Interview to appear in 'Chess on the Web' by Sarah Hurst, to be published by Batsford later this year


This interview may be interesting to the wider audience from the point of view of chess developments on the Internet

1. Please introduce yourself in your own words.

My name is Tryfon Costas Gavriel. I am 27 years old, and live in North London, Barnet, England (UK). I work as an analyst programmer for UBS Brinson, a Fund management company based in Green park. As a hobby, I am co-webmaster of the Barnet chess club on-line website (

2. How keen a chess player are you?

I have been keen on chess since the age of 7. I don't belong to as many chess clubs as I used to - just Barnet now. A few years ago however, I was simultaneously a member of Barnet, Muswell Hill, Wood Green and Hayes chess clubs !

3. When and why did you decide to set up a website?

I became fascinated with the Internet in my 1st year at Brunel University, when I was shown a huge listing of all the FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites that were available. I thought it was an amazing resource with so many things to look at!

I thought that I could do a good chess site because I am enthusiastic about chess. I also wanted to experiment with web technologies, and for the web site to have a purpose at the same time. I focused it around my local chess club as I thought this would help promote it. The site started early 1997.

4. Did you have any technical problems?

There have been technical difficulties to overcome but I think my enthusiasm for chess helped me overcome these hurdles. One either has the choice of giving up, or trying to overcome them. HTML isn't too difficult once you get used to it, or you can be lazy like me and get a web authoring tool which simplifies the process of web-weaving!

5. What material can people find on your site that they can't find in magazines and books?

Magazines and Books cannot make use of the increasing number of Internet technologies which bring the game alive! It is much easier in my opinion to use a Java (*) Browser for example, to play through a chess game, rather than manually play a game out on a board.

The web is a highly appropriate medium for chess, because chess games can be so easily played, viewed and downloaded. Books cannot provide facilities for downloads, or java browsing of games, and cannot be updated so easily as a website. Tournament reports in my viewing section for example, appeared weeks before publication in magazines!

6. What is the aim of the British Chess Forum, and why do you think it is a good medium for this kind of debate; are there going to be enough visitors, or would a newsgroup be better?

The British Chess Forum is a web-page based newsgroup. I believe that the UK is a very strong chess playing nation, and we should have our own newsgroup. When Deja News provided the possibility to create a community forum, I thought it would be interesting to use it.

7. You are using the internet to promote a real chess club. Aren't you worried that people will increasingly prefer playing over the internet rather than going to venues such as Barnet, which aren't particularly glamorous? Has the club membership increased thanks to the site?

I encourage people to experience chess playing servers such as the ICC and FICS.  as I think it is an exciting alternative to physically having to go to venues and tournaments to play chess. Non-serious blitz chess I think in particular is highly appropriate for the Internet.

There have been quite a few new members as a result of the web, and also on occasion foreign vistors which prior to the Internet web site was rarely seeen. On one occasion at 1997 Christmas time, about 12 Americans turned up! When I go to the club nowadays on a Monday night, and there is some suspense as to who will be there as a result of the web site!

8. Where do you get your material from?

My material and inspirations have come from a variety of places but mainly from my own first hand experiences.

9. How much feedback do you get from visitors to the Barnet site their main criticisms/aspects that they particularly like?

I have received quite a lot of messages in the Guestbook and via Email. From the feedback, I think the Learning Section is particularly popular. Perhaps the biggest strength / weakness of the site is the variety it contains. It can be time consuming to go into as much depth as I would want in all areas.

10. What are your future plans for your sites?

Generally my plan is to meet chess players needs as best as I can ; continue promoting Barnet Chess Club and Herts Chess Association; and continue making use of new exciting technologies to see where they are they most appropriate and what value they can add.

11. Which websites are your own personal favourites, and which do you consider to be rivals?

My personal favourites include:-

4NCL Web site by John Saunders
The Week In Chess by Mark Crowther
Chess Corner by Janet Edwardson

There are not many other sites covering Barnet chess club, so I don't consider I have many rivals :-)


(*) Java is one of the more "advanced" resources a web site can use. Java is a programming language in its own right, but has been adopted highly appropriately on the Internet because it allows an abstraction of the underlying operating system, thus enabling people with different types of computer to run the same Java applets.