Video Breakthrough: Chess?

Online video viewers tend to like stunts, high drama, low comedy, titillation, celebrity.

And so I’m pleased to report that one of the best set of 2.0fferings I’ve seen lately appears on. . . chess.com. Yes, we’re talking videos of the game of chess. A social network with impressive UGC discussing strategy. Stifle your yawn and check it out.  

The community of users–these are smart people who (forgive me if this is stereotyping) care little for techy fads–post and link to videos that have real value to other members. (The videos are uploaded to and linked from YouTube.)

  • For beginning players, there are lessons where board animations show moves and coaches explain in voiceovers. 
  • For chess hero worshippers there are videos of Bobby Fisher, Garry Kasparov and other former masters.
  • And there is the Academy Award-winning animated Pixar animated short called The Chess Game. Regardless of whether you know anything about chess, it will provide your best laughs of the day. 

As usual in 2.0land, members create profiles, form social groups, share blogs, and so on. I couldn’t find a flame war or even a disrespectful post on the site. Members share opening moves, stories about how they were trained, talk about controlling the center of the board. They often illustrate their points with images of boards or animations. The crowd is international, the lingua franca appears to be English.

Most members do not post photos, though there is one standout exception: A gorgeous young woman from Chicago named Alicia, who confesses a range of interests in addition to chess that include nightclubbing. As evidence she posts a dozen photos of her similarly photogenic young friends hoisting mojitos and mugging on the dancefloor. That her pages get so many visits makes me a bit sad, though I’m not sure why.

The point here is that chess.com provides an opportunity to observe 2.0 features in their “pure” form, where they are used to deliver substantial content free of the usual traffic-baiting and fad-mongering. You can see where tactics work and where they don’t. The forums and blogs would be well-served by tag clouds, for instance. Some videos would benefit from a slower pace. 

Students of 2.0 tools should definitely check it out. If nothing else you’ll pick up the Barcza opening, sure to help you make quick work of your unschooled opponent. Like, say, your teenage son who beats you way too often and way to quickly. Just for example.

[Thanks to the good folks at TechCrunch for bringing chess.com to our attention.] 

Explore posts in the same categories: UGC, video

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