Candidates Tournament 2018: The Ultimate Preview

By Bryan Castro / On / In Chess news, Features

As the players arrive in Berlin for the start of the 2018 Candidates Tournament, our writer BRYAN CASTRO brings us his ultimate tournament preview:

Finding a Challenger

From March 10, eight of the top players in the world will be battling it in the Candidates Tournament to see who will face Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship.

The tournament is organized as a double-round robin with each player facing every other player twice – once with the white pieces and once with the black pieces. The tournament will be help in Berlin, Germany between March 10-28, 2018. The winner of the tournament will face the reigning World Champion in a 12-game match in November in London, England.

This event looks to be an exciting one, with a variety of styles represented as well as a couple of new faces to the Candidates tournament. In this preview, we’ll take a look at the eight challengers, their path to the Candidates, and their style.

Check out Bryan’s FREE Candidates tournament tactics book here >

1. Ding Liren

Ding Liren in 2013. Photo by Soboky.

Ding Liren is participating in his first Candidates Tournament. He qualified by being one of the top finalists of the Chess World Cup in 2017 (along with Levon Aronian). He also has the honor of being the first Chinese player to qualify for the Candidates. As of the March 2018 FIDE rating list, Ding is ranked 11th in the world with a rating of 2769.

Ding has a flexible style. He can play for the initiative but is also skilled in technical positions as well. He is an excellent calculator and has superb endgame technique.

Although he (along with Wesley So) is one of the youngest players in the tournament at age 25, he comes into the Candidates with a strong showing in 2017. He won the strong Shenzhen Longgang Chess Masters in Shenzhen, China in April 2017 ahead of follow Top 20 players Anish Giri and Peter Svidler. He won the Moscow Grand Prix event in May 2017 ahead of current World #2 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. He finished 2017 with a strong 2nd place finish in the Chess World Cup, losing to GM Levon Aronian in a tiebreaker.

He also played one of the best games of 2017 – an exciting attacking game in the Chinese Chess League against fellow Chinese GM Jinshi Bai. In this game, Ding precisely weaves a mating net around his opponent after playing the spectacular 20…Rd4! The final position is a beautiful sight, with every minor piece participating in the final round-up of the king.

2. Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian in 2008. Photo by Georgios Souleidis.

Armenian GM Levon Aronian is the other Candidate to qualify by winning the Chess World Cup (against Ding Liren). At age 35, he has been on the top of the world chess scene for many years, including a peak rating of 2830 – the 4th highest in chess history! He is currently the World’s 5th highest rated player with a rating of 2794.

Aronian is known as one of the world’s most creative players. He is a strong tactician with a subtle and deep understanding of positional chess. When observing Aronian’s game, you will often notice that his pieces are beautifully coordinated while he often leaves his opponent with a piece or two shut out of the game. He is a true artist at the chessboard.

Aronian comes into the tournament having enjoyed a very successful 2017. He started the year off by winning the Grenke Classic Tournament in Baden-Baden, Germany ahead of Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana. In June 2017, he won the strong Norway Chess tournament ahead of Carlsen, Vladamir Kramnik, and Sergey Karjakin. As mentioned, he won the Chess World Cup in September 2017. Finally, he started 2018 off strong with a win in the strong Gibraltar Chess Festival, beating French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the tiebreaker. Can he build on this momentum with a strong showing in the Candidates?

The following game demonstrates Aronian’s creativity and tactical acumen. In this game, he defeats the world champion on Carlsen’s home turf during the Norway Chess tournament in June 2017.

3. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Shahriyar Mamedyarov in 2016. Photo by Eteri Kublashvili.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan qualified by finishing atop the FIDE Grand Prix – a series of four tournaments featuring 24 of the strongest players in the world. In the Grand Prix, he shared first place in the Sharjah leg of the series in February 2017. He placed clear second place behind Ding Liren in the Moscow stage in May. Finally, he tied for 4th place in the Geneva stage in July 2017.

