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Ahh... The school days classic. The domain of the boffin maths-genius 7-year old. The 1,400 year old game of Chess!
Until recently, the last time I played chess was more than half-a-lifetime ago. I wasn't a masterclass player then, and an almost 20-year break from the game has done nothing to improve my game. On the other hand, I am once again hooked!
The concept ~~~~~~~~~~~
As you might expect is very simple. The website provides you with one or more virtual chess-boards on which to play games against friends and strangers alike. After-all, the Internet has a habit of breaking down international barriers, and this is no exception.
I am currently playing 4 games against: my father, a work colleague, an old friend who now lives in America, and a guy who lives in the next town. The pace is set to an easy 20 days maximum per move, and it is fun!
If you fancy challenging me, either sign up, and request a game with "One47", or drop me a line, and I can refer you, which sets up an account and starts the first game all in one go. I still qualify as a beginner, but am willing to have a laugh with more expert players if it improves my game.
(Note/disclosure: I wouldn't benefit immediately/directly from that referral, but would get extended membership if you join-up)
How it works ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Free play is possible on this site, giving the required basic facilities (below) but if like me you find yourself hooked, it costs about $15 / £10 per year for a fully functional Chess-service. Incentives are given for players that you introduce to the site too (Currently 2 months free membership per paying member introduced.)
There is an initial teaser period, but I have seen this vary from 1 week to 3 months. I received one months free full membership.
As you and your opponent make moves on the board, you receive a visual email notification of the new state of the game, and a link which allows the game page to be jumped to directly.
General facilities ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Up to 10 games being played at any time.
A wide choice of board styles, and piece styles.
Find an opponent based on Chess skill, country and background
Invite friends for a casual game
Watch team matches in progress
Step back and forward through your games to analyse them
Special facilities ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For the paying elite...
Unlimited simultaneous games
Play in standard four player all play all tournaments
Play in large tournaments
Play in tournaments with a particular opening theme
Play in a team (Themed teams)
Set particular board, time limit and game settings
Other useful stuff ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As you'd expect of an internet site, they provide discussion forums for all levels of players, allowing discussion of the site, teams, current and past games and opportunities to learn. In fact there are 14 separate sections on the site main menu related to learning resources both on and off the site.
Another nice option is the ability to challenge the webmaster to a game - Something which I suspect is best reserved for the better players ;-)
There are per-board private notepads to record your playing and strategy notes (In case you are playing too many to remember them all)
You can rewind and playback each move in the game to analyse progress so far.
Your ability as a player can also be rated as you gain or lose points for games won/lost using the standard chess-competition rating system.