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Tag: Blog

Soaking Up Some Much-Needed Sun

Blog posts here on Campfire Chess have been quite anemic the past few months due to some things in my personal life that have taken precedence over chess and blogging. I plan to write more about all of it in the future because I believe it will be beneficial to my readers as well as my family and friends. However, for now, I am on vacation with my family and have taken the opportunity to soak up as many rays as I possibly can given that much of my life is spent behind a computer terminal.

With that, I have grown a new addiction over the past few months that has taken up much of my time on this vacation: watching streams on Twitch. Whether its watching Mambo-B destroy the enemy with his skills on Battlefield 1 or Swag_Dracula hunting down campers as Jason Voorhees on Friday The 13th: The Video Game. Yet, these modern masterpieces hide another gem lurking on the Twitch platform: chess!

High definition professional photography of a hotel room TV running Chess.com on Twitch.TV. (Image Credit: Campfire Chess)

Although the amount of streamers on Twitch devoted to playing chess is relatively small, I have found that there are usually 1-2 people playing chess online and streaming the video on the network around 75% of the time. Here are some good streams that I have been watching regularly that you might enjoy:

  • Full Chess Directory on Twitch – Typing chess into the Twitch search box brings up all active broadcasts and accounts.

  • Chess.com – The web’s largest chess website streams all of its broadcast material through Twitch including some platform exclusive events.

  • Chess Brah – Very cool blitz games and some instructional content with GMs Eric Hansen, Robin van Kampen, and an eclectic mix of other chess personalities. The name comes from a more contemporary surfer-style way of saying bro…I think.

Campfire Chess has its own Twitch Channel, but it is empty at the moment. One day I hope to start a regular stream when my personal life has stopped fluctuating and returned to somewhat of a sense of normalcy. In the meantime, enjoy the streams above and maybe I will see you in the chatrooms! I am usually on as CampfireChessTV. See you there!

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Celebrating 3 Years Around the Campfire

Campfire Chess started as a small side project following the end of six years running my astronomy blog and non-profit called nightShifted Astronomy. In the high days of nightShifted I would never have expected it to end, but that all came to fruition in 2014 when I closed the site permanently to focus on other areas of interest. Name, chess! I started Off My Chess as a blog covering my attempt to get better at the game and eventually evolved it into Campfire Chess covering news, views, and general insights about the game’s fascinating world of celebrity, hard work, psychosis, and political intrigue.

Today, Campfire Chess celebrates its three year anniversary! To mark the occasion, here are ten of my favorite posts from the last three years.

  1. Product Review – Chessmate Ultima Pocket Chess Set
    • Published: 31 May 2014
  2. God and Chess
    • Published: 07 June 2014
  3. Finding the Right Notation Tool
    • Published: 25 July 2014
  4. Robin Williams and the Way of Things
    • Published: 14 August 2014
  5. The Sad State of Chess on the Mac
    • Published: 11 January 2015
  6. The Big Deal About Berlin
    • Published: 10 February 2015
  7. The Sad Reality of Cheating in Chess
    • Published: 06 September 2015
  8. Does Chess Need an Audience?
    • Published: 18 October 2015
  9. US Chess Sends Open Letter to FIDE
    • Published: 16 February 2017
  10. Iran Hosts Women’s Chess and Anti-American Chanting
    • Published: 11 February 2017

Here’s to many more years for Campfire Chess and our game!

Sincerely,

Wesley Surber

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Happy New Year (and new logo)

Happy New Year, Campers!

We are ten days into the new year and while Campfire Chess has been silent since Christmas, I have been working hard behind the scenes. I am proud to announce that after months of design, re-design, and more re-design that the new site logo and title design is online! The new logo is simpler which makes it easier to print on marketing materials and merchandise. Look for the new design to slowly replace the old flame and wood logo/icon set throughout the coming weeks.

Changing the logo is also symbolic in that it signifies the changing of one era to a new era. Campfire Chess has changed primary chess websites from Chess.com to lichess.org (more on that in a later post) and my day job is changing, which I hope will afford me more time to write and play chess than my current job. In all, I look forward to a promising 2017 on and off the board.

And Jake, I haven’t forgotten you…sending you a move shortly. :)

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Repairing the Downloads Page

The downloads page has always been an important part of Campfire Chess, but it recently fell into an unfortunate state of disrepair. I knew that it needed some work but was unprepared for the level at which I had allowed it to deteriorate over time. It was not until I received a message from a reader on Chess.com asking me to fix one of the links for a PGN book collection that I realized how bad things had gotten. Fortunately, action has been taken…

Every element of the downloads page has been re-coded to ensure that the links are accurate and that the information is presented clearly on desktop and mobile devices. I have also finally released a photo project I have been working on for awhile called Drug of Choice which is presented as a wallpaper option for a multitude of devices. The image also appears in the featured image header for this entry.

I have plans to add new material to the downloads page very soon and will post updates on the Campfire Chess Twitter and Facebook feeds when that happens. Enjoy!

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Lonely these days, but not abandoned…

Lately, it may seem as though I have abandoned the site considering that there have only been three (not including this one) posts during the month of August. I have not abandon the site, nor have I abandoned chess. Instead, life happens and things have been relentlessly busy for me and my family. There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel around the first part of September, so I hope to be back to regular writing at that time. In the meantime, I will continue to be sparse around here and around the chess community.

Keep checking back here regularly because although I am not writing regular posts at the moment, I am working on some of the behind-the-scenes technologies that run the site. Specifically, I am working to completely redesign the downloads page with new wallpapers, game collections, and other goodies. That stuff should go live this weekend or next.

Play on!

