Mar 11 2011

I’ve become a ChessCube Business Partner!

Sean

ChessCube has launched a great new service that offers you as a chess player, chess blogger, coach, retailer, club operator and so forth the ability to have their own branded chess application on their website, for free. As ChessCube’s Community Manager, I’ve been watching the project develop and grow over time, and was massively excited when the email announcing the ChessCube Business Partner offer was sent to our user base as well as external coaches. From all accounts the feedback and interest has been wonderful thus far!

Wanting a piece of the action myself, I went ahead and signed up to become a Business Partner. Setting ChessCube up on my private blog was extremely easy. Even as an end-user with fairly minimal knowledge of HTML coding, I was able to embed the website onto my own private site in less than 3 minutes. Registration with ChessCube took less than 1 minute, pasting the code given to me by ChessCube into my webpage took seconds, and uploading the new web page to my server took all of 1 minute. And that’s it, I refreshed my page, and there it was – a great chess site running on my own personal blog. Installing ChessCube vs writing a blog post on my site: Writing a blog post with Tumblr is harder, and takes longer. ChessCube makes setting their site up easy, and can be done in quicker than most can finish a blitz chess game!

ChessCube running on my own private blog

The features of the ‘Powered by ChessCube’ solution:

  • A branded chess application for your website
  • Offer private rooms for your users to meet & chat
  • Run your own private or public online tournaments
  • Generate ongoing revenue

Find out how easy becoming a ChessCube Business Partner is for yourself. Head over to http://www.chesscube.com/b2b to get started.

Regards,
Sean
ChessCube Community Manager


Aug 11 2010

ChessCube launches Version 5!

admin

Dear Cubers,

Today we launched the brand new ChessCube Version 5, which keeps all your old favourite features – but adds a whole lot more:

A faster snappier simpler ChessCube with better server performance:

  • Version 5 uses less system memory and speeds up all the controls to make it snappier and zippier.
  • The menu items have moved from the top left to the bottom right of the ‘Friends bar’.
  • The ‘Draw’, ‘Resign’, ‘Abort’, ‘Flip-board’ and ‘Copy-PGN’ buttons have all changed to simpler mini-buttons, now located below the material balance section on the left.

ChessCube V5

Earn experience points (XP)

You get XP for actions, such as playing rated games or tournaments, beating stronger players, inviting friends to ChessCube, and many more. At certain XP values you move to new levels to unlock more features. See our Forum for more details.

Making ChessCube more fun and social, to grow our community:

See all your ChessCube friends in a new control at the bottom of the screen. You can sort by ‘General rating’, ‘Tournament rating’, or ‘ChessCube level’ to compare yourself to your friends.

The ‘Friends bar’ also makes it easier to add friends from Facebook, or sending them an email invite. Spread the word – and in fact you can earn a whole lot of extra cubits for doing just that!

In-application Cubit store (coming in a few days):

Our old website store was hard to find, but now you can buy fun items with your Cubits at the click of a button directly inside our new in-application store.

Have fun with ChessCube version 5 and let us know what you think!

All the best,

Mark Levitt
CEO ChessCube


Jan 22 2010

President Jacob Zuma supports South African chess

Sean

The Nkandla community in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, had a great day when SA President Jacob Zuma arrived to take part in a chess tournament between surrounding schools. Nonkulueko Sithole was thrilled to play President Zuma, even though the President checkmated her in fewer than 10 moves. “This is the best day of my life. I never thought I would ever sit this close to the President and play a game of chess with him,” said the 14 year old.

Zuma brings his Bishop into the game against Sithole

Zuma brings his Bishop into the game against Sithole

In an interview after the game with City Press, Zuma said, “Chess is very important as it makes you a better and knowledgeable human being. I like games like chess and bridge because they stretch your brain to the limit. They make you think strategically”. President Zuma also challenged local businesses to support the sport financially. “Next year we must host a fundraising dinner party for chess right in the hall,” he said.

