Over the past few years, I have learned a lot about chess, primarily through the great videos and tutoring content on Chess.com and through the variety of YouTube chess channels. Here is a list of my favorite channels and some comments to guide you. Note: I do occassionally come back and update this list, but if you notice a channel that is missing, please let me know so that I can add it.
YouTube Chess Channels
WeLearnChess: Okay, a shameless plug to start off the list! I think it’s better to watch the videos on the blog, because you will find more content describing the video and links to more related content and features. But if you prefer to just watch on YouTube, of course that’s an option as well!
John Bartholomew: John has taken over as my favorite channel. He is an IM and explains his thinking process clearly and posts a ton of great content. He has a positional style, so he has a lot to offer in terms of middle game and endgame strategy, but of course he is a powerful player in all aspects of the game. I especially like his Climbing the Rating Ladder series and his 15-minute games with commentary. He announced recently that he’ll be moving a bit away from the daily live-play videos to concentrate on deeper instructional content, which I’m looking forward to. Keep up the great work John!
Astaneh Chess: Amazingly clear explanations from an IM from Ireland. I like that he has several 10-minute games, where he points out the deficiencies in intermediate-level players’ games. He also has some lessons with a student that touch on a lot of intermediate concepts. This channel is fairly new at the time I’m writing this, but I expect it to grow in popularity.
Chess.com’s YouTube Channel: If you’re not ready to pay for the full membership on Chess.com, you can still watch a ton of great videos on Chess.com’s YouTube channel. The videos include plenty of live chess action, puzzles, event coverage, etc. Most commentators are quite entertaining as well. Danny Rensch has his own channel as well, although I think most of the videos overlap. Note that their premium chess video library on the main site is quite different. The YouTube channel is free, so there is a lot of live bullet play, hack attack, etc. The Chess.com video library has a ton of more instructional content of course, and that’s what I’d really recommend going for. For the price of a few chess lessons, you get a year’s worth of awesome video comment, chess mentor lessons, unlimited tactics trainer, and more.
Chessexplained: IM ChessExplained (Christof Sielecki) is an IM with strong positional style. He has over 3,500 live blitz videos and counting (an amazing feat!), along with a couple hundred live 15-minute games against top-level GM and IM competition. He also has playlists with analysis of his over-the-board games, analysis of modern games and coverage of many big chess events, strategic middle game and end game series, opening repertoires, and more. The commentary is clear, and he gets quite passionate in his games, which I can relate to. He is probably the most active YouTube chess poster out there, with at least a few videos every day.
ChessNetwork: ChessNetwork (Jerry) is another great channel. He is an NM and probably plays at even a higher level than that (just check out his tactics trainer score on chess.com!). His commentary is clear and entertaining. He also has a host of videos on his channel. One of the great things about this channel is that he plays users at lower levels, so he shows how to respond to moves that you might see in your own games (although the past year he has begun to post live-play videos against stronger competition). He also has a clear teaching style.
Chess24: The YouTube channel for the Chess24 site has a ton of great content. I find the name “banter blitz” a bit silly, but there is nothing silly about the quality of players they have commenting while playing. Any time you can log onto a channel and watch the likes of Peter Svidler (regularly in the top 20 in the world), Loek van Wely, and other GMs sharing their thoughts about positions as they play them, you can’t miss it. They have also shared quite a few instructional series, such as the Miss Strategy middle game series, which includes topics such as playing with hanging pawns and isolated pawns and attacking the uncastled King.
Squarology: IM Daniel Tapia’s channel is both funny and instructive. He doesn’t post regularly, but make sure to subscribe so that you know right away when a new video is posted. I love his offbeat sense of humor in the videos, and his explanations of the positions are clear. I also like that he calculates out loud and at a pace that I can usually follow.
Tal Baron: GM Tal Baron has emerged as a new YouTube presence and posts live blitz games regularly. He does something a bit different than the other channels–he analyzes the game he just played in his next video, which gives him more time to properly analyze the position. Once you get used to it, I think you’ll like it, because the insight is a bit higher. And, of course, this is a GM giving you his thoughts as he plays–what more can you ask for!
St. Louis Chess Club: The STL Chess Club channel has a ton of really instructional videos from top GMs and IMs, including the entertaining and clear commentary of GM Ben Finegold. The videos are often 45-minute (or longer) lessons that were filmed for the students, but they post them online. They often hit topics that are tough to grasp, such as middle game strategy and related themes. Really great stuff on this channel.
Simon Williams: The always entertaining GM Simon Williams plays plenty of great attacking chess on his channel. This is a nice change of pace from some of the other channels, which, although great, are often more positional in nature.
Greg Shahade: IM Greg Shahade has been posting on YouTube for years. And unlike almost every other channel mentioned on this page (except for perhaps KingsCrusher), he plays a lot of 1. e4, so if you are a 1. e4 player, you’ll be interested in a lot of the positions that Greg gets. As much as I enjoy the other channels on this list, I do wish more of them would play the open games more (John, Cristoff, and others do play different lines of course, it’s just not their go-to repretroire, and it’s different when you see someone playing their own lines rather than dabbling in lesser used ones).