Besides his strong finish in the FIDE Grand Prix, GM Mamedyarov’s other notable finishes in 2017 were winning the elite-level Gashimov Memorial in April and leading a team victory in the Russian Team Championship. At age 32, he is currently the world’s 2nd highest rated player with a rating of 2809.

Mamedyarov is no stranger to high-level tournaments. He has already competed in the Candidates tournament twice – in 2011 and 2014. Having won the World Junior Chess Championship twice (in 2003 and 2005), Mamedyarov has competed at the highest levels of chess since his youth.

Mamedyarov is known for an aggressive, attacking style. He is a master of exploiting the initiative and his play may remind you of the romantic attacks of the 19th and early 20th century masters.

To illustrate Mamedyarov’s creativity and style, enjoy this attacking gem from last year’s Russian Team Championship against GM Evgeny Najer.

4. Alexander Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk in 2015. Photo by Regani.

GM Alexander Grischuk from Russia is our 2nd qualifier from the FIDE Grand Prix, finishing 2nd in points behind Mamedyarov. Grischuk tied for 1st in the Sharjah stage along with Mamedyarov and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He tied for 2nd place in the Geneva event.

GM Grischuk is a master tactician and attacker. In part due to his incredible calculating and tactical ability, he is also one of the world’s top speed chess players. Grischuk is currently 12th on the FIDE rating list with a rating of 2767.

The following game is not only a demonstration of his attacking style, but also of the incredible depth and complexity behind his play. Check out 34.Rb5! in this game against GM Boris Grachev in the Russian Team Championship.

5. Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana in 2016. Photo by G. Hund.

American GM Fabiano Caruana qualified for the Candidates tournament by having one of the top two average ratings in 2017 among players who played in both the World Chess Cup and FIDE Grand Prix. At 26, he is among the youngest players in the tournament. However, he has played at the top levels for several years, including reaching as high as 2nd in the overall rating list. He is currently the 8th highest ranked player in the world with a 2784 rating.

He tied for 3rd in the US Chess Championship in April 2017. He finished the year off strong by winning the elite London Chess Classic (beating GM Ian Nepomniachtchi on tie-breaks). Although he has had a quiet 2017, he is not one to be underestimated in the Candidates tournament.

Caruana is known for his strong calculating ability and aggressive style. He also has a reputation for hard work away from the board. The following game from the London Chess Classic demonstrates Caruana’s classical attacking style against former World Champion Vishy Anand.

6. Wesley So

Wesley So in 2015. Photo by Euku.

American GM Wesley So is the 2nd qualifier based on his 2017 rating average.

As I’ve written about in a previous article, Wesley So had an incredible unbeaten streak that reached 67 games. During that streak, he won the super strong Tata Steel Masters tournament ahead of Magnus Carlsen. He also won the 2017 US Chess Championship ahead of fellow American Top 10 players (at the time) Fabiano Caruana and GM Hikaru Nakamura. So finished 3rd in the Shamkir Chess tournament in Shamkir, Azerbaijan in April 2017 – where his unbeaten streak was broken by Mamedyarov.

At 25, he and GM Ding Liren are the youngest participants in the Candidates tournament. He is currently the 4th highest ranked player in the world, with a rating of 2799.

Wesley So’s style has evolved into an accurate, technical style. Although his play is nearly risk-free, he has also shown the ability to fight back from difficult positions and is not afraid of sacrificing material for dynamic compensation.

The following game is perhaps Wesley So’s best of 2017. It combines his technical accuracy with the brilliant and opportunistic 21…Nxf2! A return to this type of form can spell trouble for the field in this year’s Candidates.

7. Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik in 2016. Photo by A. Kontokantis.

GM Vladimir Kramnik from Russia qualified as the wild card nomination by the tournament organizers Agon. At age 43, Kramnik is the oldest competitor in this year’s Candidates tournament. However, Kramnik’s age comes with experience and Kramnik is a former World Champion – having defeated Garry Kasparov to gain the title in 2000.

