Chess Life Magazine Editor John Hartmann on recent developments with engines, books, and US Chess


John Hartmann is the Editor of US Chess’ Chess Life and Chess Life Online, and the host of the podcast, Cover Stories with Chess Life. He was recently named the 2021 Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America, the second consecutive year he received this honor.

When John last visited the podcast, US Chess was just coming to grips with the financial impact the pandemic would have on the organization. 18 months later, I am happy to report that John is back to give a more upbeat assessment of the state of the US Chess Federation. John is also an expert in chess computers – he built his current chess computer from scratch! John shares some fascinating tidbits about how top players use engines these days. Lastly, although it is not his top priority, John tries to work on his own game when time permits. While he prefers to think of himself as a #chessamateur instead of a #chessimprover, his online blitz rating is at an all-time high, and he always has useful book recommendations for improvers. So as always, there is much to learn from John Hartmann in this interview! Please read on for all of the details, plus timestamps and relevant links.

0:00- We begin by catching up on the financial health of US Chess, which hit some tough times during the pandemic.

Mentioned: Cover Stories with Chess Life with GM Alex Lenderman, Episode 179 with John Hartmann (John was also on episodes 60 and 120), John Rockefeller III Endows US Chess National Tournaments

20:00- Has John read any good chess books lately? Are chess books truly, finally, in decline?

Mentioned: Episode 4 with IM Kostya Kavutskiy, On the Origin of Good Moves by IM Willy Hendriks, Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon, JJ Lang, IM Levy Rozman, Agadmator, FM Robert Shlyakhtenko, Dr. Christopher Chabris

42:00- Patreon Mailbag Question: “What was the most instructive chess book John has ever read?”

Mentioned: Chess Steps Method Workbooks, Episode 241 with FM Peter Giannatos, Everyone’s First Chess Workbook by FM Peter Giannatos, Rakhmanov’s Secrets of Opening Preparation

53:00- Perpetual Chess is also brought to you in part by Check out the site, and if you decide to subscribe use the code Perpetual30 to save 30%.

53:30- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Check out what’s new from them here: New Chess Courses Online – For All Levels- Don’t forget to subscribe to the How to Chess podcast as well!

54:30-What is John doing to work on his own games?

Mentioned:Jacob Aagaard’s Killer Chess Training, Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games, GM Sam Shankland on Cover Stories with Chess Life, IM John Watson

1:02:00- What are the most recent developments in the advancement of chess engines?

Mentioned: Stockfish 14.1, Leela 0.28.0, 2021 Russian Championship Superfinals, Vitiugov – Andreikin, Chessify, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, Skolkovo Innovation Center

1:11:00- How will Chess Life Online be covering the World Championship?

1:15:00- Thanks to John for joining us!

For more information about US Chess and Chess Journalists of America upcoming seminars, go here:

For US Chess annotated games from the US Championships, go here:

Follow John on Twitter here:

Email John at John.Hartmann at



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