Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The US Chess League Blogosphere

In one of her recent US Chess League recap articles, Chess Life Online's Jennifer Shahade wrote:
Each year, the USCL's popularity grows. This year's highlights include an explosive USCL blogosphere, (way too many to list here...
Well, I'm up for the challenge!

Let's start with some taxonomy -- I've broken USCL blogs down into two major categories:
  1. Affiliated - Blogs that are written by and/or represent specific teams, players or USCL officials

  2. Unaffiliated - Independent blogs which provide coverage of the league and/or specific teams. Unaffiliated blogs come in two flavors -- blogs which are dedicated exclusively to USCL coverage and general (chess) blogs which include coverage of the league
In addition to blogs, there are a few websites which cover the USCL. In the past, the commissioner has used the term "blog" fairly loosely. Therefore, I'm uncertain whether any of these will be eligible for the USCL Blogger of the Year award.

Affiliated - Team Blogs

Carolina Cobras Blog - Some photos and an annotated game, but no new posts since 9/13

New Jersey Knockouts - Offers live blogging of Knockout matches, annotated games and player profiles

San Francisco Mechanics - Last year, this was a very active blog with many entertaining posts. They've been somewhat less active in 2007. Since it's been proved that blogging coverage is a prerequisite for success in the league, this might explain their average results so far

Seattle Sluggers - Inside scoop from Sluggers' players and Manager Eddie Chang. You'll find even more Sluggers talk at the Northwest Chess Forum

Tennessee Tempo - Here you'll learn that making jokes about the Tempo's misfortunes is unprofessional, but spewing personal attacks at bloggers and fans isn't

Affiliated - Player Blogs

Johnny B's Chess Connection - Dallas' IM John Bartholomew provides weekly reports on the team's matches in his general chess blog

Shakmaty Bereolos - FM Peter Bereolos is a long time chess blogger and player for the Tennessee Tempo. In the past he has annotated his league games and this season he has started live blogging Tempo matches

USCL news and gossip - It's hard to know where to place New York Knights alternate Liz Vicary's blog. She has mostly focused on generating humor from the dark and seamy side of the league, but has received the most reaction from a fight she picked with a Boston Blitz reporter over her game with NM Chris (is Awesome) Williams

Affiliated - USCL Official Blogs

This category might be a bit of a misnomer since it has never been completely clear what Arun Sharma and Ron Young's relationship with the league is. Nevertheless, last year they were referred to as "official prognosticators", so until I learn otherwise that's what I'm going with.

US Chess League News - Arun Sharma provides predictions and weekly qualitative power rankings, while Greg Shahade posts the Game of the Week articles here

FM Ron Young's USCL Predictions - Just what it says

Unaffiliated - Dedicated USCL Blogs

A Carolina Cobras Fan - This fan hasn't had anything to say since September 1st

USCL ChessCenter - OrangeKing offers predictions, qualitative power rankings and his own version of the MVP award rankings

USCL Groupies - From the same writer as A Carolina Cobras Fan, this blogs purports to focus on "trash talk" and "cute guys." I guess she couldn't find too many, since she stopped posting

Unaffiliated - General (Chess) Blogs

BlueEyedRook - Provides on-site coverage of the Philadelphia Inventors

Bionic Lime Thoughts - Another blog which is hard to classify since it is written by the individual behind the New Jersey Knockouts blog -- perhaps we should consider it "Semi-affiliated." The tart, green one is the brains behind the completely misnamed Famous Original Power Rankings

Boylston Chess Club Weblog - BCC Weblog has been providing independent coverage of the Boston Blitz since the very beginning, often to the chagrin of the players and Manager Matt Phelps

JG's Master Quest - JG obliterated the official USCL prognosticators in 2006, but is having a tougher go of it this year

The Kenilworthian - One of the finest chess blogs in the 'sphere, Michael is covering the New Jersey Knockouts this year

The pHtest - Author Paul Hoffman has been sharing the ups and (mostly) downs of the New York Knights


Boston Blitz - The Blitz have certainly set the standard for team websites; you'll find bios, articles, games, photos, video interviews with players and a live feed of one game a week

Chess Life Online - Provides weekly articles recapping league action

Queens Pioneers - Fairly light content so far, but give them time -- they are an expansion team, after all.

United States Chess League - The official league website

No post at BCC Weblog about the chess blogosphere would be complete without a discussion on cross-linking. As you may have noticed, all of the blogs mentioned above are linked on the sidebar. Most are listed under "US Chess League Coverage" -- (w) indicates a website and (u) denotes that the site covers topics other than the USCL. I left long-time residents of the sidebar like BlueEyedRook and The Kenilworthian where they were and in this case used (u) to indicate that they were general chess blogs that also cover the USCL.

It is linking like this across a set of related blogs which creates and fosters a sense of community. For readers, it creates a useful supplement to the article listings at official league website. So what do you say USCL bloggers? Why not add a list of USCL blogs to your sidebar today.

BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

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