and has 0 comments

  I can't say that The Unwanted Undead Adventurer is not fun, or addictive, or that I didn't watch the first four episodes of the anime and then read all the manga till chapter 59. Because I did. That being said, it felt like hentai! This guy wants to be an adventurer, which is exactly what it sounds like, a computer game "career" that involves going to mysterious dungeons and fighting and killing monsters to increase in level. However, he meets a dragon who eats him and poops him as a skeleton. Only a skeleton that can use three methods of magic and can increase in level like a motherfucker. He reaches unfathomable levels of skill in days which he failed to do as a human in ten years. And as he does that he evolves into higher level monsters.

  An interesting premise, which I hoped would reveal some sort of kinship with the creatures he mindlessly killed as a fascist adventurer and so a dilemma that can only be solved by character development, but no, he just keeps killing "monsters", gets more and more female loli allies while he gains more skills and meets more and more outlandish characters which are either fully fledged good guys and allies or bad manipulative rich enemies and nothing in between.

  I guess it is a product of this era, where people write literature and manga from the only life experience they have: other manga, TV, movies and computer games. And since movies and TV series are increasingly idiotic and losing market share to the more addictive computer games, I guess those win. And here it is: a story which is no story at all, with heroes that increase in "level" but don't evolve at all as characters and with rules that are followed as tight as a Japanese accountant's anus.

  Such a disappointment, since the story started so fun and, even if it were rooted in MMORPG mechanics, could have evolved (pardon the pun) into an interesting satire. Alas, it goes on as deadpan as it started, taking itself seriously despite any connection to reality. The characters don't behave like people, more like NPCs, the world is completely mechanical and boring once you think about it, and you almost wait for the moment when they introduce the loot box or the pay-to-win articles.

and has 0 comments

  The White Queen is a short reimagining of Alice in Wonderland where Alice is a small child in the Victorian era, plagued at night by demoniac creatures brought on by an evil white rabbit toy. Her parents, having born her just because it was proper, expect her to be meek, silent and not make trouble. Unfortunately, every morning her room is a mess and she is covered in scratches and bite marks. And if you thought this was bad, the parents set out to cure her by sending her to one of the state of the art mental asylums of the era. Jolly good!

  Addison Cain is relentless in torturing her character, using her as a vehicle to expose the hell that a woman's life could be. Is it a feminist story? Not in the bad sense of the word. Is it true horror? Yes, indeed. Is Alice crazy or is it all real? Who knows?

  Bottom line: a little story with a lot of uncomfortable horror in it. I actually liked it short because I don't think I would have enjoyed reading this for an entire week. This way you can finish this in an hour or so, get your horror kick, then return to normal life before mad hatters corrupt your soul.

and has 0 comments

  The Starless Crown is the first book in the Moonfall series. It is a beautiful world, with complex layers and many interesting characters. However, it felt too much like most of the things happening just had to happen to move the story forward or to add the necessary drama or danger. Or maybe I wasn't in the proper mindset. At any rate, I don't think I will continue reading the series. I am curious of where the story is going to go, but the thought of reading thousands more pages to get there doesn't appeal to me.

  James Rollins describes an Earth in the far future when the planet is tidally locked with the Sun, so only a "crown" of its surface is inhabitable, stuck between the hot side facing the Sun and the freezing side in forever dark. There are people, but also weird animals, plants, magic, religions and nationalities. A dark prophecy announces the end of the world: the Moon is falling. An unlikely group of people with their own skills and motivations are forced together by events, and destined to become the last chance of the planet to survive.

  The writing was good, I liked the characters and the storyline. I just felt that the author was stringing events one after the other, with little concern for consistency. It just made me not connect to the characters. Nyx is almost a Mary Sue and the other characters find the skills or the ancient bloodline required like any number of deux ex machinas. I can recommend the book, it was very nice and I am sure many will love it.

and has 0 comments

  At first, Shiki feels boring. Nothing really happens in the Sotoba village and, when vampires come to live there, no one bats an eye. When people start getting mysteriously sick and die, people first worry then, finding no easy to swallow explanation, get used to it. When strange things start happening, people invoke reason and "the way things are" and refuse to see what's there in front of their eyes.

