More British Chess Web Sites!

Why set up on the web?

The author really hopes that this club site inspires other UK chess organisations to get onto the web. Here are a few justifications why the web is an interesting medium for chess (Please feel free to bring up these points in your club's annual general meeting!) .....

  • Chess games are essentially information... as such they can be distributed on the web which itself is essentially an information sharing medium. It has never been easier to share the chess news of your local area with the world and at the same time promote chess in your area! The two best British examples (**) are The Week In Chess by Mark Crowther, and the 4NCL web site by John Saunders
  • Minimal costs, Maximum audience...  Web sites offer a way of displaying up-to date information with minimal distribution costs. See for example the report on the Drury Lane Grandmasters. This happened to be a tournament walking distance from where I work, and as such it was easy for me to report on it with the kind assistance of the tournament organiser Adam Raoof.
  • Its getting easier and easier !.... The tools and resources and better for developing web sites. It does not have to consume a great deal of time and it will not cost the earth. See the how to set up on the web section.
  • Teach chess!.... Web sites can be used for teaching chess, the best British example (**) being Exeter's excellent chess club web site. Because chess can be played at so many different levels - there is an enormous and never ending learning curve. Let your web site teach other people!
  • Fun!... Chess Web sites can be fun to develop! They can become another avenue of your interest in chess.
  • Get more members!... greater exposure can sometimes bring new faces to your club (often these can be people in your own local area!), or new members to your association!

Still not convinced? News as of 09/03/1999:- Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation Slides  about chess and the Internet (Courtesy of John Richards)

(** In the opinion of T.C.Gavriel, co-webmaster Barnet chess club on-line)


How to set up on the web?

Introduction

The intention of this section is to de-mystify the processes involved in developing a chess club web site. Hopefully it will accelerate the number of chess clubs joining the web! This web site will be used as an example in terms of web building resources.

Web site building Resources used on this site (Barnet chess club on-line) as an example

Resource Details
Modem Zoom 56k modem (was a sportster 28.8k modem). A fast modem helps in uploading/downloading files to and from the web.
A decent PC with a relatively fast modem (28.8 bps) A fast computer makes things comfortable. The BCC webmaster has gone overboard with a Pentium II 450MHZ with 128meg ram (was a Pentium 166)
Internet server space Demon Internet as the Internet Service Provider (that's why there's the demon.co.uk bit in the web address). Demon give their customers plenty of space (>10 meg)  to play with in their 10 pounds a month deal, and also they have a regular magazine called "Demon Despatches" which has offered invaluable information in setting up this web site. 
New! Check out organisations offering free web space including freenetname.co.uk and freeserve.co.uk as well as Xoom
Email An essential resource to correspond with other chess web sites for cross-linking requests, or general exchange of information. Usually Internet service providers provide Email along with web server space
An FTP program A file transfer program (FTP program) for transferring files from your local machine's drive to your Internet server space (see above). Some good ones e.g. CuteFTP are available from tucows.
A web browser It is useful to have a number of browsers to test the web site for. The two most important (**) ones to pass tests are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet explorer as of Dec. 1998
A web authoring tool Microsoft Front Page (costs about 100 pounds) was used to develop BCC on-line. Obviously there are many other web authoring tools on the market. The point about using an authoring tool rather than "programming" raw HTML is that it saves time and effort and allows the focus to be on "what" (chess content) rather than "how" (HTML syntax and issues).
A graphics program It is useful to have a graphics program if one wants to add fancy graphics. Paint Shop Pro (free shareware- but then you are encouraged to pay for the full blown version).
A chess database program A chess database program is very useful for doing a chess web site! I regularly use Chessbase (Games can be published very easily in ChessBase 7- it generates HTML!)
Winzip (for zipping up pgn files), and putting them in the download area.
Java/Java Script If you want to get flash, you can use Internet technologies such as Java and Javascript which might provide more functionality than is possible with just HTML. Microsoft J++ was used for doing the calculator applications in the grading section. Java is generally used for flashy applets, but these tend to imply high bandwidth usage and not much content. The creators of Java, Sun Microsystems provide the JDK which is a free alternative. Javascript is the most popular scripting language at the time of writing (Dec 1998). It is an easier alternative to Java and one can add features to a web site which would not be possible with just HTML.
Scanner, Digital camera If you want to add pictures to your web site, these are useful resources. On BCC on-line, A Hewlett Packard 4p Scanner was used. This won a review in PC Magazine and is a relatively low priced but effective scanner. You do not need a scanner which has very high resolution scanning facilities because that will impede on web page download time and is therefore impractical for the web.

Note:
Digital cameras are coming down heavily in price, and are very convenient for taking pictures of chess events. There is no overhead in taking pictures using an ordinary camera- getting the film developed, then scanning it in using a scanner. You simply download the pictures to your computer from a digital camera! I have assisted the 4NCL site by providing pictures- using an Olympus digital camera- see The 2nd London International tournament coverage as an example.
A chess game viewer tool! Chess games can easily be played through with tools like Palview. This takes much of the burden away from chess game publishing.

FAQ's

(This section has been updated 16/03/1999)

How do I put chess diagrams into pages?

On Chessbase Light (free from ChessBase), putting chess diagrams into web pages involves the following steps:

Go into Chessbase
Select the Printing menu.
Select Diagram -> Clipboard
Go into Paint Shop Pro
Select Edit
Select Paste as New Image
Select Colours
Select Decrease Colour Depth
Select 2

The image can now be saved, ready for import into your web site.

Note that on chessbase 7, games can be output as HTML pages!

How do I convert a chess game-score into a PGN chess format file?

A chess game in PGN format takes the following form:-

[Event "Drury Lane Masters (1), 16.06.1997"]
[Site ""]
[Date ""]
[Round "1"]
[White "Lalic,B "]
[Black "Kumaran,D "]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo ""]
[BlackElo ""]
[ECO ""]
[NIC ""]
[LongECO ""]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Bxc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 Nc6 7.Ne2 Bf5 8.Nbc3 e6 9.a3 Qd7 10.0-0 Be7 11.Ba2 0-0-0 12.Be3 f6 13.f4 h5 14.Qc1 h4 15.Rd1 Qe8 16.d5 1/2-1/2

So therefore if you have the moves above, you have to put the "header" section in front of it! It will then be readable by programs such as Chessbase.


How can I show on-line chess games intuitively using a "Java" browser?

If you have many games to show, we are lucky as a community to have the very generous and ingenious Eduardo Suastegui who is allowing the use of his excellent chess viewer applet to display games.

If you want to show the odd game in a page, then you may like to use the ICC game viewer. Simply paste your game score in pgn notation into their on-line form. It will then generate an HTML page, which you can simply insert the code into your page. As an example try pasting in the above PGN game score into this form.


Are there good chess webmaster resource web sites?

Try the Traveler chess site for chess graphics which you can use within your own pages. ( Beware of download times however- it is wise to use image compression software to avoid your British users having to pay big BT phone bills. Note at the time of writing, NetMechanic listed below offers an on-line image compression utility. )

The Norrensby Chess club is a very useful chess webmaster resource.

It is always good to have a back end chess database at your disposal to organise games and perhaps offer to your hungry chess playing viewers a chess download section. Chessbase have a free version of their Chessbase program called Chessbase Light which is useful.

NetMechanic and Websitegarage are both interesting web site assessment tools

For promoting your website, you could do worse than consult to the top rated web site promotion sites provide by Lycos

If you have any other questions and issues, you could try raising them in the British Chess Webmaster forum! :-)

 

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