, & Megan A. Sumeracki- Teaching the Science of Learning

    Christopher recommends this book for a general overview of the science of learning: https://www.amazon.com/Make-Stick-Science-Successful-Learning/dp/0674729013

    GM Jacob Aagard, Perpetual Chess: Woodpecker Method book recap with Neal Bruce, Perpetual Chess Interview with NM Elijah Logozar, interleaving 


    20:30- Christopher tackles a couple of good Patreon mailbag questions relating to how one could conduct a study to test best practices in chess learning and how to correct any misconceptions that are cited about brain science in the chess world.  

    Mentioned: GM Jan Gustafsson, Malcolm Gladwell 


    33:00- What do scientists know about aging as it relates to brain function? 


    37:45- As always, Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. One of the many free courses that I like is GM Alex Colovic’s Short and Sweet: Queen’s Gambit Declined. 


    38:00- Christopher gives a “trip report” on an online chess camp he did with renowned trainer, GM Jacob Aagaard.

    Also mentioned: GM Leonid Shamkovich, NM Bruce Pandolfini, IM Erik Kislik 


    49:00- Christopher’s son is playing chess fairly actively, and gives an update on his progress.  Then he discusses the aspect of chess he is finding most challenging in his competitions these days, and how he is spending his study time.

    Mentioned: IM Jim Rizzitano, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy


    57:00- Christopher is an avid chess reader, so he gives a detailed update on some chess books he has recently enjoyed.

    Mentioned: Gambit App Books here: http://www.gambitbooks.com/webapp/appbooks.html, The Anand Files, The Road to Chess Improvement, Game Changer

    Improve Your Chess Now, Secrets of Practical Chess, GM Jonathan Rowson

    We also mentioned, but haven't yet read the following: 

    Think Like a Machine, GM Tukmakov ‘s Modern Chess Formula, The Powerful Impact of Engines


    1:02:00- Christopher discusses some of the online leagues in which he has played and gives preparation tips as well as a general comparison of playing online compared to

    • 1h 31 min
    Book Recap: My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer with guest co-host FM Donny Ariel

    Book Recap: My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer with guest co-host FM Donny Ariel

    On this month’s edition of Chess Books Recaptured, I am joined by FM Donny Ariel to discuss one of the most acclaimed chess books of all time, Bobby Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games.  This book, of course needs little introduction. It is a game compilation that covers the period 1957-1967, a stretch that saw Fischer ascend from talented teen to the world’s elite. The book has been mentioned as a favorite countless times on Perpetual Chess, and was a formative one for both Donny and me. My co-host, like Fischer, is a New York native, who used to frequent the Manhattan Chess Club, and has heard stories passed down about Fischer throughout his chess-playing life.

    When Donny is not helping me recap chess books, he is a bankruptcy lawyer with 2 young kids at home, so I greatly appreciate his taking the time to help with this project. As always, you can find lots more details and timestamps below, and embedded hyperlinks are on the podcast website here: 


    0:00- We begin by talking about Donny’s background, and about the long shadow that Fischer casts in New York City, where Donny lives. 


    Mentioned: Profile of a Prodigy by Frank Brady, GM Garry Kasparov on Fischer in the NY Review of the Books, GM Alex Fishbein, Fischer-Geller 1967, Fred Wilson books- https://www.fredwilsonchess.com/, The Art of Chess Analysis by GM Jan Timman, IM Kamran Shirazi, GM Larry Evans, 


    19:00- We share a few stories from those who had the experience of being alive when Fischer’s book came out in 1969.

    Mentioned: NM Fred Wilson, Richard Reich, GM William Lombady, Fischer-Gligoric Candidates 1959, Spassky-Fischer Game 1 1972 


    31:00- We discuss the available formats of the book. It is available on Kindle, but there it is not available on Chessable, Forward Chess or another e-book app that enables you to play through the moves. ,A LiChess study compilation here has all 60 games: https://lichess.org/study/fokh9Tmy,and Chessgames.com lists the games here:

    https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1000498, GM Jesse Kraai 


    34:00- My Great Predecessors Part 4 by Garry Kasparov is largely about GM Bobby Fischer, and it is a great way to study his games. It is available with MoveTrainer technology on Chessable.com:



    35:00- We read the introduction and then discuss the themes of the book a bit. 

    Mentioned: GM Larry Evans, GM Emanuel Lasker, NM Nick Conticello, Fischer-Lombardy 1960, GM Mark Taimanov, GM Bent Larsen, GM Tigran Petrosian, GM Peter Svidler 


    44:30- We share and discuss some of our favorite quotes from the book and talk about some of the most famous games.

    Mentioned: Fischer-Larsen 1958, Fischer-Larsen 1963/4, Agadmator’s Fischer-Botvinnik Recap, The Old Riddle of Fischer-Botvinnik by Karsten Muller for Chessbase.com, Botvinnik-Fischer brief YouTube footage, Szabo-Fischer 1960, Fischer-Tal 1961,Endgame by Frank Brady , Fischer-Lombardy 1960, Fischer-Bolbachan 1962, Walther-Fischer 1959, Fischer-Gligoric 1959


    1:10:00- Why did he choose the title “My 60 Memorable Games?” 

    Fischer-Celle 1964, IM Anatoly Lein, IM Kostya Kavutskiy 


    1:17:00- Getting back to our favorite games, Fischer-Geller 1967 is another fascinating game, despite its being one of the 3 in the book that Fischer lost. 

    Mentioned: Fischer-Benko 1963, Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Compositions, GM Jan Gustaffson, Fischer-Najdorf 1962


    1:29:00- What chess improvement lessons can we learn from My 60 Memorable Games? For what level student is it appropriate?

    Mentioned: GM Hikaru Nakamura,GM Jesse Kraai,  Logical Chess Move by Move, Zurich 1953


    1:48:00- Thanks to FM Donny Ariel for helping out! Next month’s book recap will be Blindfold Chess: History, Psychology, Techniques, Champions, World

    • 1h 55 min
    EP.186 GM Erwin L'Ami

    EP.186 GM Erwin L'Ami

    35 year-old Grandmaster Erwin L’Ami has had quite a varied and interesting chess career thus far. He is one of the top players in the Netherlands, and has competed on every Dutch Olympiad team since 2006. He has had many impressive finishes in individal tournaments, including winning the 2015 Reykjavik Open.

    When not competing himself, Erwin is a highly respected opening theoretician, who has worked with former FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov and currently works with perennial top 10 player, GM Anish Giri. All of this makes Erwin the perfect person to publish a Lifetime Repertoires course on the Caro-Kann defense for Chessable. In our conversation, we touch all aspects of his chess career. Topics included how he works with engines, the life of a traveling second, the 2020 FIDE Candidates, Anish Giri and Magnus’ Carlsen’s twitter banter, the latest in Caro-Kann theory, improvement advice,and the identity of his favorite player of all time. As you can imagine, there is lots to dig into! Show notes and timestamps can be found below: 

    0:00- We begin by chatting a bit about the Caro-Kann and about Erwin’s new course. Why was now a good time to do a course on the Caro-Kann? This also includes talk of what sort of engine use goes into top-level opening preparation generally. 


    Mentioned: Leela Chess Zero, Stockfish Open Source Engine, Setting up Engines in Chessbase Video with John Hartmann of US Chess- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_G-tvePe6Q, Jon Edwards, GM Viswanthan Anand


    14:00- Erwin tells some stories about working with GM Veselin Topalov during his 2010 World Championship Match 

    Mind Master by GM Viswanthan Anand, The Anand Files by VIshwanathan Anand, Episode 177 with GM Peter Heine Nielsen


    19:00- Should the format of the World Chess Championship be changed?

    Mentioned: Daryl Morey interview with GM Hikaru Nakamura- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prI_EEq6Xsc

    IM Greg Shahade, GM Magnus Carlsen, FIDE Candidates Tournament 2011


    23:30- We talk about what it was like for GM Erwin L’Ami to travel to the 2020 FIDE Candidates tournament in Yekaterinburg, Russia and what he thinks of how the tournament was handled generally. 

    Mentioned: Perpetual Chess Episode 174 with GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov , GM Teimour Radjabov, GM Emil Sutovsky 


    33:00- GM Anish Giri has been showing great results in rapid and blitz chess lately. What is his secret to his improvement? 

    Mentioned: GM Ian Nepomniatchi, Chessable Masters 2020, GM Mikhail Botvinnik


    41:00- We finally tackle the Girl-Carlsen “Twitter Beef!” Erwin answers two related questions from the Perpetual Chess Patreon mailbag!

    Mentioned:  IM Anna Rudolf


    46:30- As always, Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable!

