188 episodes

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

    • Hobbies
    • 4.9, 247 Ratings

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.179 John Hartmann Returns Again

    EP.179 John Hartmann Returns Again

    US Chess’s John Hartmann is always a popular guest on Perpetual Chess due to his relatability and his encyclopedic knowledge of chess books. As of June 2020, John will no longer be the book reviewer for Chess Life, because he has been promoted to editor of the magazine!  Nonetheless, John’s passion for chess books remains strong, and in this visit he gives us a comprehensive rundown on some of the best recent books. John also gives an update on his chess improvement ambitions,  and we spend a lot of time talking about how coronavirus is affecting the finances and plans of US Chess, and how it might change tournament chess generally. 

    (If you aren't seeing embedded hyperlinks in your podcast feed you can find them on the podcast webpage: https://www.perpetualchesspod.com/new-blog/2020/5/26/episode-179-john-hartmann-returns-again )

    0:00- We begin by discussing how coronavirus is affecting tournament chess and especially the US Chess Federation. They are launching many exciting initiatives, but  are also facing some financial headwinds, as the US Chess President Allen Priest recently discussed in  a video. . 

    Mentioned: John Hartmann Perpetual Chess Appearance #1, John Hartmann Perpetual Chess Appearance #2, Chris Bird’s The TD Show, Jen Shahade, IM Carissa Yip, WGM Sabina Foisor, US Chess’ YouTube Channel, Chess.com, IM Eric Rosen, Sunway Sitges Chess, GM Jesse Kraai, Steve Doyle, US Chess President Allen Priest, Melinda Mathews, Chess Life and Review Online Archives, Bob Sostack, Chess Life for Kids, Chessable.com, GM Jacob Aagaard on the US Candidates, Brian Karen, Ding Liren-Caruana 2020 

    You can renew Your US Chess Membership here: https://secure2.uschess.org/webstore/member.php


    35:40- Chessable’s newest release is from GM Simon Williams AKA the Ginger GM. Simon has recorded 30+ hours of video to accompany the classic chess book, The Art of Attack. It’s on sale now. Check it out here:



    36:00- We talk about changes with the book review column for Chess Life Magazine, and about John’s favorite recent chess books. 

    Mentioned: IM John Watson, Beyond Material, Keep it Simple, 1. d4 , GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov’s The Benoni is Back in Business, Hein Donner: The Biography, GM Max Euwe 

    The Best I Saw in Chess by Stuart Rachels, On the Origin of Good Moves by IM Willy Hendricks The Nemesis: Geller’s Greatest Games, Douglas Griffin,  Coaching Kasparov, The Anand Files, Training Program for Chess Players, 1st Category , Bob Long, The Search for Chess Perfection, Dale Brandreth, Bobby Dudley, Fundamental Chess Strategies in 100 Games,  


    55:00- John talks a bit about what it is like to be a member of 365ChessAcademy, and to learn from GMs Aagaard, Ramesh and others. 

    Mentioned: GM Reinier Castellanos, IM Christopher Yoo, Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, GM Karsten Muller, GM Alex Fishbein, Megan Chen’s Perpetual Chess Interview, Harold Stenzel 


    1:06:00- John answers some Patreon mailbag questions regarding the conditions under which OTB tournaments might eventually return.  

    Mentioned: IM Steffan Löffler’s Chessbase Article on Long-Distance Chess, GM Jesse Kraai, Jack Spence, Nassau Chess Club, IM Jay Bonin 


    1:18:00- Thanks again to John for joining the show once again. You can follow all of US Chess’ Podcasts here: https://new.uschess.org/category/podcast/

    Follow John on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/hartmannchess?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

    Sign up for the US Chess Fundraiser, “Blitzing Covid,” here:



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


    • 1 hr 26 min
    Bonus Pod -Recapping Judit Polgar's How I Beat Fischer's Record with Jen Shahade

    Bonus Pod -Recapping Judit Polgar's How I Beat Fischer's Record with Jen Shahade

    This month for Chess Books Recaptured, my good friend Jennifer Shahade joins me to  talk about a book that we both absolutely love,  How I Beat Fischer’s Record by legendary GM Judit Polgar. 

