The Internet Never Forgets

by admin on May 26, 2015

Yesterday I got a terrific comment on a very old post, one that also happens to be a favorite of mine: Jerry Hanken on Reshevsky vs. Fischer (2010). That was a post about the aborted Reshevsky-Fischer match from 1961 and how it fell apart, and it ended with a wonderful anecdote that the late Jerry Hanken told me about the match. The new comment, from “MPropp,” added something that had been missing before — a viewpoint from somebody in Reshevsky’s camp. I use the word “camp” loosely; MPropp was a student of Reshevsky’s.

This comment got me thinking: How can readers of this blog find out about good posts that I wrote a long time ago? I feel guilty about the fact that I have been promising a personal top-ten list since forever, and yet I have never compiled it. Today I will finally make good on my promise. I will also give you an update on the most popular posts in this blog, which of course is not the same as the best posts! And finally, it’s your turn in the sun: I will give you a list of the top five COMMENTERS on this blog.

First, my personal top-ten list. It’s actually a “fine fifteen,” and I’m not going to attempt to rate them. That’s because I want you to read them all! If I rated them, you would only read the top one or three or so. Instead, I will give them chronologically.

  • John Donaldson — The Chief Mechanic (2007). One of my very first blog posts, and one of my few posts to be written in journalistic style. I quickly decided that this was not the way I wanted to run my blog. Too much work!
  • Pruess Parties Like It’s 1899 (2008). Quite possibly my favorite title ever, and it’s a fantastic game by Pruess. a Cochrane Gambit topped off by a spectacular queen sacrifice and double-check-mate. Oh. My. God.
  • Tortoise and Hare (2009). A meditation on playing slow versus playing fast, told in fable form. Neat combination at the end, based on several of my ChessLecture ideas.
  • Jerry Hanken on Reshevsky vs. Fischer (2010). Maybe my best “story” post ever. Jerry gets all the credit for that.
  • The Art of Doing Nothing (2011). Here I introduce the Russian word nichevo-ne-dielanye, which loosely translates as the title of this post. A classic Mike Splane game where he literally just moves his pieces back and forth while his opponent ruins his own position.
  • How to Break Fort Knox in 13 Moves (2011). Another Mike Splane game, and the total opposite of the previous one. He dials up a queen sacrifice (not accepted by his opponent) to win in Morphy-esque fashion.
  • Fourth Endgame of the Apocalpyse (2011). The K+R+B versus K+R endgame. It’s brutally hard for both players, and if you play chess long enough, it’s out there waiting to get you. I will modestly opine that this post is the best place on the Internet to start learning its intricacies.
  • “I Failed and No One Died” (2012). The only off-topic post on this list, but I think it’s an important point to teach our children, and arguably it does have some relevance to chess, too.
  • History in the Humblest of Places (2012). Why every single kid matters, even the ones who finish last. Plus, a look at one of the most amazing ratings graphs ever.
  • Gone but not forgotten (2012). Tribute to Ted Yudacufski. One of the sad necessities in writing a blog is having to write about people who’ve passed away, but these posts also remind us that we are all connected.
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors (part 2) (2013). A really esoteric puzzle that was perhaps of interest only to me… until Sam Shankland discovered what has to be the best solution.
  • Simple Chess, plus Incurable Optimism (2013). A super important post, the only one that I take with me to every tournament. It introduces the Mike Splane Question (“How am I going to win this game?”) plus a number of other useful questions to ask when you don’t know what to do.
  • “How a Master Eats an Expert” (2014). You might have noticed that a lot of my good posts in recent years come from games shown at Mike Splane’s chess parties. This was a very impressive game shown by Craig Mar, with the same opening as “The Art of Doing Nothing.”
  • Queen and Bishop versus Two Rooks (2014). This is another Endgame of the Apocalypse, but one that most of us will probably never face. I thought it was interesting to study because, unlike the others, there is no published theory on it. Usually it’s a win for the Q+B, but using the Nalimov tablebases I found a way that Black can play for a draw.
  • “Nuke the GM!” Lecture Posted (2014). In 2006, before I started this blog, I played a game with the Bryntse Gambit, a queen sacrifice on move six, against IM David Pruess and won. I finally got another chance to play it eight years later — this time against a GM, Sergei Kudrin. This time the result was a draw and a “what-might-have-been” feeling. The two games were bookends for my career at the Pruess game was my first ChessLecture (“Nuke the Sicilian!”) and the Kudrin game (“Nuke the GM!”) was an appropriate finish.

Next, here are the ten most viewed posts on my blog, according to stats. In some cases they are far from being my best-written posts. It’s enough to make one scratch one’s head.

