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The Most Popular Perpetual Chess Podcast Interviews of 2021

The Most Popular Perpetual Chess Podcast Interviews of 2021

bennyficial
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Hi everyone! Ben here.  Although I’m a long-time content creator in the chess world,  I have never blogged with any consistency. Well, its a new year, and that means that one of my resolutions is to fix that!

What is the Perpetual Chess Podcast? 🤔

 Perpetual Chess is a long-form, audio-only chess podcast in which I interview chess players, presenters, authors and adult improvers. We also do the occasional chess book review (in podcast form). Over the years, the podcast has managed to find a loyal following, and I have been lucky enough to interview the likes of GM Viswanthan Anand, GM Judit Polgar, and many other famous chess players and personalities. Perpetual Chess recently celebrated its 5th birthday, and its weekly episodes have now been downloaded or streamed over 3 million times in total!

As we welcome in a new year, I thought it might be fun to share some of the most popular Perpetual Chess Podcast episodes of 2021. Some of these episodes feature interviews with people who are household names in the chess world, while others are with passionate amateurs who have helpful chess improvement tips to share. This post is specifically about the most downloaded podcasts of 2021, but if you go farther back in the archives, you can also find interviews from prior years with Chess.com personalities like GM Daniel Naroditsky, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, and IM Danny Rensch. I might be biased here, but I think that even the old interviews are still entertaining and insightful!

Perpetual Chess can be found on all of the major podcast apps, the podcast website, and I have also created a Spotify playlist featuring the episodes mentioned in this blog post. Without further ado, here are the most popular Perpetual Chess interviews from last year. 

Top 3 "General Chess" Interviews of 2021 

  1. IM Levy Rozman aka Gotham Chess - Given Levy’s immense popularity, it is no surprise that my conversation with him was the most popular Perpetual Chess episode of 2021. Levy joined me in May of 2021 and reflected on an insane year during which he went from talented, somewhat popular content creator,  to colossal YouTube chess star. Here is a clip of Levy sharing some of the sage content creation advice provided to him by his friend, IM Eric Rosen. 

2. GM Vladimir Kramnik- The legendary former World Champion reflected on his early career and offered his perspective on how he managed to topple Kasparov. "Big Vlad" also dropped tons of knowledge on how to properly use engines, and described the importance of prophylactic thinking, in life, as in chess!

3. GM Ben Finegold. Ben always has funny stories and reflections on his life in the chess trenches, and , more recently, his transition to star Twitch streamer. In this interview, I was particularly interested to hear Ben relive his long, somewhat accidental journey to earning the Grandmaster title. Ben considers this Pro Chess League win over Mamedyarov to be a career highlight:

Black to move and Mate in 4!
(Full credit if you find the Mate in 6 that Finegold went for instead )

Top 3 Adult Improver Interviews- (These are interviews specifically focused on sharing chess improvement tips.  They are very popular with dedicated chess amateurs)

  1. FM Peter Giannatos. Peter is the founder of the landmark Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy, and during his 20s, he also managed to increase his USCF rating from 2100 to nearly 2400 USCF.  I think that this interview resonated with a lot of people because Peter is a no-nonsense kind of guy. Here is a clip of his advice on how to break through a chess plateau: 
  2. Dr. Vishnu Streekumar- Vishnu told memorable stories about how he almost went too deep down the chess rabbit hole, to the point where his chess obsession negatively impacted his family life. Vishnu is a cognitive scientist, so I also loved hearing his strident and informed pushback against the idea that compared to kids,  adults are biologically inferior at chess improvement.
  3. “IM to GM” Special episode. IM Lawrence Trent, IM Attila Turzo and IM Sean Nagle discuss their quest for the highest title in chess. I have so much respect for adults who keep working on their games,  especially at such a high level. A favorite moment in this episode was when IM Sean Nagle, retold a Zen koan-like chess quote.  GM Alex Shabalov said, "In order to become a GM, you need to be a GM " I interpret this to mean that one cannot even hope to earn the title if they are not already playing at Grandmaster strength. (This explains why I am not a Grandmaster!)

Top 3 Book recaps (These episodes feature a rotating cast of guest co-hosts, during which we review and discuss a classic or noteworthy chess book).

  1. GM Jonathan Rowson’s The Seven Deadly Chess Sins. Chicago based law professor and blitz addict David Franklin and I both love this philosophical take on chess improvement. It is often mentioned as a chess version of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This episode's popularity suggests that many chess fans share our enthusiasm for this classic book.
  2. Simple Chess by GM Michael Stean My guest co-host John had been blogging about this book for months, and brought immense knowledge of the book to this podcast. IMO Simple Chess is the most “evergreen” older chess book I have read, and is particularly a must read for anyone rated between 1400-1800 FIDE
  3. My System. Love it or hate it, if you read it you probably have an opinion on Aron Nimzowitsch's magnum opus. Through a 2021 lens, Chessable author IM Christof Sielecki and I found My System to be a bit tedious, but of course it was a classic for its time.

Goodbye (for now?)

Thanks for reading about the most popular Perpetual Chess episodes of 2021! If you enjoyed reading this, please let me know in the comments, as that will encourage me to post more than once every 3 years! 😉

Ben