  There is something terribly creepy in Japanese horror because, at the heart of their culture, normality is paramount. Things have to be in order, regardless of the desires of individuals or even whole social classes. The cleanliness and politeness of the Japanese, that we Europeans love to admire, are mere consequences of this oppression, which happen to be positive. Yeah, that's a thing in almost every culture, especially those which boast liberalism and freedom (God forbid you are not a freedom loving liberal!), but the Japanese take it to a different level.

  In truth, if they would have left it at that, a small village committing suicide by denial, it would have been powerful enough, but Shiki just starts from there. Because you see, when people turn to vampires, they don't get possessed by demons or lose their feelings or turn into instant psychopaths. Instead, they retain their personalities, but have to deal with the unstoppable feeling of hunger for human blood. And once they get it, they do what people do best: rationalize it somehow as a positive, necessary and unavoidable thing.

  So my advice is to stick with the story, even if it starts kind of slow and obvious. There is a lot to unpack, even if basically it is a harsh criticism of the small mindedness of people. I liked it a lot. You can read the manga online or watch the 22 episode anime. It is a complete story, there are no sequels and there is no point in there being one. I watched the anime and I liked it. I think in this case, it might be better than reading the manga.

and has 0 comments

  I have no idea who recommended me Singularity, by William Sleator. It was probably a horror channel or something. The idea in it, as well as its metaphorical interpretation, are pretty cool. Unfortunately, the writing style, characterization and plot are so bad I couldn't keep reading.

  So here is the story of a family who had prepared a two week vacation for the parents alone, also taking draconian measures that the two twin boys remaining home would have absolutely no fun. "But we're 16, we shave!" - a valid argument - is ignored. So here come the news of the dying of a forgotten relative which leaves them a mysterious country house. So here's the idea: how about the kids go keep people from vandalizing the house while the parents are on vacation, completely unsupervised, in a different environment than they are used to, on the advice and in the 10 minute care of the local lawyer who they had not met before? Perfect!

  The two boys are as different as black and scared. One of them is a full on psychopath, while the other is a soft scared little shit. They get there and immediately meet a random neighboring girl of the same age. They also discover just as fast a "singularity" of time and dimension with weird (and inconsistent) properties. One boy wants to "experiment", the other just wants to be careful and play with his dog, the girl seems to have no personality whatsoever.

  The cartoonish simplicity of the characters and the writing style makes the whole thing, narrated of course first person from the perspective of the "weak but good" brother, unbearable to read for me. And there are these leaps of logic and robotic reactions of the characters that are simply grating. There is this moment where the dog dies. One brother cries, the other and the girl go to eat and then have a swim. Yes, it's that dumb.

  It's a really short book, but after approximatively a third in, after the dog thing, I've decided I would not continue. There are spoiler synopses of the book online, I've read those, yes, interesting premise, terrible execution.

and has 0 comments

  I loved the worldbuilding and the attention to character development in The Praxis. I mean, it was clear from the beginning that it is going to be a military space opera, complete with space empire, feudalistic culture and space navy manual battles, but Walter Jon Williams solved the suspension of disbelief by introducing an alien race that just created the empire, imposed "the Praxis" (with all of the rules above and then some) on all races it enslaved for 10000 years, then tastefully died off. I am sure it's going to be explored in a next book in the series, but these Shaa are some of the most intriguing aliens in a while and I am tempted to continue reading the book just to get to know them.

  But not in this book. Here they just die off, letting the entire empire off the leash. And here we are following two characters, one male, one female, as they attempt to get some recognition in the space military, a bureaucratic and nepotistic organization that has not seen a war in 300 years and only has the responsibility to terribly punish any species that choses to disobey the Praxis. And these characters... they are treated with a lot of care. Even the supporting characters and the many extras get the same treatment. You understand why they are why they are like that. For some that might feel tedious, but the author really makes you feel inside the world and knowing these people.