Kramnik had a solid 2017. He tied for 2nd with Hikaru Nakamura in the Norway Chess tournament. He tied for 2nd in the Gashimov Memorial with Wesley So and Veselin Topalov. He tied for 3rd in the strong Isle of Man Open with several masters including fellow Candidates competitor Caruana. He also tied for 3rd with Mamedyarov in the 2017 Tata Steel tournament. He is currently the world’s 3rd highest ranked player with a rating of 2800.

Vladimir Kramnik is a master technician. Like most top players and especially a former World Champion, Kramnik is skilled in all phases of the game, but he is particularly astute in positional play and the endgame. His ability to exploit small mistakes by his opponent makes him a threat in any game. Although he’s the senior member of this year’s Candidates class, it would be a mistake for his younger competitors to write him off.

The game chosen to illustrate Kramnik’s strengths is this positional victory against fellow former World Champion Vishy Anand.

8. Sergey Karjarkin


Sergey Karjakin in 2013.

Russian GM Sergey Karjarkin is our final qualifier as a result of

being the runner-up to the 2016 World Championship match against Magnus Carlsen. He fought Carlsen to a tie in the main 12-game match before losing to the champion in the tiebreaker games.

In 2017, he had a quiet year in classical time control tournaments. However, he demonstrated that he is one of the world’s best speed chess players with victories in the Tal Memorial Blitz tournament – he also finished 2nd in the Tal Memorial Rapid section – and the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament in August 2017. He also tied for 2nd in the 2017 World Blitz Championship – he won the 2016 tournament –  behind Magnus Carlsen. He is currently ranked 13th in the world with a 2763 rating.

GM Karjakin is one of the world’s greatest defenders. He is tenacious defending inferior positions and very comfortable in the endgame. Although he doesn’t win very often with his defensive style, he is also extremely difficult to beat. This style may be well suited for the Candidates, where he can allow his more aggressive opponents to overextend themselves and try to pick off a few wins while drawing most of his games.

The following game demonstrates Karjakin’s excellent technique against GM Anton Smirnov in the 2017 World Cup in Tbilisi. He leaves his opponent with doubled isolated pawns then simplifies into an endgame where he wins one of the isolated pawns and the game.

Many Questions

This year’s Candidates Tournament should be an interesting one. We have players of different styles – from aggressive attackers to endgame virtuosos. Among the Candidates we also have both young blood in Ding Liren, Fabiano Caruana, and Wesley So as well as the resourceful veteran in Vladimir Kramnik.

This tournament will not only test the players’ skills – of which they all have in abundance. It will test their preparation, their fighting spirit, and their endurance. Many questions remain as we enter the event:

Will Wesley So return to the form he showed in early 2017?

Will lightning strike twice for Sergey Karjakin?

Can Vladimir Kramnik show the chess world that he’s still a force to be reckoned with?

Can Levon Aronian build on his early 2018 success?

The answers to these questions and many more will be answered in the next few days. No matter what happens, we fans will be the winners as these great players provide us with beautiful chess games.

Check out Bryan’s FREE Candidates tournament tactics book here >

Kasparov on the Candidates and how to beat Magnus Carlsen

By Leon Watson / On / In Chess news, Features

Shortly before Christmas, Chessable had the pleasure of catching up with Garry Kasparov to talk about his work with the Chess In Schools and Communities charity, which helps get kids involved in this great game we play.

Kasparov, who we have a tactics training book on, dominated the world of chess for two decades and is, as everyone reading this will know, without doubt one of the greatest players ever.

But while we were fascinated by him, we also couldn’t stop ourselves from quizzing the former world champion, the “Beast of Baku”, about the current crop of super GMs and, in particular, the upcoming Candidates tournament which starts this week.

Chessable’s Leon Watson meets Garry Kasparov

It has been three months since that chat and tournaments such as the Tata Steel event in Wijk aan Zee have passed. But what Kasparov said was still very interesting.

We thought we would enlighten you on what the great man had to say:

On Magnus’s weaknesses

Kasparov was no doubt excited about the Candidates tournament in Berlin, but finding someone who can beat the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen – another elite player we have a tactics training book on – is a tall order.