Kwazulu Chess Association President Sandile Xulu, one of the tournament organisers, said chess gave “young people the opportunity to compete, regardless of race or social standing”. “It provides a field of ideas, concepts and strategy for young growing minds,” he said.  In an interview with ChessCube Community Manager, Sean, Xulu said that KwaZulu Chess’ aim is to take chess into all schools, as well as to introduce it as a sport. Future plans would then involve working with the Department of Education to consider it as a subject in school in Kwazulu-Natal and particularly rural areas and all of South Africa. “This is exactly what President Zuma and I shared and want to see happen.” said Xulu. Speaking of President Zumas’ desire to have all children take part in chess tournaments, Xulu noted, “This (the Nkandla tournament) was our “OPENING MOVE”, which we hope will get supported and start rolling”.

Sandile Xulu, President of the KZChess Association

Sandile Xulu, President of the KZChess Association

ChessCube supports President Zuma’s vision, and will be launching an online schools chess initiative in South Africa and other countries from early 2010. The South African government, a number of NGOs and large corporations are doing a great deal to improve Internet and computer services in schools. ChessCube will be working with all providers to ensure that schools in South Africa can connect to ChessCube’s classroom service.

“ChessCube will provide facilities for children to play chess online and to receive online video training”, explained Mark Levitt, ChessCube CEO. “The basic service will be free to all schools in South Africa, and we will be working with big business to sponsor additional opportunities for South African youth.”

ChessCube’s classroom service will be at the forefront of a modern trend to popularise chess. Along with Venezuela, which has recently included chess in it’s official school curriculum, ChessCube considers the personal and societal benefits of chess to be of immense value. What are these benefits precisely? David MacEnulty, a famed chess teacher (the subject of a movie “The Knights of the South Bronx”) had this to say in a recent exclusive interview with ChessCube:

“One of the things you learn from playing chess is how to control yourself. You learn to have delayed gratification. You learn tremendous discipline and above all you learn to trust your own judgment. Once a child learns that he or she is smart enough to play chess, there’s not going to be any holding them back from anything else.”

“The biggest benefits come when children actually sit down and play tournament chess. Once you’ve played tournament chess for a couple of years, major transformations take place in a child. The question of relying on your own judgment really comes out.”

“When the children on my chess team in the Bronx went to junior high school they were much better prepared than many of their peers. In fact, the Principal of the junior high school once told me that the chess kids seemed to be a different breed altogether. You can tell the chess kids from the way they walk down the hall – there’s just more confidence in the way they walk. There’s more confidence in the way they interact with the teachers in the classroom. They don’t get into trouble because one of things that chess teaches us is to see danger ahead of time.

“One of the things that’s overlooked frequently is the social component of being on a chess team or just learning to play chess. When children work together on a team, even though chess is one person against one person, whatever is good for anybody on the team is good for everybody on the team.”

“Now when one of the kids from a place such as where I taught in the South Bronx wins a game against a very privileged child, that changes everybody’s attitudes. The recognition, that there, on the other side of the board, is my intellectual equal, that’s an amazing transformation that happens on both sides of the board. I think that’s a really critical thing that we should introduce to society everywhere, not just South Africa.”

President Jacob Zuma contemplates his next move

President Jacob Zuma contemplates his next move

Sources:

Times Live (Article)
City Press, 27 December 2009

Useful links
ChessCube Facebook Application: http://apps.facebook.com/chesscube/
ChessCube website: www.chesscube.com


Oct 21 2009

Something’s coming, and it’s coming soon!

admin

We’ve been hard at work making some exciting changes to ChessCube – take a look and see:

ChessCube - spot anything new?

ChessCube - spot anything new?

More on this soon!And, there is more on its way. Keep watching this space for announcements over the next few days.


Aug 31 2009

ChessCube Version 4: a chat with Tracy

admin

Releasing a new version of ChessCube is no small task. We’ve had some great feedback on ChessCube v4 already (thanks!). In case you were wondering what goes into launching a new version of ChessCube, I managed to squeeze in some time with Tracy to ask her a few questions. Tracy is the lead developer working on the ChessCube that you see and love, and below are her thoughts on the new version.

