Friday, February 10, 2006

Just thinking...

Now, I'm not particularly prone to conspiracy theories... Wait a minute! I guess it's time to stop saying that since apparently I am (see here and here)... Start again.

Reports about the demise of the Ajedrez21 chess server are now filtering around the blogosphere after being initially reported at ChessBase. According to the story, the server was forced to shutdown after repeated hacker attacks. Fortunately, the kind folks at ChessBase stepped in to offer displaced Ajedrez21 players free and discounted memberships on their server. Since then, the Internet Club (ICC) has announced that they have reached an agreement with Ajedrez21 to move their membership onto the ICC.

Sounds reasonable enough, but I have a couple of questions:
  1. Sites face hacker attacks all the time. While they are often disabled for a few hours or days, they generally are not shutdown permanently. Site owners institute defenses, plug problems in their code and get back up and running (until the next time the hackers find a weakness to exploit). So why did Ajedrez21 shut down instead of continuing to work to improve its defenses?

  2. ChessBase's motivation in offering free and discounted memberships was obviously not a purely altruistic act, and the ICC's merger agreement was undoubtedly a reasonable competitive response. Both companies are trying to seize the opportunity to attract new members from their former competitor (nothing wrong with that -- in fact, one might call it good business). But, did this opportunity just fall into their laps or [cue sinister background music] is it possible that one or both had some hand in creating it? Both ChessBase and the ICC are loaded with computer scientists after all. Don't get me wrong, I don't have any evidence of a and I'm not making any accusations; it's just an interesting possibility to ponder.

Update: In the time since I wrote this, World Chess Network has also made their pitch to former Ajedrez21 members.

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