240 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

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    • 4.8 • 382 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.221 - Chris Callahan of LiChess.org

    EP.221 - Chris Callahan of LiChess.org

    This week we are joined by Chris Callahan, who is the Community Organizer of LiChess.org. Lichess is a community supported, free, open-source, ad- and tracker-free chess site which plays host to over 5 million chess games per day. Back in 2017, I interviewed its founder, Thibault Duplessis, so it was past time to catch up on all that is new with this great site. It has been especially important during the past year as online chess has surged in popularity. We discussed everything from how they dealt with a huge traffic surge, to their capabilities in the area of cheating detection. We talked about the viability of their current business plan as well as  their future plans. Chris also delved a bit into his own chess background, and shared his unique perspective on scholastic chess teaching and chess improvement. It was fun to catch up with him and to learn more about this website on which so many of us enjoy playing on a daily basis. 





    0:00- Chris shares a bit about his chess background, what is new with Lichess founder Thibault Duplessis, and how he became a LiChess employee, 

    Mentioned: IM Christof Sielecki, LiChess Studies , Episode 25- Thibault Duplessis 

     

    7:00- LiChess traffic doubled in 2 weeks when the pandemic hit. How did they handle it? As a donation-driven non-profit, how is LiChess holding up financially? 

    Mentioned: The Lichess Costs document we reference is here:

    http://lichess.org/costs

     

    16:30- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com! Check out their latest here, including GM Peter Svidler's much anticipated course on the Grunfeld:


    New Chess Courses Online - For All Levels in all - Chessable.com

     

    17:00- Chris answers a Patreon mailbag question relating to various Lichess capabilities and future plans including what their philosophy is on sharing their open source coding. 

     

    25:30- Chris discusses a recent controversy involving Chessbase and the open source community. It is alleged that Chessbase was not transparent about using Stockfish’s Open Source Code for its Fat Fritz engine. More info in Peter Dogger’s summary here: 

    https://www.chess.com/news/view/chessbase-fat-fritz-2-stockfish-leela-chess-zero

     

    31:00- What is Lichess’ approach to the use of a cheat detection/engine by players? 

    Mentioned: Episode 18 with IM Danny Rensch, Episode 136 with IM Ken Regan, GM Wesley So, GM Raunak Sadhwhani 

     

    48:00- What are the goals of the LiChess Twitch and YouTube channels? What other projects might LiChess work on? 

    Mentioned: LiChess Study- Logical Chess Move by Move:

    https://lichess.org/study/Wn7aMkPy

     

    58:00- What is Chris’ guiding principle in teaching chess to kids? What else would Chris like to see change in the chess community? 

    Mentioned: IM Eric Rosen and The Stafford Gambit, Chess for Zebras 

     

    1:05:00- Thanks so much to Chris for sharing his knowledge and catching us up on Lichess.

    Join the LiChess Discord here:

    https://lichess.org/team/chesscord-discord-community

     

    You can follow Chris on LiChess here: 

    https://lichess.org/@/NoJoke

     

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

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    • 1 hr 13 min
    EP.220 - Bruce Pandolfini

    EP.220 - Bruce Pandolfini

    Bruce Pandolfini is a trailblazer for American chess who is well known as a top scholastic coach, prolific author, and consultant on landmark chess productions like the 1993 movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer, and the 2020 smash hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. Bruce even served on the announcing team for PBS in the legendary 1972 Fischer vs. Spassky World Championship match. 

    With such a resume, obviously Bruce has accumulated a treasure trove of stories, and perspective. In our interview, Bruce drew on his experience as an early coach of future GM Fabiano Caruana and IM Josh Waitzkin to discuss the nature of chess talent, and he told stories of a few of his interactions with Bobby Fischer as a New Yorker of the same generation. Bruce also opined on the growth of and future of chess, and discussed his involvement in The Queen’s Gambit,  both the novel and the series. Obviously,I found this to be an entertaining and informative interview, and I hope that you will as well. Please read on for more details and links related to all that we discussed. 

    0:00- We begin by reliving some stories from Bruce’s youth in Brooklyn, and his interactions with chess legends like Bobby Fischer and GM Larry Evans. 

    Mentioned: Caroline Marshall, Fabiano Caruana, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, Al Horowitz 

    9:30- How did Bruce end up a part of the announcing team for PBS for the 1972 Fischer vs. Spassky “Match of the Century?” 