Sarah: ChessCube v4 has quite a few changes from the previous version. What are the major changes?

Tracy: The major change was the new skin itself. We tried to keep functional changes to a minimum to make the transition easier.

Functionality that did change was:

  • Main menu and quick link menu (previous interface, top left buttons) functionality was simplified and menu options were moved to their context-specific areas (mainly areas in the left bar). For example, friend-related menu options were simplified and moved to the ‘Friends’ area of the left-hand menu
  • The previous ‘personal panel’ on the top left was removed and replaced on the top right, with the new ‘player card‘. All personal / profile-related menu options will be located in this area
  • Left accordion bar was replaced with the left-hand menu
  • New ‘Play anyone’ feature and a tweak of the playing status rules
  • Simplified overall functionality by removing features that aren’t often used and features that we’re going to be improving upon in the near future
  • The move-history of games was improved on, making the interface a lot more stable & portable

Overall, we tried to clean up the interface to make space for all the new exciting things that we’re going to be adding.

ChessCube Chat v4

ChessCube Chat v4

Can you talk a little bit about why it was time for an update?

Our previous version was great for its time, but started to get a bit cluttered as we added on new functionality. We also found that some older features were not being used optimally. We had new features that we wanted to implement plus we wanted to make the interface more fun.

So it was high time for a reshape and reconfiguration, to make way for the next era of the interface.

What’s involved with releasing a new version of ChessCube?

A lot of testing, sneak previews and a demo version running in parallel. Enthusiastic players enjoyed hunting for the secret preview URL, and also provided us with some good feedback.

What is your favourite part of the new ChessCube chat?

The player card – which has got lots more coming to it. Also, the fact that the simplified interface makes it easier to view and play on smaller screen resolutions.

There are some new features on the horizon that I have seen in the designs that I absolutely love. I cannot let the cat out the bag yet, but they are going to spice up the interface quite nicely.

Thanks Tracy! We’re looking forward to being able to show off the new features that are on the way!


Aug 28 2009

Taking Back a Move in Chess

admin

“A man that will take back a move at chess will pick a pocket.”
- Richard Fenton (1837 – 1916)

CTRL Z Threadless Tee

CTRL Z Threadless Tee

So, when ChessCube Version 4 launched this week, it launched without the “take back” option. It’s back (some of you may be pleased to know), but we’ve certainly seen lots of debate around whether it shouldn’t even be an available option!

I asked for some opinions around ChessCube HQ, and John‘s thoughts are worth sharing:

When you take back a move in chess you have had a glimpse of the future and your opponent has not had the same advantage. Except in beginners’ games, it ought not to be allowed in my opinion.

Ultimately it can only harm the chess development of the player who takes back the move. Takebacks can also quite easily bedevil relationships.

The player who is asked for a takeback is placed in an invideous position. If she refuses then she risks being thought of as an ungracious person. And if she accedes then she has set a precedent which will be difficult to repudiate. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Much simpler to simply not allow the possibility at all.

Mouse slips? I have had a few and smarted most mightily for it. I’m much more careful with my mouse these days.

When playing games online, most players wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of their own mouse slips. It’s something we had to consider with the online games in the SA Open. For those games, even though the game was played online, each player also had a physical board to show their moves to the arbiter. That way, a request to take back a move based on a slip of the mouse could be verified against the board.

What do I think? Well, I’m quite the beginner myself, so I were to want to take a move back it would more likely be because I’d made the wrong one, rather than that my mouse had slipped. It would be better for me to learn to play the game without that “ctrl + z” option. For better players, I can understand the frustration of a mistaken move because of a sticky mouse. Take back remains for now.

What do you think?

[Image is detail of the "CTRL + Z" Tee by Ben Devens at Threadless.]


