I had to miss a few days because of work, specifically a math conference in San Diego where I was invited to give a talk and do a book signing for The Universe in Zero Words. Unexpectedly, at the book signing I met a fellow chess player! I’ve mentioned Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo once before in my blog, and he also posted a comment here once. He has finished graduate school at Stanford and is now teaching, and helping run the chess club, at Dartmouth.
To get back in the blogging spirit, I’d like to take a look back at the old year and do my annual (well, sort of annual) Top Ten lists.
Let’s start with the posts that got the most views last year. I am excluding permanent blog pages — the ones with the links at the top (Home, Profile, Chess Translations, and Chess Wit and Wisdom). I am also excluding my translations of GM Sergey Shipov’s comments on the world championship match. They got many more views than any other post, but obviously those visitors were coming for Shipov, Anand, and Gelfand — not for me.
Most Frequently Read Posts in 2012 (with number of views)
- Stop Presses II … Elizabeth Vicary Gets Hitched! (422)
- Cute kittens alert (421)
- Maris’d (319)
- Magnus Carlsen appearance (295)
- Dana’s opening philosophy (293)
- How to Break Fort Knox in 13 Moves (291)
- Russian chess names — a guide for the perplexed (265)
- Sam Shankland Quits (239)
- Karpov-Fischer (235)
- Human reasoning versus computer reasoning (217)
If you’re looking for posts actually written in 2012, you won’t find very many here! The only ones that made the cut are #4 and #10. The others were all written earlier, in some cases a very long time ago. (The ever-popular #7 was one of the first posts I ever wrote, back in 2007.) To some extent I think this is due to the “rich get richer” phenomenon. I have a link on this page to previous Top Ten posts, and people naturally tend to click on those links.
I think it’s rather wonderful that the #1 post was about another blogger’s wedding. I imagine a lot of people did a Google search for Elizabeth and hit on my post by mistake! Also I’m glad to see that an actual chess post managed to beat out the cute kittens for #1 (but just barely).
In the past I’ve complained that my blog posts with actual analysis tend not to show up on the top-ten list. But this year, two of them actually did make the top ten, at #6 and #10. Interestingly, they had something in common: they were inspired by Mike Splane’s chess parties.
I think that #6 probably has the funniest comment thread of any post I’ve written.
I’m actually glad to see that #8 (Sam Shankland Quits, written in 2010) is finally losing some of its popularity. That is my #1 most-read post of all time (beating even the Shipov translations). But it’s such ancient news, and Sam Shankland has grown up so much since then. I think it’s no longer interesting except as a historical curiosity.
Conclusion: To get more readers, I need more chess bloggers to get married; I need to attend more of Mike Splane’s parties; I need to write more about “big names” like Carlsen and Karpov and Fischer; and last but not least, I need to post more kitten videos.
Dana’s Favorite Ten Posts Written in 2012
- The square of pride (April 13). I don’t know if other people care so much, but my former student getting into the movies because of her chess teaching was absolutely the coolest chess event of the year for me.
- “I Failed and No One Died” (August 7). The title of a lecture I attended at another math conference, and a super-important lesson that chess can help kids learn: It’s okay to fail.
- History in the humblest of places (December 13). Find out who has an absolute lock on the USCF record for largest lifetime rating improvement.
- Truly epic battle (Part 2) (March 31). A correspondence game in the Bryntse Gambit, in some ways even better than Mackenzie-Pruess. See a queen sac, a knight sac, and an exchange sac, all in one game, all sound. Kings (both of them!) wandering all over the board. Black’s king somehow dodging 13 checkmate threats in one game. A fantastically tense, razor’s edge endgame. The only disappointment is that it ended in a draw.
- We’re number two! (April 21). The other coolest thing that happened in 2012 was playing on the team that finished second in the U.S. Amateur Team Championship, and first in the West. Closest I’ve ever come to winning a national championship in anything.
- The Checkers Fallacy (September 24). Captures in chess (unlike checkers) are not obligatory; they have to be played for a reason. This is another good post inspired by one of Mike Splane’s chess parties.
- Decision Making (July 16). The topic of decision making comes up at almost all of Mike’s parties, but this was one of the best examples, where we had a radical difference of opinion on how White should think about the position on move 20.
- Gone but not forgotten (May 7). Remembering Ted Yudacufski, who made a big difference in the Monterey Bay chess scene.
- Winter Open: Hard Lessons (December 22). A back-and-forth endgame between two preteen experts, featuring amazing tenacity from the winner.
- My First Chess Set/Board/Clock (August 25). Most chess players don’t really care too much about equipment, but there is one exception. Your first chess set and board still bring back memories of why you fell in love with chess in the first place.