Want a game of chess?
For those that enjoy a regular game of chess it can sometimes be challenging to locate a good opponent. One can sometimes find a local group, players at the park, or even go so far as to plunk down at a table in a retirement facility and make a senior citizen’s day. Since most players prefer an opponent that is close to equal skill level it is not enough just to find someone that knows how to play. One of the greatest things to ever be invented for the chess lover is the Internet, because now someone can find a player anytime of the day or night.
The next decision that comes into play is finding a website for playing chess. While there are plenty out there the battle becomes which to use. There are a number of features to consider when deciding. The popularity of the site is important since you want to have a large pool of active players. Another consideration is the features of each website. Do they have features that will help you become a better player, for example. Finally, what it costs to use the website should be considered. While many offer basic features at no cost whatsoever, the premium features generally are not free.
Below are ten of the websites that enjoy at least average traffic to them which should resolve the first issue regarding the number of players. As for the features and costs, that will be up to you to decide.
Global Alexa Rating: 1,991
This website gets a lot of traffic, as you can see from the global Alexa.com rating. There are a few reasons for this. First of all it has a large chess community which makes the forums very active. Secondly, there are plenty of Java gadgets to keep you interested including a daily puzzle, tactics training, and the ability to play against a computer. Many of these features are great for someone just beginning to learn chess, yet are sophisticated enough even for the more advanced player. A premium account goes even further with training videos and the Chess Mentor course. Overall the website is extremely user friendly and versatile.
Global Alexa Rating: 17,036
This website has everything a chess player could ever hope for. There is the ability to play against a computer and not even have to play all in one sitting – or play multiple games at the same time if you wish. There are two daily puzzles – an easy one and a hard one. There are free chess tools, clubs, teams, chess ladder, tournaments, chess tactics, annotated games and a chess games database. You can set up a username and password, or simply login via Facebook. There isn’t any software to download and the site is super easy to navigate. At the time of this review there were over 2,000 players online and a total of over 1,400,000 total players. The site has some nice stats available including the top 100 rated players and player stats by country.
Global Alexa Rating: 22,190
This site is often used by people just getting into online chess. It has a nice flash interface that is simple to navigate. What makes this site particularly popular is the ability to gamble – not with real cash of course, but with virtual currency called “cubits” that can be used to get goodies such as a new online chess set or interesting audio features. This adds some extra excitement to playing chess. Most of the site is free to use if you don’t mind a few ads here and there. The best way to start with this site is to go through the site tour.
Global Alexa Rating: 41,894
It doesn’t get more simple and user-friendly than this chess website. The main page gives you three options (a fourth called “Guru” is only available for full version users) – Play with “Cody” if you are a beginner, “Claire” if you want a quick game, or “Boris” for more advanced players. The popularity of this site is its simplicity because you can pop in for a quick game whenever you want without needing to register. There is a multiplayer feature that you can either play as a guest or log on as a registered user. This gives the site flexibility while remaining easy to use. This site should be especially useful to beginners because in game play when you click on each piece it highlights allowable moves.
Global Alexa Rating: 77,855
Although not the easiest site to navigate, it does have a feature that can be fun – the ability to watch live games as well as the best game of the day and month. This can be a great learning tool. When you get to the home page you don’t see much, just a live game going on and a place to enter your name to start a game. While that is a great starting point for someone wanting to jump right into a game, the first time visitor should click ‘explore’ at the top to get to other parts of the site. The site has a global following with players from 80 countries. Players earn a ranking and you can see how many players are online and what ranking they have. For example, at the time of this review there were 592 players online, of which 1 is a master, 17 are experts, 69 are class A, 273 are class B, 210 are class C and 22 are class D. With over 8,000 monthly active subscribers, there are plenty of opponents with which to play a game of chess.
Global Alexa Rating: 201,772
The good side of this site is that it is very busy – the downside is that it is mostly Russian players. That could be a good thing if you speak Russian, but if not then chatting isn’t going to be much fun for you. The wonderful thing about chess is that it is the same in all languages so don’t let that deter you from a truly nice website. Their tournament mode is quite good as well as their blundercheck feature which enables you to analyze your game when done to see what mistakes you made. This is a great way to learn from each game and thus improve your strategies and skills. While some sites do not include tournament mode in their free accounts, this site does albeit just on Wednesdays however. One day a week is better than none though, so give it a look. Besides, on the other days you can take advantage of their Chess Puzzles which is a nice feature on this site.
Global Alexa Rating: 226,342
This site is different than some others in that it is a Windows application instead of a browser-based application. The benefit of this is that you can save games to a PGN file to be used for later analysis and storage in a database. This site has free access and allows you to set up a profile and build a rating. Chatting is a nice feature of this site as well. It doesn’t have the video features of some other sites but getting full access to so many other features at no cost is a plus. There are over 300,000 registered users. One of the unique features this site has is a teaching ladder which allows you to submit games to be reviewed by stronger players.
Global Alexa Rating: 287,493
One of the nice features of this site is that there is also a mobile application available giving players the ability to play anywhere. The main page has a live game going on even before you log in or jump in as a guest. This site is not yet enjoying a huge following – at the time of this review there were only 873 users online with 245 games in progress. This limits how many people you have to play against but since you only need one, that might not be a big problem. The nice thing is that you can test out the site before actually registering by playing as a guest at first. The online players come up in a window and you can see their stats and whether they are currently involved in a game. You can challenge someone to a game. As a member you can also send messages or mark various people as your friend. There are three levels of membership – basic (free), full version and premium version. The full and premium versions can be purchased in monthly, quarterly or annual time periods. On the downside, their prices seem a bitter higher than other sites that offer more as part of their premium program.
Global Alexa Rating: 320,503
Although this site does not have the activity of other sites (around 1,800 games per day and under 500,000 registered players) it does have some interesting features you might enjoy. One feature is the ability to play music while you are playing chess. You can choose from radio selections such as hottest hits, top 40, hip hop, classical, alternative, rock, country and heavy metal. Another feature is the ability to choose between real time chess and correspondence chess. In realtime both players must be online to play, whereas in correspondence they do not. In both cases you can pull up a list of players and after reviewing their statistics you choose one and click ‘challenge’ to propose a game. The site is easy to navigate and has a nice social aspect to it that may in time make the site more popular thus increasing the member base.
Global Alexa Rating: 496,488
The best thing about this website is the interface – it is really well done, especially the 3D boards. The site also has a huge chess server and has a following all over the world. At the time of this review there were nearly 4,000 players online and over 200,000 registered players. Their Chessbase program can be downloaded for free and is useful in analyzing games afterwards. The downside is that the free account is limited in time you can use it, but it is simple enough to start a new account when that happens and keep playing for free, as long as you don’t mind losing any ratings you’ve accomplished. Without this issue, this site would definitely be rated higher than #10 on this list.
After looking over these top ten chess sites you are likely to find a favourite or two that work for you, whether you are just starting in the world of chess or are an expert. The attraction of chess is that there is always room for improvement and a new strategy to learn. One can accomplish this easiest with a ready supply of players more than happy to give you a lesson.