Life Master Joel Johnson Podcast

Today’s podcast features Original Life Master Joel Johnson.

Life Master Joel Johnson. Picture from

Joel subscribed to my free chess tactics newsletter, which I considered to be a real honor, since I was a big fan of his book, Formation Attacks.  I had even included one of the positions that I found really fascinating in his book in one of my newsletters.

Joel sent me some of his games, which contains brilliant attacks and tactics in them, and I asked if he would be interested in doing a podcast with me!

Joel’s book Formation Attacks is very interesting.  In the book he breaks down various chess attacks by pawn structures.

  1. Fianchetto
    • normal
    • with h5 (h4) played 
    • with h6 (h3) played 
    • without an h-pawn 
    • with f5 (f4) played 
    • open f-file 
    • with defender’s bishop on h8 (h1) 
    • without a defending bishop
  2. No Pawn Weaknesses
    • sacrifices on f6, f7, g7, h7, etc. 
    • forcing weaknesses, etc.
  3. Open Files
    • open f-file, open g-file, open h-file, etc.
  4. Queenside Castling
  5. Uncastled King
    • capture on f7
    • check on e file
    • check along h8-e8 (h4-e1) diagonal
    • knight check
    • defender moves king on his own
    • check along a4-e8 (a5-e1) diagonal
    • capture on d7
    • capture on d8
    • back rank check
  6. A variety of other miscellaneous themes
    • f5 played
    • f6 played
    • h5 played
    • h6 played
    • Fishing Pole
    • Pawn storms
  7. Mating Nets

This book contains hundreds of examples, and lots of diagrams, and is very easy to read.  At 500 pages, this book makes a good “Stranded on a Desert Island” chess book (along with a copy of “How to make a boat” :-)).

All sorts of games are featured, including blitz games, famous games, games between Grandmasters and amateurs alike.  I really liked this, because I like to look at all sorts of games myself!

Joel also gives advice on topics such as preparing for an opponent, using computers, identifying weaknesses, analyzing positions, and has a lot of chess wisdom sprinkled on every page.

Joel is an incredibly active chess player, having played in, and directed hundreds of chess tournaments.  He won the 2007 U.S. Senior Open.

Joel’s book is somewhat famous in Colorado, because it contains a chapter on the “Fishing Pole”, which is a very well known opening here.  My good friend, Francisco Baltier, has a game included in the book, where he beat Grandmaster Walter Browne in a simul with this opening in Reno a few years ago.

Joel and I talked about:

  • How he got interested in chess
  • His book Formation Attacks, the motivation behind it and how to study it
  • The Fishing Pole
  • His next book that he is working on, Formation Attack Strategies
  • His climb from a beginner to an expert player
  • Some of the chess terms Joel invented such a “threat pinned” to help explain various chess tactics
  • How Chess Masters are able to play chess so quickly
  • and much more!

You are sure to enjoy this podcast! MP3 podcast interview with Joel Johnson (Right Click to download) interview with Joel Johnson PDF Transcript



Joel’s USCF Rating History

USCF Online Article Joel Johnson Wins U.S. Senior

Chessville review of Formation Attacks

USCL Arizona Scorpions Player Profile Page for Joel Johnson

Here is one of the games that Joel sent me, with a brilliant and dramatic ending.  Joel is “FearNoEvil”.

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One thought on “Life Master Joel Johnson Podcast

  1. FANTASTIC interview Timmy!
    I love listening some stuff! I might listen them every day – it is amazing interesting when an author speaks about his views and ideas according to playing chess, writing books, training, etc.

    More interviews like this one Timmy! I LOVE your site – especially for superb interviews (but additionally to interesting articles – like Dan Heisman summary of chess tactics excercises, ideas, etc.)

    Keep up the great job!! – Tom

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