Playing Chess On The Internet

There are several good places to play chess online right from your home. All you need is a computer and access to the internet. When I originally sat down to write this article I discovered that 12 pages of writing could not do justice to all the extra features these clubs offer, and 12 + pages takes up a lot of space... however, during my research I ran across an excellent web page called The Chess Kamikaze Home Page. This place has several good articles for chessplayers including Guide to Playing Chess on the Web, written by Steven A. Lopez.

I highly recommend you go to this site and read Steve's article which covers the 1st nine chess sites listed below. I've added 3 more site listings to his list including my favorite, the Internet Chess Club.

All the sites listed here allow players to play for free. Some of the sites offer additional attractions if you join. Some of them also have articles to read and other chess goodies.

I would not say that any of these chessclubs are bad... They all give FREE access and promote chess. If your priority is FREE then by all means, stop reading this and start trying out the sites! However, if you like a little luxury in your life... or want some of the extras, please take advantage of what it took me over a year to find out:

What advantages do you gain if you become a member of the ICC?

  • Free entry into USCF
  • rated prize tournaments each month.
  • take part or watch all events that are closed to unregs, like the World Championship broadcasts, DeepBlue-Kasparov broadcasts, US Championship broadcasts, Harvard Cup, Play the Master, Lectures, etc.
  • play in free simuls against Internationally-titled masters twice a week.
  • ICC ratings for standard, blitz, bullet, bughouse and wild.
  • search and examine our database of IM and GM games.
  • play Correspondence Chess on the ICC.
  • email any game from histories, libraries, or the database.
  • observe Grandmaster games.
  • free entry into official WBCA tournaments.
  • play in Standard tournaments each month and win membership prizes.
  • play in "Tomato" tournaments every day.
  • play against the computers, like BulletC, WimpD, etc.
  • watch MrSpock's lectures 24 hours a day.
  • have a permanent name people will recognize.
  • finger notes and variables you don't have to set everytime you login.
  • the ability to create aliases.
  • lists that don't go away, like notify, gnotify, censor, alias, etc.
  • have a history of your games.
  • keep a personal library of your favorite games.
  • shout and s-shout.
  • send and receive messages to people who are not logged in.
  • request adjudications in abandoned games.
  • the services of ICC's computer detection group, to ensure you don't have to play against computer cheaters. "help Speedtrap".

Believe me, I've played at most of the 'free' sites and I can tell you that in 90% of them you will get frustrated, upset, and/or disappointed. Here are a few Real-Life scenarios that I experienced at several 'free sites':

  • A uscf rated opponent of under 1000 totally trounced eveyone in a tournament. Even though this kid had a uscf rating around 990, his online rating at the chessclub was over 2500! (That means you aren't playing him at all - he's using a chess program!)
  • After beating an opponent he kept sending me 'hate tells'. He was obviously a sore loser.
  • I challenged a player to a game but the Applet Window program didn't display the chessboard to me - and by the time I got it corrected I lost 2 min out of a 5 min game.
  • At one site the chessboard was so small and ugly I couldn't concentrate on the position.

The ICC uses a special program called BLITZIN which is easy to use but offers so many cool features it would take pages to cover. What's important to me is that when I'm playing in a tournament at ICC I know that my opponents have to use the same interface... and that means that BLITZIN is checking everyones games to make sure that I'm not playing against a computer program. This is pretty important to me, and I believe that the ICC has the highest success rate of eliminating computer cheaters.

I've also noticed that players at ICC are usually pretty respectful; if they weren't BLITZIN gives me the opportunity to type 'CENSOR ', which would disallow them to send me any messages or tells.

So, we have a web site that has solved 95% of the problems of playing chess on the internet. And while I encourage everyone to check out the sites for themselves... if TIME means anything to you then go with my personal recommendation and check out the Internet Chess Club. Speaking of TIME, I see that TIME magazine even recommends the ICC! Yuppers, came out in the March 20th issue of TIME magazine (page 102). So if TIME mag and USCF both recommend the ICC, what are you waiting for?