However, Carlsen does have some weaknesses, says Kasparov. But finding them is another matter…

We all have weaknesses, but they are for his opponents to discover. He is a very versatile player, he is probably a bit less confident with positions that are very, very complicated because he likes crystal clear positions and he plays perfectly.

But it would be a mistake to think that you can trick him by complicating things.

All his weaknesses are very relative compared to others because when you say ‘oh he is weak here’ what it means is he is not as perfect as he is in other positions.

But so far his style brings him victories because as I said it is very universal. Also you can see that he totally dominates rapid and blitz because the average score of his moves is phenomenally high.

So I would say that his strongest side is his phenomenal instincts – he just immediately sees the right square for a piece and how to put them together to create the best possible configuration.

On Magnus’s topsy-turvy 2017

On this Kasparov was clear – Carlsen was dominant in rapid and blitz, it was only classical where he showed weaknesses:

Yes, it’s been up and down but that’s in classical tournaments. The people expect him to win all the time, and that’s not easy because you can’t win all the time even if you are Magnus Carlsen.

Players who he faces in classical tournaments they have more time and the gap between him and them is much narrower, and there’s a lot of pressure.

I was there in Magnus’s shoes 20-25 years ago and it’s enormous pressure, it’s a psychological test. You enter a tournament, you face the best in the world, and people still expect you to win because they think if you are world champion you must win anyway.

So that’s why Magnus goes back and forth. He did win the very strong Isle of Man, remember.

Will any of them beat Magnus?

No, in short. Kasparov does not believe any of the Candidates fighting it out to face the world champion really stand a chance. Carlsen is just too strong:

I guess he can hardly imagine he will be in great danger in 2018 in the world championship match.

There was the 2016 match with Karjakin which he had to take very seriously, but I don’t think it will be like that.

There’s getting through and there’s putting him in danger. I don’t think he is in real in great danger from any of the potential candidates judging from the current results and quality of play, it seems Aronian is a favourite.

On Aronians nerves

Yes, the Armenian is bang in form and one of the favourites. But can he keep it together?

The problem with Aronian, well, we all know that he was a favourite many times before and he has to make sure at the critical moment he will not blow it up.

So Aronian’s nerves at the Candidates tournaments have always failed him.

So I don’t know. I would say Aronian has a very good chance, but it’s a very, very level field so we can expect almost any result.

On Kramnik

Any result that is, apart from Vladimir Kramnik winning. The Russian, of course, is an old campaigner who Kasparov faced many times.

I would be surprised if Kramnik does well. He is probably too old, and this is his swansong.

He will have a good time but I don’t see him as one of the real contenders just because the rest of the field is much younger.

On Ding

The newcomer, the dark horse. Does he have a chance?

Looking at this field of contender I would also be surprised if Ding, the Chinese, does well.

He’s a newcomer and it will be very difficult to compensate for lack of experience playing at that level.

And the rest…

And then the rest of the players it will be tight and probably a plus three score could be clean first.

That means that anybody who has a good day so that’s why I would say it is a highly-unpredictable event.

I would not be surprised by almost any result. Except of course Kramnik and Ding – I would be very surprised if one of them wins.

Check out our Tactics Training: Garry Kasparov book here to learn to play like the great man:

New tweaks including how to request a chess book you want

By Leon Watson / On / In Features

Hello chess fans, we have a few nice little updates to our brilliant chess learning platform to report!

Admittedly, they’re not going to completely rock your world but we hope these tweaks will make using Chessable just that little bit better.

Most of the ideas have actually been suggested by our users – we’re just responding to some good feedback.

So here goes, we have:

1. A new tactics option

After several of users requested this and pointed out it would be very helpful, we’ve decided to create a new option setting for tactics that will allow you to hide the solution if you fail a puzzle.

So, for example, if you are really serious and you want to work out every one of our 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners book without any help, you can toggle this.

Of course, at Chessable we believe failing is a big part of chess learning but with this function you can force yourself to complete each puzzle as if your game depends on it (which may well be the case at some point).

Here’s what you’ll see when you get a tactic wrong:


The tactics tweak in action
The tactics tweak in action

To find this option, go to Settings > Study and then select No when asked: When studying tactics, should we show you the solution on failure?