       Of course, Jennifer is a great person to discuss this book, as she herself is quite an ambassador for female chess players, and among other distinctions, Jen is the two-time US Women’s Champion, and the host of 2 award winning podcasts, Ladies Knight, and The Poker Grid.  In this podcast, Jen and I share our favorite quotes, stories and games from this 2012 Quality Chess publication, and we also contextualize the life and legacy of GM Judit Polgar. Please read on for lots more details, hyperlinks and timestamps. 

    For embedded hyperlinks, go to the podcast website here:



    0:00- We kick off by discussing how we decided to discuss Judit’s book, and to talk generally a bit about how Jen personally,  and the chess world generally, are being affected by the coronavirus. 

    Mentioned: Ladies Knight Podcast, The Grid Poker Podcast, Jen Shahade’s Twitch Channel The Polgar Sisters, Training or Genius? by Cathy Forbes, IM Not a GM Speed Chess Championship, IM Greg Shahade, St. Louis Chess Club’s Clutch Chess 

    10:00- We drill down more specifically into Judit’s book and her story. What is the background of the Polgars? Do Judit’s books get the credit they deserve? For what level is the book most helpful? 

    Mentioned: From GM to Top 10, A Game of Queens, David Llada, IM Eric Rosen, Lennart Ootes, GM Susan Polgar 

    Forward Chess- Use Promo Code “Judit” if you buy one of her e-books from them! 

    20:30- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. To check out the exciting new course from World Champion Magnus Carlsen, go here:


    Mentioned: IM Greg Shahade, IM John Bartholomew 

    23:00- We talk about how Judit changed women’s chess by eschewing Women’s Events in favor of mixed events. Will another woman follow in her footsteps? 

    Mentioned: GM Hou Yifan, GM Humpy Koneru, GM Humpy Koneru on The Ladies Knight Podcast, Free Excerpt of Judit’s Book from Quality Chess here: 


    31:00- We discuss some of our favorite quotes and stories from the book.

    Mentioned: GM Boris Gelfand, GM Susan Polgar, Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, My 60 Most Memorable Games, GM Pal Benko, GM Mikhail Marin, GM Boris Gelfand, GM Vasil Ivanchuk

    Gelfand-Polgar 1989, GM Jonathan Rowson, Magnus Kingdom app

    48:00- It was tough to pick only a few favorite games each from the book, but we did! Here they are:

    Polgar-Chilingrova 1988

    Polgar-Lars Bo Hansen 1989

    Tisdall-Polgar 1988

    Zifroni-Polgar 1990 

    Polgar-Flear 1989

    Tolnai-Polgar 1991

    Xie Jun- Polgar 1988

    1:05:00- What are the chess improvement takeaways from this book? 

    Mentioned: GM Judit Polgar’s interview on Perpetual Chess, GM Alejandro Ramirez, Polgar at London Chess Conference, Irving Chernev’s Chessboard Magic, GM Garry Kasparov 

    01:27:00- Thanks so much to Jen for helping out this month. You can follow her on Twitter here. This month’s donation went to the US Chess Women Initiative. 


    Next month we will be recappingThe World Champion’s I Knew  by Gennadi Sosonko, and Vjekoslav Nemec, from Chessentials.com, will be helping me out! 

    Here are the Blindfold puzzles:

    Puzzle #1 1500 level White to move and win - White- pawns f4 and g5, king on d4, Black- pawn on a4, king on b4 


    Puzzle 2 2100 level?- White to move, mate in 2

    White: King on a1, queen

    • 1 hr 36 min
    EP.178 - IM Kåre Kristensen (Adult Improver Series)

    EP.178 - IM Kåre Kristensen (Adult Improver Series)

    What is the likelihood that a fully employed dad in his mid 40s could bring his rating from 2200 FIDE up to  2400 and earn the title of International Master at the age of 54? I didn’t know the answer to this question, but this week’s guest, IM Kåre Kristensen actually did it!  Kåre was at such a low point in his chess in 2008 that he considered quitting.   But instead he stuck with it and became one of the relatively rare folks to earn the IM title past the age of 50!  How did he do it? What did he study? How hard did he work on chess? What does he do away from the chessboard? You can hear Kåre’s inspiring story in  this week’s Perpetual Chess. Please read on for more details and timestamps. 


    0:00- We discuss the impact of the coronavirus in Denmark, as well as a bit about Kåre’s professional and family background. 