  And the main characters are the kind I like: they are rogues, they are imperfect, but they have the skills and they put the work to get ahead. I also like the straight face depiction of the ridiculous behavior of the ruling class, the entitlement, stupidity, lack of vision, blatant incompetence. Usually when someone comes with a world based on 1800 Europe, but in space, I groan. Here not only did I feel it made sense, but I felt I've been in many of those situations.

  I liked the book, and I found it very captivating and well written. I don't think I am going to continue with the series, but I am so very tempted.

and has 0 comments

  Sandman Slim is angels, demons, humans, kissi, all kinds of other stuff, in a love letter to Los Angeles, draped in a fantasy detective story - all the tropes of the clueless detective in the dark city are there, plus magic.

  A magician is betrayed and thrown into hell, then his girlfriend is killed, so he comes back for revenge. And if you think that's the story in The Crow, you'd be totally right, complete with a main character that makes decisions based on his own lunacy more often than not. Armed with powerful talismans (that he barely uses and then he uses them wrong) that he stole from hell and helped by an army of pixie like girls (that are totally not his girlfriend who was also a tall slim woman) and with the support of random friends who he makes or meets again exactly when he needs them, he starts bungling about, getting people killed and somehow surviving himself. Not that his heroic purpose is not there or that he doesn't feel guilt for collateral damage, but if you think about it at the end of the book, almost nothing he achieves was his merit, other than an incessant drive to kill a particular person and all of the people who died in the crossfire.

  The book was fun, I enjoyed it once I would turned my brain off. It's pulp and, having looked it up in order to write this review, there are eight freaking books in the Sandman Slim series. I felt instantly tired when I found that out. I am pretty sure I am not going to continue reading the series, not because it was not a good experience, but because I am looking for a different kind of experience most of the time. Right now, having a terrible flu, I couldn't handle anything more intellectual, so it did its job.

  Bottom line: if you are looking for some fun fantasy that leans a bit too much on coastal United States humor and is set in Los Angeles, this is the book for you. Richard Kadrey writes well and you can always use this as a palate cleanser. But if you're looking for a story that will make you question the nature of reality and fill you with thoughts well after you've read it, you might choose something else.

and has 0 comments

  Lovecraftian horror and Celtic myths, which in my opinion are much scarier than Cthulhu and his bunch, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, you can have characters that will be grating to anyone not from a specific part of the United States. And it's funny, because as it is hard for us to comprehend the disgust and horror some things generated in Lovecraft, I am sure future people will be reading The Twisted Ones and feel the same about Ursula Vernon.

  That isn't to say that the book was not good. I liked the ideas in it, I just couldn't like the people in it, especially the main character. The self deprecating humor, the hysterical laughter when something horrific was happening, the meme references, the many mechanisms she employs to self deceive herself that some things are not real, the fanatical belief in the order of the American system and that bad things couldn't happen to her is she just look the other way, all of these things felt so wrong to me. The writing style, with many repetitions of the same things, felt more compulsive than entertaining. I really want to believe that the way the main character was behaving was meant as a parody of the Lovecraftian gentleman hero, but I am afraid the author was quite serious in writing her.

  If you can get past that, this is quite a terrific story. This woman comes to clean up the house of her dead grandmother, who was also a hoarder, so she spends days after disgusting days putting garbage in bags and getting rid of them, with only her dog as company. She comes upon a mysterious diary of her grandfather's, talking about eldritch things while also being incredibly opaque. Then things start happening.

  Kingfisher likes to reinvent stories. I've read some stuff from her reimagining fairy tales and this one is a sort of an answer to The White People, by Arthur Machen

and has 0 comments

  Yes, another Adrian Tchaikovsky book. In truth, Dogs of War is the one that I wanted to read all along, but I was too lazy to get it, so I kept reading other books from the author. Was it worth the wait? I am leaning towards no.

