The Chess Experience

The Chess Experience

Chess improvement as an adult is harder than it should be. Plus, the journey can sometimes feel too stressful and serious. This show aims to fix that by 1) interviewing experts who can offer clarity on the best ways to improve; and 2) giving you a heap of fun with “chess entertainment” shows that discuss chess culture, events, movies, etc. Most episodes feature a guest, but sometimes I'll do a solo show on a topic. This is all brought to you by me, Daniel Lona. I’m a dedicated chess amateur and the owner of Adult Chess Academy. After listening to this podcast, I want you to have a clearer idea of how to improve, and have a more fun, dynamic chess experience. Please follow the show so you don’t miss an episode!


March 5, 2024 70 mins

The life of a chess player is often emotional. There can be huge wins and the joy of learning, but also painful losses and sluggish improvement. Helping me gain new insights into how to address these challenges is clinical psychologist and co-host of the ChessFeels podcast, Julia Rios.

Julia combines her professional knowledge with her chess experience to offer some brilliant insights into “chess psychology.”

In this episod...

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082 Many adult improvers ask this question at least once: Should I get a chess coach? This episode is designed to help you figure out what to look for in a coach and how to maximize the experience.

Helping me discuss this topic is IM Yuriy Krykun.

Yuriy is a well-known course creator with Chessable, and a superb coach who’s helped countless students.

In this episode, we cover: 

  • What are some of the qua...
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Renowned chess coach and co-founder of the Chess Dojo, IM Kostya Kavutskiy, returns to the podcast! Previously, we talked mostly about how to read annotated game books (Episode 17).

This time, we cover a wide variety of topics. Including:

  • What new insights the Chess Dojo has learned on helping adult improvers from running their online membership, called “Training Program.”
  • Kostya’s recent OTB tournament experiences and h...
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080 What can you learn from a year of coaching from one of the world’s best chess coaches More than can ever be packed into a single podcast episode! BUT we cover the top five lessons I learned from IM Andras Toth - with Andras doing a deep dive into each one.

Andras is an extraordinary chess coach. He has a YouTube channel full of entertaining videos on powerful chess improvement help.

Plus, he has a wide variety...

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079 Sometimes a passion for chess runs so deep you want to make it your life. That’s the story of South Africa’s WIM Charlize van Zyl. While she earned the WIM at just age 13, she didn’t fully realize her passion for the game until she left it for five years and then returned to it as an adult.

From there, she earned her way to multiple Chess Olympiads and is now gunning for the WGM title.

Plus, she has a chess business and...

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 078 Dedicating three years of your life to chess as an adult is huge.  Especially when it includes OTB classical tournaments and running a chess YouTube channel.  That’s been the story of Sam Canciobello.

Inspired by the Queen’s Gambit, her passion for chess - now in its fourth year - has been consistent and impressive.

In this episode, we cover the different stages of her chess life, her long-term goals, and les...

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077 Part of being a chess player is losing many games. But what if those experiences didn’t have to be so painful? To that end, I solicited advice on how to deal with the most difficult losses.

I received feedback from the adult improver community on social media, a handful of chess coaches, and a dash of my insights.

Then, I collected what I felt was the most helpful advice, categorized them, and put them into a 5-step pro...

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076  Jennifer Shahade returns to the podcast! 2023 was a major one for her, and we discuss the major milestones of her year.

If you’re not familiar, Jennifer is a 2-time US Women’s Chess Champion, author of 4 chess books (including the recent hit Chess Queens), and a long-time advocate of making the chess community a better place for women and girls.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • A recent, fun chess experience she’s ha...
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075 NM Dan Heisman is a world-renowned chess coach and author. He’s on the verge of publishing his thirteenth, and perhaps final, chess improvement book. In this episode, we take a retrospective of some of Dan’s best books and offer improvement advice relevant to each book.

It’s an honor to celebrate Dan’s amazing multi-decade career as a chess author and his third appearance on the podcast.

Some tips we discuss:

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    074  Many great women players deserve more attention. Consider that even the games of women's world champions are rarely studied. This shouldn't be the case any longer since their chess is instructive, and their personal lives are rich and inspired.

    Thankfully, WIM Luciana Morales (along with co-author NM Bryan Tillis) shines a light on the first five women world champions in a new and unique course.


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    A second visit to the pod from chess coach & author, FM Nate Solon! In recent years, Nate has become a well-known chess educator.

    He’s co-authored the highly-praised book, Evaluate Like a Grandmaster.

    In 2023, he released his first Chessable course on the Reti opening for White.

    Plus, Nate regularly publishes a popular e-newsletter on improvement advice called, Zwischenzug. (Links to all these are b...

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    072 She’s been making a splash in the chess world. Not only is WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni a regular commentator for top-level tournaments...she’s also become a key commentator for Hikaru’s Twitch channel while he competes at the Candidates and other key events.

    Plus, this year she’s created video instruction for two Chessable courses.

    One is for the Scotch opening. The other covers tactics. Both courses are aimed at ...

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    Not many chess resources are aimed directly at helping the adult improver. But the superb new book by well-known chess podcast host, Ben Johnson, does exactly that. Released this fall, it’s called Perpetual Chess Improvement.

    The book covers a broad range of topics for not only boosting your chess abilities but also answering difficult questions like: “Do you need to study endgames?” “How should you approach rating plateau...

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    September 26, 2023 1 min

    This is a brief 1-minute update on the state of the podcast. Don't worry - we'll return soon!

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    070 A small number of chess players make remarkably quick progress. Perhaps even fewer of those are adults. Which is why the achievements of this week’s guest, Kamryn Hellman, are so remarkable.

    She started playing chess for the first time as an adult. And, in just a little over a year, Kamryn rose to a 2000 Rapid rating on  

    Because progress this fast is rarely seen by adults, we explore her journey and how she ...

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    For two decades, IM Dean Ippolito has been one of America’s top coaches. Throughout his career, he’s coached several scholastic talents to national titles. Plus, he’s authored six chess books. Dean’s own chess journey is just as impressive. He was a rising child star and competed professionally for a few years after high school.

    Today, he runs a successful coaching business called Dean of Chess Academy, which offers online...

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    068 You may know him as best as “Fun Master” Mike, the face of ChessKid. For the past decade, Mike has been the Chief Chess Officer of ChessKid, the scholastic version of His mission has been to make the game fun and accessible for an ever-growing audience of young chess players.

    While my show primarily focuses on adult improvers, I’m always interested in how we grow this great game of ours, and reaching kids is...

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    067 How should you spend your chess time if you want to improve?  The problem for adult improvers isn’t always about having too little time or energy to get better. Often, the challenge is knowing how to use that time effectively. That’s where GM Noël Studer comes in to help us. 

    A former Swiss chess champion, and the youngest GM ever from Switzlerland, Noël is now helping chess improvers fine-tune their study programs.


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    This week features South Africa’s most charismatic chess streamer and commentator:
    WIM Jesse February.  Jesse has had an impressive tournament career that’s still going strong as she works toward the WGM title.

    Some of her accomplishments include representing the South African Women’s Team in three Chess Olympiads. Plus, she's a two-time winner of the South African Women’s Chess Championship.

    We chat ab...

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    065  WCM Alexandra Prado is a strong amateur player with a fast-rising chess Twitch channel. Rated 1859 FIDE, she has a renewed interest in competing in OTB classical. 

    Plus, she’s aiming for the Woman FIDE Master (WFM) title. On that goal, she’s getting coaching help from Chess Dojo’s IM Kostya Kavutskiy, which we discuss in this episode.

    We also chat about her chess life in Bolivia, what has helped her improve the most as...

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