Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chess Tweets

Now that I'm using Twitter I'm finding all kinds of interesting things, and one of the more intriguing is ChessTweets. This is just a darn clever idea: a tool that reinvents correspondence Chess by using Twitter.

This might require some explanations for any younger readers in the audience. Back when I was a young'un, people used to play "correspondence Chess." Lonely shut-ins would advertise for a partner in a magazine or newspaper, exchange letters, agree to start up a game, write down each individual move, and MAIL IT TO THEM. Using envelopes and stamps and mailmen and everything! Even when I was young, I remember thinking That's plain nuts. It would take months to play out an entire game. (What must someone have thought if they opened up a piece of correspondence Chess by accident, only to read a message saying Rxb7?)

With the advent of message boards, email, Java, multiplayer PC and console gaming, and the other tools of technology, correspondence Chess was significantly streamlined. Play-by-email and other formats allow people to make moves in their own time outside of a live online gaming session, and without relying on the U.S. Snail to stuff an envelope in your box.

ChessTweets is not only taking this to the next logical step, but putting an interesting twist on it. The site allows people to create games that can be played via Twitter. Each side tweets their moves back and forth using standard Chess notation. People can thus play a simple version of correspondence Chess using only twitter.

Even more intriguing are the "public games" hosted by Chess Tweets. During a public game, anyone can choose what they thing the next move should be. The game then uses the move with the most votes. The FAQ at Chess Tweets colorfully calls this a "hive mind" approach to gaming, but it's probably more accurate to call it plain ole Democratic Chess.


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