Posted on December 13, 2015 by Wesley Surber

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

Posted on December 2, 2015 by Wesley Surber

The Blessing of the November Sessions

December is here and that means Christmas is just around the corner! It is hard for me to believe that so much time has gone by! Campfire Chess will celebrate its 2-year anniversary in May and we’ve averaged around 50 visitors a day since August of this year! If the internet could be imagined as a city then Campfire Chess is like a novelty comic book shop in a strip mall. Even Best Buy and some of the most successful businesses in the world started out small, so we are on our way! November was a lot of fun for me because my chess activities were up-and-down as usual but ended on a very high note. I closed out the month of November 2015 with a win that gave me my highest online ELO ever: 1073! I am very excited with the level of improvement I have gained in the last 2 years of tracking my chess studies. My online ELO was around 650 in May 2014 when I opened Campfire Chess as Off My Chess. 1073 represents almost a 100% improvement which is not too shabby for a guy who is going to university full time, raising two kids, working full time, and supporting a family. In addition, my chess studies and improvement are without the assistance of an OTB coach although I am utilizing the Tactics Trainer and Chess Mentor over at Chess.com.

In reflecting on this milestone I would like to share two of my favorite annotated games from November. The first game is an 9 move game that could be described as an assasination…

I am attending a school in Philly, so the next game was annotated on an American Airlines 737 from Dallas to Philadelphia earlier this week. This game was a lot of fun and had me on the edge of my seat several times throughout.

I anticipate completing my Masters of Divinity in March so I hope to devote more attention to the rest of the blog. I recently began reworking the reading list this week and plan to add the movie list which has been in production since July 2014. Chess is growing around the world and 2016 looks to be even better than this year! Stay tuned!

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Wesley Surber

Chess Players Lose at Social Media

Imagine for a moment the social stereotype of the typical chess player. Is it the image of an old white guy sitting alone in his house hunched over a chessboard with stacks of newspapers, magazines, and books around him? Perhaps he is disheveled and could use a refresher on how to use the shower? Bobby Fischer did not own a computer so this guy does not have one either. This creepy stereotype continues to persist in the mainstream media, but is there any truth to it?

A recent article on World Chess took players and fans to task for not embracing social media like other sports. The article’s title warns of things to come: Chess Players are Surprisingly Bad with Social Media. There is nothing surprising about this to chess players, fans, and the community as a whole. The author insists that professional players have not harnessed the power of social media marketing tools to boost their popularity and popularity of the sport. The whole argument assumes that chess audiences are ready to embrace social media marketing on a wide scale. History proves that this is not the case with chess.

An example brought up in the article uses the always fun and engaging WCM Claudia Munoz. The author focuses on Claudia’s 19,000+ Tweets relative to her 3,000 followers and implies that her inability to reach more people is due to a lack of cooperation from other chess masters. I would argue that it has less to do with the quality of personality or the collaborative efforts of different chess masters and more to do with the nature of chess itself. Chess is a game that has transcended the board and is readily available online. Chess players meet to play chess, not to share their favorite cat videos with each other. Quite often the focus of obsession for chess fans is not the personality or the player, but the quality of their game. There is no social media requirement to obtain PGN files of games, so the community as a whole lacks the need to be social.

I am more social than your average chess player because I run a chess blog and because I am a (way) less than average chess player. I enjoy the social elements of chess because I am interested in personality and how a player’s personality affects their style. The world’s greatest chess players have made serious efforts to improve their social media presence but the chess audience is not reciprocating. I wish that chess players as a whole were more social but chess is not an inherently social game. It is a strategic battle between two people who are not required to be friends to play. Yet, I think that Claudia Munoz and players like her are a ray of hope for a future where that mentality changes and the community is transformed.

Read the full article on WorldChess.com.

Posted on October 11, 2015 by Wesley Surber

Saying Farewell to Campfire Magazine

Back in 2014 when I started this blog I decided to start compiling some of my favorite and most popular posts into a PDF publication called *Off My Chess Quarterly*. Eventually that publication evolved into *Campfire Chess Magazine*. Recently I retooled the publication to eliminate the PDF publication and move to a an interactive format combination of JavaScript and HTML5. However, maintaining the blog and a publication like *Campfire Chess Magazine* creates too much demand for productivity in various directions. In turn quality suffers on both ends, so I have decided to cease publication of *Campfire Chess Magazine* to devote more time to focusing on the blog and other elements of the site.

Instead, I invite you to check out Campfire Chess on Facebook, Twitter, and now a curated magazine on Flipboard.