Play online chess at ChessWorld.com
ChessWorld is my top recommendation for online correspondence paced chess.
The playing environment sets the standard. Nearly all aspects of the interface--menu items, background and board colors, move list and flags--can be configured to suit the user. Several available presets offer larger boards than many sites. There are windows for a private planning notebook, and for conversation with your opponent. There are six available time controls from one to fifteen days per move. Holidays may be set so you don't lose games on time during an extended fishing trip. All pages within the site have pull-down menus across the top permitting a quick link to another area of the site.
Conversation with one's opponent is not the only social feature of the site. There are forums for general chat, site related issues (including a newbies forum), and chess. Chess leagues for team play are organized around themes: represent your country or state, your favorite grandmaster, beer, book, movie, or animal. Well over 2000 teams are available in more than 125 leagues. In addition, there are several Rest of the World (ROW) matches ongoing against strong international players, often with vigorous forum debates concerning the best move. Each player has a personalized home page for posting personal data, including a photo and webpage link, and that lists tournaments, awards, playing record, and similar information.
The chess forums facilitate detailed game analysis, multiple diagrams, and replayable games.
Downloading all of a player's games in PGN format is well supported both for a player's own games or those of anyone else on the site. Few sites offer better resources for researching an opponent, or simply gathering games of higher rated players for study. The site's online database supports searching by opening name, ECO code, or moves and multiple filters, such as limiting a search to white wins against black players rated over 2200.
Players often annotate their own games at ChessWorld. These games can be searched through the database. These games, ROW matches, chess forums, and instructive texts contribute to making ChessWorld far ahead of competitive sites for facilitating skills improvement for its members.
On rare occasions I have found the server a little sluggish, but transfer to a new server with more bandwidth resolved these. Downtimes have been announced several days in advance, and have been infrequent.
The screenshot below displays one of the preset boards and a background color that I selected from well over 100 options.
Updated 19 February 2006