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Building Chess.com: Part 14 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  • erik
  • on 2/5/09, 4:23 PM.

I feel compelled to write today about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I'm going to break form though and start with the ugly and end with the good!

The Bad

Sometimes things are outside of our control. There are weeks where everything on Chess.com moves like a sailboat gliding through the water smoothly. And then there are days like today. First, one of our servers crashed entirely and it was not our fault. It was the fault of OpenX - the opensource ad server we run. It went down due to a bug (their bug) and POOF - down we go. Ugh. And then, about 60 minutes after that, a DNS router at our host/datacenter in Los Angeles, CA crashed. POOF - down go more people (many of you were not affected, but some - like Chess.com headquarters! - couldn't connect to Chess.com). Anyway, I try not to cry when things like that happen, but it is so frustrating :(

 

The Ugly

You know how everyone thinks their own baby is so cute, but then when the kid grows up and sometimes you look back on the baby pictures and realize - that was an UGLY baby!? Well, that certainly hasn't happened to me or my 4 kids (:D), but it does happen. In fact, it even happened with Chess.com, which is, effectively, one of my children. And now that Chess.com is more grown up I can look out and say that our Chess.com child named "Live Chess" is ugly.

Let me explain more: Live Chess is actually very nice looking! It has really cool features, a great interface, and is fun......... IF it works for you. It is ugly in the sense that it doesn't work for many people. And to those of you I only have 2 words - VERY SORRY. :( We started out with such a grand vision for Live Chess, but failed to build it out in a careful manner. We pushed too hard too fast. We added features faster than we could test them. And we did it all with too few people. And so we have what we have now - a beautiful, dysfunctional live chess server. So sorry.

Here is the plan: we are now rebuilding Live Chess from the ground up and doing it right. Carefully. Patiently. Measuredly. And we have the best of the best of the best working on it - the pioneers of live web technologies like Jetty and cometd. We don't yet have a timeframe, but we do have a promise - it will be what you expect: a stable place to come and play chess and interact with friends. Getting disconnected is the most frustrating thing in the world, and it is what is really slowing the growth of Chess.com (though we are still growing really fast). We know that once we fix Live Chess... let's just say that we're excited :)

 

The Good

As you know, we're always trying to get better. Our To-Do list is long, and it comes from your suggestions. In addition to the many fixes and small features we are working on, there is one main feature we are now focusing on - instructional videos! There are lots of ways to learn chess (we think Chess Mentor is most effective!), and some people want to sit back and listen to a Grandmaster share insights into the game (I know sometimes I do!). So over the next several months we will be building the viewing technology (which will be the best online anywhere), and getting top players to create videos. Which brings me to my next "GOOD".

Chess.com has hired IM David Pruess as the Director of Professional Relations! In addition to being our personal Chess.com coach-slave, he will also be in charge of: recruiting new titled players (columnists, video lecturers, Chess Mentor authors, etc), interfacing with top chess players, coordinating Chess.com sponsorship of events, etc. Basically he will be the battering ram for any situation where normally people in the "chess world" would say "Erik who??" :) He is a great guy and a terrific Chess.com ambassador!

We have also hired the famed Kohai as a Chess.com Member Support person. As many of you know, Kohai is awesome in every way. A huge Chess.com fan from the beginning, and someone who has a level-head and is always ready to provide answers. Kohai will now be answering support tickets as well as other tasks.

One other piece of good news is that we are adding more new servers to Chess.com including our beefiest server ever - a new Dell 2950 with massive HDs and RAM as our new database box. This should make the site faster as the multiple harddrives in RAID format are able to do database reads - and more importantly, writes - much faster. We will be putting this server as well as a new Live Chess development server online in the next 48 hours.

----

So there you have it. The Good - new features, new faces, new beginning to Live Chess. The Bad - crazy things happen. And The Ugly - Live Chess disconnects.

From everyone at Chess.com -> a HUGE thank you to all of our members for your support! Without your ideas, suggestions, and patience we wouldn't be what we are today.

Until next time - happy chessing!

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Comments


  • 4 years ago

    musiclife

    Is it possible to get the game explorer to include live games?  These are what I'm most interested in seeing as some of the strongest players (IMHO) here only play live!  Timetable?  Thanks!  Chess.com rocks!

