Red Hot Pawn is a lot of fun. The chess is good, and the forum debates are vigorous, especially in the debates and spirituality forums. The site has other versions under other names (Time for Chess, Chess at Work, Red Hot Chess, and The Immortal Game). Each offers the same functionality with a different color scheme. Some users report that one version works better than the others for negotiating firewalls put up by the authorities.
Red Hot Pawn has a clear and uncluttered playing environment. Users can choose among nine chess sets, more than a dozen board themes (color combinations), and four board sizes. Conversation and private notes are both enabled through windows in the playing view. A pop-up analysis board facilitates testing variations. Time controls can be configured freely for days per move plus an additional time bank. One of the more popular time controls is 3/7--three days per move with a seven day time bank, and fourteen day time-out and time banks are also popular. In the past, vacation flags did not suspend the game clock, but changes implemented in March 2007 changed that. Several layers of menus offer choices among pull-down, icons, and tabs for accessing other areas of the site.
RHP has the most active forums of any chess site. These include chess and site topics, general, clans, debates (politics and culture), and spirituality. Verbal combat is energetic and contentious, but only occasionally vicious. Clan leagues and matches stimulate spirited competition, as well as helping players develop on-line identities and chess skill. In "Site Ideas" I posted more extensive evaluations of the features of Red Hot Pawn relative to other sites I've tested. See http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/showthread.php?threadid=38770&page=1
Players may email their own games as PGN text, and can easily store all completed games in an online archive. Games of others, however, must be accessed one at a time, where the PGN is available as a link in the "Game History" option. Player names everywhere on the site are presented as a hyperlink to that player's profile page where there is a link to that player's games. These can be filtered by "all," "in progress," or "finished". RHP games are now available to the world at http://www.playtheimmortalgame.com/gamesexplorer/, making it possible to play through a substantial number of the site's games.
The chess forums offer the best opportunities for improvement, aside from experience gained through play. Frequently players ask others for annotations, and often receive replies only a few minutes later. However, each forum post is limited to one diagram. There is no option for replying through games with annotations.
The server is quick nearly always.
The screenshot show the "large" board with "book" style pieces and "storm clouds" theme.
Updated 7 March 2007