30 December 2021

Year-end Yahoos

In last month's Yahoos post, World Championship Yahoos 2021 (November 2021; see the note at the end of this current post for an explanation of 'Yahoos'), I noted four developments that demanded a follow-up.

No.1: 'Google News still returned 100 stories, but I noticed that many were published well before the month of November.'

December had 101 stories, of which 21 were published before the month started. The oldest was -- just as in November -- the phony April Fools' story 'Official Rules Of Chess Updated, Draws Removed' (chess.com). The second oldest was:-

It turns out that this was also the second oldest story in November. Google tracks clicks from its results on news searches, so it seems that it is now presenting results from previous months that earned more clicks.

No.2: 'Another unusual feature of the month was the precipitous drop in stories from Chess.com, which has been averaging around 40 stories a month for the last six months. Is this an anomaly -or- a harbinger of future Yahoo activity?'

The chart to the left shows a count of sources for December. Chess.com had 25 stories, against 23 stories for November.

A fair comparison with previous months requires including the older stories that I excluded in 'No.1'. I'm guessing that Chess.com has a large number of older stories that I've excluded.

That guess would be a good basis for a follow-up post. At the same time I could look at the type of older stories that Google is flagging, which would indicate what chess topics are most interesting for chess fans.

No.3: 'In each of the last few World Championship matches, I've discovered at least one professional, non-chess journalist who provided an outsider's view of the match. Will the Guardian continue the trend? '

Short answer: No, not really. • Long answer: See the post on my World Championship Blog, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the First Week (December 2021).

No.4: 'All might not be rosy around the chess boom brought on by the events of the last two years. I noticed two stories about chess games that aren't played on chess boards. [...] I'll wait for December Yahoos...'

A corollary question is: How much interest in the recent World Championship was added by the 2020-21 chess boom? Looking at the six sources from the chart above might give a hint. Of the 25 Chess.com stories, only one had anything to do with the Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi match in Dubai:-

Of the six stories from Chessbase News, none were about the match. Of the three stories from World Chess, who organized recent title matches, all three had something to with the match. The most recent was:-

In that article, the Carlsen - Nepo match earned the title 'Disappointment of the Year'. World Chess explained,

Expectations of a huge fight. Fantastic excitement. Analysts around the world prophesied hard times for Magnus in the face of the Russian fighter, Ian-2021. [...] Sadly, at the end of the brightest victory in the sixth and already one can safely say the historic game, Magnus’s advantage began to grow. The match ended early with the victory of the champion, which certainly led to serious criticism of the Ian team.

Of the three sources with two stories each, only one story was about the match:-

Of the other 40 sources with a single story, two stories were about the match. Either the news sources weren't interested in writing stories about the match -or- Google detected little interest in those stories.

My conclusion? The official World Championship has been with us since 1886. Only in 1972 did it fuel an increased interest in chess. No drama = no interest.

People are attracted to the game for other reasons. Let's focus on those other reasons.

[Yahoos (mainstream news stories about chess) are derived from Google News top-100 (or so) stories from the past month.]

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