    Mentioned: Shelby Lyman, Eugene Meyer, GM Edmar Mednis, Dustin Hoffman, GM Nicolas Rossolimo, IM Bernard Zuckerman. Bobby Fischer’s Outrageous Chess Moves, Here is the video of Bobby Fischer appearing on The Tonight Show in 1972- 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxvnEwvgfeI, Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut 

    22:00- Perpetual Chess is proud to be brought to you in part by Chessable.com. You can always check out what’s new there through this link: 

    New Chess Courses Online - For All Levels in all - Chessable.com

    23:00- Patreon mailbag question: “How does Bruce deal with students whose parents are challenging?“

    Mentioned: Bill Goichberg

    29:00- Does Bruce notice any traits in common amongst the top talents he has worked with such as  IM Josh Waitzkin and GM Fabiano Caruana? 

    Carol Ann Caronia, Fred Waitzkin, Bonnie Waitzkin.  Lou Caruana, Robert Hess, GM Joel Benjamin, GM Miron Sher 

    37:00- Another Patreon Mailbag question: “What are some of Bruce’s favorite chess books?” 

    Mentioned: My 60 Memorable Games, Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Chess Games, Alekhine’s My Best Games of Chess, Fred Reinfeld’s The Human Side of Chess, Irving Chernev, GM Andy Soltis  

    39:00- Another question from a Patreon supporter: “How has Bruce’s chess improvement advice changed over the years?”

    Mentioned: Shelby Lyman 

    46:30- Bruce answers the question,  “How has the rise of chess on YouTube and Twitch impacted Bruce’s students?” 

    Mentioned: Jose Raoul Capablanca, Wilhelm Steinitz 

    52:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessmood.com. Check out their website and subscribe to their YouTube channel here: 

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMBUU6aq2b07VtTAMO0xGTw

    53:00- We talk about Bruce’s work on The Queen’s Gambit, both Walter Tevis’ novel and the series. 

    Mentioned: John Hartmann interview with Bruce Pandolfini:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpfWu-OvAlg

    Also Mentioned: Bill Horberg, Scott Frank, Anya Taylor Joy, Garry Kasparov’s talk with the US Chess Girl’s Group is here: 

    https://www.kasparov.com/garry-kasparov-talks-to-us-chess-girls-group-about-the-queens-gambit/

    Also Mentioned: Searching for Bobby Fischer, Lasker’s Manual of Chess, 

    1:03:00- In closing, we discuss Bruce’s future projects, including whether he may ever write a memoir. Thanks so much to Bruce for joining the show! 

    Mentioned: Kimberly Doo McVay

    If you would l

    • 1 hr 12 min
    EP.219 - Tunde Onakoya (founder of Chess in Slums)

    EP.219 - Tunde Onakoya (founder of Chess in Slums)

    Twenty-six  year-old Tunde Onakoya is one of the top 50 chess players in his native Nigeria (rated 2165 FIDE), and is the founder of a life-changing organization called Chess in Slums. This organization introduces chess to kids in the slums of Lagos, Nigeria, and uses the game as a learning tool to instill confidence and teach critical thinking. It's a much-needed program, because the kids learning about chess are often unable to go to school due to financial or other life circumstances. As Tunde tells us, he was one of those kids not that long ago. Tunde credits chess with changing his life and aims to do the same for the next generation. Tunde is also a musician, a tech aficionado, a speed chess lover, and he has a university degree in Computer Science. Despite his many talents, it is his work bringing chess to kids that inspires him the most, and Tunde joined me amidst a week where a swarm of media attention had helped convince him to devote even more time and energy to the Chess in Slums cause. Tunde tells an inspiring story which is still in its early stages. Please read on for more details, relevant links and timestamps of our interview. 





    0:00- We begin by discussing the hectic week that Tunde had preceding our interview, in the wake of a viral tweet of his about the Chess in Slums program, that begat lots of message and media requests. 

     

    7:30- Tunde tells the story of how he discovered chess during his own childhood, and how the game changed the trajectory of his life. 

    Mentioned: Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Jose Raoul Capablanca 

     

    15:45- What were the beginnings of the Chess in Slums program? 

    Mentioned: Chess in Slums’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/chessinslums/?igshid=zmqk3bq3d52e

    Here is a tweet with the story of the girl named Basirat 

    https://twitter.com/Tunde_OD/status/1265289693731721216?s=20

    Facebook page here-

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/chessinslums/posts/

     

    27:45- How do the kids in the slums respond to chess? 

     

    31:30-  Perpetual Chess is proud to be brought to you in part by Chessable.com. They are having a big sale this week, to check out what's available, you can go here:

    Chess Courses Online - For All Levels in all - Chessable.com

    32:00- Tunde discusses Chess.com/Chesskid’s sponsorship of Chess in the Slums. 