  1. Stop Presses II … Elizabeth Vicary Gets Hitched!  [2011] (3407 views)
  2. How to Break Fort Knox in 13 Moves [2011] (1828 views)
  3. Dana’s Opening Philosophy [2008] (1780 views)
  4. Russian chess names — a guide for the perplexed [2007] (1553 views)
  5. Grading the Openings (Part One) [2015] (1246 views)
  6. State chess champions … all states, all years [2012] (1186 views)
  7. Why Not Nuke the Caro? [2010] (1141 views)
  8. Karpov-Fischer [2008] (1094 views)
  9. Maris’d [2010] (981 views)
  10. What if there were no King’s Gambit? [2013] (980 views)

A few random comments… First of all, the popularity of #1 completely bewilders me. Guys, Elizabeth Spiegel has been married for four years now. It’s not news any more. Yet here are the year-by-year view totals for that post. 2011: 78 views. 2012: 414 views. 2013: 2045 views (!!!). 2014: 691 views. 2015: 179 views. It’s insane — why did two thousand people want to read about Elizabeth’s marriage in 2013, two years after it happened? This was my most-read post of 2012, 2013, and 2014. It looks as if it won’t be the most-read for 2015, thank goodness. However, the two thousand views in 2013 are a record that may never be broken on this blog.

The #2 post (How to Break Fort Knox) is a really good one, and you’ll notice that it is the only one that is both on my favorites list and the most popular list. However, I am a bit puzzled by how people keep finding it and reading it. Is there so much interest in the Fort Knox Variation of the French Defense?

The most-popular list gives a slight advantage to older posts, which have had time to build up their totals over several years, like #3 and #4. However, #5 bucks that trend — it is a post from this year! The reason for its popularity was a link from Alas, I don’t see much evidence that the people who visited from Reddit turned into regular readers of this blog. Links on Reddit are so ephemeral that I wouldn’t be surprised to see #5 have a steep drop-off in views in future years, or even future months of this year… but for now, 1246 views in one year is the second-most ever.

It’s ironic that of all the posts about openings I’ve written, #7 would be the most popular. After all, I wrote a long series on the Bird Variation of the Ruy Lopez. And I have a small amount of notoriety for the Bryntse Gambit, which I’ve posted about more than once. I’m a fan of the King’s Gambit, too. Yet a spur-of-the-moment post about a Bryntse-like variation of the Caro, which I have never even played in a tournament, is more popular than any of them! Go figure!

Finally, note that there is an exciting battle going on between #9 and #10 to see which one will get to a thousand views first. If you click on one of them, you might just be the thousandth reader! Woo hoo!

Finally, as promised, here is a list of the top six (sort of) or five (really) commenters on this blog.

  1. Matt Hayes: 22 comments
  2. Mike Splane: 20 comments
  3. Brian Wall: 18 comments
  4. Mike Splane: 15 comments
  5. Paul Bryan Porter: 14 comments
  6. Edward: 14 comments

I can only assume that the reason Mike appears on the list twice is that he must have posted from two separate computers or accounts. Really, he should be #1 on the list with 35 comments, but maybe he wanted to give other people a chance. He’s contributed many ideas to the blog, through his chess parties and through other conversations we’ve had. I know both Matt and Brian pretty well and always look forward to their contributions. I don’t know Paul or Edward as well, but I want to tip my hat to them and thank them for being such faithful readers and commenters! Unfortunately, the Word stats don’t go any farther, so if you want to get your name on this list, you’d better get busy commenting!

Well, I hope that this post gives all of you some good reasons to burrow back into the past of this blog. We’re up to 775 posts now, which means that even I have forgotten most of them… But the Internet never forgets!



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Schmidt May 26, 2015 at 9:32 am

Hmm, a quick search indicates that I’ve made 27 comments, although they may not all be with the same e-mail address. I’m not sure if this would put me on your list, though, since others are probably undercounted as well.


admin May 26, 2015 at 9:52 am

Hey Dan, sorry about that, and I definitely appreciate your comments, too!

The problem could be different e-mail addresses, as you said. It could also depend on when Word Press started counting. I didn’t activate Word Press stats until September 2009, and the counting of the top commenters may have started even after that.


Matt May 27, 2015 at 10:37 am

Really surprised that I am top of the comments list. As Dan says, I suspect others may have used different email addresses at different times. Still, I’ll take it. 🙂

Keep up the good work, Dana. I always look forward to your blog posts.


Jim Ratliff May 30, 2015 at 4:27 pm

There needn’t be a connection between how well written a post is and how many times it’s been read (which translates into “clicked-on”). By the time a reader determines how well it was written, she’d already had to have clicked on it.

“Reading,” i.e., clicking on the story should be correlated with what a potential reader’s expectations are, which are based on the information about the post that’s available prior to clicking on it. “How to Break Fort Knox” might be popular for non-chessplayers needing to score a little gold!


Brian Wall June 7, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: