Wednesday, October 12, 2011

15 Minutes of Fame

  I didn’t know what to expect after the Broken Pawn won the 2011 Best Chess Blog Award from the Chess Journalists of America. I didn’t think I was going to get a swelled head about it and so far I don’t think I have. I am really happy to have won the award and I enjoyed writing about the nearly 3 month long process from my self-nomination on May 25th to the actual winning of the award over the only other self-nominated entry on August 14th. I told some people I knew about the award and they thought it was pretty cool unless I mentioned that you had to nominate yourself and there were only 2 nominations, in which case I got a few eye-rolls. But I regard it as a singularly rare honor and I will always consider myself an award winner. I am going to break my promise that the Chess Journalists of America have seen their last penny from me, since as the current winner (*sniff*), I’ll be submitting my blog for the award next year for sure.

  Once I got the news, I scanned the United States Chess Federation website daily for their announcement of the award winners. And when I got home from work on the Friday after the CJA announcement, I saw it: ‘Annual Chess Journalists of America Awards, Winners are in’. I knew my category was the last one so I scrolled down the article and there it was:

CJA Best Chess Blog Award
Broken Pawn
By Robert Keating

  Robert Keating…Robert Keating? ROBERT KEATING?? Robert Keating, 2011 Iowa Chess Champion who lost to my son Matt in the championship tournament, but had a better score against the rest of the field to take the title? Robert Keating, the CJA winner of the 2011 Best Analysis Award? Robert Keating, a Cedar Rapids surgeon who is not a Marshalltown programmer named Hank Anzis? Yes, that Robert Keating. Bob Keating is a great guy who I've always enjoyed talking to but c’mon……that's MY 15 minutes of fame we're talking about here! I posted a comment noting that I had written the award winning blog and sent a note to the webmaster too. I received an incredibly gracious email from CJA chief judge Ramon Hernandez noting the error, alerting me to a message he placed in the USCF forums that day to let the readers know about the mistake, and also paying my blog some compliments. The error was corrected on the web site in 24 hours and all was well. I even got a congratulatory email from Jennifer Shahade, editor of the USCF web-site. 2 weeks ago I got my monthly Chess Life magazine from the USCF and all the CJA award winners were on page 52. I skipped the first 51 pages, scanned to the bottom of page 52, and there it was – ‘Broken Pawn by…Hank Anzis’ . As my brother Ed would say, ‘YAY’. I’ve never had my name in Chess Life and I think that is very cool.

  During the week after the announcement, I noticed a large number of hits on my blog from Belgium and lots of referrals from a website called Chess For All Ages. I went to that site and saw the post “The Last Shall Be Least” in which the blog author Mark Weeks opines about the vacant Chess Journalist of the Year award, compares the Best Chess Art Award winner to “art for your living room available ‘Buy It Now’ on eBay”, and then it was my turn:

  "As for the '2011 Best Chess Blog Award', what can I say? Listed last, in the 'New Media' categories after both 'Best [USCF] State Chapter Website Award' and 'Best General Chess Website Award', the best blog award went to Broken Pawn. Runner-up was, the only other entry in the blog category. This was one of five categories with only two entries, but even these fared better than the '2011 CJA Best Regular Newspaper Local Interest Chess Column Award', with a single entry.

In the months leading up to the award announcement, Broken Pawn posted a series on the whole CJA submission process: ‘
Higher Education’,’ A second second chance’,’ Fool me once..’.,’ Second best’, and ‘Birthday wishes for a lazy day’. The first post I've listed includes the following gem:-
‘Maybe I’ll get some publicity for my blog, but I’m thinking I’ve shortchanged the colleges, Who’s Who book publishers, and Chamber of Commerce dinner organizers. These are people who know there’s a lot of 'stupid' money out there and they are just trying to get in ahead of the Chess Journalists of America!’

... Whatever the reason, congratulations to all of the winners!"

  ‘the following gem’..’Whatever the reason’... Not a mention of any of my stories about chess in the heartland of America, my sage analogies comparing chess to other aspects of life, or even a nod to my chronicles of my efforts to start a scholastic chess program in Des Moines. In a fit of artistic rage, I exchanged some missives with Mr. Weeks, who seemed to me to only want to use quotes from my blog to insult the CJA. We came to an understanding and I apologized for my sarcastic comments. I even submitted a post to the Chess Carnival of Blogs he hosted on October 4th, which got a warm introduction as being by the 2011 CJA Best Chess Blog award winner (*sniff*). Weeks is a prolific chess blogger with at least 3 active blogs, who might have won the award if he had chosen to submit any of them.

  I also noticed this post on (the other self-nominated entry) The blog author Anton Taylor called my blog ‘very good’, but then expressed his disappointment that I blogged about how his blog had only 13 posts in 2011 and just 3 posts since May and how most of those posts were links to other posts. Anton mentioned that he wished that my criticism was constructive and then noting “I have a personal issue with those who do write verbosely, “A fool is known in multitude of words” (sounds familiar). I thought I was offering observations rather than criticism, but I wanted to express my regrets for his disappointment and to show there were no hard feelings. I tried for a week to put a comment on his blog, but neither Ben nor I could figure out how to get the blog to accept the drawn out letters that it wanted us to type in as a quasi-password. I ended up sending my comment as an open letter, was slapped around by a couple of people who did manage to get their comments in and had 3 posts in the month of September and one this month.

  The only other mention of my CJA award was in the chess blog BaconLog, noting the USCF article showing Robert Keating as the author of my blog along with my comment. BaconLog promised to read my blog, and complained about having to nominate himself to be considered. And that was it – 4 website mentions, 2 congratulatory emails, and my name in Chess Life to go along with the very much appreciated congratulations from the people that count most, the people who read my blog. Don’t think I’m unhappy with the 7 mentions, I got fewer birthday cards than that.

  I did get a lot more visits to the blog once the article hit the USCF web site but that has dissipated. I didn’t get much extra ad revenue from the publicity and to boot, Google has determined that there has been suspicious click activity on my blog and stopped advertising on it. I’ll get a certificate from the CJA over the next month or 2 and when I do, I'll write a press release to send to the area newspapers and see if I can parlay my award into some other opportunities. I could do it without the certificate, but I think having the physical award will help my credibility. After all, the diploma did wonders for the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, didn’t it? Other bloggers get TV talk shows and wider exposure and while I don’t see myself scaling those heights, perhaps I could get some speaking invitations at some Wine and Cheetos tastings. Who knows, maybe I’ll get the certificate before 60 Minutes comes up with a replacement for Andy Rooney.

  I haven’t submitted any of my postings for a wider distribution (except for the chess carnival), but did get some national publicity from Saturday’s National Chess Day tournament. I submitted an article to the USCF web site just like last year and it got published on-line (You can see it here) along with other chess events from around the country. There were 3 tournaments in Iowa on Saturday, but mine was the only one to get on the USCF web site. I’m not sure if the other organizers submitted an article, but since they haven’t mentioned the tournament on the state website or even put a link to the crosstable online, I doubt it.

  I was going to put a mention of the award on the Iowa State Chess Association web site, but I wanted to see if it got a mention in the quarterly IASCA chess magazine without any self-promotion on my part. I got the magazine in the mail on October 1st and it did receive a mention in the editor’s introduction right under the mention of the Ron Dieke’s 2nd place finish in Best Review and the award for Best Analysis by Robert Keating. Yes, that Robert Keating.