  No, it's not a bad book. However, I expected something completely different. How would you write a book about a "dog soldier" that is modified genetically and cybernetically to be a perfect weapon, but his motivation is to please his master? I feel like Tchaikovsky took the easy way out with this one. I expected something both endearing and funny, because dogs, and then terribly horrible, because war weapon. Some terribly funny dark satire, maybe. A riff on A Boy and His Dog where the dog is an invincible bear-sized beast, perhaps. But the author went with a little war horror at the beginning, nicely filtered through a dog's understanding with terms like "the bigger enemies and the smaller enemies" to describe child murder, blamed it all on the "master" and proceeded to extrapolate a techno-happy ending of the entire thing.

  At this point I feel like Adrian Tchaikovsky is more in love with the ultimate potential of his ideas to truly develop them and the characters in his stories. All his books so far started with some great ideas and world building, then someone presses the fast forward button where everything was solved by "the future". Hey, what happened with the story and the people I was invested in? Never you mind, we're in the future now! Rejoice!

  To summarize: the development hurdles for "bioforms" are never explained, so don't expect any real technological or scientific discussion. The motivation of the dog is actually another implant in his brain, which kind of invalidates the whole premise. Then there are a lot of other animals, which sort of invalidates the title. The master is a run of the mill psycho villain so there is no real human/dog relationship. The horrors of war are filtered and then limited to wounds that are further filtered by implants which can suppress pain. There is no humor in the book, only a depressingly linear progression of the technology described at the beginning, too fast to make you invested in any of its parts, and naively positive in its outcome. There are a lot of repetitions of the "good boy" idea, like if repeating it it becomes more poignant. At this point I wonder if the author ever had a dog.

  So I am going to rate this book average at most. I didn't hate it, but its only truly positive attribute is that it's short. Kind of a let down.

You are writing some Javascript code in the browser and you create classes, then you create some methods, which you see have some issue with the "this" keyword by default if you use the standard method declaration so you end up doing something like this:

// instead of myMethod() { ... }
myMethod=()=>{
  const myClass=this;
}

And this (pardon the pun) works here. Imagine my surprise when I did something that seemed identical:

// instead of myMethod() { ... }
myMethod=()=>{
  debugger;
}

And then I tried to see what "this" was in the Chrome Developer Tools. It was "undefined". Why?!

Long story short, I then tried this (heh!) and it worked:

// instead of myMethod() { ... }
myMethod=()=>{
  const myClass=this;
  debugger;
}

The moral of the story is that "this" is not declared unless used in code. Probably a browser optimization. Hope it saves you the ten minutes it took me to understand what was going on, after I've started doubting my entire JavaScript expertise and the entire design of my app.

and has 0 comments

  Blindsight was an amazing book by Peter Watts that made me think for years after I've read it. And now I can't remember it, so I should read it again. This kind of occurrence is ironically close to the plight of the characters in The Freeze-Frame Revolution, human components to a mission to seed the galaxy with wormholes, controlled and then condemned by a series of algorithms to expand the range of a human race which seems to have disappeared or at least completely forgotten about them. They spend millions and billions of years in hibernation, only woken a handful at a time to assist with the construction of these enormously expensive devices.

  The main character is a guy who has to navigate the desire for the mission to have some sense, his loyalty to his friends - both human and machine, and simple logic telling him neither are there. And interesting story, full of subtle irony, but also something akin to sadism. For the subject of the book will surely resonate with a lot of people, only in vastly different ways.

  To me, it speaks about the seemingly dumb rules, which should be too stupid to contain human ingenuity, passion and consciousness, and yet they do. People spend their lives "sleeping" between the few and far between moments of relevance and "real life". It shouldn't happen and somehow it does. How can someone engineer a revolt that would only be worked for in these rare moments? I am sure, though, that I am trying to explain what Watts wanted to say through my own dumb perspective.

  I am curious what other people thought of it. Anyway, this is a novella, 250 e-book pages long, so it is worth reading in a day to find out.

and has 0 comments

  There is this expression: "larger than life", that we liberally use about a lot of people. Never have I felt I misunderstood that expression more than after reading Shy, by and about Mary Rodgers, with Jesse Green doing the writing, after years of conversations with her. She had like five children by the age of 32, had written the music for at least one world renowned musical, had several husbands, some of them gay, was smart, articulate, hard working and artistic. I feel like the life of everyone I know, including my own, is the size and quality of an ant compared to hers.

