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Wulebgr Chess

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Net-Chess is the best free online correspondence site. As the hobby of its creator, it is truly remarkable.

The playing environment is well designed, although user configuration options are scant. The size of the board seemed better when I had a much smaller monitor, and consequently sat too close to the screen. Windows in the playing view accommodate chat and private notes. Challenges issued specify the days per game plus a number of days to add per move. Unused time accumulates. After making a move, a player is immediately taken to a list of all other games where it is his or her move. The full complement of the site's menus are available only from the home page.

Some players chat through the entire game, but generally chess takes priority over socialization at Net-Chess. The forums are anemic in comparison to some sites, but they accumulate less nonsense, and are limited to chess and site issues. A few regulars maintain a gregarious presence in the forums, and are social while playing. Forum trolls find themselves banned quickly, although a couple have reappeared sporting new identities. Team matches are an option, but appear a less vital aspect of the site than others. Thematic tournaments are popular, as is the annual Open tournament.

All games played are stored in an online database that can be searched by player name, game number, or tournament. The entire archive is available in PGN format in five files arranged chronologically--before 2001, 2001, 2002, etc. The optional email move notification includes the entire PGN of the game, but it must be edited in a text editor to remove time control tags that stymie the read capabilities of database software.

Within the forums, players may annotate games (and insert as many diagrams as they wish), as well as submit endgame studies or other problems.

The server is generally fast, although it has gone down once or twice per year at unpredictable time. One site failure left the archives inaccessible for more than a month. Once it was restored, however, nearly all the games were intact, and the search capabilities improved.

The screenshot shows that the board is small, but clear.