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Chess Websites


Reviews of some Chess Websites


On this page you will only find reviews of websites which I like. I could find some really awful ones and tell you how terrible they are, but what would be the point of that? I'd just be giving bad sites free publicity. So, don't be fooled by the fact that I have given the sites on this page very high scores. It's not because I'm too generous, it's because these are some of the best chess sites in the world.


Chesscafe


Chesscafe is quite simply the best chess site on the net. World class players (many GMs), high quality chess coaches and fantastic chess authors contribute regularly and yet the site is completely free! Dvoretsky is possibly the site's most impressive contributor being as he is the most respected chess trainer in the world.
Very highly recommended.
10/10


Chessville

A relative newcomer this site is packed with high quality material. The contributors include IM Andrew Martin and GM Nigel Davies, both of whom are well respected authors and coaches. The content is not quite as impressive as that offered by chesscafe but it is still very good and still free! The comprehensive links page is worth browsing through and the chess news is kept fairly up to date. The front page is a little 'heavy' but this is a minor quibble.
Highly recommended.
9/10


The Week in Chess

This is the best source of chess news on the net and is a good source of chess games (downloadable in a number of different formats). Again, this is a free site which makes it extraordinarily good value!
Very highly recommended.
10/10


The London Chess Centre

In addition to being the home of TWIC (see above) the Chess Center homepage also hosts John Watson's book reviews, Kingpin, and Chess Express. Watson's reviews are always worth reading. Not only is he thorough and fair, he is also a wonderfully erudite individual who can spot errors buried deep in hidden variations. (And he's an IM, which helps). Articles from Kingpin are usually quite funny. Chess express is a chess newsletter. The Chess Centre also boasts a chess store which, in my experience, offers excellent customer service.
Very highly recommended.
10/10


ICC (Internet Chess Club)

This is where Grandmasters go to play chess online. It sets the standard for online chess. You can also watch major chess events live on your screen along with commentary on the ICC's internet radio station chess.fm. You have to pay to register but if you are happy to play as a guest it's free: there are java interfaces you can use without having to download any software, the best of which is probably Coffee House.
Highly recommended.
9/10


FICS (Free Internet Chess Server)

A free chess server. You'll need to download and install some software to play on FICS. Some GMs do play on FICS but fewer play there than on the ICC. You can't go far wrong with a free service like this and if you want to play chess for free it's better to register on FICS than play on the ICC as a guest. This site was unavailable for a while; apparently they were suffering from server problems.
Recommended.
8/10


Chesslab

Chesslab is essentially a database of two million chess games. You can search by position and by player and the interface even allows you to have their software analyse the position you set up. The database is updated quite regularly. A fantastic free online resource.
Highly recommended.
9/10


Chess Today

The above link is the home page of Chess Today which is a chess newspaper. You have to subscribe to receive the pdf files in your e-mail but it is excellent value for money. The best bit is undoubtedly the annotated game in each edition. The annotations are from the pens of GMs and IMs and are of a very high quality.
Very highly recommended.
10/10


Chessbase

This is arguably the best online source for commercial chess software. The chessbase database is the market leader and Fritz is probably the second strongest chess playing program money can buy (after 'Rybka' [the engine for which they offer in their own interface]). 'Chessbase Light' (or more recently Chessbase Reader) is a free version of the Chessbase database software (with certain limitations). CBLight also has a version of Fritz embedded which can provide background analysis. The front page of the site shows chess news although omissions such as the apparent lack of mention of Rybka's banishment from the Chess Computer World Championship suggest that not all chess stories are covered.
Recommended.
8/10


The Playchess Server

This is a relative newcomer to the battle between online chess servers, but it's growing fast and a lot of very strong players play there. It's run by Chessbase and if you buy Fritz, for example, you get free access to the playchess server for a fixed period of time. You can just download the free software they offer to play, but, like the ICC, you have to pay if you want to register. Some people are a little cynical about the motives behind the creation of the Playchess Server, but setting intentions aside, there's not really anything wrong with it. It's just a matter of taste, but, as good as it is, I prefer the ICC.
Recommended.
8/10


Chess Publishing

This is a chess opening theory site. It contains continually updated material from GM's and IM's. The site provides not just analysis of the latest theory but also e-books which are essentially introductions to openings, though they are frequently updated too. To access the bulk of the material on the site you need to subscribe. However, there is some free material there and it's worth having a bit of a poke around to see what you can find. The opening repertoire recommendations by Martin and Davies and the free e-book on the Classical & Rubinstein variations of the French by McDonald are particularly valuable.
Recommended.
8/10


Richard Palliser's Reviews
(Note that this site is currently inactive. The link above is to an archived version.)

