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Internet Chess

So much chess - so little time.

The Internet offers many options to the chess playing Internet nomad. In fact, there is perhaps too much chess on the Internet. Sorting it all out can be difficult. Therefore, I provide the following advice to get you started with the basics.

Unfortunately, the major proponents of chess in our world (USCF, FIDE, etc.) have been slow to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the growth of the Internet. While these bureaucracies have slept, a variety of others have alertly established their chess services on the Internet.

Interactive Chess on the Internet

Many Internet Chess Servers offer live chess play 24 hours a day. (The sun never sets on the Internet.) I recommend starting with the original American Free Internet Chess Server or AFICS (the AFICS link is their web site; not their chess server). Use the AFICS quick guide under help to get started. The Internet Chess Club and Chess.com are other quality servers, but they are in it for the money. When you arrive at the AFICS server, you may:

  • Login as "guest" to look around and get your bearings
  • Access the various "help" files to learn more
  • Enter "help interfaces" to discover the free graphical chess interfaces available for various computer operating systems
  • Watch games in progress and
  • Whenever you're ready, play on-line chess

Registered players have many other privileges. Type "help" after you have logged on as a guest to learn about these servers.

The AFICS connects you and your opponent by a Telnet link. Several independent software developers have written graphical user interfaces for the most popular computers. These GUI front-ends offer various functions. I currently use the latest version of BabasChess.

The Libre Chess website offers free chess play also.

There are other ways and means to play chess on the Internet, but most other chess playing servers have one or more deficiencies. Either they are unable to provide you a record of your game moves, or cost too much, or they have few good players to challenge you, or they have a poor selection of time controls. For these reasons, I recommend you start with the AFICS server.

Correspondence Chess on the Internet

Correspondence chess by email is the modern day version of postal chess. Its advantages to normal postal chess are obvious especially when playing opponents in foreign lands. Paper mail services may take a month or more to reach its destination one way. Too often, mail just disappears in route, leaving both players wondering what became of their opponent. Ever changing postal regulations and postage rates provide an additional dimension of frustration to traditional paper mail. Whereas email is economical, fast, and reliable. Therefore, I recommend the International Correspondance Chess Federation ICCF.

Computer Chess Freeware
You need two pieces of software to play or analyze chess on a PC. You need a graphical user interface (GUI) and a chess engine. The two connect via a Universal Chess Interface or UCI.

I use and recommend the free BabasChess GUI as chess engine interface. (Yes, the same BabasChess interface for AFICS.)

I use and recommend the free Stockfish chess engine, because it is the strongest chess engine free or paid. Stockfish benefits from a community of open source developers.

The lastest version of Stockfish can beat any grandmaster. Stockfish 9 64-bit 4 CPU has an incredible 3438 ELO rating.

Email me if you want some suggestions about how to configure Stockfish in BabasChess.

More Information

The chess database of FICS players on the Internet provides hundreds of millions of games.

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

Emo Philips