    Mentioned: Carey Fan, University of California, The Chess in Slums Go Fund Me link is here:

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/chess-education-in-africa?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf%20share-flow-1&

     

    40:30-  Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessmood.com! 

    Check out Chessmood’s blog here: 

    https://chessmood.com/blog  and check out their YouTube, featuring Lessons with a Grandmaster here:

    https://www.youtube.com/c/ChessMood

    40:30-Tunde explains a bit about how the Nigerian school system works, and about the living situation for himself and the local kids. 

     

    48:00- Is a chess culture taking hold in Nigeria? 

     

    51:30- We talk a bit about Tunde's own blitz game.

    Mentioned: Perpetual Chess Episode 42 with James Altucher, IM Eric Rosen, GM Simon Williams (Ginger GM), GInger GM’s Iron English course: 

     

    https://www.chessable.com/the-iron-english-botvinnik-variation/course/50500/

    Here is Tunde’s Lichess account:

    https://lichess.org/@/giftedhandz

     

    58:00 Thanks so much to Tunde for joining the show, and for the work that he is doing! Please support Chess in Slums if you are able. 

    Here is all the contact info you need:

    The Chess in Slums Go Fund Me link is here:

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/chess-education-in-africa?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf%20share-flow-1&

    Twitter-

    https://twitter.com/Tunde_OD

    Instagram-

    https://www.instagram.com/chessinslums/?igshid=zmqk3bq3d52e

    Facebook- 

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/chessinslums/posts/

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Book Recap: Discussing Secrets of Practical Chess and Attacking the Strongpoint

    Book Recap: Discussing Secrets of Practical Chess and Attacking the Strongpoint

    After a one month hiatus, Chess Books Recaptured is back to discuss two chess books, Grandmaster Igor Zaitsev’s Attacking the Strongpoint, and GM John Nunn’s Secrets of Practical Chess. The guest co-host this month is a regular visitor of the show, cognitive scientist and USCF Master Christopher Chabris. As we discuss, these books tackle chess study from opposite perspectives, as GM Zaitsev’s book has a very philosophical tone, while GM Nunn’s classic lives up to its promise of giving lots of practical advice for chess competitors. Of course, there is much to be learned from both books, and it is always a pleasure to talk chess with Dr. Chabris. Please read on for more details and timestamps. 

    Click here to download the Episode 

    Episode 95 with Christopher Chabris 

    Episode 187 with Christopher Chabris 

    Book Recap: Think Like a Grandmaster by Kotov 


    Attacking the Strongpoint: The Philosophy of Chess by GM Igor Zaitsev 

    Secrets of Practical Chess by GM John Nunn 

     0:00- How did we choose these two books?

    Mentioned: GM Anatoly Karpov, IM Mark Dvoretsky, GM Jacob Aagaard 

    08:00- We break down Attacking the Strongpoint including its title origins, highlights and weaknesses. 

     16:00 -Perpetual Chess is proud to be brought to you in part by Chessable.com. They are having a big sale this week, to check out what's available, you can go here:

    Chess Courses Online - For All Levels in all - Chessable.com

    17:00- Sample quotes from the book 

    Mentioned: Steinitz-von Bardeleben 1895, Capablanca-Tartakower 1924, GM Genna Sosonko 

     30:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Aimchess.com

     31:00- What can we learn from Secrets of Practical Chess?

    Mentioned: Secrets of Grandmaster Chess, Understanding Chess Move by Move, Beating the Siclian, Alexander Kotov’s Think Like a Grandmaster  , Episode 8 with GM Sam Shankland , Andersson-Mestel 1982 

    IM John Watson’s The Week in Chess review of Secrets of Practical Chess is here:

    https://theweekinchess.com/john-watson-reviews/three-improvement-books

    Dr. Patzer’s Review of Secrets of Practical Chess:

    https://patzersreview.blogspot.com/2020/01/nunns-secrets.html

    Book Recap Podcast of Woodpecker Method and Rapid Chess Improvement with Neal Bruce:

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/book-recap-woodpecker-method-rapid-chess-improvement/id1185023674?i=1000471766064

    Nikolaos Ntirlis (Quality Chess Author) 

     1:13:30- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessmood.com! 

    Check out Chessmood’s blog here: 

    https://chessmood.com/blog  and check out their YouTube, featuring Lessons with a Grandmaster here:

    https://www.youtube.com/c/ChessMood

    1:13:45- We summarize our thoughts on Secrets of Practical Chess and get a quick update on Christopher and his son’s latest chess studies. 

