29 October 2013

Best of Batgirl

What a pretentious title for an unpretentious subject! How could I possibly identify the 'best' of an oeuvre where I've hardly scratched the surface? I thought of adding a '?' to the title, but I already used that trick for my first post on the subject, Bye, Bye Batgirl?. Let's just say it's 'best' in the personal sense I used earlier this year in a post on Sources of Inspiration.

After that awkward introduction I'll further circumscribe the subject by limiting the discussion to work posted on Chess.com. In the 'Bye, Bye' post, I pointed to a few additional resources, while Batgirl's first post on Chess.com, SBChess (June 2007), links to much more.

Chess.com is a great site, but it does have weaknesses. One of its biggest failings, at least from my point of view, is a lack of resources to navigate the site. Finding relevant material is a hit-or-miss operation, depending largely on general web search engines like Google. Batgirl's material is scattered across her blog ('site:chess.com inurl:batgirl') and the forums ('site:chess.com inurl:forum batgirl'). With that caveat as my excuse, meaning that I've undoubtedly overlooked important material, I'll list posts in the categories that I like best. The overriding subject, if there's any doubt, is 'chess history'.

For some reason I have a particular interest in the early 19th century French players. Perhaps it's because I've lived in French-speaking countries, or perhaps it's because their careers coincided with the first rumblings of the World Chess Championship. Whatever the reason, there's plenty of Batgirl material to choose from. For example,

Batgirl is a specialist in 19th century chess history and has covered the development of the game in other countries.

Her great specialty, however, is Morphy, and she is probably the greatest expert of our time. I couldn't possibly list all of her work on the subject (Batgirl: 'Over the years I've invested many thousands of hours reading, researching and writing about Paul Morphy, the Chess King'), so I'll just mention a post that combines Morphy with another particular interest of mine, D.W.Fiske.

  • Paul Morphy by Willard Fiske, 'the fact that Fiske was intimate with Morphy helps establish the accepted perspectives as most likely accurate'.

After 19th century chess and Morphy, another large area of her expertise is women in chess. For example,

Much of Batgirl's work is amply illustrated. She frequently mentions her collection of images and occasionally uses them as the focus of a post.

Going back to the 19th century, that last link reminded me that I almost forgot her researches into Russian chess history.

Like many people with a keen interest in chess history, Batgirl pays attention to the meta-subject itself.

In a comment to that last post, when asked, 'Which group (if any) would you put yourself in?', she answers, 'I'm not a historian.' I don't think many people would agree with that assessment. Thanks again, Batgirl, for your many contributions to chess history.

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