  And wouldn't you know it, as daughter of Richard Charles Rodgers, who might not be famous now, but he was a giant then, she actually lived in the shadow of her parents all of her life.

  I can't do justice to the book in this review. I absolutely loved it. The conversational, open descriptions of the artistic world, the Jewish world, the personal, the marital, all happening at the same time: children, deaths, marriages, adultery, Hollywood movies, books, Broadway shows, famous musical compositions, parties, celebrities, wonderful things, nasty things and everything in between, all of that was just mind blowing.

  And even more amazing was how fun the entire thing was. I am partial to memoirs, but some of them tend to be bland or feel totally fake. Not this one. It's fun from the beginning to end, covering with raucous abandon her relationship with parents (still calling them Daddy and Mommy when she was 82 years old), her husbands and children, her coworkers and mentors, her life from childhood to her old age, her work and her toils, the deaths of dear people.

  She was born as the daughter of rich Jewish artistic royalty, but she worked her ass off from the beginning. In a world that wasn't particularly kind to her, she never complained, just got on with it. It was funny her remark, at a pretty old age, about how maybe she was a victim of misogyny, but she had no idea at the time and no time to think about it like that.

   Even filled with references and footnotes, 800 pages is both a lot and quite little to cover 80 years of life. The chapters are short, lively and only in a vague chronological order. In the last chapter, written by Jesse Green in his own voice, he describes how she was stuck on writing this memoir because she felt uncomfortable about a few things that she didn't want to talk about. She was so honest and direct.

   I could keep writing, but I would be saying very little. Just read the book. I can't recommend it enough. Wonderful person, wonderful book.

As you know, LiChess Tools is my own Chromium browser extension for lichess.org, adding a lot of stuff to it. Recently, from version 2.2.0 on, I've added a new feature called Show Pawn Structures. This post explains in detail what it is, what it does and how it does it.

Pawn Structures

What is a pawn structure? The configuration of pawns on the chessboard. Because pawns are the least mobile of the chess pieces, the pawn structure is relatively static and thus plays a large role in determining the strategic character of the position. It is a powerful chess concept that is mostly ignored on amateur level and I've met 2000+ rated players who didn't know what that was. Not that I know, either, which is why I got so excited to build this feature because it would further chess understanding and learning. With different structures come medium term plans, so instead of having the opaque engine recommendations of making one move or another, you will have a general idea on where to take the game to.

The above is the chess definition of the concept, though. In order to work with it in an algorithm it has to be clearly defined. The difficulty here lies in the fact that while the pawn structure is "relatively static" its meaning is not. While you will be shown a specific pawn configuration in the context of a named structure, it would be implied that other similar configurations also belong. That similarity being not precise, but something nebulous related to the general ideas and themes that are made possible by the structure.

Feature requirements

The purpose of the feature is to determine the pawn structure of a position in either game analysis, analysis board, studies, TV games and mini-games (the things that appear when you hover on a playing user link or in the Current Games section), then display it, similar to the Show Opening feature. The reasoning here is that one can learn to classify positions and thus know the general plans that apply in the situation.

Technical details

There is a list of pawn structures that LiChess Tools supports. The list is at the end of this post. In order to the structure I created a textual representation of them, that looks something like this: 312100TX 0X0210 2020 XXLXXX XXXXXX XXXX. A bit daunting, but the most important part is the first group of characters: 312100TX.

The idea is that the first characters are the most significant, so similar pawn structures would start with the same letters and digits, even if they diverge later on. Based on the structures detailed by various books on the matter, I've considered that the position of the d-pawn is the most significant, followed by the e and c pawns, then the pawn majority on the White and Black sides, followed by the other pawns: f,b,g,a,h. The final part is doubled or triple pawns, which most of the time is irrelevant.

So let's get back to the complicated string above: 312100TX 0X0210 2020 XXLXXX XXXXXX XXXX (we will assume White board orientation)

  • 312 - my pawn position on the d,e,c files: d5 (3 squares forward), e3 (1 square), c4 (2 squares) - the possible characters for this group are X (missing pawn), 0 (unmoved pawn), 1,2,3 (squares the pawn is forward from its starting position)
  • 100 - their pawn position on the d,e,c files: d6, e7, c7
  • TX - the majority on the queenside and kingside: T (they) have majority on the queenside, and equality on the kingside - the possible characters for this group are M (me), T (them) or X (neither)
  • 0X0 - my pawn position for the f,b,g files
  • 210 - there pawn position for the f,b,g files
  • 20 - my pawn position for the a,h files
  • 20 - my pawn position for the a,h files
  • XXLXXX XXXXXX XXXX - similar to above groups, doubled or tripled pawns - X for no, L for yes

Most pawn structures are exclusively about the position of the c,d and e file pawns, therefore the first group of characters will be the most determining one. This may change in the future, perhaps, as better chess players than me will point out issues with this system, but for the moment this is how it works.

Based on this string we can compare the current pawn position to the one of the named pawn structures. There are three options in the Preferences for this feature:

  • Enabled - if this feature is on or off
  • Only named structures - will only display the named structures if enabled. If not, then the name will be displayed as the most significant group of characters in the structure representation. On mouseover, the title will show the entire thing as well as the most similar named structure found.
  • Fuzzy - if this feature is on, then a structure will be considered named if 90% similar to the standard one.

The feature will invert the structure and look for a name there if not found for your own orientation. If a name is found there, "(R)" will be added to the name. 

Note that the most named structures are represented by the most significant group only, and only several of them by the first two or three groups of characters. The rest is ignored.

Similarity

Now, how do we compute the similarity? It's a work in progress, but at the moment it works like this:

  • the number of common characters on the same position from the beginning of the text are counted as 1
  • the number of other common characters on the same position (so after any position where the characters were different) are counted as 0.8
  • the number of positions where the current structure has pawns on squares that may allow moving them on the named structure square for that position (so where the value is numerical and smaller than the numerical value of the named structure) are counted as 0.2
  • the percentage of the resulting sum from the characters counted is returned as the result

Example: Carlsbad vs Slav
21X2X0TM
21XX11TX
11100280 (8 denotes 0.8 and 2 denotes 0.2 here) = 4/8 = 50%

It may be that this is not the best way and it might be changed in the future.

List of structures

A small note on naming: different sources name these differently or don't recognize them as structures at all. I did what I could to give a short identifiable name to each position, but I think sooner or later I will have to restrict the number of names, rather than increase it. We'll see.

So here is the list of pawn structures recognized by LiChess Tools (v2.2.3):

The links above are also used in LiChess Tools and are mostly from Wikipedia, but also some approximations or just other random sites because there are no links for many of the Flores structures. I would be very happy if someone would help me clean these up.

Hope this explains everything. Enjoy!

and has 0 comments

  I was hoping for a glorious ending for the Final Architecture series and I kind of got it. Everything goes sideways a dozen times and there is always the crew of the Vulture God to save the day. In that regard Adrian Tchaikovsky did not disappoint in Lords of Uncreation, the third and final book in the series.

  However! You knew there was going to be a however, didn't you? Have you ever got into a story where the main characters are kind of underdogs, struggling to achieve anything, but then in just a few jumps they battle Gods and win easily? It's that kind of story. And funnily enough, when it is all over, they all have to return to their mundane lives, regardless of how venerated, because death and taxes. That's always the clinch, the part that either makes you feel something is missing or that turns the main character into a villain, because why should they return to a menial existence?

  So in the end the series was really entertaining, but also a bit childish, with things happening exactly the way they should have so the story doesn't end in tears and characters making "moral choices" that only drag the resolution of conflicts into the future or risk and lose a lot more than decisive action. Whenever I finish stories like these I kind of dream of game like multiple endings based on which road the characters would have taken. The lack of true darkness in the book - or rather its occasionally surprising appearance and quick disappearance - robbed it of a lot of possible agency.

and has 0 comments

Intro

If you are like me, you enjoy chess as a viewer, people sharing their experiences, games and traps and gambits and drama and all of that at the same time. If you are like me, you are addicted to YouTube. Hi, I am Siderite and I am an addict. Yet even the most manic consumer can't keep up with everything out there, so here is My List @2023 of TOP FUN YouTube channels related to chess.