    Mentioned: Chess Middlegames by Laszlo Polgar, GM Jan Markos, GM Michael Adams 

    1:26:00- Thanks as always to Christopher Chabris for helping out. You can check out his website here: chabris.com

     This month’s donation will go to Washington International Chess Tournament, more info here:

    https://www.mdchess.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=featured&Itemid=49

    1:27:00- 

    Blindfold puzzle #1- 


    d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 b5 4. a4 c6 5. axb5 cxb5

    What move did Greco play to make his opponent resign? 

    (Answer shown in game link) 

    Blindfold puzzle #2- 


    d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 Ne4 4. Nf3 d6 5. exd6 Bxd6 6. g3??

    Black to play and win material 

    (Answer shown in game link) 

     

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

    Donate — The Perpetual Chess Podcast


     









     

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    • 1 hr 35 min
    EP.218 - GM Max Illingworth

    EP.218 - GM Max Illingworth

    GM Max Illingworth is one of Australia’s top players and is the 2 time national Australian Champion among other distinctions. in recent years, Max has shifted his focus from competing to training. His work ethic has evident, as in the last years ce co-authored the book, Dismantling the Sicilian, contributes actively on Facebook chess forums, and has launched his own training site, Illingworth Chess Academy. In our interview, we dive deep into the topic of chess improvement, and Max provides a lot of good insights about how he became so strong at tournament chess, blitz chess, and even the chess variant called Crazyhouse! Please read on for all of the details and timestamps. 

     

    0:00- We begin by discussing Max’s approach to adapting the right mindset for chess.  

    Mentioned: Facebook Chess Endgame Studies and Composition Group, IM Cyrus Lakdawala, Chess Improvement: Its All in the Mindset,

    8:30- Max discusses his affinity for a chess variant called Crazyhouse

    10:30- What did Max do to raise his online blitz rating from 2800 to 2950? 

    13:50- What should non GMs do to improve their blitz ratings, and their games generally?

    Mentioned: Max Illingworth interview with Bryan Castro: 

    http://www.betterchesstraining.com/2019/05/gm-max-illingworth.html

    The Woodpecker Method , CT-Art  

    23:45-Perpetual Chess is proud to be brought to you in part by Chessable.com. They are having a big sale this week, to check out what's available, you can go here:


    Chess Courses Online - For All Levels in all - Chessable.com

     

    24:30- Patreon mailbag question: “What advice do you have for one who wants to start solving endgame studies but finds most of them too difficult?” 

    Mentioned: Philip Stamma Endgame Studies, Say Chess’ Blindfold Endgame Trainer is here:

    https://saychessblog.com/blindfold-endgame-puzzles/

     

    31:00- Another mailbag question: “What advice does Max have for club players on how to learn to evaluate positions?”

    Mentioned:  Simple Chess, Podcast recapping Simple Chess 

     

    39:00- One more Patreon mailbag question: “How can one learn to assess one’s own strengths and weaknesses?” 

    Mentioned: Openingtree.com, Aimchess.com

     

     42:30- What Chessbooks does Max recommend? 

    Mentioned: Logical Chess Move by Move, My System, Art of Attack in Chess, The Complete Chess Swindler by GM David Smerdon 

     

    47:30- Max tells the story of the moment that his competitive fire for chess was ignited. 

    Mentioned: GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Ian Rogers, GM Darryl Johansen, IM John Paul Wallace 

     

    52:30- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessmood.com! 

    Check out Chessmood’s blog is here: 

    https://chessmood.com/blog  and check out their YouTube, featuring Lessons with a Grandmaster here:

    https://www.youtube.com/c/ChessMood

     

    53:00- Patreon question: “What advice does Max have for pursuing goals?” 

    Mentioned: Episode 215 with Vishnu Sreekumar 

    57:00- How has Max been impacted by legendary Australian players Cecil Purdy and GM Ian Rogers? 

    Mentioned: Chess Fundamentals by Jose Raoul Capablanca, IM Andras Toth, Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics, IM Stephan Solomon 

     

    1:05:00- In closing, Max shares a few of his interests away from the board.? 

     

    1:09:00- Thanks to Max for joining the show! Here are the best ways to keep up with him.

