What’s “popular” on ChessLecture

by admin on February 18, 2011

When I first started recording lectures for chesslecture.com in 2006, I used to check the popularity of my lectures almost religiously. I no longer do, because the list of the most popular lectures almost never changes. To understand why, imagine what it would be like if the Billboard top-40 song list always showed you the top 40 selling songs of all time. Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” would still be at #1, where it has been every week since 1962!

On the ChessLecture top-20 list we have a similar phenomenon. The #1 video ever since I joined has been a lecture recorded by Bill Paschall in October 2005, A Secret Weapon for Black: Part I. I’ve listened to it. Probably almost every ChessLecture subscriber has listened to it, just out of curiosity: Why is this lecture #1? There’s really no good reason. It’s not that great a lecture, although it has a good title. But it will probably always be #1, just because people keep clicking on it. There’s a slight possibility that the #2 lecture, Jesse Kraai’s Fried Liver Attack: Part I will catch it someday, but Jesse has been chasing Bill for five years and hasn’t caught him yet.

In general, the older lectures have an unfair advantage. They were listened to by all the former subscribers of ChessLecture who no longer subscribe; but a lecture that recorded today will never have a chance to reach those people.

So, given the unevenness of the playing field, it’s no big surprise that 99 of the 100 “most popular” lectures were recorded in 2005, 2006, or 2007. It doesn’t mean that our lectures have gotten worse since 2007! (By the way, the only more recent lecture that has managed to crack the top 100 is Eugene Perelshteyn’s Simple Opening Systems for Transition to Middlegame, recorded in February 2008, which comes in at #36.)

However, I think that it IS somewhat informative to compare the popularity of lectures that were recorded around the same time. What the numbers really represent, I think, is how interested the viewers are in the topic (not how good the lecture is). A lot of people must have trouble with the transition from the opening to the middlegame. (I know I do.) And the Fried Liver Attack, of course, is a perennial favorite.

So here are my most frequently watched lectures year by year.


  • The Hook and Ladder Trick (1545 views)
  • King’s Gambit Accepted: A Model Game for White (1534)
  • Nuke the Sicilian! How to Sac Your Queen on Move Six and Win (1462)


  • Tactical Motifs 101: Forks, Part I (1865)
  • Eight-Dimensional Chess (Inspired by Jeremy Silman) (1597)
  • Tactical Motifs 102: Forks, Part II (1572)


  • Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode I (1113)
  • Tactical Motifs 203: Mating Nets (914)
  • Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode II (886)


  • My New Favorite Trap (584)
  • Tactical Motifs 301: Loose Pieces, Part I (490)
  • Zen in the Art of Chess (469)


  • Practical Rook Endgames, Part I: The Importance of Being Active (493)
  • The Golden Rule of Double-Rook Endgames (471)
  • Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs, Episode XXI: Resigning too Soon (425)

And some conclusions:

  1. Part I of a series always gets more listeners than any of the other parts.
  2. I should probably do some more Tactical Motifs lectures. The problem is that there are only so many motifs, and these lectures are more boring to do than going over the latest tournament games. Still, there is an audience …
  3. I should definitely do some more rook endgame lectures.
  4. I will, of course, continue the “Learn from Your Fellow Amateurs” series, although episode twenty-something will never be as popular as episode one.

And finally, for a dose of humility, here are the chesslecture.com top ten with the number of times each one has been viewed:


  1. A Secret Weapon for Black: Part I, IM Bill Paschall (3102 views)
  2. Fried Liver Attack, Part I, GM Jesse Kraai (2662)
  3. A Universal Training Program, GM Jesse Kraai (2553)
  4. Fried Liver Attack, Part II, GM Jesse Kraai (2367)
  5. The Halloween Gambit, GM Jesse Kraai (2263)
  6. Openings Overview: e4, GM Jesse Kraai (2179)
  7. Why Shaq Plays Center, GM Jesse Kraai (2086)
  8. Starting Out with the Caro-Kann, GM Jesse Kraai (2036)
  9. King’s Indian for Black, Part I, IM David Vigorito (1981)
  10. The Giuoco Piano, GM Jesse Kraai (1880)

Now compare the number of views for those videos to the top ten videos at chess.com:

  1. Play Chess Today! Part I, FM Todd Andrews (86575 views)
  2. Meeting GM Khachiyan: The Exchange Sacrifice, GM Melikset Khachiyan (20225)
  3. Amateur Analysis, IM David Pruess (19252)
  4. Nominal and Absolute Power of the Pieces, GM Dejan Bojkov (14366)
  5. Pawn Structure 101: Orthodox/Minority Attack, IM Danny Rensch (13156)
  6. Tactics Do Grow on Strategies, IM David Pruess (13021)
  7. Development: Attack and Defense 2, IM David Pruess (12962)
  8. Beauty and Entertainment I, GM Roman Dzindzichashvili (12873)
  9. Isolated Queen Pawns: Practical Examples I, IM Danny Rensch (12445)
  10. Member Analysis: Instructive Member Game, GM Roman Dzindzichashvili (11411)

Looks like I’m lecturing at the wrong site!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Schmidt February 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm

The “Learn from your fellow amateurs” videos are my favorite ones on chesslecture.com. I think in general there should be way more instructive material (books, videos, etc.) featuring amateur games, and way less featuring super-GM games.


Freelix February 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I watched your “hook and ladder” lecture a year or so ago, and I thought that it was wonderful. Using such a funny and colorful term for this tactical motif was simply the perfect way to burn this pattern into my brain like never before.


Brian Wall February 19, 2011 at 4:27 am

JRobi’s Youtube numbers are impressive


Chess Traps #5: Ruy Lopez Berlin Defence Trap (Fishing Pole)

channel JRobiChess

views 88, 772

luckily he mentions one of mine and I get to ride his coattails


Fishing Pole: First Blood pt 1

channel sagacious00004



Tony Schleizer June 18, 2011 at 12:22 am

I subscribe to both chess.com and chesslecture.com and find the videos at chesslecture to be much more informative. In terms of raw numbers, chess.com has a built in advantage simply b/c they offer the videos in addition to a lot of other stuff (various ways of playing online chess, chess mentor, reviews, etc.).


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