Now, because I list them, I will have to define what fun means. Of course, it's MY fun. You might enjoy something else.

Also, I am a chess noob, so a channel like GM Daniel Naroditsky's (which in my opinion is the best chess channel out there or close to it) flies right over my head. Plus he makes one hour plus videos. Who has time to watch those at twice the speed?

Also twitch, live streams and all that jazz get really old really fast for me. I don't have the time and availability, plus it's a lot of talk. The amount of useful and/or fun information per unit of time is really low. So no.

What is left are charismatic people who are passionate about chess and present it in a way that is both concise and entertaining. And before I list them, let's all take a moment of silence for vampirechiken - may it rise from the dead - Jonathan Schrantz's personal YouTube channel which until recently has been mainly about chess and then suddenly was not. Zolpi, we miss you!

The contestants

OK, let's name our contestants, in no particular order. Then rank them for fun!

Daniel Naroditsky - GM Daniel Naroditsky is an amazingly smart guy. He is also nice and very articulated. His content is well structured, concise and cleared of unnecessary pauses. And yet he is almost always posting one hour and a half videos! Really great guy.

Eric Rosen - Eric Rosen is a very fun person, while also being reasonable, kind and very talented. This International Master of chess singlehandedly made the Stafford Gambit famous (well, again, after Stafford's YouTube channel lost a lot of viewers). Unfortunately, his video editor was also Jonathan Schrantz and, hopefully coincidentally, but I wouldn't hold my breath, the rate and quality of the videos decreased when that guy quit chess.

GothamChess - Talking of stridency, Levy Rozman's channel is very popular, but I don't watch him often, regardless of how loudly he sacrifices rooks. One of the most famous chess YouTube channels, it features a lot of chess analysis, chess news and something called Guess the ELO where fun is made of low rated players. It has the most click bait titles ever and every video thumbnail is properly a face contorted by an acceptable online emotion like :-O, with glowing eyes and a fire background. Because science, bitch!

Remote Chess Academy - Who is GM Igor Smirnov? He is a very charismatic Ukranian chess Grandmaster who likes to make clickbaity videos about chess traps and openings. The content is often simplified for the low rated players and sometimes it is repeated over multiple videos. Think those horribly titled TOP BEST LIST of anything. Who does that? But the guy is fun. His content, though, is pure monetizable output, nothing personal.

John Bartholomew - You can't think of the Scandinavian opening and not think of International Master John Bartholomew. He had a stint in which he was popularizing the opening (team Scandi!🔥🔥🔥). He is also a very nice guy. His content nowadays, though, is a lot of him playing lower rated players in "rating ladder" videos. But I like the guy.

Hanging Pawns - Stjepan Tomic is a regular chess player. His dream is to become a GM, therefore he plays all of these classical games and does analysis on them. His content is very educative, not always entertaining, yet very personal. I think his own displeasure on losing keeps him from winning a lot of times.

Miodrag Perunovic - The Butcher of chess is a very talented International Master. His videos are mostly theoretical and he presents everything with great certainty. Well, he makes it work, because how am I going to disagree with anything he says? He is entertaining, but also pretty high level.

Adamisko šach - Adam Prikler has one of the most promising channels out there. He invents these crazy gambits and traps and his videos are really fun and funny. They are mostly niche, unknown stuff, so the content is also very educative as well as entertaining. Watch out for this guy, he's going to be big!

Anna Cramling - Anna is the young and beautiful daughter of two grandmasters: Pia Cramling from Sweden and Juan Manuel Bellón López from Spain. She's fun, creating popular content, but I feel she is more focused on the popularity than the chess. She is very natural, though, and I like watching her personal story videos.

