It's NOT "Ouchtown" for DANNY RENSCH!!
As Chess.com/TV's most notable personality, IM Danny Rensch’s broadcasts “top the charts” with fun and here we have an EXCLUSIVE Q&A with this true Chess King. The shows of wide variety that he has hosted over the last 6+ years have never ceased to be informative, full of cultural references, and sometimes just over-the-top hilariousness. The man truly is a chess “fountain” of information and entertainment! To our delight, Danny is all over Chess TV’s programming and also hosts the weekly news show Chess Center.
Danny’s chess resume is long and full of achievements. Just take a gander at his Chess.com profile “About Me” page and we think you’ll be very impressed. A couple of things that shine are that this talented IM was among the Top 10 players in the country from age 12-21, and the #1 19-year-old in the U.S.. He played as a member of the Shelby School chess team during their multi-year run having won State and National Championships, and was Captain of the 1998 team which won the K-3, K-6 and K-9 National Championships in the same year. (The 1998 Shelby School chess team is the only team in American scholastic chess history to accomplish this feat. )
In 2007, Danny and his wife, Shauna, took over operations of ACE (American Chess Events) LLC., which, due to the increasing demands and involvement with Chess.com, had to take a back seat. Since his early days with Chess.com, having been recruited by IM David Pruess, his presence has grown to the point where he is currently part-owner and V.P. Director of Content & Professional Relations of the site. His instructional videos on the site and those on YouTube are exceptional. He is also a huge scholastic force behind Chess.com's younger sibling, ChessKid.com. Danny is very approachable, which is evident when watching compelling videos on YouTube that relate to ChessKid. Also evident is his patient, gentle and effective teaching demeanor when relating to this younger generation of chess players. Even as adults we can learn useful info while watching!
On a personal note, it was back in 2010, when David first contacted me, having noticed my journalistic activity in covering the 2010 Chess Olympiad here on the site, then using my recaps for his show. We became friends, and in turn, I also became friends with Danny. At that time, Danny was doing “Chess Improv” broadcasts and after one of his shows he and I hashed together the idea of creating an Official Chess.com/TV Group. Long story short, my girlfriend Donna (RookedOnChess) and I, along with David and Danny, founded that group and she and I still manage it as Super Admins. All of us were very excited about it, and will never forget the group’s Grand Opening on Dec. 15th that year, boasting a huge 2-hr+ Chess TV broadcast, jam-packed with special guests .
A lot of Chess.com mileage has been covered since then, and Donna and I are very grateful to be able to call Danny Rensch “friend.” He is as upstanding and outstanding as you can get and he continues to build a life filled with a beautiful family he cherishes and work he is passionate about. As busy as he is, he always manages to find time for the people who need him and the things that require his attention—including this Q&A! So now that we’ve garnished you with a bit of background on Danny’s stats and accomplishments, let’s learn more about the “man behind the madness” by getting a glimpse of his “Lighter Side.”
A Chess.com/TV “Lighter Side Up” Q & A:
Getting to Know IM Danny Rensch
Naturally, with this being a Chess site and our hosts being chess players, whether a host is a novice or pro, members are interested in hearing their chess-related answers to chess-related questions. And we have them here, BUT—we also want to know a bit more about the person behind the chess; about the lighter side of their personalities and lives. That’s why we’ve included a few of those questions, too and IM Danny Rensch has graciously agreed to let us in on some of those fascinating chess and chess-less facts
So now that we’re settled in and comfy, let’s begin…
IM Danny Rensch…
How and at what age did you discover chess?
I was 10 years old. My grandfather got sick one summer, and we played chess with him to keep him company. It just happened to be the summer when Searching for Bobby Fischer (I think 95 or 96?) was premiering on HBO. I watched it. Fell in love with the idea of competing in chess tournaments. And that’s that.
Chess fans, in general, would likely agree that chess should be as commonplace and encouraged as other extracurricular activities such as sports and dance at a young age. Going a step further, do you feel chess should be included as part of school curriculum/recreation?
1000% Agreed of course! And we are working on this all the time at ChessKid.com.
Which chess tools and resources for learning/playing (e.g., books, videos, coaches, computer software, chess sites, etc.), according to skill level, do you consider essential?
That’s a big question! Hard to know where to start. But I love Lev Alburt’s “Chess Course” as a starting point. I wrote a curriculum myself for ChessKid.com that takes people from beginner to about 1400 (and it’s free! So check it out!). But as we move up, all I can say is I will provide my recommended student book list for anyone who sends me a message on Chess.com. People should also check out our Study Plans!
***(You can also see Danny’s previous Chess TV interview which includes a detailed list of books.)
Of the Masters you’ve studied, from who have you learned the most and why?
Alekhine. Kasparov. Anand. – All three (and there are others too, I just liked those particular players) have influenced my chess. And all three played “full board dynamic” chess. Which I define as an approach that is not easy to classify as “comfortable with positional, slow games” or “loves to attack only”. But rather, they do everything at the highest level and represent how chess must “flow” from one idea to another to be excellent at it.
Do you enjoy playing bullet and/or blitz chess?If so, do you have preferred blitz time controls? Do you play as enjoyable changes from standard chess, as learning tools, or both?
Love playing it all! I like 3|0 and 1|1 the best though.
What moment in chess history is your favorite?
Hhhmm, right now?
