Annual Report Card — Most Popular Posts

by admin on April 25, 2016

About once a year I like to take a look at my blog stats, just to see what is happening. What are my most popular posts all-time? What are the most popular ones recently?

The all-time list never changes very much — it’s always the same post at the top, and the same one in second. Even so, there is some gradual change over the years, and it definitely looks as if there could be a new #3 soon.

All-Time Most Page Views (> 1000)

Name 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
Stop Presses II… Elizabeth Vicary Gets Hitched 78 414 2045 691 422 122 3772
How to Break Fort Knox in 13 Moves 129 264 740 490 530 132 2285
Dana’s opening philosophy 91* 274 500 289 345 228 156 43 1926
State chess champions… all states, all years 104 338 525 639 259 1865
Russian chess names – a guide for the perplexed 95* 344 275 268 343 171 134 29 1659
Why Not Nuke the Caro? 153 157 149 253 302 295 65 1374
Grading the Openings (Part 1) 1311 51 1362
What if There Were No King’s Gambit? 309 542 322 85 1258
Karpov-Fischer 34 149 220 230 192 172 165 25 1187
The “Other” Bird 153 278 370 263 90 1154
Mystery grandmasters + grandmasters named Alex 518 124 94 114 89 100 33 1072
Maris’d 91 413 316 65 61 66 8 1020

* Some page views before September 2009 not counted.

Red type = most popular post of the year.

Some thoughts on this list: First of all, one must remember that it only counts clicks, and doesn’t tell you how good the post actually is. So to some extent the list rewards posts with catchy titles. For example, “State chess champions… all states, all years” seems to promise something really fantastic. But when you read the post, it only says that somebody ought to compile this database. I haven’t done it personally. But judging from the popularity of the post, probably I should.

Also, external factors can make a huge difference. The most obvious example is my post on Elizabeth (Vicary) Spiegel’s marriage, which drew an overwhelming number of page views in 2013, the year the movie “Brooklyn Castle” came out. The post Grading the Openings (Part 1) attracted a huge number of views because somebody on Reddit linked to it. But that kind of popularity is really ephemeral. Probably 1200 of those 1300 page views came within the first two days after I posted it.

Now let’s take a look at the chart of current “hits.”

Most Page Views in 2016 (> 100)

Name 2016 Total
State chess champions… all states, all years 259 1865
USATW results 154 154
Bird by Bird, Part 6 138 138
How to Break Fort Knox in 13 moves 132 2285
Two Shining Moments 132 132
Queen vs Rook and Pawns 130 130
How to Beat a Grandmaster 127 265
Stop Presses II… Elizabeth Vicary Gets Hitched 122 3772
Touch move again 122 122
The Van Damme Truck Trick 121 121
Queen and Bishop vs Two Rooks 114 561
Why Does Anybody Play 1. e4? 109 201
The Fourth Endgame of the Apocalypse 103 363
Sensational Chess Club Battle 103 103
Checkmate Patterns, Moral Victories 102 102
Weeeellllll… 101 101
Do Superhuman Moves Exist? 101 101

“State chess champions” is doing really, really strongly, and its popularity has been building for several years. It would have been my most popular post last year if it hadn’t been for that Reddit-driven surge for “Grading the Openings.”

News posts like the #2 entry, “USATW results,” always do well for a very brief time and then disappear. I’m really encouraged to see the interest in my recent posts, Bird by Bird (part 6), Two Shining Moments, and Do Superhuman Moves Exist? They all have tremendous upside. “Two Shining Moments” was not very substantive from the chess point of view, but it did lead to a very substantive post, “Do Superhuman Moves Exist?” Finally, it was really nice to see the post “The Fourth Endgame of the Apocalypse” making the list. It’s an oldie but goodie, about the R + B versus R endgame, and of course the interest in that post was stimulated by Fabiano Caruana’s debacle in that endgame against Peter Svidler. I’m glad that more than a hundred people found their way to my discussion of that endgame, which I think is one of the best posts I’ve ever written.