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MHCC July 2016 Round 1: The Stuff of Nightmares

Although you’ll be hard-pressed to find many pastors (or people) out there who would admit that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is their favorite film of all time, I am not your typical pastor nor do I like to think of myself as your typical person. When it comes to chess, there is much evidence to support the position that I might be the world’s worst chess player. I have become accustomed to losing just in some of the most interesting and depressing ways over the past few years and I thought I have learned to deal with the trauma that can arise from such an experience, but last Wednesday’s tournament OTB game reminded me of how devastating it can be to make a mistake in a game where I put so much time, effort, energy, and focus. In essence, Wednesday night was an opportunity for me to experience my own Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

As many of you know, I have been playing in my first series of OTB tournaments a few months back, but had to take a break to finish some school and other personal projects. These projects also contributed to the lack of posts here on Campfire Chess, but I digress. Playing in the July edition of this tournament was a last-minute decision, so there was a little bit of hesitation on my part for returning. However, I know that the best way to improve is to continue to play. Unfortunately, my return to OTB play was the stuff of nightmares. Rarely do I go into these situations expecting a win because very few of the players involved in these tournaments are rated anywhere near where I perform. Most of them are the master level or higher including a resident International Master and occasional visits from Grandmasters, which I have written about in the past. However, I can say that I never expected what happened this past Wednesday night. To say that it was traumatic betrays the depth of the experience.

I lost a game in eight moves although I played through to 12 moves for a combined total board time of around 14 minutes. Looking back on things, I realized that it was a simple mistake that ended the game so quickly whether it was rushing or simply not surveying the more properly. It has taken me a few days to get over it, but I have written some commentary on this atrocious game and decided to share it with my Campfire Chess audience. Now, for your viewing pleasure I present to you around one of MHCC July 2016.

Unfortunately, my desire to try again this week has been postponed because of a sick child. As always, family comes first. Therefore, I will have to wait until next week for an opportunity to redeem myself with a reasonable loss.

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Performing a Hard Reset

I have learned over the years that it is not uncommon for me to take on more than I am capable of handling. This is one of the reasons that I selected chess in 2014 as a focus of my blogging and hobby interest. Yet, even in the confines of the chess world I came to realize over the past few months that Campfire Chess has slowly evolved into a monster that was difficult to maintain and had certain content areas in which updates were almost two years overdue. Additionally, the sense of personal commitment to chess and documentation of my game had also changed. Some of this was largely due to a series of setbacks that damaged my confidence in playing and writing about the game.

In an attempt to counteract that problem I decided to essentially hit the reset button here on the blog. The first part of that reset was to eliminate outdated and unnecessary elements of the site. The Reading List and Links were the first victims of the purge. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe that I updated the Reading List once in the entire 2015 calendar year, which goes to show that it was nothing more than a novelty page (content fodder) designed to take up space on the menu bar. The Links were cumbersome to manage and, in my opinion, provided no value added to the site because they are most likely bookmarked and easily accessible to people who need or use them on a regular basis. A few other noticeable changes are in effect as well:

  • Social Media: The Facebook page has been closed due to low engagement. Twitter has been much more successful in reaching the chess community. The Instagram page remains open, but will not be updated regularly and is no longer linked from the main blog.
  • Main Blog: The thumbnail advertisements have been removed, although they might return in the future if I can find a way to make them integrate seamlessly with the new background color. Additionally, the navigation bar contains a refined menu that allows easy access to key topics, such as Downloads and Product Reviews. Finally, the experiment with the customized ChessBase PGN viewer is over. I have opted to continue using the traditional embedded chessboard to improve the site’s load time and to eliminate reliance on external sources for rendering chessboards. To demonstrate, here the famous Paul Morphy Opera Game.
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Feels Good to Be Back!

Wow! What a demanding few weeks this has been! I thought that I would struggle not to write or work on the blog during my self-imposed exile, but that turned out to be much easier than I expected given the amount of work I had to do for school and for my everyday job. Yet, I am happy to say that things are starting to wind down and I am ready to get back into writing regularly here on Campfire Chess. To start out for now, I would like to point everyone to the updated downloads page where there are many new wallpaper sizes for some of the older wallpapers and a brand new wallpaper featuring the Campfire Chess logo and a beautiful, misty forest background.

campwall

I am working on fixing some display problems with the site as well as eliminating the clutter that has gathered on the server over the last two years to make the campfire experience much more streamlined. There are also some exciting new projects on the horizon, so keep those chess pieces moving!

w.s.

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Taking a Break

I have decided to take about 2-4 weeks off from writing here on Campfire Chess or even playing chess online. Part of it is to give myself a chance to relax, rest, and recover, but mostly it is because I am starting the final courses for my Masters of Divinity at Liberty University today and need to focus my energies on finishing those requirements. The amazing Tata Steel Chess Tournament is currently underway and I will be following it closely, but the best place to get tournament updates and general chess information for now is Chessbase or The Week in Chess.

See you all in a few weeks!

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Winding Down the Year

Attention, campers! This is your Camp Director speaking! Christmas is right around the corner and that means worship, family fun, personal reflection, and more sweet treats than most people can handle. My family and I take Christmas very seriously and do what we can to enjoy it to the fullest. We celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and ensure that we spend as much time as possible with each other. Additionally, I am preparing to start the final three classes for my Masters of Divinity program at Liberty University! With these things in mind, regular posts will start winding down effective today. I have programmed a post for Christmas and New Year’s Day, but regular postings will be few and far between until 2016 rolls around.

Please accept my sincerest gratitude for the continued love and support of this website over the last year and a half. I remain hopefully optimistic about the future of Campfire Chess and the prospect of a long future with this website, my local chess group, and the growing popularity of chess around the world. May the grace and love of Jesus Christ bless you and your family this holiday season!

Sincerely, Wesley Surber

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