    8:00- Chess talk time! IM Kristensen shares his “chess origin story,” and traces some of the ups and downs of his career, culminating in his earning the IM title at the age of 54! 


    24:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable. They have just released what may be their most exciting course to date, The Magnus Touch! Check it out here:



    25:00- Kåre answers a few questions from The Perpetual Chess Patreon Mailbag relating to his experiences with the effects of aging on one’s chess game, and whether he has made any age-related changes to his game. . 

    Mentioned: GM Jens Kristensen, FIDE Title Application Webpage


    43:00- Kåre shares the chess improvement methods that have been most effective for him, and gives a few universal tips. 

    Mentioned: Tactics Trainer Endgame App. GM Mikhail Botvinnik 


    57:00- Now that we know what Kåre studied, it’s time to find out how much he studied to keep improving!

    Mentioned: The Anand Files by FM Michiel Abeln, The Slav Defense, Grandmaster Chess Move by Move by GM John Nunn 


    1:05:00- Jaydeep Chakrabarty writes in to ask Kåre for advice about building an opening repertoire. Read more about Jaydeep’s new Digital Chess Board, named Rolling Pawn, here:


    Mentioned: My 60 Most Memorable Games 


    1:14:00- Another question from the Patreon mailbag: if Kåre could restart his chess career from scratch, how would he approach his studies? 

    Mentioned: Bent Larsen’s Best Games , IM Christof Sielecki, 

    1:23:00- Kåre tells a story from a long-ago tournament where he sat near a young Vishy Anand and took notice of his play. 

    Mentioned: Anand-DeFirmian 1986


    1:30:00- Thanks so much to IM Kristensen for joining the show and sharing his experiences and advice. You can keep up with him as follows: 

    Email him here: 


    Reach on Facebook here:


    • 1 hr 36 min
    EP.177 - GM Peter Heine Nielsen

    EP.177 - GM Peter Heine Nielsen

    This week on Perpetual Chess, we break from format a bit, as 5 time Danish Champion and world-class chess trainer, GM Peter Heine Nielsen, takes us behind the scenes of the night before a decisive game in a World Championship Match. The Match in question, was the 2010 World Championship between GM Viswanathan Anand and GM Veselin Topalov in Sofia, Bulgaria. The game was game 12, the final game of the “classical portion” of the match, with Peter Heine Nielsen and his fellow “ Team Anand” members, preparing Vishy to take the Black pieces against GM Topalov in a tied match with the World Championship and a $1.2 million Euro prize for the winner.

    How is it decided which opening will be played? How is work delegated among the team members? Why did 2 former World Champions and other chess heavyweights also pitch in to help with preparation this night? How did it feel when GM Anand won the game? GM Peter Heine Nielsen answers all of these questions and many more in a very fun and detailed conversation about a landmark game in modern chess history. You might want to play through the game in question before you listen, then sit back and enjoy the interview. More notes, timestamps and details can be found below. 

    0:00- We begin by discussing a bit of background about the match, with discussion of other relevant background information, and of how GM Anand and his team felt as they were going into the deciding game of the match. 


    Mentioned:  Team Anand Members: GM Peter Heine Nielsen, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, GM Radoslav Wojtazek, and GM Surya Ganguly, Mind Master by GM Viswanathan Anand, 2008 FIDE Anand-Kramnik World Chess Championship in Bonn, Germany  For more background on this match, you can listen to the following  Perpetual Chess Interviews with:

    FM Michiel Abeln, GM Vishy Anand, GM Ivan Cheparinov, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov

    10:00- What factored into GM Anand’s decision to surprise Topalov with the Queen’s Gambit Declined in Game 12?  


    21:30- Friend and supporter of the podcast, IM Kåre Kristensen, writes in to ask about the role that the “supercomputer” played in the match. It was rumored, though not confirmed, that Team Topalov was accessing a turbo charged chess engine to help with preparation.


    Rybka Chess Engine


    24:30-  None other than World Champion, GM Magnus Carlsen has a free lesson available on Chessable.com, called “The Magnus Touch.” To check it out, go here: 



    25:00- Once the opening for the Game 12 was chosen how was work delegated among the Team Anand members? How did former World Champion Kramnik end up voluntarily helping Team Anand, what about GM Kasparov? 

