What are the best chess websites to play chess online?
In this article, I want to share with you the best chess platforms to play chess online that I have used or I have been using myself to play and practice chess online. I am a chess player myself with over thirty years of experience.
I used to play a lot of professional chess tournaments in the past as chess was and still is, in some sense, part of my life. The last best tournaments I participated in were: Victoria Chess Championship finals (2006.2007) and Melbourne Chess Club Open in 2007 that I won with a really good performance (8 wins out of 9).
These days I mostly play chess online as the internet gives me an opportunity to meet players from around the world without leaving my home. My favourite chess tempo is 3+2 (three minutes per game plus 2 seconds per move).
Generally, most chess platforms give users an extensive set of options to select that includes: time, board colours, tournaments, puzzles, game analysis, opening explorer and many more.
Some platforms are completely free and some offer premium membership with full access to additional resources. I love to play chess online and below are my favourite sites described with all features.
Lichess is definitely my favourite online chess platform as it is free and you do not have to pay for anything including puzzles, studies, tournament selection. There is something for everybody. I mostly use it to play 3+2 blitz or 2+1 lightning tournaments, arenas or to challenge other players.
The Lichess interface is very cleanly designed. There are light and dark themes available. Also, you can change things like language, sound, background, board geometry, board theme or piece set.
Tournaments in Lichess
The big feature of Lichess is their tournament selection. There are three options you can select from:
The most famous option is where players gather in a tournament room for one hour and play games with each other. The way it is organised is that players with the same number of points are paired together so you normally should play with a player of similar strength.
The good thing about arena tournaments is that you can join any time. Before you start the game you can choose a berserk challenge option which takes half of your allocated time (e.g. for a 3 minutes game you will be down to 1.5 minutes) but if you win you get double points as a reward.
In addition, if you keep your winning strike (3 or more) you will be allocated double points too. This is my favourite way to play chess online.
It is a classic way to play normal, and also online chess on some platforms. The way it works is, regardless of how many players joined the tournament there are only e.g. 11 rounds to be played.
The pairing works similarly to arena tournaments; players with the same number of points play together. Thus, after a few rounds weaker players play with weaker players and good players play with good players.
This way the tournament balance is being kept and this progressive approach allow weaker players to play best players if they won previous games.
This version of chess arose from the 19th century where the best players gave an opportunity to the chess community to face them in a simultaneous exhibition.
Simply one grandmaster played multiple boards and normally they win all games.The below screenshot is displaying possible arena tournaments in lichess.
This is where you can learn chess basics, strategy, do puzzles or hire a coach. Let’s discuss all options briefly.
This section is only for beginners to learn basic chess rules before playing. It is well organised with lessons and you can find what you want by seeing the title.
They are chess exercises taken from real games and solving them can really improve your game. You notice that when you start you will be given simple ones and while solving them you get more complex positions.
Tip: I always try to solve a few puzzles before playing online as it sets your brain in the right rhythm.
It is a great resource to practice basic checkmates, tactics and endgames. There are up to 18 exercises under each tile.
Knowing chess coordinates is very important especially when you play a normal, real game and you have to write moves down. In this section, you can do it. The program will show you a coordinate e.g. e2, and you have to point the board. Also, you have limited time for this exercise.
It is a huge section to study grandmasters’ games, puzzles or exercise checkmates. The best thing about it is that new studies are being added frequently as it is done by players. You can also add a new study and make it public.
It is a huge list of chess coaches that you can hire to get your chess game to the next level. I remember when I study chess I had only chess books (that I have to buy by driving to a 100 km away city) and also the only way to practice was to attend physical lessons at my club.
Nowadays, it is so easy for everybody. Learn your chess online!
This section is simply awesome. It includes all video materials related to Lichess TV, streaming, broadcasts and contains a huge library of educational videos. Simply visit it from the top menu and enjoy the content.
On top of everything, Lichess offers a full set of professional tools like board analysis, opening explorer, board editor, import game and advanced search. I found that opening explorer is not super deep but it is more than enough as a side tool to the full set they offer.
On the other hand, the board analysis can be very useful to quickly click it after a game and see your inaccuracies and errors or maybe later, to analyse the game for potential improvements.
All games you play are recorded in the system and you can access them at any time. Moreover, your full statistics are available under your profile. If you want to navigate to your games you can click on the “View the Games” link. Below is a screenshot with my latest Blitz stats for the last three months.
Lichess is a great platform to learn and play chess online. Honestly, I have been using Lichess for over 2 years and I have not found any cons of this platform. The interface is clean and the playing experience is great. There are a lot of learning materials for any type of player.
If you want to challenge me on Lichess, find my username (eremita74) click on the challenge button and let me know in chat you are coming from my blog.
Chess.com is my second favourite online platform to play chess online. Similarly to Lichess, it has everything that any player would need in their chess life: games, tournaments, puzzles, lessons, and videos.
Tournaments in Chess.com
Chess.com offers swiss and arena tournaments that I have already described. You can join any tournaments for free and leave early if you want.