    Web page- Illingworth Chess Academy

    Facebook- Max Illingworth | Facebook

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

    Ben Johnson is creating Perpetual Chess Podcast | Patreon

     








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    • 1 hr 16 min
    EP.217 - IM to GM Special Episode with IMs Lawrence Trent, Sean Nagle and Attila Turzo

    EP.217 - IM to GM Special Episode with IMs Lawrence Trent, Sean Nagle and Attila Turzo

    This week’s podcast is a special feature that includes three different IM guests who are working to attain the Grandmaster title! My guests are popular commentator,  IM Lawrence Trent, 9-time Minnesota State Champion IM Sean Nagle,  and Hungary-based chess trainer,  IM Attila Turzo. These guests have very different backgrounds, chess distances to travel and life situations, but they all share the common goal of wanting to earn the highest title in chess. Why is it important to them? What do they need to improve in order to climb this final steep step? What will their study routines entail? I know that many of you will also be pursuing new chess milestones and goals post-pandemic, so I hope that you find some good advice and inspiration in these 3 interviews! Please read on for more details and timestamps for each interview. 

     

    0:00- Intro

    Mentioned: IM Kostya Kavutskiy, IM Eric Rosen, IM Kassa Korley, IM John Bartholomew, IM Greg Shahade, IM Abimanyu Mishru, IM Christopher Yoo, IM Carissa Yip 

     

    5:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by HotSaucery.co You should try some of their delicious hot sauces.  Use the promo code PERPETUAL to save 10%.  You can Follow them on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/hot.saucery/

     

     

    6:00-  IM Lawrence Trent joins the show! Lawrence is a frequent and popular chess commentator, streamer and content creator. He has served as the manager for his friend GM Fabiano Caruana, and was one of the co-hosts of the original chess podcast, The Full English Breakfast, with Macauley Peterson, GM Stephen Gordon, and GM Simon Williams. He joins us to share his reasons for deciding that now is the time for him to pursue his last GM norm and the 100 FIDE points that he requires to earn the GM title. If anyone dares to bet against Lawrence, he genuinely would appreciate it! 



    Mentioned: GM Magnus Carlsen, Mike McDonald, Olivier Busquet, Fedor Holz, GM Emil Sutovsoky, GM RB Ramesh 

     

    24:00- Patreon mailbag question:   “What defines the skill gap between IM and GMs?”

    Mentioned: IM Ali Mortazavi, GM Keith Arkell, GM Mark Hebden, Sunway (Sitges) Chess Festival 

     

    45:00- Thanks to Lawrence for joining the show. Whether you would like to bet against him or root him on in his GM quest, you can follow him on Twitter here. 

     

    45:50- IM Sean Nagle joins the show. Sean is a Minnesota based Corporate and Securities Attorney, 9-time Minnesota State Chess Champion,husband, and dad of 3 kids. 

    Mentioned: IM John Bartholomew, GM Andrew Tang, GM Wesley So, FM Peter Giannatos  

     

    57:00- Patreon mailbag question: “What does Sean specifically need to work on in order to achieve the improvement he desires?”

    Mentioned: IM Greg Shahade video: Chess Opening Study for Serious Players:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93kO7OXn9Lc

    Also mentioned: GM Jacob Aagaard’s Killer Chess Training, GM Maurice Ashley, Tribe of Mentors, GM Alex Shabalov, IM Lawrence Trent, Jacob Aagaard’s Grandmaster Preparation Series, Universal Chess Training by GM Wojciech Moranda, Inner Game of Tennis, The Art of Learning, Against the Rules Podcast with Michael Lewis, Chess Improvement: Its All in the Mindset, Mindset by Carol Dweck, Grit by Angela Duckworth, Getting Unstuck: Break Free of the Plateau Effect, Boris Gelfand’s Series, FM Eduard Zelkind





    1:30:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessmood.com! 

    Check out Chessmood’s blog here: 

    https://chessmood.com/blog  and check out their YouTube, featuring Lessons with a Grandmaster here:

    https://www.youtube.com/c/ChessMood

    1:30:00- Thanks to Sean for joining us! You can follow him on Twitter here, or reach via chess.com here. 





    1:30:30- IM Attila Turzo joins the show.  

     

    Mentioned: GM R.B.Ramesh, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, GM Viswanthan Anand, GM Ben Finegold 

     

    1:41:00- Patreon mailbag question:

    • 2 hr 10 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
382 Ratings

382 Ratings

CourtBoy21 ,

Great Chess Podcast, end of story.

Incredibly entertaining, just began listening and on episode two I knew I was a fan.

LiZdrakken ,

Guests are good but Ben isn’t

GM guests

Azotic ,

Fantastic podcast for anyone who loves the game!

The Perpetual Chess Podcast is packed full of interesting and informative interviews with many of the biggest names in chess and chess education, but also chess historians, adult improvers, streamers, and anyone with a great chess-related story to tell. That Ben Johnson has kept this show going at such high quality for years, as a sideline, is a testament to his commitment.

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