Saturday, April 28, 2007
The concept for Goddesschess first arose in 1999 but, as with all things, there was a beginning. A group of people had gathered at the old Art Bell website (when he was still going full-tilt as the host of "Coast to Coast" on late-night radio, featuring folks like Major Ed Dames - "remote viewing" anyone?) to post on the message boards hosted there. We met under the topic "Is Chess The Game Of The Goddess?" started by Isis in December, 1998. We were a free-wheeling group and because most of us knew hardly a thing about chess or about "board games studies" (or about the "proper" way to go about such research), we wrote about anything and everything that we thought might contain a clue to the object of our quest - the origins of chess. We therefore discussed religions (0ld and new), archaeology, anthropology, geography, etymology, linguistics, migrational patterns, the evolution and history of the horse and dog, ancient trade, and more esoteric subjects such as goddess symbolism, mythology, what Isis calls "the old switcheroo" (that is, where males are substituted for females in subsequent iterations of history), magic, child sacrifice (gulp), and lots of other stuff. Looking back now, yeah, some of what we wrote could, I suppose, be viewed as controversial but we were so wrapped up in what we were doing we didn't notice the clouds gathering around us, and we never did child pornography (that's a joke)... After three or four months of happily posting to each other - and having attracted a group of "regulars," it slowly became apparent that, because of some host problems that began cropping up with increasing regularity (such as disappearing posts and, later, outright censorship of some posts and then the banning of certain people from the forum for violating arbitrarily imposed "rules"), we should move our discussion to a friendlier environment and also - if we could - save what we had already posted. To make a long story short, after much behind-the-scenes emailing and planning, Goddesschess went online at the old "Xoom" hosting site on May 6, 1999, thanks to our original webmistress, Vickie "Terpsy" Ramirez. It initially contained only the successfully-rescued posts that had been made at the old message board. For several months thereafter, we all continued to post (except those of us who were banned) at the Art Bell message board. Terpsy would gather up the posts and publish them at our "back-up" Goddesschess site on a regular basis. We called those posts "The Weave" because of how the discussion and themes seamlessly wove themselves into a beautiful whole. It wasn't long after Goddesschess first went online that it expanded to include articles about women in chess, articles discussing whether and why men were "better" chessplayers than women, chess poems and Chess Patronesses, which pays homage to some of the female chessplayers from the early 20th century. In August, 1999 I traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to see some of the FIDE World Chess Championship knock-out matches at Caesar's Palace. That opened up a whole new world for Goddesschess. Working into the wee hours of the morning in my hotel room on a laptop computer I borrowed from Isis, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Those posts are preserved at Goddesschess; they capture my first exposure to "big league chess." That event was won by GM Alexander Khalifman, and I think he was a wonderful world chess championship for the year he reigned under the former FIDE system. We added articles from around the internet that at the time captured the flavor of that first FIDE knock-out championship event. (Click here and scroll down to the heading "Tournament Chess" and underneath to "Vegas Views", and the articles that follow). Eventually the Art Bell message boards shut down, and so several of the posters migrated to a new forum at Delphi, where we set up home under the name of "Chess, Goddess and Everything." In time, due to some philosophical differences, the group split and a new discussion group formed at Delphi called "On Chess," which is now the "Goddesschess Discussion Group" because these days the posts there have very little to do about chess, per se, but are all about archaeology, anthropology, migration patterns, climatic changes that impacted ancient societies, and things like that. But - we're circling in closer and closer to our target - the origins of chess. We just utilize a universal approach to the subject matter - I believe in academic circles it's called a cross-disciplinary approach - and we do not restrict ourselves only to studying ancient board games. We study just about everything, because we believe clues to the origins of board games (and chess) are everywhere. Soon, we'll be celebrating our 8th anniversary online. There aren't many websites older than Goddesschess but those that are, are venerable: The Week in Chess; Chess Cafe, to name a few. But those are chess-centric sites. Goddesschess is chess-centric, with a twist. Today, we are bringing Goddesschess into the 21st century by starting this blog. Where it will go (or if it will go) is anyone's guess. People are too busy to post at message boards, it seems; blogs are the thing right now. Tomorrow - who knows? What you can be sure of is that, at least for the next 30 years or so, Goddesschess will be online - somewhere!