Aug 18 2009

ChessCube Version 4 – a sneak peek

admin

If you’re following us on Twitter (and if you’re not, you should! www.twitter.com/chesscube), you’ll have seen some mention of something very exciting: version four of ChessCube Play is on its way! If you manage to find it, you can even take a peek on a secret URL. For those who can’t find the secret URL, here are some screenshots to whet your appetite:

ChessCube Chat v4

ChessCube Chat v4

Chess game in ChessCube V4

Chess game in ChessCube V4

Looking good! We can’t wait for you all to try it out.


Aug 10 2009

Online Chess Business ChessCube Receives VC Funding

admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Online Chess Business ChessCube Receives VC Funding

Cape Town, South Africa – 10 August 2009.  ChessCube has concluded a US$1.25m funding agreement with Venture Capital fund, InVenFin (Pty) Ltd. InVenFin, the VC-focused subsidiary of VenFin Limited, invests in intellectual property-based start-ups with global potential. This transaction brings ChessCube’s total funding to date to US$1.8m.

ChessCube is an online chess site, which allows players of all skill levels to compete and learn chess, while socializing with others. With a potential market of over fifty million active chess players in the world, ChessCube.com has already attracted over 650,000 registered users across 207 countries – making it one of the leaders in the growing online chess market.

Mark Levitt, CEO and founder of ChessCube says, “We are delighted to have InVenFin on board as our partner. Over and above the valuable capital injection, InVenFin gives us access to an international business network, and their team of experts in branding, product strategy, intellectual property management and corporate structuring. This investment allows ChessCube to focus on establishing itself as the world leader in online chess.”

InVenFin’s Stuart Gast says, “ChessCube’s innovative product offering has impressed us, along with the strong team led by Mark.  The social gaming space is growing rapidly worldwide, and we believe ChessCube represents an excellent entrance for us into this world.  We look forward to assisting ChessCube achieve its aspirations.”

Vinny Lingham, CEO of San Francisco-based Yola.com, was an early investor in ChessCube. “As a keen chess player myself, it is particularly exciting to be part of an innovative chess venture,” said Lingham. “This investment by InVenFin further highlights the potential of Cape Town as the technology hub of Africa – which I like to dub Silicon Cape. ChessCube has enormous potential to dominate the massive global chess players’ market.”

The partnership between ChessCube.com and InVenfin will allow ChessCube.com to become the most recognized and loved online brand for chess enthusiasts.

ChessCube enables all levels of chess players to play live chess against other like-minded players, in various forms of the game. The focus at ChessCube.com is enjoying the game of chess in a positive and fun environment.

ChessCube.com also offers interactive chess videos written by international grandmasters. Unlike DVDs, these videos interact with each user, offering them personalised instruction – an outstanding innovation that earned ChessCube a Semi-final placing in the 2008 Adobe Max Awards in San Francisco.

World history was recently made by ChessCube when, during its recent sponsorship of the 2009 South African Open, along with the 400 participants at a Cape Town venue, for the first time in history three grandmasters and masters participated from a second venue in Melbourne, Australia. FIDE, the world chess federation, worked with ChessCube to ensure that the games, which were played across the Internet, were officially rated, setting a new precedent that could see tournaments using this technology in the future.

ChessCube continues to innovate and build on its award-winning chess playing platform from its Cape Town headquarters.

Useful links

ChessCube website: www.chesscube.com
ChessCube blog: www.www.chesscube.com/blog

Downloads

Download .doc version of release
Download ChessCube logo (.png)

Contact information

ChessCube(Pty) Ltd.
Contact: Mark Levitt (CEO)
+27 21 555 2019
[email protected]

About ChessCube

ChessCube (www.chesscube.com) was launched in May 2007 from its Cape Town headquarters. It has since grown into a community of over 650,000 avid chess players, and continues to grow at a rapid pace. ChessCube is an innovative, live chess platform, allowing competition and education within a social community. Mark Levitt, founder and CEO of ChessCube, is four times South African Chess Champion. ChessCube’s investors include InVenfin, Vinny Lingham and Michael Leeman.

For more information or images, please contact Mark Levitt ([email protected]) or Sarah Blake ([email protected]).