ChessBrah: The channel’s own description says it all: “Chess entertainment hosted by Grandmaster Eric Hansen along with energetic dance beats and uncensored commentary.” This channel features a lot of bullet, hyperbullet, and odds challenges. In one challenge I remember he did 10 seconds versus his opponent’s 60 seconds and was cleaning house. I don’t usually find much value in watching bullet chess, but it is fun from an entertainment perspective, and some of his feats on this channel are unbelievable.
Dereque Kelley: Dereque’s channel focuses on opening theory. His videos give a balanced perspective of many chess openings to help you understand the ideas that White and Black are playing for. The videos show just enough lines to be informative without overwhelming you, and his explanations are straightforward and clear.
MatoJelic: No list would be complete without Mato’s channel. He has a heavy emphasis on game analysis, both historic and modern. His videos are concise (often 5 to 10 minutes) because he doesn’t bog you down with lots of lines. He usually focuses on one or two critical positions in a game. He chooses games that are beautiful examples of chess concepts in action.
KingsCrusher: Tryfon Gavriel is an IM who has amassed one of the largest chess video channels on YouTube (well over 5,000 videos and counting). Like ChessExplained, he has a ton of live chess, along with videos on strategic and tactical concepts. Unlike ChessExplained, however, he has a more aggressive playing style, so if you like an emphasis on attacking chess, make sure to check out this archive.
SeanG Godley: Sean might not publish as actively as most of the others above, but when he does, his videos are quite interesting. Often, he will break up the analysis of one game into a few separate videos, taking the lines slowly to help you process them. One series that I particularly like is his video adaptation of Bobby Fischer’s “Bust to the King’s Gambit” article. He also has a nice series going through the chapters in Aron Nimzowitsch’s classic book, My System.
IM Andrew Martin Chess Videos: As noted by the handle this is well-known commentator Andrew Martin, who has done videos for the old Online Chess Lessons and Foxy Openings vids, etc. He has a lot of game analysis on his channel and has kept up with it over the years (still new content).
IM Bill Paschal: His commentary seems more oriented toward opening theory, theoretical positions, and analysis of lines.
BlitzStream: I’m actually not sure of this guy’s name, but he has a lot of good live-blitz videos on his channel. He tends to play 3-minute games, which are a bit short for my taste, as time almost always spoils the position, but he manages to get quite a bit of good commentary in despite the fast time control.
Tony Rotella: LiChess admin and Kalashnikov expert offers a variety of videos. I don’t believe he is titled, but he’s a fairly strong player and delivers ideas clearly in his videos.
Hutch: Not the strongest chess player, but then again, neither am I! Hutch is known more for his other gaming videos, but he has several chess videos, and what he lacks in playing strength he makes up for with entertaining delivery and high production quality.
Majnu: This channel has a nice series on middle game positions and planning, as well as some visualization exercises, and some other great content as well.
MattyDPerrine: Matt is a FIDE Master and has a nice series on his channel where he challeneged himself to go from 800 to 2200 in live blitz rating on Chess.com. Of course, most of the climb was cake for a player of his caliber, but you get to see him point out why common beginner- and intermediate-level moves are mistakes. I am only partway through this series but enjoying it so far.
GJ_Chess: I like the attacking style of his videos. If you like aggressive chess, you should definitely check out this channel. A lot of the lines are technically unsound, but they are all fighting openings that you can try, probably with decent success in shorter time controls.
Peter Lalic: Peter has a huge endgame course on his channel, so I’ll be visiting his channel at some point to improve my poor endgame skills!
JRobiChess: This channel was very active for a while, then was stagnant for a couple years. It looks like JRobi did come back last year and has been active with his posts. One of the benefits of this channel is that, like me, he isn’t a master (to my knowledge), so his videos often help answer questions that beginner and intermediate players have.
TheChessWebsite: Kevin’s channel has a lot of videos on playing attacking-oriented openings. He also does game analysis of current tournaments sometimes. I liked watching the opening videos when I was starting out. A lot of them are coffee house style and lead to wild positions. You can certainly have some fun with this. However, after a while, I moved on to the other channels because, personally, I just felt that they had more value to offer. Still, there is plenty of good stuff to watch on this channel.
GreenCastleBlock: Matt Pullin has plenty of content on this channel, but he hasn’t been active much over the past year, so I’m not sure if he plans to continue with the channel. Still plenty of great stuff to look through of course.
Kuasm: This channel doesn’t post too frequently, but there is some good content here (usually analysis of particular positions or lines).
Gorgonian: Another channel with very infrequent posts, but some decent material when he does.
Jim’s Chess Channel: Pretty clear commentary. His rating is quite low (no offense–I’m not very high rated either), but he is making progress in his rating over time, so who knows, maybe he’ll surpass me soon! He does post quite regularly.
There are literally tons of other chess channels on YouTube. I haven’t looked enough yet at most of them to make a recommendation (Brendan J. Norman, PowerPlay Chess, among others). If you have recommendations of your own, please add them below.