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There are two main types of time controls available:
Per move: Each player is assigned a maximum of reflection time per move. Options: 1, 3, 7 and 14 days per move.
Per game: Each player is assigned a maximum of reflection time for the whole game. Options: 10, 30, 60 and 90 days per game per player.
The ratings for the players are updated immediately after the game ends. During the first 25 games ratings are provisional. If both players are unrated, the winner gets 1500 points and the loser 1100. If the game ended in a draw then both players get 1300 points. Players with established ratings will have their ratings protected when playing against unrated or provisional players. A protected rating can remain the same or go up, but never go down, even when the player loses the game. Special rule: if the opponent is rated 400 or more points below or above, then the rating will not be affected no matter the outcome.
Player pairings in tournaments are generated by the server, players cannot choose who to play against.
Double Round Robin Tournaments: In a Double Round Robin tournament each participant plays two games against each of the players in the group with alternating colors. Tournament scores are computed for each player in the following way: 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss. After all the games in a round are completed, the players with the highest scores in each group advance to the next round.
Swiss System Tournaments: For each round the system will divide the participants in groups according to their current scores and as much as possible will try to pair players out of the same score group. As with Double Round Robin tournaments, a win is worth 2 points, a draw is worth 1 point, and no points are given for a loss. Points earned are accumulated from round to round. The server automatically generates the pairings in a random fashion.
In addition to tournament play you can also play individual games by posting or accepting a challenge in the open games section. Looking back I see my first game there was a win against a 1200 in an open challenge and I had an initial rating of 1500. My second game was another open challenge win against an 1839 giving me a rating after only two games of 1870, so one nice thing about this site is that if you are a decent player, you don’t have to slog through a hundred games to find good competition.
They also have various forums related to chess. While the forums aren’t particularly interesting one thing I do like is that the moderator does not allow spamming, profanity or other such nastiness that you frequently find on server sites. The site is in English as are most of the posts but I have noticed a lot of Brazilian players on the site, so posts in Portuguese are not unusual.
All of you games are archived so you can always go back and look at them.
For free, this site is the best. In fact I found it equal to another site where I was paying about $30 per year for membership. Highly recommended.