The Perpetual Chess Podcast by NM Ben Johnson

The Perpetual Chess Podcast by NM Ben Johnson

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Many of us spend time every day commuting to work.  Content creators like The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg have created digital recordings of their content, called podcasts, that can be downloaded or streamed any time and many commuters listen to podcasts during their travels.

In 2016 Ben Johnson was not happy with the offering of chess content and decided to create The The Perpetual Chess Podcast. Two and a half years later Ben Johnson has recorded 132 episodes and his podcasts have been streamed / downloaded 650,000 times in over 100 countries!  Ben does not only deliver high quality content but he does this every week again and again. There is no other chess podcast that delivers such high quality content with this consistency.

The Perpetual Chess Podcast focuses on life stories, new books, chess as a business and chess improvement. Some of the top players that were on show include GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Peter Svidlder, the world's best female ever GM Judith Polgar and former world champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk. GM Genna Sosonko was one of Ben's favorite guests because of the wealth of chess history that Genna Sosonko has lived through and is able to share.

GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan discussed their book Game Changer about Google's Alpha Zero. GM Mauricio Flores spoke about Chess Structure and recently GM Gata Kamsky was interviewed about his book Chess Gamer and told the listeners about the period he was competing for the world title.

On the business side, you can listen a.o. to podcasts with David Kramaley (Chessable), Frederic Friedel (ChessBase), Thibault Duplessis (Lichess) and IM Danny Rensch (

Recently there has been an increased focus on chess improvement (the so called 'Adult Improver Series'). It includes interviews with ambitious adults who have gained hundreds of rating points in a few years and are sharing their best practices. Some of the authors that are repeatedly mentioned oin the book recommendations are Aagard and Dvoretsky (too difficult imo for 95% of the chess players), Nunn and Gelfland. Ben Johnson also asks the Adult Improvers to rank the following chess activities on a scale from 1 to 10 on their importance for improvement. This is Ben Johnson's ranking after 132 podcasts:

  • Importance of having a coach: depends on your strength
    • > 2100: (often you know what to work on)
    • < 1800: 8 (you do not see your blind spots)
  • Analyzing your own games: 10
    • Do not use an engine; analyze with a coach
  • Solving Tactics: 10
  • Calculation and visualization training: 10
  • Studying endgames: 8
  • Playing blitz chess online: 3
    • This can be higher if you have a structured approach and analyze every game
    • Listen for this to the podcast with NM Alex King
  • Learning openings: 3
    • Highly overrated activity, especially for players under 1800
  • Physical exercise \ being well rested (getting enough sleep): 8
  • Watching online broadcast: 4
    • You can improve the value by turning the engine off and guessing the move before it is being played.

The overall conclusion is that active learning is the only way to improve. 

I hope I have been able to convince you to give The Perpetual Podcast a try. The Podcast is free but if you like it, then please consider donating. Over 95% of the listeners listen for free. Ben deserves better than that! Creating every week again a high quality podcast is not a small task, so please make it worthwhile for Ben and his family. Your contribution will ensure the continuity of the podcast.

Finally, the US Chess Federation has started with 4 monthly podcasts

  • One Move at a time – Talks with people advancing the US mission statement to ‘Empower people, enrich lives, and enhance communities through chess.
  • Cover Stories – Daniel Lucas – Interviews with the author of the cover story of US Chess Life.
  • Ladies Knight– Jennifer Shahade – Female chess champions and leaders
  • Chess Underground – The show that explores eccentricities, peculiarities and theoretical novelties (Pete Karagianis)