    Mentioned: Lasker Variation of Queen’s Gambit Declined, The Catalan, 2006 Kramnik-Topalov World Championship Match, aka Toilet Gate , GM Gata Kamsky, GM Magnus Carlsen, Topalov’s Manager Silvio Danailov, GM Anatoly Karpov, GM Boris Gelfand, “Elista Ending” of the Slav, as seen in Game 3 of the 2012 Match


    40:45- Peter delves into the nature of the help given to Team Anand by then 19 year old GM Magnus Carlsen, and the unsung hero for prepping that night, British GM Luke McShane. 


    Mentioned: GM Elizbar Ubilava, The “problem” line that Peter mentions and that Luke McShane solved, can be seen in Peter Heine Nielsen’s  tweet here. 


    58:30- After all of this stressful prep, what did Peter and the other seconds do once Game 12 actually started? 


    Mentioned: GM Anish Giri’s annotations can be seen here: https://share.chessbase.com/SharedGames/share/?p=ZwNTGxiK5g4jm8Ba5hiyjQg4B+imvQdy6OM469Al0wHO6syTLjEAW3HQ0haiyTYd


    1:15:30- Thanks so much to GM Peter Heine Nielsen for regaling us with his experiences. You can follow him on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/PHChess 


    If you wo

    • 1 hr 22 min
    EP.176 - GM David Howell

    EP.176 - GM David Howell

    GM David Howell is the three-time champion of the United Kingdom and holds the record as the youngest player to earn the GM title in UK history. He has been a top 50 player in the world rankings and has a peak rating of 2712. He has been well-known in British chess circles since the age of 8, when he impressively beat GM John Nunn in a blitz game! As David tells, such accomplishments,have come with amazing opportunities, such as playing against and alongside GM Magnus Carlsen and training with GM Garry Kasparov, but he has also had to reckon with significant external expectations placed on him from a young age. 
    In the past year, David has also been getting more involved in chess media. He is now the chess columnist for The Times of London, was one of the broadcasters of 2019 Gibraltar Chess, and has begun doing entertaining “banter blitz” shows for Chess24.com. David also recently released a great instructional DVD, called “Winning Grandmaster Methods: How I Got to 2700.” We discuss all aspects of David’s chess work, and David candidly relives the ups and downs of his chess career, and shares some of the standout stories and improvement advice from his DVD. Please read on for more details and timestamps. 

    0:00- We chat a bit about how the coronavirus is treating David, and what he has been up to lately, including his newly released instructional DVD with GingerGM productions. 


    Mentioned: Seaford UK, Fiona Steil-Antoni vlogs, Tarjei Svenson, GM Glenn Flear, Jonathan Tuck

    Get David’s DVD here: 



    12:00- David reflects on his early successes as a chess player, which included a highly publicized victory in a blitz game over GM John Nunn when David was only 8 years old. 


    Mentioned: GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Maxime Vachier Lagravel, GM Ian Nepomiatchi, GM Sergei Karjakin

    GM Gukesh, GM Nihail Sarin, GM Praggnanandha 


    17:00- A Patreon supporter of the podcast asks what a player of David’s caliber sees in his head when he calculates. 

    Mentioned: IM Mark Dvoretsky’s books, WGM  Irina Bulmaga, IM Alex Astaneh Lopez

    The challenging study David mentions is here (courtesy of GM Howell).

    Study without solution-


    Study with solution and GM Howell's notes-



    26:00- What was it like to have high expectations placed on him by chess fans once David was identified as a bright chess talent? Does he think about different paths his career might have taken based on different life choices? 

    Mentioned: GM Nihail Sarin, GM Alireza Firouzja


    35:45- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable. If you want to work on knowing the classics and improving your calculation at the same time check out Chess Calculation Training 3: Legendary Games, by GM Romain Edouard



     36:45- What was it like to travel to GM Garry Kasparov’s home to play training games with him in 2017? 


    43:45- GM Howell also helped Peter Svidler prepare for the 2016 Candidates Tournament.  What did he learn from that experience? 


    45:30- What does GM Howell think of this year’s FIDE Candidates so far? 


    46:30- Out of his recent jobs as banter blitzer, chess writer, chess announcer, and chess competitor, which is David’s favorite? 


    Mentioned: GM Jan Gustafsson 


    50:00- In the final rounds of the 2019 Chess.com Isle of Man Grand Swiss, GM David Howell came agonizingly close to qualifying for the 2020 FIDE Candidates, but he missed out. How has he processed that experience?  Did it affect his mental health? 

    • 1 hr 11 min
    EP.175 - GM Jesse Kraai returns

    EP.175 - GM Jesse Kraai returns

    This week author, teacher, YouTube presenter and philosophy Ph. D, Grandmaster Jesse Kraai is with me again to share more of his wisdom. Given his academic background, it is always fun to hear Jesse philosophize about chess and life, and this was a good time to catch up with him as we talked about the ways that tournament chess is changing and speculated about how it might continue to change due to shifts in perspective brought on by the coronavirus. Naturally we also talked about lots of chess improvement ideas, as Jesse shared his current chess goals, his approach to chess, and outlined the vision of ChessDojo.  ChessDojo is a new online chess learning community that Jesse has launched together with IMs David Pruess and Kostya Kavutskiy. As always, please read on for more details and timestamps. 

    0:00- Jesse discusses his personal experiences with the coronavirus, something which fans of his Youtube videos saw him endure.   Jesse also discusses the ways that the coronavirus affects his chess teaching, Chessdojo, and how it might affect chess tournaments in coming years.  


    Jesse Kraai’s first appearance on Perpetual Chess in October of 2017: 


    GM Jesse Kraai’s Road Back to 2500 series

    IM Kostya Kavutskiy, IM David Pruess, GM Jesse Kraai 

    Chess Dojo YouTube channel    Chess Dojo discord 

    22:00- This episode is brought to you in part by Chessable! 

    Check out the excellent book Chess Structures with Chessable's MoveTrainer capability here: https://www.chessable.com/chess-structures-a-grandmaster-guide/course/14540/

    24:00- What are Jesse’s core beliefs about how to improve at chess? 


    Jesse’s video- The True Path to Chess Improvement 

    The Road to Chess Improvement by GM Alex Yermolinksy , Chess24’s Magnus Invitational 

    IM Greg Shahade,GM Garry Kasparov 

    34:30- We discuss Chess.com’s fun ongoing tournament, The “I’m Not a GM Speed Chess Invitational”. 

    Mentioned: IM Danny Rensch, IM Greg Shahade, IM Christof Sielecki, IM Lawrence Trent, IM David Pruess, IM John Bartholomew, WGM Anna Zatonskih

    38:30- How can club players go about learning structures rather than lines in openings?  

    The London System, The Colle, The Zukertort 

    45:45- A question from a Patreon supporter of the podcast asks Jesse if his background as a student of  philosophy shapes his views on chess. 

    Mentioned: GM Emanuel Lasker, Martin aka Saychess on Twitter, GM Capablanca, Chess for Life by Mathew Sadler and Natasha Regan, The Scandanavian expert whose name I was forgetting is GM Sergei Tiviakov 

    1:00:00- Our conversation transitions to a discussion of whether chess books are decreasing in popularity. Mentioned: GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez, IM Cyrus Lakdawala

    1:06:15- A Patreon supporter writes to ask Jesse’s opinion of the TV show Stranger Things. 

    1:11:00- Thanks to Jesse for re-joining us! 

    Keep up with GM Jesse Kraai here: 

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/JesseKraai

    Website: http://jessekraai.org/

    Follow ChessDojo here: 

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4liTXRJ-XknH6OtKz-tOuw

    Twitch: https://twitch.tv/chessdojolive 

    Discord: https://discord.gg/sUUh8HD 

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/chess_dojo


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


    • 1 hr 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
247 Ratings

247 Ratings

Andrew srdfgppol ,

Solid chess podcast - thanks Ben!

Very entertaining and lots of useful info for players and fans alike. I like it so much, I have become a Panteon supporter - well worth the small contribution!

AsocPro ,

Great way to keep chess from getting too stressful.

Sometimes when you are so focused on chess and improvement it can g we frustrating but this podcast lets me still have a part of my brain in chess without chess turning into a constant grind.

chp18639 ,

Best chess podcast!

Love the all the great interviews with the top level GM’s, the adult improver series, and the book reviews. Ben does an amazing job with getting a well rounded selection of people to interview. Very incite full into the chess world and love all the book recommendations.

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