Once you are familiar with the previous lessons, and you are playing a lot (and hopefully winning!), it’s time to skip ahead to self-learning via a few of my favourite Youtubers.
Understand that playing without analysis is very poor quality practice. Unlike other video games, anyone can play for 12 hours a day but only improve slightly. You need to access move by move analysis from master games and instructive positions to improve. Nowadays we are helped by incredible engines (AI) like Stockfish and Alphazero that have allowed the elite to really surpass the old masters.
So here are my three Youtube picks for getting to the next step. As always, follow along with your physical chess board at home if you are not yet at a level where you can visualize moves in your mind. Don’t be lazy (like me)!
Difficulty: Beginnner to Intermediate
Fun Factor: *****
By far the most popular chess Youtuber at the time of writing with more than 600k subscribers. No surprise as if you are into chess you would probably have heard of him. My advice would be to follow his videos chronologically. Good pace, easy to understand and great commentary. My only gripe is that he makes minor errors sometimes when he doesn’t use the engines towards the tail end of some lines. Not a big deal as these mistakes never affect the main lines that were actually played, but they might confuse beginners.
Another great feature is that he provides amusing history and backstories to the events and players. Tip of the hat to great research there.
Fun Factor: **** (might be a good thing for serious students)
Another great albeit smaller channel (6.5k subs), ChessWithGabriel covers all the current elite tournaments and also looks at historical master games of significance. He has almost zero fluff so the videos are much shorter and to the point. You might find his style a bit drier if you are looking to be entertained. But if you just want to improve while spending the least amount of time, this is a plus point. Also, Gabriel doesn’t point out basic lines that should be obvious to intermediate players so if it is hard to follow, go check out something easier like Agadmator.
As Gabriel is Italian, he speaks with an accent but it is not a problem for me. His passion for the game is obvious and he personally replies to viewer comments on almost every single video.
Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
Fun Factor: *** (serious students only)
Also a smaller channel, Jozarov has 8.8k subs. These subs are all serious students though. His videos go over a lot of concepts and theoretical positions and the average length of the videos are much longer. His delivery is the softest, most monotone and driest amongst the three listed here. However, if you want to progress to mastery, this is one of the best channels for modern theory. He goes deep into engine vs engine games as well to dig out even more technical content. Highly recommended, if you have the time and desire.
Beginners should probably avoid this channel until they reach this level though, as it will probably sound like gibberish.
So those are my picks, but there are so many other great channels like Chess24’s Banter Blitz where you get insights into Magnus Carlsen’s thought process as he dismantles grandmasters like they’re made of Lego (in 3 minutes, while explaining it to the audience, no less!)
Meanwhile, I’m trying to cut down on my Youtube addiction, so I won’t be exploring much in the near future. Do let me know any of your own favourite channels.
Remember the full roadmap to mastery is here. Happy learning.