On a personal level, what moment in your chess life is the most memorable?
Winning the high school national championship after beating Alex Lenderman in the last round. That and every day I spend on Chess.com making the chess world a better place
Speaking of memories, as a child, what were some of your favorite pastimes—e.g., games, TV shows, movies, books, sports, etc.—other than chess, that is
I loved books and movies. Still do. I love pop culture (as anyone knows from watching my shows). So making references to movies, books, culture, philosophy, etc is my thing to do during chess shows!
How about as an adult? How do you enjoy spending time aside from playing chess?
I workout (CrossFit). I spend time with my kids. I spend time with my wife. And that’s it.
Seeing as you’re a father, in what ways do you or will you incorporate chess into your children’s lives, if at all? And if so, do any of them show potential?
We play chess. And they like ChessKid.com. But they are into Sports right now, so we don’t play much at home.
Does your wife share an interest in chess? And in what ways does that play a part in your relationship?
No, she doesn’t. She loves chess because I love chess. And that’s it. She can hardly play.
In the past you’ve mentioned your quest for GM status, as is well-documented on Chess.com. Do you think you will be able to achieve this goal? If so, any idea when that’s likely to happen?
Honestly, I don’t know it’s looking harder and harder to see that as a possibility. I think we have to make choices in life. And I see my contributions to the chess world with my work at Chess.com, growing chess globally into the scholastic / education cultures, and developing more and more ways for OTHERS to enjoy the game as more important than my GM title. Yes, I’d love to have it. I think I’m good enough. But it’s a time commitment that I just might not find time to make.
With a quick overview, how does a typical “day in the life of Danny Rensch” play out?
Wake up at 6am. Emails. Breakfast and kids to school (pack lunches). Go to CrossFit. Come home. Shower. Go to work (start with more emails). Find time to content (videos, projects, chesskid curriculum, etc). Take kids to Soccer, Baseball, etc. Come home. Have glass of wine or a beer with the wifey. Maybe watch some Jimmy Fallon. Go to bed. Rinse and repeat.
Your energy level always seems high, and you're so busy with Chess.com as well as with your family. When do you have a chance to sit back and take a break? If so, how do you relax and unwind?
I don’t but I’m working on balancing myself out. More meditation is in my future!
Since your friend IM David Pruess recruited you for Chess.com, your position and responsibilities have grown and expanded. What is your favorite aspect of working at Chess.com? What do you like least?
I love every aspect. The content I get to create myself. The team of contributors I manage. I even like writing emails! My favorite thing… Hhmmm… likely it’s hosting ChessTV Shows! Least favorite? The stress of feeling like there is never enough time in the day to do as many things as Chess.com needs. We have a great site, but we have SO MANY THINGS TO IMPROVE! No matter how many people request a feature, complain about a bug, etc – they could never list all the ways that I PERSONALLY know we need to improve. So you have to find balance and leave things at work. Otherwise, you don’t sleep.
Since Chess.com/TV’s inception as David’s brainchild, and he appeared as the sole host of the very first show “Your Games Analyzed,” he envisioned it eventually becoming “big.” You were recruited early on and since then Chess.com/TV has certainly grown. Can you tell us a bit about that journey?
It’s been amazing! The quality of our shows now is lightyears ahead of what they were when we first started. From the technical and visual presentation, to the quality of the content and the engagement of the hosts and the fans. I think we’ve come far and we have even more to do!
On Chess TV you display many of your talents aside from chess: comedy, singing, pop-culture knowledge, etc. Do you have a talent (or two) we don’t know about that you can share?
For anyone who’s had exposure to cartoons, whether through television, movies or comics, we can’t help having one or more favorite cartoon characters. Which were—and are—your favorites?
If you could have one super power, what would that be and why?
Invisibility. So I could just disappear sometimes.
What would you consider your ideal vacation?
Beach. Perfect Weather. No technology (accept when I want to play blitz on Chess.com). Family.
Though it can be difficult to narrow down a list of favorites, which musical artists and songs often rise to the top?
Hmmm, I like so much. Right now I’m listening to Elle King! She rocks!
There’s something very satisfying about sandwiching something between two pieces of bread. Which sandwich/es do you eat most often?
BLT with Turkey and Avocado. Best ever.
When that sugar craving strikes, which candy bar/s would you storm the convenience store to buy?
It’s common to be drawn to more than one profession. Other than yours, which profession would you like to attempt? Never attempt?
Could never be a Doctor. I just couldn’t handle the pressure. As much as I love the idea of healing people or helping people feel better, I think the stress would kill me (especially as a surgeon or ER doc). I thought about being a Lawyer for some time. But glad where I am.
There are countless famous quotes, from silly to poignant. Do you have a favorite or two you’d like to leave us with?
So many! Just watch my shows
To close out this interview: what do you enjoy most about being a chess player?
That it never stops challenging you. Regardless of the level you reach or are at.
Thank you, IM Danny Rensch, for taking the time to share these thoughtful answers with us. You’ve helped shine a brighter light on who you are as a person and chess player, and added a bit more color to the décor here at Chess.com/TV
Where you can find IM Rensch:
We hope you enjoyed the interview and thanks for reading!
Co-Founders and Managers of The Chess.com/TV Group
Previous Chess.com/TV 2016 Q&As:
***For a variety of info, some in relation to Chess.com/ TV, its programming and its hosts, you can also visit: