Brendan Norman

I used to approach chess addictively with the fantasy of “one day being a Grandmaster”, studying furiously all of the materials I could get my hands on.

After a lot of work I became fairly strong at the game.

I used to put myself under so much pressure, even to the point that I enjoyed chess much less than before.

I used to fear losing (especially in front of my students), and I felt like I had to be always in maintenance mode and training.

I was always comparing myself to other players and obsessed with ratings.

This Is Where Chess Becomes Hell

Its when you stop enjoying the game because you are so focussed on results, and ratings and other bullshit that you forget the reason that you fell in love with chess in the first place!

Chess&Cognac is the site I created to share with you my passion for chess, insights from almost 20 years of chess study, plus the beauty in chess that keeps me addicted me today.

Interested? Take a moment to jump on my VIP Chess Training Mailing List below (its FREE!)

I use this site as a platform to give a personal perspective on more than 15 years of chess study and to share the ideas and lessons I’ve developed from it.

Chess&Cognac will help you learn to enjoy chess a lot more, as well as improve your game dramatically.

Although with any hobby you should shoot for the stars, make sure enjoying your chess is the main reason you play because…What other point is there?

Magnus Carlsen

One thing I love to do to enjoy my chess is to experiment with chess engines.

A chess engine is defined on Wikipedia as:

In computer chess, a chess engine is a computer program that analyses chess positions and makes decisions on the best chess moves.

I take more of an artist’s perspective on computer chess than a scientist’s though.

What I mean is that I look more for chess engines which play beautiful chess, rather than ones which play the strongest chess.

Especially since I ALSO like to play against them as well.

Let me give some examples:


In the position above, the engine DisasterArea 1.54 Cognac (white) has already sacrificed a pawn and a piece as it goes all out for the attack with 22.Qh5!



In the position above, the engine Rodent 1.7 Kinghunter (white) has sacrificed his knight with 16.Nxh7!? for an uncertain attack which worked out in the end for him.



In the position above, the engine Gambit Fruit Cognac (white) sacrificed his knight with 25.Nh5!!, creating enormous complications which ended up in a win for him.

These are just a few examples of play from the excellent chess engines I mess around with in my spare time, aiming for a fun chess opponent, over the number crunching, boredom inducing machines.

Another way I enjoy chess is by playing blitz (speed chess) online on sites like and and when I do I try to play in the most aggressive, sacrificial style possible.

This aggressive and risky new style of mine (heavily influenced by my work with the engines mentioned above) often results in wins (even against strong players) in 20 odd moves, but sometimes also in embarrassing losses haha! All part of the game, right? 😉

Here are a couple examples of my online play:

If you like this type of thing, I often make videocasts of myself playing and sharing my thoughts during the  live game. These are very instructive for learning players, but entertaining as well, so do check em out!

Living in China, I also cooperate with some partners and teach chess programs here and there which is a very heart warming thing to do for me, as the kids I teach are studious and passionate about chess, while still being silly and childish as kids tend to be.

They’re also very talented.

Here is Jeremy He in a tough matchup against Jessica Wang.

chess in china

Both are only 6 years old.

And they are already on their way to being strong players.

So here I am, sitting safely in my warm apartment in Jinan City in China’s Shandong province.

Brendan linkedin

I’m sitting warmly on the 11th floor, away from the snow falling downstairs.


And I’m ready to to meet my new chess friends worldwide.

Let’s connect!

Oh! And finally…

Here’s some cool stuff to get you started! 😉