    Check out GM Erwin L’Ami’s Free Short and Sweet Caro Course here:


    Check out his comprehensive and impressive,  Lifetime Repertoire Caro-course here: 



    47:30- We talk about some of Erwin’s favorite chess books and a novel he has been enjoying. 

    Mentioned: On the Origin of Good Moves by IM Willy Hendriks, Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, My Great Predecessors, GM Jacob Aagaard, Game Changer by GM Mathew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan 


    54:00- What is GM Erwin L’Ami’s Best Chess Improvement Advice? 

    Mentioned: GM Peter Svidler 


    59:00- Erwin tells the story of being in attendance while Garry Kasparov, his favorite player,  played one of his most famous games, vs. GM Veselin Topalov in Wijk an Zee in 1999. 

    Mentioned: Test of Time by GM Garry Kasparov


    1:02:00- A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks about the role that body language plays in top level chess. 

    Mentioned: GM Viswanthan Anand, GM Michael Adams, IM Stuart Rachels’ The Bes

    • 1h 35 min
    EP.185 - IM Stuart Rachels

    EP.185 - IM Stuart Rachels

    In 1993 IM Stuart Rachels was one of the top young chess players in the United States. He was the winner of  the U.S. Junior Championship in 1988, was United States co-champion in 1989-1990, and had played casual and tournament games with the likes of GM Garry Kasparov, GM Viswanathan Anand, GM Boris Spassky, and many others. So why did he decide to hang up the chessboard when he pursued a doctorate in philosophy? Stu answers this question in our interview, as well as discussing a few of the highlights from his great new book The Best I Saw in Chess. In the book, he tells some amazing stories and provides high level analysis of his many memorable chess skirmishes. In our conversation, we talk about how this 8 year project came to be, as well as Stu's future plans related to the chess world.  Please keep reading for more details, links and timestamps. 


    IM Stuart Rachels 


    0:00- Stuart walks us through the eight- year process of writing this book


    Mentioned: FM Dave Gertler, NM Kyle Therrell, GM Garry Kasparov 


    8:00- How did IM Rachels, as a young chess prodigy, get to play Garry Kasparov in 2 simuls? 

    Mentioned: American Gambit (Some videos have been removed, so you have to jump around YouTube to different excerpts to watch the whole thing, but here is part 1- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh3zlmAG8x4 )


    GM Alex Fishbein, GM Patick Wolff, Kudrin-Rachels 1989, GM Andy Soltis, GM John Nunn, FM Dave Gertler, My Great Predecessors, GM Yasser Seirawan 


    17:30- IM Rachels shares one of his many Yasser Seirawan stories, and shares a few more of his favorite memories from his life in chess. 


    Mentioned: IM John Donaldson, GM Samuel Reshevsky, GM Robert Byrne, GM Alexander Kotov, GM Miguel Najdorf, GM Boris Spassky, GM Tony Miles, GM Anatoly Karpov, Karpov-Miles 1980


    25:00- GM Ben Finegold told me to ask Stu who he thinks is better, Kasparov or Carlsen? So I did! 

    Mentioned: Howard Stern, NM Dan Heisman, IM Vivek Rao, IM Jim Rizzitano, GM Patrick Wolff 


    33:00- My Great Predecessors Part 5 is now available on Chessable! Get it here:



    34:00- We dive into the Perpetual Chess Patreon mailbag. Why did Stu decide to retire from tournament chess after so much success?  

    Mentioned: IM Vivek Rao, FM Mike Klein, GM Tal Shaked, IM Boris Kogan, GM Gata Kamsky, GM Viswanathan Anand, GM Ben Finegold, GM Larry Christiansen, Alexey Troitsky, Genrikh Kasparyan, Francois Labelle, GM Jonathan Rowson, Andrew Metrick, Joel Friedman, GM Maxim Dlugy 


    52:00- In 2017 Stu drove to St. Louis to see Kasparov, Anand and other greats at the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz. What was that experience like?  

    Mentioned: Allen Kaufman , GM Vassily Smyslov


    57:00- What are some of Stuart’s favorite chess books? 

    Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Korchnoi by GM Andy Soltis, The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, Secrets of Practical Chess by GM John Nunn


    1:04:00- A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks Stu a question related to a story that  he heard about Stu’s ability to calculate as a kid and about the abilities of strong players generally to calculate and visualize. 


    1:10:00- Has Stu kept up with his chess peers from his active days?

