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.