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Checkmate! – WikiProject Chess

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By Mabeenot
WikiProject news
In a few words
Submit your project's news and announcements for next week's WikiProject Report at the Signpost's WikiProject Desk.
Playing pieces from a Staunton chess set
A recreation of The Turk, a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century
Wilhelm Steinitz, the first undisputed world chess champion
Garry Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster and political activist
Chess articles by quality from 2007 to 2011

When we challenged the masters of WikiProject Chess to an interview, Sjakkalle answered our call. WikiProject Chess dates back to December 2003 and has grown to include 4 Featured Articles and 15 Good Articles maintained by over 100 members. The project typically operates independently of other WikiProjects, although the project would theoretically be a child of WikiProject Board and Table Games (interviewed in 2011). WikiProject Chess provides a collection of resources, seeks missing photographs of chess players, and helps determine ways that Wikipedia's coverage of chess can be expanded.

What motivated you to join WikiProject Chess? Do you play competitively? Have you contributed to any of the project's Featured or Good Articles?

I started working on chess articles shortly after I joined Wikipedia in 2004/2005. At the time, there were a number of good chess-related articles, but many were underdeveloped and many significant topics lacked articles altogether.
I am an active tournament player, of middling strength, although with a rather high (possibly inflated) FIDE rating of 1944. I am also quite active in the local chess club on Karmøy.
I have unfortunately not made any major contributions up to Good or Featured status on the English Wikipedia. It is editors such as User:Krakatoa and User:SyG who have done an admirable job in achieving that.

WikiProject Chess's primary article, chess, is one of the longest-serving Featured Articles, originally designated "Refreshing Brilliant Prose" back in 2002 and never being demoted, even as it underwent multiple Featured Article Reviews. How difficult has it been to keep this article up to Wikipedia's changing standards over the years?

I haven't participated in this process, but I remember that there were serious challenges to the FA statuses in 2006 and 2010 where some work had to be done with it. There have also been people who want to add much more, and in most editors' views excessive, coverage of India's role in the history section.
The chess article is reasonably stable because the rules, strategy, and cultural aspects are fairly constant. What does need updating from time to time is who is in the World top right now. For instance there was a milestone this month when Magnus Carlsen became the World's highest rated player in the history of the rating system.

Are there any gaps in Wikipedia's coverage of chess's history, strategy, or notable players? Are any countries or generations better represented than others?

We are missing articles on a number of grandmasters. These players have always been considered notable enough for articles. I have tried to make sure that we have articles for all the Norwegian grandmasters (and for the more recent Norwegian national champions as well), and I think we have complete coverage of all the American and English grandmasters too. But we are missing articles on many Russian grandmasters for example. It really is a function of whether any editor wants to take the time it is to create the biographies. For the top flight of players, those over 2700 in rating, I think our coverage is quite comprehensive. This does not mean the articles couldn't be improved, but at least the players at that level have biographies.
The chess literature on strategy is overwhelmingly devoted to openings, and we have a large number of articles related to different chess openings. Sometimes an excited user decides to write up an article on an extremally obscure opening, but there the line is usually drawn. There are some articles that arguably could be split.
The middlegame is relatively poorly covered in literature, and that may account for the rather sparse coverage we have there. It is actually a very broad subject, but with a multitude of disparate items, and the subject itself has diffuse edges with openings and endgames.
Many of the theoretical endgames, where perfect play can be found in literature and endgame tablebases, such as Bishop and knight checkmate and Rook and pawn versus rook endgame are very well covered. We are not as good on the non-theoretical but more strategic endgames, we are missing articles on general concepts such as Rook endgame beyond the general coverage in Chess endgame.

How difficult has it been to acquire images for chess articles? Aside from photography, what options do editors have when trying to illustrate chess articles?

I think we face many of the same challenges in acquiring images as many other editors face. For many grandmasters we do have portraits though. When reading about chess though, most people are interested in the moves and the positions rather than the faces of the players. The {{Chess diagram}} template for illustrating positions is very heavily used in our articles and very important for illustrating the articles.

How would you describe the sense of community at WikiProject Chess? Do editors tend to work in concerted efforts or alone in their own niche?

The contributors at the WikiProject have generally been friendly and helpful, willing to discuss things. We do sometimes discuss how to coordinate articles and sometimes concerns over notability are aired there before an AFD nomination is made. I am generally an individual editor on articles, but I know others have worked together for improvements. We are individual editors, and sometimes there are disagreements between us, but in the vast majority of cases those differences are settled in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
At times we have faced editors who decide to make war with the members of the Chess WikiProject. One of them became a side issue (the non-chess related DreamHost article was the main issue) in an arbitration case in 2009, in that case ending with a one-year ban of the editor in question for rather extreme personal attacks and other misconduct. Those were unpleasant cases, but I am glad that the members of the WikiProject supported each other through it.

What are WikiProject Chess's most urgent needs? How can a new contributor help today?

The most essential topics have articles now, but there are many articles that are stubs and in need of improvement. As mentioned above, and as seen on the Articles to Create section of WP:CHESS we are missing articles on a number of notable players. Any new contributor who wants to make one or more of these will be a most welcome addition to the project.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I must admit that I am only semi-active with chess articles right now and perhaps not all that up to date with things. Chess is probably the most studied game ever, and there is a wealth of literature for those who want to research it.

Next week, we'll take the northern way through Europe's fjords in search of a great place to live. Until then, search for Viking loot in the archive.

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Thanks for the kudos! –Mabeenot (talk) 22:25, 31 January 2013 (UTC)[reply]


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