Job done.

2. Our wishlist forum

Is there a book you’ve been longing to get on Chessable?

Perhaps it’s a new book that you’re itching to read, or an old classic that you think could really make a difference to your game.

If there is, now you can let us know on our new book request forum.

Stick a request on there and if it gets upvoted by other users we will look into it. We can’t promise to publish every book because it very much depends on whether the publisher will let us, but we will try.

We are hoping this forum will mean you, collectively, can tell us what books would be good on Chessable.

So here it is in all its glory.

Please do start recommending!

3. Pause/unpause option

Now this IS good!

If you’ve been left a little frustrated at having to wade through lots of variations or puzzles you don’t want to learn, already know, or want to learn later then this is the update for you.

We have added pause/unpause alternatives in the chapter options for every book allowing you to pause all alternative lines you don’t want in one fell swoop.

It means if you want to learn a specific opening variation or set of patterns in a tactics book you can either pause others chapters en masse to leave the ones you want to learn, or pause everything you want to learn and then unpause any variations you do want to.

Here’s what to look for (courtesy of David and his Snipping Tool skills):

The new pause function
The new pause function

We think this is an update well worth using for those of you who don’t necessarily want to follow the structure of a book, or who just want to dive in to master something specific.

4. ACF ratings (finally)

If you’re a user from Down Under you may have been wondering why we you can put an ECF, Fide or USCF rating on your profile but not an Australian Chess Federation rating.

Well, after it had been requested several times, now you can.  ACF ratings rank alongside, FIDE, ECF and the German DWZ rating system.

Sorry for not doing it sooner. Fair dinkum.

And that’s it for now – but rest assured we’re already working on our next bunch of tweaks, and the next round of new Chessable books.

Coming up soon we have something completely different… we’ll let you know more when we can.

Keep the suggestions coming – we are listening!

Now you can hold back time on tricky puzzles

By Leon Watson / On / In Features

You may not have noticed, but we’ve been working around the clock to find new ways to improve your chess training.

Yes, quite literally around the clock.

That’s because our new feature allows you more freedom to fiddle with the time you have for each puzzle or variation you want to learn.

We are pleased to announce our latest new feature: the unlimited time button. Because time can wait for a chessman, or woman.

You can find it here:

Our new feature: the unlimited time button
Our new feature: the unlimited time button

Can’t find that page? Simply click “browse” to go inside a book and see these options:

How to find the timer button
How to find the timer button

This neat little addition designed by our developer Simon Wuttke allows you give yourself as much time as you need on any book chapter or set of variations. It is easy to find – on the right of the screen – and easy to toggle.

And remember, you can still set the clock for whatever time you want – it doesn’t have to be left on the default.

The point of this is if you’re finding a particular book tricky – and some of them really are – or you just don’t like being hurried along then this new addition can effectively turn off the timer so it doesn’t hurry you along.

It’s only a small change, but from the feedback we think it’s clear that often it’s these fiddly little things that make a big difference.

Coming up we’ve got more book launches and some grander features in the pipeline (more on that next month!), but in the meantime we hope you like this new bit of control you have over your chess learning.

And, of course, we are keen to hear any more ideas you have to make this site better.

Have a good day.

The Chessable team.

Learn chess tactics: for beginners and beyond!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chess news, Chessable news, Features, Learning chess

Today we’ve reached another milestone. You can now learn chess tactics for beginners (and beyond) right here on Chessable. We’ve taken the classic puzzle book, 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners, by New in Chess, and made it fully interactive! Ever wanted to apply the Woodpecker method to an excellent tactics book? Well, here is your chance.

There are plenty of chess tactics training resources out there, so why another one? Here are three good reasons. Every tactics trainer that I know of has lacked at least in one of these categories:

We wanted to offer guided tactics courses with puzzles of the highest quality
We don’t want you to study any randomised tactic set. We are working with some of the most highly regarded chess trainers and authors out there. In this manner, we can bring you some of the best-curated tactics compilations that exist. The author’s teaching experience shines through, maximising instructional value.