    Mentioned: GM Ben Finegold, Adam Lief, Andrew Metrick, GM Joel Benjamin 


    1:14:00- Thanks so much to Stuart for sharing his experiences! 


    You can read an excerpt of his book from New in Chess Publishing: 



    You can buy the book from Amazon or New in Chess or Forward Chess:






    • 1h 20 min
    EP.184 - GM Kevin Goh (Adult Improver Series)

    EP.184 - GM Kevin Goh (Adult Improver Series)

    GM Kevin Goh Wei Ming is the seven- time champion of Singapore, and is a renowned  opening theoretician who wrote Chess Developments, Sicilian 6. Bg5 Najdorf, and has published many articles for ChessPublishing.com. 

    This year, Kevin earned the GM title at the relatively late age of 36 while working full time as the CFO of an oncology company! As Kevin tells us, earning the title was the culmination of a 10 year quest, which  involved many setbacks, much travel and time off from work and an indispensable support network of friends, family and a few GM mentors. Kevin’s inspiring story is full of good chess improvement advice no matter what title or rating you may be chasing. You can find many more details of our conversation and the related links and timestamps below. 

    02:00- We begin by discussing the current state of Coronavirus and chess in Kevin’s native Singapore, and the Chess against Covid initiative that Kevin and some friends of his recently started. 


    Mentioned: Chess against Covid initiative, Junior Tay, Olimpiu Urcan (see his great Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/urcan ), GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov


    8:30- Kevin walks us through his long journey to the GM title, which has been a nearly a decade-long quest as well as the highlight of his chess career. 

    Mentioned: IM John Bartholomew 


    14:00- Once Kevin decided to pursue chess full time, what study routine did he implement? 

    Mentioned: Perfect Your Chess, IM Erik Kislik, GM Gyula Sax, see Gyula-Sax-Kevin Goh 2011 here: 


    Secrets of Spectacular Chess by GM Jonathan Levitt and FM David Friedgood, GM Daniel Fernandez, Chessbase India feature on Kevin Goh by Junior Tay here: https://chessbase.in/news/Dressed_to_Impress_How_IM_Kevin_Goh_prepped_and_persevered_for_his_final_GM_norm, Episode 178 with IM Kare Kristensen


    36:00- When Kevin got his 3rd norm in 2018, he needed just 7 more ELO points for the title, little did he know that these last rating points were far from a formality! 

    Mentioned: GM Ashwin Jayaram, IM Elect Donny Ariel!, GM Avetik Grigoryan, GM Boris Avrukh, Chessmood.com 


    49:00- What did it feel like to finally earn the GM title in 2020 after all of these struggles? 


    51:00- Chessable.com has many excellent  “Lifetime Repertoire” courses including ones by GM Jan Gustafsson, IM Christof Sielecki and a brand new one on the Caro Kann, from GM Erwin L’ami. The place  to see the all of Chessable’s Lifetime Repertoire courses is here:




    51:45- What is Kevin Goh’s chess improvement advice for fellow adult improvers? 

    GM Karsten Muller, GM David Smerdon, GM Tigran Petrosian, GM Anatoly Karpov, Positional Sacrifices by GM Neil McDonald, Karpov-Gelfand 1993: https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1048256

    GM Jonathan Rowson , IM Willy Hendriks On the Origin of Good Moves, NM Elijah Logozar, 


    1:08:00- What is Kevin’s opinion and experience with The Woodpecker Method and spaced repetition generally? 

    Mentioned: GM Hans Tikkanen and GM Alex Smith, Recapping the Woodpecker Method with Neal Bruce , The Road to Chess Improvement. Caruana-Carlsen Game 1 2018

    1:14:00- Patreon supporter of the show, FM Andrey Terekhov, writes in to ask his friend Kevin what his next goal is now that he has gotten the GM title. 

    Mentioned: Aeroflot Open, FIDE Online Olympiad 


    1:20:00- What advice did GM Jacob Aagaard give Kevin when he was stuck at a plateau? 


    1:23:00- Thanks so much to Kevin for sharing his story and his wisdom. Here is his contact info: 

    Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/GMkevingwm?__tn__=%2CdlC-R-R&eid=ARAnkjbSRRYN_2CulGTyid0y7WpIDj2QMkJ-wDYtOOFN7ip64ExECRkK2BWZ-uqeSv4gU3bJXgZ7rSR5&hc_ref=ARQT0

    • 1h 29 min

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