Yesterday I was watching “When We Were Kings,” Miro Reverby’s documentary on chess hustlers in New York’s Washington Square Park. I marveled at ironies of foul-mouthed players taking delight in the thrilling ride that chess is. Contrast this with the subtleties of the Sinquefield Cup and it is evident that the beauty of the royal game touches all… old, young, rich, poor, the erudite, the unlearned and just about every demographic you can name. This is the unknown beauty.
For 13 years, The Chess Drum has attempted to bring all elements of the community to the public… particularly those underserved communities. For decades, segments of the chess world have either been ignored or given very little coverage. For the African Diaspora, it is critical to have exposure needed to both inspire players, but also to show the world the chess is a universal language. Thus the service The Chess Drum renders becomes a duty because it fills a unique need.
I started 2014 with a visit to Vietnam on university business. I was fortunate to have visited the Thanh Long Dao Ky Chess Club in Hanoi, Vietnam where I made new friends! 🙂
In the last several years, the website has begun to change and social networks have rendered chess websites and blogs less important. Many players assemble in thousands of small groups on Facebook, scour Twitter streams or congregate on chess servers. Because of the increasing use of social networks and chess servers, websites have had to utilize more video content to increase the “stickiness” of the sites. Also instructional video content is wildly popular. Thus, it will require The Chess Drum to make a shift to remain relevant.
While The Chess Drum will begin to make gradual changes in 2014, there will still be the mission to show the universality of chess. The site has evolved not only to present the African Diaspora to the chess world, but to present the chess world to the African Diaspora. The site will continue to focus on worldwide human interest stories instead of merely focusing on the same 15-20 professional players mostly seen in chess media.
Me with George Arko-Dadzie, President of Ghana Chess Association.
In my travels for The Chess Drum, I have encountered passionate chess communities in Bahrain, Jamaica, England, Kenya, Qatar, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Cuba, Ghana and Vietnam. For the fifth time, The Chess Drum will provide live coverage at Olympiad in Tromso, Norway. In time, a chronicle will be made of these experiences and the chess community will be the better for it.
Closing in on 3,000 stories, countless audio interviews and a variety of chess literature, the site will continue to bring positive exposure to the royal game. There is a certain joy when you are able to see movies like “A Life of a King” and see how chess can shape lives in the most adverse of conditions. It is these type of stories that go untold in the chess media, but The Chess Drum is glad to give them deserved exposure.
If you have supported the site over the years, please continue to do so. Help is needed. There are a number of ways to help besides donating funds. What may be just as important is submitting quality stories, commenting on the blog posts and establishing a connection through Facebook and Twitter. In coming years, your literary contributions will immortalized forever.
While The Chess Drum has endured and blossomed into one of the world’s largest sites for chess, it still seeks human interest stories that will provide a brighter sheen onto the sport of chess. Currently there are websites on every conceivable demographic in chess and as the creator of The Chess Drum concept, the site is an honest attempt to create a more comprehensive picture of what the chess community looks like. So… celebrate the universality of chess! Help The Chess Drum continue to beat and the pulse will be heard worldwide!
Thanks for your support!
Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum
The “eternal” birthday cake presented to me in 2003 by Kay Umeakunne. This was the nicest gift I had ever received in appreciation for The Chess Drum! It was delicious! 😀