1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your personal and professional background.
My name is Gunjan Jani (known online GJ_Chess). I grew up in Ahmedabad, India. By profession, I am a Telecom engineer. I have lived in Sydney, Australia for 5 years (2005-2010), and I have worked with different Telecom companies (Telstra, Australia (2007 – 2010), BSNL, India (2010-2011).
Apart from this, I would consider my main profession to be a YouTube Video Creator. Internationally rated, I hold the title of Arena Grand Master (AGM), and run a successful YouTube chess channel with over 150,000 subscribers & over 50 million views. Currently my channel is among the top 10 chess channels in the world.
2. What got you interested you chess? What is your favorite opening and why?
My interest in chess began in my early teens. When I was in middle school, I came across a championship match where a school chess champion demonstrated a great post-match analysis before a big crowd of students and teachers. This had a deep impact on me, and thus began the wonderful journey of GJ_Chess.
My favorite openings are the Trompowsky Attack (Bg5) & the Nimzowich Defense (Nc6), which not only suit my attacking chess style but have also helped me to win lots of chess games and to get a reputable chess rating.
3.What’s the story behind the starting of GJ_Chess? What is the eureka moment that triggered it?
It’s quite interesting. In 2008, after finishing my Master’s study, I was working in Telstra, Sydney (A Govt. Telecom Co.) and during my free time I frequently watched YouTube videos. It was then that I came across some good chess channels and began to watch their videos regularly. One of the channels in particular mentioned the procedures and software required to make chess videos. So I thought that I would give it a try and find out what people thought of my chess skills & videos. Luckily for me, my first video got a very good response and that moment really set the platform for upcoming success.
4.What is the motto of GJ Chess?
GJ_Chess channel is designed to present various aspects of chess (openings, traps, attacks) publicly and freely to every level of chess player from beginner to expert.
The vision of GJ_Chess is to popularize the game of chess, encourage more people to play it, & to raise the quality bar of the game.
5.What was the point when you started getting famous?
In the year 2013, I uploaded the first video of “Dirty Chess Tricks to Win Fast” series. Within a few months the videos went viral and from that point on, every single dirty-chess-tricks video gained tremendous popularity. So far I have uploaded 21 videos in this series and on average, each video netted 1 million views.
6.Any challenges that you faced during your journey and any inspirational story you could share with our readers?
In India, where most parents place a very high priority on study and finding a good job, a sports person will always face tons of challenges. Here, life expectations never allow us time for what we really want to do. Overcoming this depends on us and how deeply we follow our passion.
Initially, my parents didn’t like chess, so they made fun of my passion at different get-togethers of family and friends. I still remember one day when my father came to my room and threatened that if I continued wasting time like this, he would throw away my laptop. He also mentioned that if I had used 10% of the time I wasted on chess in a more productive activity like a job or business, then I would be well ahead (i.e., in the money race). The worst part was that when I got married in 2012, my wife didn’t like chess either, and she seriously fought with me on many occasions regarding this matter. At one point, I felt very frustrated & completely lost hope, but I still remain firm & have never given up on what I actually want to do.
“I like to share one e-mail I got from a parent which I think is more than a inspirational story.”
Hello Gunjan Jani,
I watched your lecture on the Traxler Counter Attack, and used it to teach the attack to my 7-year old son, Oliver. The White attack on f7 occurs frequently in scholastic tournaments, so it was very interesting to us. We did not have time to study all of it in depth, but we played through some practice games with it. This past Saturday (November 22), he played in a tournament, and he had a perfect score of 3 as he entered the 4th round. So, he was playing in the final round with the Black pieces, and trying for a tournament win. Also, he was facing the #1-seeded player in his section. Oliver won the game and the tournament. And, when he showed me his 4th-round game notation, I was absolutely shocked to see that he used the Traxler Counter Attack in that game! As you can see from the notations below, after …Nxe4+, his opponent played Ke1. Black missed the good opportunity to end it earlier in this line (…Nxg3), which you demonstrated at 8:40 in Traxler video #1. However, he played a pretty solid and exciting game. His opponent’s Queen side remained untouched. Nearly all Black pieces were active, and the White King was badly exposed to checks. The White Queen was forced off the board, and Black ended it by move 20 in a beautiful checkmate with a Knight. Needless to say, you now have a devoted 7-year old fan.