We wanted for tactic solving to be all about learning and nothing else
Many of the existing tactics trainers constantly remind you of your changing rating (or unchanging!). In others, you are stuck with a very fast timer. It shows you how much faster others are than you. Having carefully studied the psychology of learning, I assure you none of these things are optimal or conducive to good learning. We want you to be free to take as much time as you need and we won’t give you a tactics rating. Instead, you should care about solving for accuracy, ultimately increasing the number of tactical patterns you know.

We wanted to take advantage of spaced repetition, and the Woodpecker method
In his award-winning book, GM Axel Smith credits the “Woodpecker method” for a large part of his quick improvement.  In a nutshell, it involves selecting a set of chess tactics exercises, and once you have solved them all, to repeat them many times. This is a good strategy, but inefficient. With Chessable’s spaced repetition, you will go over the same set of exercises as many times as you need (the Woodpecker method). However, we will show you the ones you know really well, less often, and slowly phase them out. The ones you struggle with? We’ll give you a nudge!

For those reasons and more, we are super excited to have 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners on Chessable. Of course, there will be more exciting books to come! So for the new year, let us know what you’d like to see. Do you want to learn more chess tactics? Or would you prefer more opening books? Send us a tweet or an e-mail and let us know. Happy holidays, and enjoy your chess learning.

Do you want to learn chess tactics, chess openings, something else? Let us know!Click To Tweet

Chessable’s new study flow is here!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Features

At Chessable, our mission is to make learning chess as effective, as fun and as easy as possible. If this means re-engineering part of our core features, then that’s exactly what we’ll do. Today, the long awaited and highly requested change to Chessable’s study flow is finally here. From today on your learning experience should feel quicker, smoother and more natural.

The main goal of this update was to make the study experience more efficient. To achieve this, we have stopped redirecting you from page to page as much as possible. Instead, you will be given an opportunity to complete whatever lesson you’ve chosen while saving your progress on the go!

For instance, if you have 231 moves to review, and you want to do them all in one go without browsing away? Now that’s possible! Want to continue learning things within a chapter of the new book you picked up without distractions? Now that’s possible! Feel like you are in the flow and just want to keep going? This is it!

The new study flow on a phone

We are pretty excited about this update because beyond all that, it is expected to speed up Chessable as a whole, so it can feel even snappier and faster than you are already used to.

Together with a very kind and gregarious group of beta testers (thank you!), we’ve worked hard the whole of last month testing this update for you. We have polished it up as much as we could for the launch date, but already the new ideas and suggestions are flowing! After all, it is a shiny new feature, and it does open up a ton of possibilities. We’ll work on them next year, and make this even better.

However, next year is still some time away, so to begin with, we’ve added five shiny new badges for you to earn. And to put the cherry on the top, this feature will allow us to release a new print book that we are really excited about. Really, really, really soon. Can you guess what book it is? If you’ve guessed it without cheating, we’ll give you a prize. Send us a tweet @chessable!

The new badges.

We hope you enjoy it and if you have any feedback, check the forums, or please e-mail us via the contact us link at the bottom of the site.

PS.- Don’t like it? The old study flow is still available in your study settings 🙂

Can you guess what new book we are bringing to life this week? Let us know via a tweet!Click To Tweet


The MVP approach is contagious: taking it step by step is a wonderful idea.

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Features

MVP. We’ve thrown this acronym around here a lot. It stands for Minimum Viable Product. While we are fortunate that the days when Chessable was a bare-bones MVP are now long gone, I still remember those days fondly. The MVP idea is simple, build just enough to see if there is an interest, and then make it better. This approach allows for constant improvement without the need for substantial upfront investment. This is useful when you don’t yet know if anyone will find your creation useful.

Since the MVP approach has always been part of the Chessable culture, I was delighted to see that many of our eBook authors have embraced it. We’ve always talked about Chessable eBooks being different because they are like living, evolving organisms. The authors are free to update the variations, clarify concerns and add more content whenever they need to. This is not something you can do while publishing a traditional book! Once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even if you find an embarrassing error, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to change it. Not so in Chessable!

In the last month alone, we’ve had many authors updating their books. The co-author of GM Rafael Leitao’s Sicilian Najdorf published an exciting massive revamp of his book. In October we revamped and re-launched IM John Bartholomew’s Scandinavian. All of these updates to books are infectious, during launch month FM Marko Makaj has added nearly 20 variations and over a thousand words of instruction to his Fighting Sicilian eBook. Perhaps the most impressive update yet was announced today: GM Alex Colovic has added over 13,000 words of instruction to his Queen’s Gambit Declined eBook!

GM Colovic was one of the first masters to embrace working with Chessable when the platform was much smaller. Investing the time to write a 17,000-word book back then may have been perceived as stretch and a bit risky. We weren’t even investor backed yet! He did, however, launch a book that revealed his entire Grandmaster preparation, and annotated his lines at a high level (2000+). Many students found it useful, but this being a GM-level repertoire, it was not easy going for those lower-rated but ambitious players who dived into the deep end.

Well, over the last year GM Colovic’s students have asked many questions. I started studying the book myself, and contributed my fair share of queries. The result? GM Colovic has put pen to paper (or keyboard to screen?) and added 13,000 words worth of instruction. This is extremely useful for club level players and below! The repertoire now thoroughly explains all plans and ideas, weaknesses, opportunities, double-edged positions and much more! A true display of the MVP approach. Start small and solid, and grow into an amazing and great work. The overhaul has been so massive that we had to change the name, from a Grandmaster’s Guide to the Queen’s Gambit Declined to the new title, Queen’s Gambit Declined: A Grandmaster Explains.

Such incremental work by authors will always be what sets Chessable eBooks apart from the rest. I am thrilled to be part of a community where learning is everyone’s priority and incredibly grateful to all the hard working teachers who make it possible. I’ll see you on the leaderboards!

Unlocking a premium feature: Advanced Line Study for all!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Features

Have you ever tried to make or import your own custom Chessable book? If you have and you aren’t a PRO member, chances are you’ve run into our “Advanced Line Study” limitation. Guess what? Hurrah! It’s gone for good. Now everyone can enjoy making their own book.

Here is how one of our users described feeling before and after the change.

This limitation was for custom/private books only. Regular members were limited to the study of the first few moves and required an upgrade to study more. If you don’t know what I mean, don’t worry, you probably were never affected by it. Purchased, and freely published books have always been fully accessible. Nevertheless, this change is going to make many of our free members happy, so we thought we’d write this up to let you know. Just in case you were thinking of making your own book! 😉

As Chessable has grown and we have added more PRO features (move depth, soft fail for custom books, etc.), the PRO list has grown more impressive, and rightly so. In this manner, we show our appreciation for the many people who support us financially and save some server resources. However, it’s been a while since we’ve upgraded our regular members to something special, and since we love you guys just as much, today is the day.

So what are you waiting for? You can now enjoy using this part of the site without any limitations whatsoever. Why don’t you give making or importing your own Chessable repertoire a try? If you do, let us know what you think. We are always looking to improve.

Bringing chess books to life: introducing the new features that make it possible.

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Features

Today is a special day that marks a massive milestone for Chessable. We have taken a remarkable print chess book on openings and made it available on Chessable as a fully interactive online course. This has been part of our vision since day one, and it is now a reality. Our first release is Vincent Moret’s “My First Chess Opening Repertoire for White“, and there will be more to come.

So many great chess books written are often only found in print form. Sometimes they have an electronic copy, PDF or PGN. However, nothing quite compares to having them on Chessable. Here they are imported and curated into an interactive lesson that allows you to dig in and start studying at your maximum potential straight away.

On Chessable, beyond reading, not only do you get to drill the recommendations of highly regarded trainers such as Moret, but you also get to quiz yourself on the material. With the help of spaced review, you maximise the chances you will retain what you have learned. Confused? You can also ask the in-house chess master, or the community, questions about any position in the book. You are not alone.

