Book Review and Discussion of the Modern Classic Chess Book, Under the Surface, by GM Jan Markos

Chess Books Recaptured returns to discuss a relatively recent book that is quickly being recognized as a modern classic, GM Jan Markos’ Under the Surface. Jan’s book is a philosophical look at the beauty of chess, as demonstrated by many original concepts and chess metaphors. The chess examples are intermediate to advanced levels, but the book contains lessons that are applicable to all players. I am joined by 2 guest co-hosts this month, both of whom are also chess bibliophiles and particular fans of this book. NM Gopal Menon is a Chicago-based chess trainer, and a blitz and opening specialist with a peak online blitz rating over 2900. Matt Fletcher is a UK based actuary, dad, and strong club player who frequently competes OTB in his local chess leagues. It was tons of fun to discuss an amazing book with two fellow hardcore chess fans! As always, more details, timestamps and relevant links can be found below.


Why do we love this book?

Mentioned: Gopal Menon’s post of his favorite chess books, Seven Deadly Chess Sins by GM Jonathan Rowson, Episode 239 with GM Jan Markos, Available on Forward Chess, The Secret Ingredient by GM Jan Markos and GM David Navara

12:15- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by You can check out their latest offerings here:

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13:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Better Help. You can see some online reviews here, and if you sign up, use this link to save 10%:

14:30- We select our favorite aspects of the book.

Mentioned: Correspondence GM Tansel Turgut, Imagination in Chess, Pump Up Your Rating by GM Axel Smith

37:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Aimchess collects and analyzes your games and gives you actionable tips based on the data it gathers. Check the site out, and if you choose to subscribe, please use the code Perpetual30 to save 30%.

38:00- We discuss more of our favorite segments, including the author’s unique insights about openings and another favorite metaphor from the book.

Mentioned: The London System, Stonewall Dutch, Follow Gopal’s Lichess blog here, GM Alex Shabalov. Check out the Stockfish Leela Zero game Matt mentioned here

52:00- We summarize GM Markos’ chess improvement advice and catch up a bit on Gopal’s book project and Matt’s chess.

57:00- Coming next month! Neal Bruce returns to the podcast to compare 8 different chess strategy puzzle books, and Chrisopher Chabris will join me to discuss the book The Mammoth Book of Chess.

58:00- Thanks to Gopal and Matt for joining me to discuss this great book, here are the links to keep up with them:

Matt’s Twitter

Gopal’s Twitter

Gopal’s Lichess Blog

If you are looking for chess instruction in Chicago, check out Gopal’s organization, Dynamic Chess:

Dynamic Chess


  1. What makes this book so great are the fresh metaphors and images that open the mind up. Checking on the author one can see that he has a background in philosophy and religion which shows the imagination of the author. On my second reread.

  2. I finally broke down and bought this book. I can't wait until it arrives!

  3. Your podcast is very good, but very long. Why you don't tansform the podcast something with live interviews with zoom or cellphone? It would be much better.

  4. Your podcast is very good, but too short. Why don’t you go into more depth? It would be much better. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  5. Come on guys, let's get this man's channel over 10k subs.

  6. It's halirious. One comment says your podcast is too short the next says it's too long. I can't believe I just found your channel. Youtube must hate you

  7. I really love this podcast, one of these days I'm going to be on here. I hope to take in all I learned and apply it to my studies as an adult improver. Thank you Perpetual Chess for what you do for keeping chess informative, consistent, and very helpful to building inspirational interviews from people of all backgrounds. Hope to see and hear more interviews in the future. Keep doing what you do!

  8. Nice podcast. I greatly enjoy reading the book Under the Surface and I highly recommend it.

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