Another year has passed for The Chess Drum. It has been another year of charting the course of chess history and I am glad to be a part of this venerable tradition. Coming from the southside of Chicago and being a moderately successful junior player, I only envisioned myself as a player who loved the competitive side of chess, its tactical/strategic ideas and the postmortem chess analysis. The idea of building a community in order to bring attention to forgotten (or unknown) human interest stories, had never occurred to me… not until later.
I have written the history of how this site started and have recounted some facts about the site during the 10th anniversary. Many times pivotal moments start with a question. This question was raised by a Caucasian gentleman who genuinely asked me, “Where are the Black Masters?” Frankly, I only knew of a few, so that burning question forced me onto this journey. It has been one of fascination and serendipity.
Why was The Chess Drum needed? The idea was not to create a site that merely covers top events. It was not designed to be a chess server, nor was it designed to sell chess merchandise or services. There are many sites that do those things very well. At the time The Chess Drum was created in 2001, there was kasparovchess.com, TWIC, ChessBase and a couple of others, but chess sites have come a long way and there are sites that highlight practically every segment of the community.
Many see The Chess Drum as a Black website about chess and others see it as a chess website about Black players. It is more… it is a universal concept. Ultimately, the idea of The Chess Drum is to show the inherent universality of chess. The idea that chess is loved and shared by such a diversity of people is something that hardly occurs to the general public. What I have witnessed in my travels and interactions is the same passion and excitement in chess communities that may not have as venerable of a history as some others.
The stories I have encountered in these 11 years are rich, filled with triumph, lessons of hard work and conquering adversity. In addition, it has been my idea that The Chess Drum also needs to cover major events so that its audience can be exposed to chess excellence and other human interest stories in different parts of the globe.
After about 10,000 pages, there is a segment of history that the chess world can now claim as a shining example of how it has provided benefits to people of all walks of life. As one who charted this unique vision, I am fortunate that The Chess Drum has developed into one of the world’s largest sites for chess content. While The Chess Drum will never has as many followers as general sites, get mass media recognition, nor win accolades, it is an honest attempt to create a more comprehensive picture of what the chess community looks like.
Thanks for your support!
Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum
Last year during the 10th anniversary I mentioned eleven facts about The Chess Drum. (see list) This year I will recount some and mention others.
- The site went live February 12th, 2001 at 12 midnight from Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
- The Chess Drum has visited chess communities or covered chess events in Bahrain, Jamaica, Trinidad, Qatar, Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Kenya, Bahamas, Cuba and of course major events in the U.S. I went looking for chess communities in China and Tanzania, but was unable to meet anyone. I missed appointments in Ghana and South Africa. Maybe next time!
- I wrote a marketing plan during my graduate studies for The Chess Drum. It was originally going to be a chess network called “Nubian Chess International” with a magazine. This original name was inspired by a trip I took to Egypt. Yasser Seirawan’s excellent “Inside Chess” magazine was going to be the model. He discontinued it and the Internet created a better platform… content could be delivered cheaper, quicker and corrections are much easier. All journalists can appreciate this!
- My favorite project was the “Wall of Fame,” a page that is 20 feet high and was completed after working on it 50 consecutive hours.
- The trip to Cuba was perhaps the most intriguing. It was interesting to see the strong passion for chess. Chess was commonplace and on several occasions I saw people on the streets, in shopping districts, in front yards all engrossed in battle. It is easy to see how their tradition has become a part of the culture… and why they are so strong for a nation of its size. They also had a chess program on television! This observation made me proud to be a chess player! (see article)
- Watching the evolution of young Masters such as Justus Williams, Josh Colas and James Black, Jr. was very interesting this past year. The Chess Drum carried countless stories of these rising stars and they are growing up before our eyes! It is also interesting to see the reactions of their parents.
- The visit to The World Chess Hall of Fame was a very fascinating one. It was stunning in its beauty, but not ostentatious. I had a chance to visit the Scholastic Center and Chess Club of St. Louis for the first time since the 2009 U.S. Championships. They had made some changes, but the place is still first-class.
- The most interesting chess personality met in 2011… Warren Seymour, legendary chess figure of the Bahamas. I was fortunate enough to interview him after the 2011 Bahamas Open and hear his interesting story. (listen to interview)
- It is my hope that The Chess Drum will be in Istanbul, Turkey for the 2012 Chess Olympiad. This is the most difficult event to cover in chess, but the most rewarding. The Chess Drum has covered Olympiads in 2004 (Spain), 2006 (Italy) and 2008 (Germany). The interactions with other journalists and players are also memorable.
- The Chess Drum STILL only has one “employee”. 🙂 However, I will be looking for correspondents from the different regions of the world. You may be called on! 😉
Cuba was a “chess wonderland”.
The World Chess Hall of Fame
Keep the Beat Going!!