John Hartmann


It’s never easy to start a new job, and doing so during a pandemic… well, that’s even harder.


John Hartmann became editor of Chess Life on June 1st, 2020, amidst some of the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mass cancellation of over-the-board tournaments, and the cost-cutting measures required by a membership organization in a public health emergency.


Under his editorship, Chess Life thrived.


Hartmann was innovative in his editorial choices. He was quick to chronicle the “new chess boom” that brought chess streamers into the mainstream, and his early decision to spotlight the Netflix limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” proved incredibly prescient. He brought new authors and new ideas to the magazine, making a concerted effort to diversify the roster of both authors and subjects, and he worked to bring Chess Life readers the best possible articles on American chess in all of its facets.


Hartmann continued to produce content for both Chess Life and Chess Life Online, which also remained in his editorial portfolio. Here is a partial list of his output from June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021:

  • Chess Life features on the creation of the 5th edition of Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual and the resumed 2020-2021 Candidates (with GM Jacob Aagaard).
  • Chess Life interviews with GM Jorden van Foreest, Daniel Negreanu, and Rainn Wilson.
  • A new Chess Life department, “In the News,” beginning in January 2021.
  • Monthly podcast episodes (“Cover Stories with Chess Life”) with guests ranging from GM Maurice Ashley to Adisa Banjoko to Ben Johnson to Michael Tisserand.
  • Continued writings for Chess Life Online, including tournament reports, ‘Wednesday Workouts,’ and more.
  • Video interviews (hosted on the US Chess YouTube channel) with U.S champions, IM John Donaldson, Bruce Pandolfini, and the cast of the Netflix limited series “The Queen’s Gambit.”


It is for these reasons that US Chess nominates author, editor, and podcast host John Hartmann to be the 2020-2021 Chess Journalist of the Year.