Not too long ago I did a report on four playing sites I would recommend to a friend, sites I have played at for a long time and are still playing at. Today I want to look at one of them more in-depth, that being Chess.com.
Let me guide you through how to set up an account and get familiarized with the site!
Use the jump links below if you want, or read through to the end for an extensive overview of their site.
For starters, I have now played chess for nearly three decades, and can honestly say that I don’t remember a single time I felt bored by this game. Difficult times, yes, depressing losses, yes, but bored…NO!
The game has always been with me. I’ve loved playing, watching, travelling, cheering for others (not screaming while standing next to the board, though…) and sharing fun and wonderful moments over the boards with others. And I know it will always be with me from this day on till the end as well!
When it comes to the online world, I’ve been playing since its beginning, when the internet showed up back in the 90’s. I’ve followed the whole development the online site, and how they have thrived and expanded to be what they are today (it was not like that 20-odd years ago!).
So, I know what I’m talking about, and should have some pretty good insights to what is good and bad about a site. Hence, I feel qualified for doing this review.
1. The home page
After you’ve typed in the address or clicked your way there through the banner above (or below), you will see their home page, which looks like this:
The first thing you’ll want to do, is simply to click the “Play now”-button to get signed up! You can either sign up by entering the details yourself, or sign in using Facebook or Google.
After you’ve finished your signup and activated your account through your email, your browser should show you this:
Now you are ready to start!
Play games at your preferred settings, watch some videos, learn how to get started on chess.com (scroll down on that first page), or juggle around with the different menus on the left-hand side. I will take you through these after this one note:
After having some personal changes done and having played a lot there, your home page will change in the way it looks. You’ll be met with a screen showing some recent ongoings in the chessworld, a little box on the right-hand side showing some statistics about the site, and some dropdown menus on the lefthand side. This is what mine looks like right now:
Now, let’s take on the different menus!
First off, they will offer you a free trial of their Diamond membership. This is their top tier membership, and it gives you unlimited access to EVERYTHING!
With a regular membership you can play, message people, do a puzzle and some tactics a day, but with the premium membership you have unlimited access to this.
Worth considering at least, and definitely recommended if you want to maximize the fun and you’re chance of improving!
Under Profile you will be able to add a name (if you haven’t already by using Facebook or Google) and a picture, and you can view a lot of different personal statistics.
Themes gives you the option of choosing which colors and settings best suit you. I quite enjoy the standard colors on the site, but feel free to play around. Maybe a certain color or theme will make you “feel” better when you play.
Here you can basically decide what kind of chess game you would like to play, and you have quite a few options here!
First off, it’s the regular live chess, which will take you to the live chess arena. Here you choose your preferred time control for a live game. I like to play the 3+2 (3 min. starting time, 2 sec. added per move). Those games will average about 8 minutes.
I don’t really like the games without increments (seconds added per move), as I hate to get down towards getting clocked and having a totally won position. It feels…HORRIBLE when you lose a game you should have won!
You can also choose to play against the computer, or you can choose a tournament by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
In the Play menu you can also choose Daily Chess, which I have written an article on before. This is also known as correspondence chess, and is a very neat option if you don’t have time to or don’t like to play the live games. I like to have a few correspondence games going at all time.
Then we have one of my favourites:
I had a go at this to show you what it looks like in the end. I typically solve a few more, but sometimes you want to try and be as quick as possible, and you will miss things you might not otherwise. Watch Hikaru Nakamura solve these on twitch/youtube!
Lastly, they offer a pretty cool and fascinating option to regular chess, in comes 4 player chess.
The name pretty much sums it up, as four players – as opposed to two – square off! (not sure if “square” is the correct term anymore…look at the board!)
This game has quite a few different aspects to it, and the main thing to remember is that if red and blue exchange a queen, they’re all of a sudden a queen down to yellow and green…yikes! So, be careful here…
In this section you will have a lot of options, and the first one is a pretty new addition of Puzzles (Tactics). Here you’ll be presented with different problems for you to solve, and the faster you solve, the bigger rating gain you will have. With the free account, you will be limited to 5 puzzles a day.
In the Lessons section you can view lessons on different topics, and they have divided these into both categories and skill sections. Jump right to the one that fits your need.
Chess.com has a lot of great videos, and as a premium member you will get full access to all of these. As a starter member you get to watch the first couple of minutes of each video. I find these very instructive myself, so be sure to check these out and make up your own mind.
In the Openings section you can explore new openings or get a deeper understanding of one you like already. Like many other features outside general playing, you won’t be able to do too much here without being a premium member. After a few moves, the site will tell you that you will have to upgrade to continue. I would recommend to do this if you’re serious about taking your game to the next level.
The Explorer is pretty much the same as the prior option, just in a different way. Here you can make the moves from the starting position and see how many games they have on that specific move order.
Drills are also one of my favourites, as you have to find the winning plan, and then carry it out, all the way to mate! In other words, you’re only halfway there by finding the right first or first few moves. Now you have to show the technique recquired to score that full point!
(Awkward story: I found the first few moves which put me a piece up against the computer, then managed to squander it all and lose…ouch!)
The Vision trainer can be quite handy to anyone, and maybe the beginner in particular. Here you get the chance to practise the coordinates in a fun and rewarding way. Give it a whirl!
Lastly, you’ll have the option of a computer analyzing your game. This is a feature I like to use a lot, and try to learn from my mistakes (even I do them…).
In this menu section you’ll get access to a lot of different treats, at least if you like two things:
Here you get access to tons of different written content, and so many good reads! In fact, as I was writing this review, I all of a sudden found myself having “wasted” two hours of writing-time with different interesting articles…
Lots of well-written articles from and about some of the best players in the game here!
In the reading-section, you might also find a lot of interesting blogs. These will deal with many different aspects of chess, with up-to-date articles on chess news, as well as deep analysis of the game and thorough investigations of chess history.
When it comes to ‘people’, they have both a forum and a friends and members section. Here you can chat and stay in contact with whomever you want, and search for players you wish to observe.
Lastly, they have a trainer offer, where you can make a deal with a personal trainer. If you’re serious about your chess career, this might be a more than valid option. Personal feedback on your game can be golden!
Sometimes it’s just relaxing to watch somebody else play, and it might also be quite the way to learn. Or maybe you have somebody you know that you enjoy watching.
Well, in the Watch-section you mainly have three options on who or what you want to watch:
- Streamers –> You can watch players who elects to show their own games on twitch. Often these come with their own picture and commentary as they play.
- Events –> Tournaments from the real world, where games can be observed and discussed online in realtime.
- Playing now –> Chosen top players playing online on Chess.com as we speak.
This section a little bit of this and that, and I won’t go into too much of an analysis of each and every piece here. Just play around, and you’ll grow accustomed to this part of the site pretty quickly.
One section I would like to highlight, though, is Solo Chess. It doesn’t offer too much when it comes to chess learning, but it is quite fun. You’re simply given a position where you’re supposed to make a lot of captures in a row, with the king being the last piece standing (in the first few there is no king, and then it doesn’t matter which piece is the last one).
Sounds simple, and you might find the first few very simple, but they do get more and more intricate. Give it a go – it’s good fun!
I hope this review has cleared up any questions you might have about chess.com, and whether or not it’s the site for you. All I can say is that it is for me, and I will let you decide for yourself.
Please leave a comment on this review or questions you still have, below. I will be more than happy to get back to you!
Hope to see you inside,