BotezLive - Alexandra and Andreea Botez are two famous chess playing sisters of Romanian origin. Unfortunately, poor Alexandra somehow managed to have her name associated with hanging queens. It's called the Botez gambit, while not being a gambit at all, just a horrible blunder. Still, even bad publicity is publicity. I don't really watch them. They are cute, but the content is often live and with a lot of dialogue and loud stuff. Very watched channel, though.

Dina Belenkaya - Do not mess with Dina. She is part Russian, part Israeli. A WGM, she is partly fun, partly annoying with her focus on over the board banter. Her content is also focused on popularity, mostly over the board games all over the world.

IM Alex Banzea - Alex is a Romanian YouTuber. He has all kinds of stuff: theory, own games, rating climbs. He is good, but I don't watch him much.

kingscrusher - Tryfon Gavriel is a British CM and total chess enthusiast. If YouTube would be a kingdom, Kingscrusher would be old school royal family. He has been around for a long time and he loves chess. His videos are usually game analysis.

GM Huschenbeth - Niclas Huschenbeth is a German GM. His channel is in German. I don't watch him much now, but I used to when he first started. His content is about a lot of things, but pretty high level.

GMHikaru - Hikaru who? I like Nakamura as a person, but I don't really enjoy his channel style. It's mostly live, Twitch like stuff, only recorded for YouTube. Obviously one of the best players in the world, but still making accessible content.

FM William Graif - FIDE Master Will Graif is a young passionate gambiteer and his videos are usually short and entertaining. A proponent of gambits like the Von Popiel and Busch Gass gambits, he is a very smart player.

ChessNetwork - No one knows who Jerry actually is. He spends all day playing chess and creating videos on YouTube. Another true passionate of the game. His content is extremely informative and intelligent, but a bit high level.

PowerPlayChess - GM Daniel King is obviously strong, but also very articulate and seems very nice. His channel features a lot of detailed chess game analysis and puzzles, as well. I like him.

Volclus - Who is Volclus, or - how I like to call him - "the son of Jerry"? No one knows. He seems like another YouTuber mining for content, but oh boy the work he puts into some of these videos. Have you seen the 11 hours video of all gambits? He made it. And he's rather fun as well.

ChessGeek - This is another young guy on a YouTube channel, but his content is very high value, especially in terms of theory, pawn structures, openings and so on. I like the clear enunciation and obviously the theoretical stuff, but it's pretty over the top. It takes work to get all that.

GingerGM - Grandmaster Simon Williams is a strange beast. He is funny, he is charismatic, he is obviously good at chess, but he is still in the shadows of YouTube, even if most people have heard of him in the community. His content is mostly his own games and speedruns, but also some course material.

GMNeiksans Chess - Grandmaster Arturs Neiksans is a Latvian grandmaster with awesome skill. He is also very nice and his content is really high quality. Unfortunately, it is also often long form and high level. He stopped making videos on YouTube about six months ago, so I don't know if he'll ever restart.

I guess I could go on a bit, but I don't really watch all of these channels and googling for others that I don't know would just eat away all my off screen time. It's time for the ranking! Do I have an objective algorithm for ranking these? Hell, no! I said it was all about fun. If someone could quantify fun they would be rich. I... am not rich.

The results

So here is a list of the channels I watch most and enjoy the most:

Honorable mentionkingscrusher - he is an amazingly nice guy and his knowledge of chess just pours out of him. I just don't watch his channel that much.

Fifth placeAnna Cramling - I wish Anna luck on her chess career and I like her energy and root for her to become better.

Fourth placeRemote Chess Academy - OK, Igor's like the KFC of chess content creators, but those buckets of traps are delicious. Yumm!

Third placeAdamisko šach -  I can't admire enough the effort put in the videos as well as in the research, and then only presented with so much gusto. And that evil laughter, man!

Second placeEric Rosen - I used to watch all of his videos as soon as they came out, but as I said, the quality and frequency have gone down a bit. Otherwise he would have probably been the first.

And the winner is... FM William Graif - I am having so much fun watching him play the gambits and being so cavalier about it. He knows so much and yet he plays with so much joy.

Final words

Please leave a comment with what you like to watch. I am always curious to find new interesting and passionate people.

Have fun!