This site is primarily concerned with book reviews, all written by talented IM Richard Palliser. Older reviews are available in the site's archive. There is also a page of chess links. Palliser is a well respected author himself and so his views on other chess books carry that extra bit of weight which is lacking in many book reviews on the web. In my opinion the reviews are not only interesting but also very useful (though sometimes a little too diplomatic). As a co-author of 'Chess on the Web' Palliser's extensive knowledge of the internet chess 'landscape' shows through on the links page.
Worth visiting at least once.
7/10


Instant Chess

This site does exactly what it says in its name. It allows you to play chess online (for free) without having to register. Admittedly, the opposition you will face may not be especially challenging, but if you just want a quick game and don't care who you end up playing against then it's worth a look. The java interface is neat and clean and loads quickly. Note that you have to pay if you want to register a username on this site.
Worth a quick look.
7/10


Victorian Chess Pages

Don't let the strange name and basic look of the site put you off; if you take the time to have a rummage you'll find all sorts of interesting material. A couple of the programs on the chess software page are particularly good. Some of the articles are quite good too. However, some of the content is considerably less valuable, so I'd advise you to take it all with a pinch of salt.
Worth visiting at least once.
7/10


ChessUp.net

ChessUp.net is a beautifully crafted piece of precision programming. The site allows you to create chess diagrams, online, for free. You can customise the colours of the pieces and squares and you can enter your position in FEN (Forsyth-Edwards Notation) which is handy. You can add game details and create a 'tiny URL' link to the image. The diagram generated is saved as a '.png' (portable network graphics) image file. There's also a blog, a funky little forum, and an introduction to the rules of chess.
Recommended.
8/10


TheChessWebsite

This site is clearly a labour of love. There is a terrific amount of content presented in a very consistent and logical way. There are introductions to a huge range of different openings and plenty of video lessons to make it easy to assimilate the material. There are also famous games which can be played through on embedded interactive java boards. The site includes puzzles, traps, and lots of examples of middlegame and endgame motifs. It appears to have been created by just one person which has the advantage of ensuring the material gels well but does mean that the strengths and weaknesses of the material reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the site's creator. Occasionally the openings sections rather skimp on important detail and occasional typos and inaccuracies indicate that it could do with some editorial input. On the whole though, it's a great site with plenty of interesting and valuable information and instruction.
Recommended.
8/10


ChessQuotes.com

This is a very neatly designed site which comprises a terrific collection of chess quotations organised by theme and by player. The home page also has a "Today in History" box which highlights (unsurprisingly) chess related events that happened on this date in years gone by. The great beauty of the site lies in the 'taste' you can get of individual players' personalities from reading through quotations from them and about them. Perhaps it's not a site you would visit very often, but browsing through these quotations player by player would be a very pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Very Good.
8/10


Chess-Therapy

This site has been around for a very long time. We first came across it at a different address (http://www2.forthnet.gr/chess) at the very end of the 90’s. It contains a collection of chess puzzles ranging from traditional checkmates to logic puzzles such as ‘How many queens can be placed in an empty board, without "threatening" each other?’. The site has a competition section which allows you to test your skills against other users. The diagrams are clear if a little antique in appearance and the solutions are easy to access. Some of the better problems which have been submitted have been put up, and you can of course submit your own in the hope that it will make the grade. The layout of the site is a little basic and perhaps the puzzles could be arranged more intuitively but the puzzles are original and fun to solve.
Worth a quick look.
7/10



ChessEndgames.com

This site requires registration: 'demo' registration is free, and provides samples of each of the many features. Premium membership is required to access the rest of each section. Practical sections of the site involve playing endgames against the computer (the engine is "GarboChess" – which when compiled in 'C#' is really quite strong, but is weaker when compiled in javascript). This is made fun with points, ratings, unlocking things, and a record of progress, which all work very smoothly. The theory sections include various lessons, some of which are videos. Overall the site seems well made, despite clumsy English in places (e.g. "borned" instead of "born"). However, without premium membership users may quickly 'use up' the endgames available to them and run out of things to do. Also, our reviewer found the puzzles didn’t work in Internet Explorer 9, though they worked in Chrome. A final concern was with endgames presented along with wins for white which are actually draws (we checked with Nalimov Endgame Tablebases to make sure). This is disconcerting and it's unclear when the puzzle ends once both sides have promoted; you could play Q+K vs. Q+K for up to 50 moves without an outcome. If you sign up and pay the premium membership then chessendgames.com will almost certainly improve your endgame play, and be fun into the bargain, but if you're looking for useful free chess training, look elsewhere.
Worth a quick look.
7/10



More reviews to come...


Superfluous guide to marks:
Mark out of ten Interpretation
10 Simply fantastic.
9 Almost fantastic.
8 Very good.
7 Worth visiting at least once.
6 Not bad.
5 Almost dross.
less than 5 Dross.


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