We aim for this to be the start of a series of exciting Chessable releases, where we take classic and acclaimed print books and release them here to help you maximise your learning potential. What’s your favourite opening book? What would it mean if you could have a second copy here on Chessable so that you could drill the things that matter most? Let us know!

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We are so excited about the possibilities, and of course, to make it happen, we have had to address some challenges and come up with a few new things.

Here are some new things you will notice around the site that will benefit every book on the platform:

Soft error/alternative moves calculated by an engine.
Even though 4. Nc3 is the text move, you are now free to try other engine approved moves.

Previously, we had this working for endgame books. For endgames, we checked the tablebases and allowed you to play any of the winning continuations. Now, every book can tap into one of the world’s strongest chess engines and check every single opening and middle game position for equivalent moves (eval difference up to 0.20). Therefore, if you play something other than the text move, you will not be penalised with a mistake. Instead, you get to try again. In this manner, you will not only learn the main line recommended by the book, but easily start to recognise and remember viable alternatives. We are testing this out with a few books on the site, before rolling it out to every single book.

Interactive tactics/puzzles can now be included in Chessable books
An example of some puzzles in Vincent Moret’s “My First Chess Opening Repertoire”

For instance, the Moret book offers 64 puzzles that test the knowledge you have acquired. These mini quizzes fit in perfectly with the Chessable format. Moreover, now you do not have to turn a book’s page to find out if you have answered correctly, you can simply get solving! We will soon port this new addition to the 100 Endgames You Must Know book, which has some problems suited to this new format.

Fully explore a position by clicking on the sub-variations where necessary
An example of how the new in-chapter navigation looks

This not-so-new, but now refined feature, allows you to click on a move and change the board position during learning, review and view modes. This has been a long overdue feature that became essential when converting variation heavy print books into Chessable format.

Informational lines (read-only) learning flow changed

Most of us like to learn a book on Chessable simply by clicking the Learn Next button. Previously this would skip all the informational lines, which sometimes are very important. With this new change, the informational lines will be presented to you as part of your normal learning flow. If you do not feel like going through them, you can click Skip and move on.

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As always, there have been many other changes around the site, big and small. We have fixed bugs, written new features, simplified parts of the site and more. We’d bore you if we wrote about it all. So to summarise, taking a book from print to fully interactive online course has been a great challenge! It has helped us shape Chessable for the better. As we continue to bring you more of these books, we are sure Chessable will keep getting better and better. We cannot wait for the next one. Stay tuned 🙂

This map shows your favourite chess playing servers in a game of Risk!

By David Kramaley / On / In Features

I was doing market research when some data jumped out at me, and an awesome idea was born. What if the biggest chess sites were part of an epic game of Risk? Oh, what a mighty battle that would be. I went down the rabbit hole.

This map shows that the chess playing market is dominated by two behemoths, and Chess24 has bravely held some territories but looks set to lose out should some key contested areas not go their way.

Like in a true game of Risk, both and hold strongholds in their capital countries. The game of Risk is said to have been originally invented by a French filmmaker in 1957. Similarly, was too born in the country of love, started by a passionate French developer. Therefore, France remains the stronghold of with a commanding presence, outranking by over 25%., which was started by two high-energy American entrepreneurs, has made the most of their capital country. They out-rank in the United States by almost 65%! This advantage has led to their domination of the entire North American continent. They must be getting a seriously awesome army bonus for controlling a whole continent!

Finally, Chess24’s capital is Germany, and despite a strong presence, it is just not enough to tip the scales. They are the first player in this awesome game of Risk (or Risiko) to lose their capital.

If this were a true game of Risk, which side would you pick? Where would you send more troops? What key territories would you be aiming for? Let us know via Twitter @chessable and join in the fun!



  • The top three most popular chess sites according to were picked.
  • Countries were awarded to players if their rank in that country was at least 10% better than the others.
  • Alexa ranks were accessed on June 7th, 2017
  • Some countries had no data available, even with our premium albeit still rubbish access to Alexa.



This is just for fun. We endorse no one and love all these sites equally as much; we think they are all awesome in their own way. If you haven’t yet, claim your free Chessable account today!