This section is quite comprehensive in comparison to Lichess. It contains the following options:
Puzzles – you are given a position to solve; normally the solution is 1 to 5 moves; in a free version you have only 5 puzzles available
Puzzle Rush – this option is great; you are given e.g. 3 minutes to solve as many puzzles as possible and you can make only up to two mistakes; if you made a third mistake the rush is over
Puzzle Battle – you can challenge another player for a puzzle battle; the rule is who will solve more puzzles in a given short time
Daily Puzzle – chess.com gives a daily puzzle when you log in every day and this is another way of accessing it
Custom – this feature is awesome as you can select a puzzle based on its type and rating to adjust it to your playing skills; it is a great option to move your chess to the next level
You will learn all the fundamental concepts in chess to boost your chess ratings. Once you go and learn the lessons you will be capable of beating many more opponents. This variety of beginner to move advanced lessons are really made well by chess.com.
Here you can analyse your games. You can either set up a position from memory or any chess book or import your game and analyse it with the provided chess engine.
What is awesome about chess.com is they run a full blog on any chess activities in the world so it is, indeed a good source of information. Inside the article, they talk about tournaments, matches, new ideas and they do game analysis
It is a variety of different videos for different categories that serve like a chess database for learning. It could be a video about chess prodigy, chess world champion game, ending analysis, tactics or strategy.
This one is simply a chess coordinates exercise. There are three options you can select from: coordinates, moves and coordinates & moves. It is a good page to practise your chess board coordinates in case you play in a real tournament and you have to write the moves.
It is an in-app Chess Opening database. The openings are nicely presented so you can click on a tile and learn it in-depth.
Similarly to Openings this is a chess database where you can find any important game that was played in the world and analyse it.
If you want to find out what is going on in the world navigate to Today. This is where you can find Chess Today, News, Chess TV, Streamers and Events. There is a lot of information to see and if you want to be on top of what is going on this is one of the options to select from.
Chess.com – should I buy premium?
As you see on the below screen there are different plans to select from. If you think of spending a lot of time practising and learning chess from the internet, and you run out of your free resources, you can definitely buy a Platinum or Diamond premium package that will give you 5 or unlimited lessons per week.
The app will remind you to do your lessons or puzzles once you are online. I would definitely do that if I had some allocated time for chess only. In addition, you will get access to Custom Flair, Chess TV, Club Management and more. Honestly, it is not very expensive for the content you get.
All Premium Plans Include
Opening Explorer, Custom Flair, ChessTV, Drills, Club Management, and Time-out Protection for Daily Games
Chess.com was my first platform when I started to play chess online. I only moved to Lichess as I liked the interface more. The content is great and the playing experience too. If you want to challenge me on Chess.com, find my username (eremita74) and click on the challenge button and let me know in chat you are coming from my blog.
Chess terminology used in most chess platforms when you play chess online
In addition, I also decided to add this terminology section as I think it is important to explain what terminology or abbreviations chess platforms use as there could be different types of audiences reading this article.
So, if you are a confused beginner who is just starting with chess or never played chess online this is a good start. Otherwise, you can skip this paragraph and move to my favourite online chess platforms.
What are typical chess playing mode when you play chess online?
In general, the following rules apply in terms of time per game and move:
Classical – at least 1, 1.5 or hours per player with an additional time per move or to finish the game
Rapid – less or equal to 30 minutes per player; these days there is a tournament trend to have 15 minutes rapid games
Blitz – less or equal to 5 minutes per player with an optional addition of 2 seconds per move
Bullet – less or equal to 2 minutes per player with an optional addition of 1 second per move
Classical – 30
30 minutes per game
Classical chess could be 2 hours per 40 moves plus 30 minutes to finish the game.
Classical – 30+2
30 minutes per game plus 2 seconds per move
Rapid – 10
10 minutes per game
Rapid chess are normally 15 minutes per game and optionally 5 seconds per move
Rapid – 10+5
5 minutes per game plus 5 seconds per move
Blitz – 3 or Blitz – 5
3 or 5 minutes per game
Due to introduction of digital clocks blitz chess are normally played with 3+2 tempo or 3 +0
Blitz – 3+2 or Blitz – 5+3
3(or 5) minutes per game plus 2(or 3) seconds per move
1 minute per game
Due to very small time bullet games are hard to play with real pieces but it does happen
Bullet 2+1 or
2 minutes per game plus 1 second per move
Lichess.com and Chess.com start up ratings explained
When you play chess online it is up to the chess platform to set up an initial chess rating. I am getting this question a lot so I also added it here so you will know what your startup rating is on both platforms.
Lichess.org starting rating is 1500 and Chess.com rating is 1200
What it really means is that in Chess.com it is more difficult to get a higher rating as you are starting 300 points lower. In my experience, the rating of 1500 in Lichess.org (or 1200 in Chess.com) is just above the beginner and it relates to a rating in real chess of maybe 1600.
Using my example my maximum blitz rating was 2278 in Lichess.org and 2226 in Chess.com and my maximum bullet rating was 2224 in Lichess.org and 2184 in Chess.com.
As you see there is not much difference when you climb the ladder.
What is important to remember, it doesn’t really matter what is our chess rating as long as you play, improve and enjoy chess.Ratings do not play chess, humans do !
I hope this article will help you to select the right platform to play chess online. If you found this article useful please drop a comment below are simply challenge me in lichess.org or chess.com.
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