A conversation with Mr. Chess Talk - Jeetendra Advani
Unlike many physical sports, Chess is a rather complex game to understand for a casual spectator. To enjoy a top-level game of chess, you need to have atleast an understanding of all the rules and basic principles. That is exactly why good chess content creators are needed in chess! Not only do these people have the power to make chess players stronger in their skills, but they also bring in whole new crowds of chess enthusiasts who learn to appreciate the games various nuances. One such creator is Jeetendra Advani - popularly known as Chess Talk on YouTube, a channel with 1.5 million subscribers! In this article, we share a conversation between Jeetendra and IM Sagar Shah, where Mr. Chess Talk shares his journey as a Chess YouTuber and what lies ahead.
The first Indian Chess YouTube Channel who reached 1 Million Subscribers!
An interview with Jeetendra Advani, creator of Chess Talk
IM Sagar Shah (SS): How did you get interested in chess?
Jeetendra Advani (JA): I always loved playing sports & games. I’d learnt to play chess from my father when I was about 6 years old. I was really fascinated by the game. The tactics & strategies involved got me really interested in the game. I won a lot of chess tournaments in my school & college. I never thought of pursuing this as a career, but I just loved playing the game. The joy of beating my opponent in just a few moves was just incomparable! I was very active till my college, but once I completed my CA & CS, I lost touch with the game.
SS: You are a CA, right? Did work at some point take over in your life and chess took a backseat?
JA: Yes, I’m a Chartered Accountant (CA) & a Company Secretary (CS). After completing my studies from Jodhpur, I moved to Mumbai for my job & since I was busy with my work & wanted to excel in my career, chess took a backseat. For about 4-5 years, I hadn’t played much chess. But soon, after a few years, I found out that there were few of my friends at office who also loved playing chess. So we started playing online chess during office breaks/free time. And my passion for chess reignited again.
SS: How did the idea of the YouTube channel come about?
JA: I always enjoyed consuming online content & loved researching on different topics. Many times, I wanted to share my knowledge & learnings with the world. That’s what made me write blogs & create online communities on various topics. When I started playing chess again in 2016, I wanted to get better & so, I started to look for chess content on the web. I realised that there was not much quality content out there & I felt there was a lot I could offer to the chess learners of the world. That’s when I decided to make some chess videos. I already had experience of video editing & other technical stuff so that helped. Soon, few of my videos went viral & that’s how my channel grew & I connected with chess people around the world.
SS: How did you decide the name Chess Talk?
JA: It was actually quite quick – I wanted to have a catchy & unique name – short & sweet. I already had a twitter handle as JeeTalk (Jee for Jeetendra) and similarly, this was one of the first names that came to my mind. I checked if there was any other channel by this name & luckily there wasn’t. That’s when I went ahead with it & reserved it on other social media platforms.
SS: What was your initial idea about making content and how did it evolve?
JA: My parents have been in the teaching profession for years so, I like to share my knowledge & discuss my learnings with others. I’ve developed a lot of interests & I’m very passionate about them. Chess is one of those interests, however I’ve tried making content on other topics as well. In my CA days, I used to post stuff around studies. I also loved posting about cricket since I loved the sport.
Sharing knowledge has always been something I liked & the same went with chess. When I started making chess videos, I’d never thought my content would reach millions of people. My initial idea was just to share my knowledge about the game with like-minded people since there wasn’t much quality content available at that time. I wanted to give my best at whatever I did. So I analysed what my viewers liked & accordingly tailored my content to give them what they were looking for. Slowly & gradually, I realised that viewers liked my style & simplicity. And that has been something I’ve carried along, kept improving & that made us reach 1 million subscribers on the channel, I’m very thankful to all the people who have followed me because this wouldn’t have been possible without their love and support.
SS: What according to you is the main USP of your channel?
JA: I believe in keeping things simple & not over-complicating. That’s what I follow for my channel as well. I try to think from an average chess learner’s point of view & then design my content accordingly to help them in the best possible way. I’m heavily invested in each & every video I make – that’s what gives me most satisfaction. My focus has always been quality over quantity.
SS: How did it feel when Aamir Khan applauded your efforts during a livestream on chesscom India channel? Did you meet him later? How did that happen and how was that experience?
JA: It was an amazing feeling to know that Aamir Sir watches & likes my chess content. It felt so great that I can’t even express it in words. After the livestream, I also had the privilege of meeting him at his place. He took out time from his busy schedule & I got to spend almost 2 hours with him. He was so welcoming & took such good care that I never felt like I was meeting a superstar.
We chatted on various things from movies to chess and life in general. He is so humble & it was really great to know him. All in all, it was a wonderful experience meeting him.
SS: Have you ever thought of going full-time into YouTube and content creation?
JA: Yes, of course, that thought has come to my mind. And it is kind of a full time thing only but having said that, I don’t put too much pressure on myself to post content regularly as I believe in quality over quantity. I enjoy making content on my own terms, I feel by pushing too hard might take away my freedom of creativity & trying out different things. Your priorities change when you can’t afford to fail, whereas this is something where I love experimenting irrespective of the outcome and that’s what gives me satisfaction. Still that option of posting content frequently is open if I decide to take the plunge.
SS: What would be your advice to budding chess creators out there?
JA: It is important to do what you like. If you like creating chess content, go for it. If you like creating any other type of content, go for that. Don’t just copy what everybody is doing and don’t create content with the hope that you’ll make easy money. Content creation is not simple. There are a lot of elements that go into making a video. So, it takes a lot of time to master & you need to learn & keep improving. You need to be passionate about it & you need to have patience. If you have these qualities, you can definitely make it a rewarding career.
SS: What is your plan for the future in your life and related to chess?
JA: I don’t think too far ahead. At the moment, I’m looking to educate & bring more & more people to play the game. My target audience has always been beginners & intermediate level players & I’ll continue to grow upon that. I also have plans to start another channel, but not on chess. Hopefully, that will happen soon.
I’ve seen chess content evolve a lot over the past few years. It is important to embrace the change, at the same time, maintain my uniqueness which audiences like to watch. My recent focus has been short-form content because of the new audiences it brings in. So lots to look forward to in the next few months.