Chess.com has over 500,000 members and is adding over a thousand new ones each day. This is an absolutely amazing feat when you consider that the site was only launched about a year and half ago. I remember checking it out briefly when it first came out, but it didn't seem like anything special. And it really wasn't, but much like a 15 year old IM, they have been improving on a daily basis.
I feel a little embarrassed that I didn't realize how powerful this community has become. I have always been a US Chess Federation kind of guy. And it might be a completely inbred, dysfunctional family, but it was my family. And even though mom and dad always argue and have taught me to have extremely low expectations which they continously fail to meet, I have stuck with them. I mean, they are the sanctioning body for chess in the United States...you can't get any better than that, right?
But damn...look at Chess.com. They have everything! It is a completely integrated online home for chess players. Playing chess can be a very cold and lonely endeavor at times and I think that is why the game loses so many of its casual players. But Chess.com has made a very comfortable place to hang out and find mentors and friends.
The visionary behind all of this is a guy named Erik. He has put his heart and soul into this chess community and it shows. But he isn't just some guy who runs the site and holds his constituents in contempt...he is an active part of the community. The amazing thing is that if there are any problems with the site, he is the first one to accept blame and ask the members for help and suggestions for improvement. His openness and transparency of action is not only endearing, but makes the members feel like they are all part of the journey. The USCF could learn a thing or two (or two million) from Erik and Chess.com.
Is this face the future of chess?
Oh, and Erik also wrote some very cool things about Endgame Clothing. You can check out the whole thing...here.