Reviews of some Popular Chess Websites
I've decided to take a look at a few of the first sites you get when you type 'chess' into major search engines, as well as some other, less well known creations. Let's see if they're any good...
Before the 28th July 2006 this page was the home to a program called 'Chess Mentor', which was ok. Then it started to undergo 'development' which took just under a year. Now, finally, it has launched. Is it any good? Yes! There's loads of potential here. At the moment (May 2007) the site is free and lets you register your own firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address. You can write your own blog and explore articles posted by others. The greatest strength of the site is its user-friendlyness. Everything is easy to do, which is nice! Arguably the content is not that strong yet, but once it gets properly established it may well improve dramatically.
Good already with bags of potential to be even better.
This is a site for playing chess against other people over the internet. There's not much else to it really, it's pretty much dedicated to that one thing. To play you can either download their software or use the java interface they provide. Either way, you have to become a member to be able to play on their server, and you have to pay to become a member. Ok I suppose, but the ICC and Playchess servers are better.
Chess is Fun
This is a very good site. There is a great deal of material here and most of it is fairly high quality. There are a few little bugs here and there though, for example, in lesson 4 of the 7 opening lessons for beginners the impossible sequence 1.g4 d5, 2.Bg5 is given. Clearly 2.Bg5 is not a legal move in this position. There are one or two other little annoyances like this, but for the most part the material is useful and easy to access.
Wikipedia entry on Chess
This page could be described either as a a confusing mess of chess trivia or as a brilliantly interwoven tapestry of chess knowledge. Predictably, it falls somewhere in between. First of all we get the rules, which are fairly well explained. Then we get sections on the origins and history of the game and of the world championship, chess and culture, algebraic notation, strategy and tactics (which includes a whistle-stop tour through openings, middlegames, and endgames), chess composition, competitive play, mathematics and computers, psychology, and chess variants. With such a mix of material on one page it was never going to be possible to do justice to any of these topics, but what's there is interesting to look through.
Chess Kids Academy
I find the layout a bit confusing, but maybe 'kids' will find it interesting to explore. Once you get into the course it's absolutely brilliant. It takes you from an introduciton to the board and how to set up the pieces through the movement of the pieces. Once you've learnt the rules you can play against a fairly weak computer program to see how you're doing. You can even take away some of its pieces to make it easier. It's slightly annoying that you have to actually capture the enemy king to deliver checkmate as this will be misleading to novices, but apart from this minor quibble the site is really very good.
This is quite a good site. There is quite a lot of information about chess as well as links to other sites with more information about chess on them. Some of the links need updating and there is quite a lot of gunk on the pages (adverts and links to unrelated stuff) but on the whole I like it. Worth visiting at least once.
This site contains a range of chess problems of varying difficulty. Some of the compositions are quite unusual, while other use fairly standard motifs. The puzzles are displayed on fairly large boards and pieces can be moved to try out solutions. Information around the board shows whose move it is, how difficult the problem is, and what proportion of ‘views’ resulted in the correct solution being entered. However, the site has a few weaknesses. One of these is that certain winning moves are not credited as being correct, which is annoying. Finding a winning move and then being told it is wrong is extremely frustrating. Another irritation is that some of the puzzles are not legal positions, often because a king is missing, and the boards seem to allow the input of illegal moves, which is untidy programming. It’s also a shame that the puzzles cannot be viewed by theme without registering. The site can be viewed in Russian or English. Some of the English is a little rough in places but can generally be understood. Overall a fairly average site.
More reviews to come...
Superfluous guide to marks:
|Mark out of ten||Interpretation|
|7||Worth visiting at least once.|
|less than 5||Dross.|