17 October 2013

Bye, Bye Batgirl?

Although Chess.com gives a free blog to all of its members, only a few members post regularly and, of those who do, only a very few have anything new to say about chess history. That's one reason why Le blog de la Batgirl shines out of the Chess.com blogosphere. Another reason is that Batgirl's posts are well researched and well written, so it's no surprise that she routinely receives thousands of views and dozens of comments.

Batgirl's many fans, among which I count myself, were dismayed to see her recent post, Final Blog, where she announced,

This is my last blog on chess.com. I may continue to contribute an occasional article on chess history, but that's all.

I was particularly dismayed because I've corresponded with Batgirl on and off for a dozen years and have watched with great interest while her career developed. Our first meeting was on an ancient Yahoo! Group for ChessHistory (which through the years has been converted so many times by Yahoo that it is impossible to navigate) in July 2001.

I started playing chess about 5 years ago. I don't play competitively, just for fun. Actually, I think I'm more interested in the history and background than in improving or playing.

She appeared again a few years later on an About.com forum, where I recall an early, lengthy discussion about chess blogs, appropriately titled Chess blogs (February 2004).

Does anyone have a chess blog... or know of any?

Talk about being ahead of her time! She later penned an article for the About.com chess site (May 2007, now on Archive.org): The Art of Odds Giving, by Sarah Cohen, Sarah's Chess Journal. I introduced it with

This article is a portion of a much longer essay A Perspective on the Art of Odds-giving, and grew from a forum discussion on the Ehlvest vs. Rybka match ('Man-Machine Match at Odds'). The longer essay has examples of many of the types of odds discussed here.

All of that is just small potatoes compared with the bulk of her work. She hung out for a few years at Chessgames.com, SBC; Member since Mar-26-04, where she still contributes from time to time. Her big break came when she started writing for Chess.com, shortly after it was founded; first post: SBChess (June 2007).

Batgirl has left so many articles scattered across the web and has left them on so many sites -- mainly of the free hosting variety that disappear suddenly -- that I wouldn't know where to begin to locate them all. The SBChess post above has links to the current home, edochess.ca, which seems to be a permanent address.

Who is Batgirl in real life? While I was writing this post, I discovered another blog post on Chess.com, Chessy Talk: Interview with Batgirl (August 2011).

I've been at chess.com almost since its inception a little over 4 years ago. Since I do a lot of online research involving chess, the site came to my attention relatively quickly. My chess activity goes back 15 years. I'm not sure chess.com has actually changed anything for me. I've had blogs before; I've written for different chess sites before; and I've published my chess history explorations before in various forms - most commonly though my websites. I think what chess.com offers - and this is not little thing - is a ready-made reader base within a friendly and supportive atmosphere with access to some very nice-to-use tools.

Is her leaving Chess.com the end of an era or the start of something even bigger? Like her other fans, I'll be waiting eagerly to find out.

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