International Chess Day

by admin on July 20, 2011

Did you know that July 20 is International Chess Day? If you’re wondering, the significance of July 20 is that it is the day, in 1924, when FIDE came into existence. It’s not entirely clear that this is a reason for celebration, but there you have it … unless you’re in the United States, in which case you can celebrate National Chess Day (October 9) instead.

In her blog, Natalia Pogonina suggests 10 ways that you can celebrate, to which I will add an eleventh. You can go to Apple’s App Store and download Newbie Chess. It’s free for today only, so act fast! You can get it either for your iPad or your iPhone. Or if you’re like me and you don’t own an iPad or an iPhone, you can get it now, just in case Santa drops one of those devices in your stocking for Christmas.

What does Newbie Chess have to offer to people who, well, aren’t newbies any more? I quote from Susan Polgar’s chess blog:

Version 2.0 of Newbie Chess has just been released, and sports an important new feature: interactive “Smart Books” by famous authors like Dana Mackenzie, Bruce Pandolfini, and Emanuel Lasker. Two books are included for free with the app, and others are available for purchase. Every diagram comes to life as an interactive chess board, allowing you to step through the main or alternate lines of play, or even experiment with the pieces yourself. This helps you absorb the author’s points more quickly and thoroughly than ever before. Newbie Chess is not just for newbies anymore!

Yes, that’s right, Susan Polgar just mentioned me in the same sentence as Bruce Pandolfini and Emanuel Lasker. (She probably doesn’t even know she did it; I suspect the text came from Newbie Chess’s promotional literature.)

If you’re curious, there is a little bit of back story here. As some of you might remember, Andy Hortillosa (an occasional visitor to this blog) started a company called Smart Chess a couple years ago, which was going to make an app for the iPhone. He contacted me and asked if he could use my “Bird by Bird” series from this blog as one of the first texts to be available on the new app. I gladly agreed … and then for the longest time, I didn’t hear anything more about it.

I don’t know all the details, but it seems that Andy has done a smart thing, and agreed to make the Smart Chess library available in the existing Newbie Chess app. He hasn’t given up on his own Smart Chess app, to be called “SmartChess HD,” which he says is “coming out soon.” But for all fans of Bruce Pandolfini, Emanuel Lasker, and whoever that other guy is, the good news is that you don’t have to wait any longer!

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