     

    Jeremy

  • 5 years ago

    Gerz1933

    My greatest problem is the dirty tricks played by my partner's clock. Often, as it goes to zero, it jumps back, and does it several times.  This is distracting , not fair and makes impossible to play quick chess.

    This is no doubt a bug in system, you  must correct it. 

  • 5 years ago

    waverunner

    Iam new here and i love it just getting my feet wet so to speak great site to play and learn on thank you

  • 5 years ago

    ChessCat

    Thanks for keep us all in the communication loop.  What happens to me when I've tried to used Live Chess is that a message box comes up stating that the site is using an older version of Java and may not be secure - and do I want to revert to the older version of Java.  When that message box pops up, my computer freezes and I have to reboot.  I'm really looking forward to being able to have a live chess game with my friends here!

  • 5 years ago

    jmanzellajrd347

    I agree with WIKSTROM, this site is awesome for the novice like me. Like most, I'm busy as a doctor, Dad and distance runner during the day. I read a lot of history and biographies but find chess books a cure for insomnia. This site is tremendous to give my ADD personality just what I am looking for without overloading my fragile (and small) brain.

    Thanks so much!

  • 5 years ago

    namn_kiev

    I should say that the most frustating situation, from my point of view,is unperfect work of TACRIC TRAINER ! At first, if ANY problem occur with downloading the task, it simply states "SKIPPED", and that is all!. Secondly,
    some tasks DO have two or more solutions, and they MUST be rated equally!
    Somethimes, the solution is not the BEST at all! The TASKS must be checked
    carefully BEFORE putting them on the site! Sincerely,

    ALEX

  • 5 years ago

    gvak

    All the new stuff and planned improvments are great. I agree with many of the other comments in chess.com is good as is, there are already more whistles and buzzers than I use. Your doing good work. Thank you.

  • 5 years ago

    Goran_10-15-85

    Disconnection (Live chess) in a winning position is like, ...near dead expirience. But as i can see, with all its content, this is far most best chess site available, i hope u like my theme, check it out...

  • 5 years ago

    easyb

    Adding kohai to the staff was a very smart move, IMHO.  She is the rock the rest of us live mods can lean on when times get tough.  I'm certainly looking forward to the changes in live chess, as the disconnects are the number 1 complaint I deal with on a day-to-day basis.

    As always, great work with the site, and I'm looking forward to all the great things to come!

  • 5 years ago

    AfafBouardi

    I'm soooo glad the Live Chess issue was addressed!  Can't wait.  Thanks for the personable updates - the personal touch here (along with pleasant interface) solidly clinched my decision to join here instead of ICC.

  • 5 years ago

    Sheterhand

    Fixing live chess is great news for everyone. I can't wait!

  • 5 years ago

    abcfls

    And congratulations: I´m sure IM Pruess is the first of great inclusions on chess.com family.

    Peace and Harmony!

  • 5 years ago

    abcfls

    To Erik and all chess.com staff:

    Chess.com is amazing! Don´t worry about the time it will take to make this improuvements. If a really functional and stable LIVE CHESS comes only in a 9 or 12 months, no problem. We know that a serious work have been done.

    Regards,

    Fernando/Brazil.

  • 5 years ago

    PawnToD4

    Hey Erik and the rest of the chess.com team, I'd like to say you're doing a really swell job, thanks! I'm excited after having read this article, especially with Live Chess. More power!

  • 5 years ago

    systemovich

    the building chess.com series is a good idea. it makes the site more personable.

  • 5 years ago

    Roxus_Maximus

    I'm new but addicted. Thanks for the great site, and the personnal touches like this post that make it so inviting.

  • 5 years ago

    satorichess

    You are doing great Erik I'm happy to be part of this great community of chess lovers. Chess.com is amazing and I'm sure it can only be better in the future.

      all the best from Italy to all of you guys ;-)

  • 5 years ago

    hicetnunc

    I think chess videos is a great idea, and as a foreigner, I'd like to suggest a nice feature, which is dearly missing in many chess videos products on the market : English sub-titles !

    I can read English pretty well, but some accents, well, I just can't understand Cool

  • 5 years ago

    cruzfranzenrico

    Thank you very much Erik. It is nice to be keep informed of things here.  This is the best and coolest chess site ever. 

  • 5 years ago

    Fonix

    Thank you kindly for the update!

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