Just as my "Novice Nook" column at Chess Cafe quickly became a misnomer because the 6-time "Best Instruction" winner is aimed at improving players of all levels, so has the Dan Heisman Learning Center (DHLC) here at Chess.com quickly become more than just a learning center.
The idea for DHLC was born about 8 months ago when student Eternal_Patzer and I were brainstorming how we could best use Chess.com as a focused learning tool/site for ideas I use for instruction. Using that as a goal, Eternal_Patzer created DHLC and is its Super-Admin.
When you log on Live Chess at Chess.com, the slowest time control offered is 30 0 which, ironically, is the fastest time control allowed by the US Chess Federation for a game to be considered under their regular (slow) rating system. If you want to become a titled player, you have to learn how to think correctly, and 30 0 is just too fast a time control for good practice by improving players. At DHLC one of the agenda items was to allow players to easily find opponents at slower time controls than 30 0. One popular time control is 45 45, slow enough to play "Real Chess" but fast enough that the game wouldn't take half the day.
But the real key was when Eternal_Patzer recruited SirIvanhoe to coordinate and TD the events. SirIvanhoe is the real star of DHLC. While I provide the philosophical guidance and Eternal_Patzer greets all the members, does the technical work and created the store, it is SirIvanhoe that does all the heavy lifting.
DHLC features several types of slow events. I apologize if I can't keep track of all of them (it's amazing that SirIvanhoe can!), but some of these events include:
- 45 45 Quads (4-player round robins)
- 45 45 Swisses with dozens of members in each
- Team events where the players play as individuals at 45 45 but four can band together and their aggregage score is the team score
- There are also DHLC teams represented in the U2000 and U1600 sections of the Team 45 45 League
The attraction and success of all this slow chess has not escaped the eye of Chess.com. IM Daniel Rensch has been in contact with us and has informed us that one of the action items for near-future Chess.com improvement is to be more proactively helpful for those seeking slow play. After all, even if only 1% of Chess.com's 6.9M members are looking for some serious chess, this represents an enormous amount of interest and attraction for the site. In fact, 1% of Chess.com is almost as large as the entire membership of the US Chess Federation .
Eternal_Patzer and I have also contacted some of my publishers and obtained sample books that we occasionally use for prizes at these events. Just this morning I FedEx'ed two copies of Everyman's A Guide to Chess Improvement to the MVPs of our Team 45 45 U2000 and U1600 teams . I have also used free lessons as prizes to other events. Thanks also to Mongoose Press for their involvement - I think Russell Enterprises may also be involved (if not it is my fault for not asking them!).
Great thanks must be given to DHLC Admin Dr_Cris_Angel for the great work on our DHLC Monthly Newsletter! Check out the link for further links to all our issues. I made sure to send a Chess.com Medal to Dr_Cris, but that hardly covers all the great work done on the newsletter. Thanks!
DHLC also has an extensive set of Forums for all kinds of chess discussion, too many for me to remember or list. However, Eternal_Patzer has addressed the issue of getting new members up to speed with a new members package which includes a personal message plus forum just with site information.
For a slow pickup game you can stop in any time, or we have a pro-active get-together each Monday night via our Chat Room. Hopefully if you message almost any of our members, they would politely consider a request to play a slow game at some point.
I also mentioned our DHLC store. Thanks to the work of Eternal_Patzer, we now have a store (thru CafePress.com) that sells dozens of merchandise from t-shirts to buttons to caps to cups with an assortment of DHLC logos and "Dan Sayings". Best of all, Eternal_Patzer has set up the store so that all net proceeds go to one of my charities at The Philadelphia Foundation, The Chess Support Fund. This fund supports youth (scholastic and college) chess throughout the Philadelphia area and Pennsylvania. If you don't want to purchase anything, but are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to either this fund or my other charitable fund, The Holly Heisman Memorial Fund (which supports women in need), you can also take this link, which has instructions for both online and regular mail donations. I have held, and am hoping to have more, activities thru DHLC like group lessons or simuls, where the entire proceeds go to the Chess Support Fund.
Each month Dr_Cris_Angel does a fantastic job in publishing the DHLC Newsletter. You can check out previous editions at the DHLC "Chess News" link. For example, here is a direct link to our Oct 2013 edition of the Newsletter.
After 16 months in business, the DHLC group has grown to over 3,500 members (Thanks all!), the 11th biggest group on Chess.com. This size eclipses most "country" groups; most groups that are larger have been around far longer. I don't think my name has much to do with this growth (but I hope it helps) - I think it's the great work of SirIvanhoe and Eternal_Patzer that set up all the serious, slow play that makes our group if not unique, then at least greatly attractive. Keep up the good work, guys!
PS: Here's a link to a YouTube video which shows how the qualifiers for the DHLC work.