It is my great pleasure to bring to you an interview with one of the most familiar faces in the chess world. He is one of the leading experts in opening theory and was a second of World Champion Magnus Carlsen in his last match against Sergej Karjakin. He is one of the most popular chess commentators and has commentated on about every major chess event there is. And he is also one of the strongest players in Germany, having represented Germany at many occasions and having been part of the team that won the European Team Championship in 2011. Here’s my interview with GM Jan Gustafsson:


Here’s what we cover in the interview:

1:02 Jan’s entertaining story how he has learned to play chess
3:20 Which training methods have helped Jan to get to his current strength?
6:18 What was Jan’s chess goal while growing up?
7:08 How does Jan work on chess these days?
8:01 What helps an amateur player to make it to the next level, according to Jan?
9:15 What are Jan’s most recommended chess books?
11:04 How does Jan prepare for a tournament after a long break?
11:32 What are Jan’s practices and rituals during a tournament to be successful?
13:40 What does Jan consider to be the most important non-chess factor for success ?
14:35 How does Jan deal with losses?
16:14 How to choose the right opening for oneself according to Jan (surprising advice)
16:56 Does Jan recommend a rather narrow or broad opening repertoire? And why?
18:59 How does Jan prepare for an opponent in a tournament game?
21:57 How did the chess24 idea come about?
22:39 What was it like to be a second for Magnus during the WC?
24:05 What is Jan’s own personal favourite game?
24:26 What is Jan’s favourite game of all time?
24:45 How would Jan spend 100 Euro on chess improvement?
26:05 The one thing you should take away from this interview
26:28 How can people get in contact with Jan?

Resources mentioned in this video:

“The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal” by Tal
“My Great Predecessors” by Kasparov
“Secrets of Practical Chess” by Nunn
Books by Mark Dvoretsky
Books by Artur Jussupow
Books by Boris Avrukh
Gustafsson vs Sengupta
Naiditsch vs Gustafsson
chess24 website
Jan’s chess24 account
Jan’s twitter account

I hope you guys enjoyed this interview and took away a nugget or two on how to improve your chess skills. For the next week, I have an interview prepared with one of the living legends in chess. Stay tuned!