Software and Online Play
Online Play, Practice, and Research
Play Games Live Online
Play games online with people all over the world, any time day or night.
Billed as “the world’s biggest chess server”, it is easy to find games against players near your own skill level at any time. When you purchase a membership, you will earn a rating and be able to select opponents based on their skill levels. You can also play free as a guest but not receive a rating or play rated games. You can also watch grandmaster tournaments and matches live at PlayChess once you download the viewing/playing software. For premium members there are also extensive educational materials and live GM commentary of big events.
Internet Chess Club (ICC)
On-line chess club for avid scholastic (and adult chess players). Annual membership fee required. Site is monitored to maintain appropriate “chat” content. Favorite site for middle school and high school youth who want to improve play. ICC has it’s own rating system and also offers on-line rated tournaments. ICC’s mantra: “Play Chess with the Masters.” Includes extensive educational materials and live GM commentary of big events for members.
A very popular, free website for online play. Free registration allows you to earn a rating and play against players at your skill level. You also have the option to purchase a membership for greater flexibility and convenience.
Puzzles and Tactics
Learn chess the fun way . . . solving puzzles. Checkmate in one, two, or three moves. Solve the chess puzzles and enter the weekly drawing to win free prizes! New puzzles are posted daily.
Chess Tactics Server
Solve puzzles and earn a rating to measure your tactics prowess. Correctly solve a puzzle quickly enough, and your rating goes up. Miss the solution (or find it too slowly), and your rating goes down. Puzzles are served automatically and get progressively more difficult as your rating increases. Tens of thousands of puzzles available. Free registration and use.
Chess Puzzles by GMs
A fantastic collection of more advanced puzzles organized by player (e.g., Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, etc.), opening, or year.
Several puzzles collections, including opening traps, endgames, and tactical positions. The Tactical Positions collections include several thousand puzzles ranging from moderately difficult to very difficult.
Research Openings, Endgames, and Games
Explore chess openings move-by-move and see statistics showing how successful each move has been for players in the past. Search a large database to find games by year, player, opening, and/or number of moves. Basic service is free. With premium membership, you get access to even greater power to explore openings and positions in the database.
Nalimov Endgame Tablebase
Complete solution to all 3, 4, 5, and 6 piece endings. Tic-tac-toe and checkers have been completely solved: with best play on both sides, the game ends in a draw. Chess is so complicated there will never be a complete solution from the beginning of the game. However, the Nalimov tablebase will tell you whether any given position with six or fewer pieces on the board (including two kings) is a forced win, loss, or a draw with best play from both sides. Just enter the position, click “Evaluate,” and the computer will give you the unbeatable, exact solution.
Online Games Database
Enter any position and quickly search a huge database (nearly 3 million games) to find games in which that position has occurred — a great tool for exploring openings.
Chess Kids Academy
Great free resource for novices. First learn the basic rules (including notation) and then move on to important tactical themes, strategic principles, endgames techniques, and ideas for the opening. Puzzles, quizzes, and games reinforce the lessons.
Chess Magnet School
Recently released (2005) web-based chess training for beginner to class D players. Well-designed lessons hold children’s interest and give them a solid foundation for rapid improvement. Great interface for coaches to monitor the progress of each student. Modest fee for joining.
Instructional Chess Videos
A growing collection of excellent chess video lectures for stronger players. A wide range of topics is covered. Free access to newer lectures; and access to extensive archives for a modest fee. The quality of the lectures is somewhat uneven, but FIDE Master Dennis Monokroussos’ are typically quite good.
Polgar Chess University
Susan Polgar was the first female grandmaster in history and the former women’s world champion. Each week she records three high quality lectures: beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Her explanations are clear and valuable but the cost is $100 per year. It does come with a subscription to World Chess Live, an online playing server.
A great program for teaching novices. There is a fun, story-driven adventure game, where young players go on a series of quests that teach chess fundamentals (rules, tactics, strategy, technique) in a lighthearted, whimsical way. Kids can also play games against the computer at any desired playing strength.
The ChessMaster user interface is fabulous. Play games against a series of increasingly adept “personalities” — complete with photos! The personalities have widely varying playing strengths (from nearly random to grandmaster-level), and they also have notably different playing styles. There is also an abundance of teaching material by IM Josh Waitzkin. The program can be buggy and unstable for some systems, but it seems that no one can figure out why. Relatively inexpensive ($10 at amazon.com), but a great program if it happens to work on your system.
Deep Fritz 10 — a program that anyone could buy and use on their home PC — won world-wide fame in 2006 by defeating world champion Vladimir Kramnik. Fritz is up to version 12 now and is even stronger. Whether a program plays at a 3200 level or only a 2400 level is irrelevant if you are not a chess master and are only looking for an electronic chess sparring partner, but what sets Fritz apart for a serious, seasoned scholastic player is its power as an analytical tool. Fritz can perform deep analysis of openings, positions, or whole games with ease to point out subtle errors in your games or point out interesting lines of attack or suggest interesting new pathways for investigation.
Widely recognized as the world’s strongest chess engine.
Chess Study and Learning
ChessBase is a large database of chess games with a powerful search engine that allows the user to look for games that match any of a number of diverse criteria: player, year, players’ ratings (100-2900), opening, number of moves, position, material balance, pawn structures, maneuvers, strategic advantages (e.g., good bishop vs. bad bishop), etc. In addition, it comes packaged with the Fritz engine for computer analysis of any given position.
ChessBase.com also publishes an incredible array of high quality training material for stronger players.
Susan Polgar — former women’s world champion and world’s first female Grandmaster — presents all kinds of chess material from novice-level to expert in a friendly and crystal-clear style.
If you have any other favorite resources, let us know!