Friday, July 20, 2007

Chessdom Interview Part 4: Knights Errant

Chessdom: Can you introduce Knights Errant group?

DG: Soon after I started BCC Weblog, I was trolling around trying to find other chess blogs to share links with. Unlike today when it’s almost impossible to avoid tripping over a new chess blog, back then it was quite a challenge finding them. In any case, I came across two blogs who seemed mostly to be talking to each other – Don Q’s Mandelamaza and Sancho Pawnza’s Tactics Tactics Tactics!?. Both were pursuing the intense tactical training regimen advocated by Michael De La Maza in his book “Rapid Chess Improvement”. They had chosen to blog about their quest using the story of Don Quixote as a thematic backdrop. I contacted them, offered to share links and they gladly accepted.

Within days I came across Pale Morning Dun’s Self Flagellation to the Goddess Caissa where he wrote that his blog was “…In the tradition of (Don) Man de la Maza and Sancho Pawnza…”. At that moment, I realized that something really interesting was going on, though I couldn’t have known how big it would turn out to be. I decided to document the goings-on of this little band of chess bloggers at BCC Weblog. Every few weeks or so, I put up a post summarizing some of their more interesting posts and as new blogs joined the group I sought them out and maintained a list of their members.

For a short time, the group stayed relatively small. I still retain a soft spot for the original six – those mentioned above plus Pawn Sensei, Generalkaia and J’adoube (who I named “the off-center knight”, despite the fact that he has since trademarked the phrase – I’m sure the royalty checks will be arriving soon :) ). Each was also pursuing the De La Maza program and posting about their plans, progress, thoughts on improvement, issues with CT-Art, etc.

And then, things just exploded. Suddenly there were 18 to 20 active Knights. We were finding new ones almost every week. Some blogs started strong and fizzled out quickly, but many have stayed active and strong to this day like Temposchlucker, Takchess and BlueDevil. Over time the Knights Errant group has evolved – while it is still focused on chess improvement, its members have broadened their approaches beyond De La Maza’s narrow prescription. As long time members have left, new “leaders” have emerged. As disputes among members have occasionally risen, it has been remarkable to watch how the community has self-regulated itself.

The Knights Errant is truly a remarkable example of the development and strength of a virtual on-line community existing in the blogosphere. It’s continued growth and prosperity is a testament to its founders.

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