I am, and always have, considered myself a correspondence player, but to tell the truth I’ve kind of lost interest in it. When you play opponents over 2200 on just about any server you can name half of them are using engines. Also I’ve run into more than a few who play what I call Duliba style. Edward Duliba is the former US CC Champion and he advocates taking as long as possible between moves on the theory that it will annoy and frustrate your opponents. This may give you an important edge if you are a titled player playing in international tournaments, but if you are what GM Alex Yermolinsky called a ‘tomato can’ who is playing just for fun, it does take some of the enjoyment out of playing. For example in my last server event I heard from all my opponents, save one, every couple of days. This last guy takes his full 7 days plus vacation time and we are still playing and probably will be for a long time to come even though the outcome in both games is clear.
So recently I’ve been messing around playing realtime chess even though I’m not very good at it. A couple years ago I had a free account on Playchess that came with my Fritz purchase but that expired a long time ago so now I just sign in as a guest. My favorite site is Chess.com because it is free, I like the interface and the players aren’t too bad. One thing I noticed there: titled players can have their accounts verified. That means if you are playing a National Master or whatever, they really are what they claim. I checked several NM’s out and their blitz ratings are usually around 1800-1900. So if you are playing a 2200 rated player, guess what they are using? 2500’s? What do you think? Anyway my blitz rating there ranges from 1850-1890, so I don't feel too bad!
I tried Yahoo chess and would advise against playing there. For some reason it seems hard to get a game and I’ve never exactly figured the system out. Sometimes I get kicked off boards, you challenge a player and they never respond. I also got cussed out pretty bad by a 1200 I beat…something about using an engine to defeat him! I had a lot of choice words for the guy but decided to be nice and not say anything. They also allow takebacks and a lot of players badger you for takebacks all throughout the game. I usually allowed them to take back a move anytime they requested. After all, if a guy wants a half dozen takebacks a game, how good can he be?
Here’s an amusing incident…I actually dozed off for a minute or two in one game and when I woke up it was my turn to move. I never looked at the board and blundered my Q against a 900 rated opponent. He kept sending me annoying messages calling me stupid, etc. He finally asked how I got such a high rating (apparently when you are rated 900, every rating is high). I told him, “Same way u did. Stupid luck.” That elicited some vulgarities. I wish I could say I won, but he just didn’t make any stupid mistakes and I had to resign which elicited his response of, “hahahahahahaha.” It was pretty funny; even I had to laugh.
I thought I’d check out a couple other realtime sites.BTW, I don’t care for FICS. Here is what I found:
This site hasn’t changed since I first discovered it in 2004. If anything it has gotten worse. I won’t go into the site’s history with the fake GM Amir Bagheri…that’s another story. If you can get past all the annoying popup ads (and there is a lot of them) then as a free account holder you can play 3 games in a 24 hour period. For their ‘advanced features’ you have to pay $69 per year. My suggestion is to save your money and buy yourself something nice. Like a wheelbarrow, maybe.
I tried to sign up on this site but for some reason it would not accept my e-mail and kept asking me to enter a valid address so I gave up.
Geeks with Chess
Requires Microsoft Silverlight plugin so I didn’t bother.
Probably the most promising. Ratings are fixed at 1200 until you have played 5 games and you remain provisional until you’ve played 20. Fair enough I guess but it will also mean you have to bash 20 bunnies until you can get any serious games. I played two games against an 1100. He lasted only 18 moves against the Grob Attack but did a little better against the Budapest Gambit…he lasted 19 moves.
Conclusion: UChess might be worth checking out.