Some of you might be interested in finding out what were my best posts, rather than my best clickbait. Last year in The Internet Never Forgets, I listed my 15 favorite old posts, and I’m glad to see that some of them had a noticeable increase in page views as a result. Here’s an update: my seven favorite posts since last May. I couldn’t cut it down to a shorter list, because there have been so many posts that I really, really loved.

  • How to Beat a Grandmaster. An article about something I’ve never done! My friend and former teammate Robin Cunningham beat GM Glenn Flear last December at Hastings. A really impressive and fearless game by Robin, which gives hope to all of us fair-to-middling national masters.
  • Hans Niemann and the Fifth Endgame of the Apocalypse. This one blew my mind. I’m not sure if I’ve recovered yet. In the 2N vs. P endgame, the fast-improving young master Hans Niemann not only knew the “Troitzky line,” he also knew how to win when his opponent’s pawn was past the Troitzky line. You’d better keep an eye on this guy …
  • Queen and Bishop versus Two Rooks. Here’s an endgame that even Hans Niemann might not know. I’m not even sure if it has ever come up in grandmaster practice. According to the tablebases, K+Q+B vs. K+2R is usually a win for the queen, but I show you one easily-remembered setup that is a draw, if you can get to it. You can thank me later.
  • Checkmate Patterns, Moral Victories. Sometimes the best stuff is in the comments. This was a post about a cute out-of-the-blue checkmate combination played by Jonathan Tisdall, and who should send in a comment but Tisdall himself!
  • The Cup and the Fly. I’ve written several posts over the last year or so about my games against the computer. This is the one that you really shouldn’t miss. Sometimes the way to catch a fly (or win a chess game) is to lower the trap over your opponent so gently he doesn’t even know it’s there.
  • Things That Make You Go Hmmm… Who had the longest winning streak in the history of the U.S. Chess Federation? I’m not sure, but a strong candidate might be Alex Zelner, who won 108 rated games in a row from 2010 to 2011. There’s something a bit fishy about this record, because he was the TD for every one of those games, and many were against his own family members. I’m not sure if these should count for U.S. rating purposes. But check out the post and the comments for an explanation and a discussion.
  • “Grandmaster” Beau. Last year was such a stunning year for American chess fans. GM Walter Browne died. IM Emory Tate died. And Beau Hardeman died. Who?? Well, he was a chess teacher in Atlanta who told everyone he was a grandmaster. But he wasn’t. According to the USCF computer, his actual rating never went above 1900. The game in this post was historic for both of us, because I was the highest-rated player he ever beat, and this was the first game I played while I was at my lifetime peak rating (2257). Truly a case of “pride goeth before a fall.” I was sooo embarrassed to lose to an 1800 player, but if you look at the game, Beau deserved to win. He played like a grandmaster.

History is written about the famous players, the Brownes and the Tates, but let’s not forget all the other people who contribute in some way to the great game of chess.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd Bryant April 26, 2016 at 6:48 am

The Fourth Endgame of the Apocalypse is my favorite article on this site. It made me fall in love with that endgame, which I’ve since studied quite a bit. It has been exciting to see it at the top so many times in the past year!

I especially liked the closing line:

They are the same arguments for not bothering with climbing Mount Everest. But a certain kind of person just can’t live with knowing that this endgame exists and that you haven’t mastered it yet. You just have to study this endgame … because it’s there. If you are that type of person, you already know it. This post is for you.

It turns out I am VERY much that kind of person, and I have since discovered an obsession with technical endgames, ChessTempo endgames, and John Nunn’s tablebase books. By the way, I think “that type of person” has some big overlap with math people (I was a math/CS major and I spent two years out of college teaching HS math).


zackery brett April 28, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Hey my family has this chess set I’ve never seen anything like it I can’t find could sombody get ahold of me so I can show u it


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