Earlier this month on the FIDE website, President, Kirsan E.T. Ilyumzhinov,wrote, “I am proud to announce today’s launch of the limited test version of FIDE online arena, FIDE’s official Internet playing platform developed in co-operation with CNC. In October 2013, after the Executive Board meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, the fully operational version of FIDE online arena will be in service and available all over the world.”
Every player gets an official rating online while playing tournaments on the web. FIDE is doing this because they believe online chess offers enormous opportunities for millions of players who are unable to regularly participate in over-the-board events to now play on an ‘official’ server and get an ‘official’ FIDE rating. Unlike other sites, they claim to have "a highly sophisticated chess anti-cheating system, AceGuard. Until now, it has been impossible to award official ratings for online chess because of the difficulty in preventing cheating. Now AceGuard will be an invaluable tool in FIDE's fight against cheaters and we would like to praise the PremiumChess company for developing this revolutionary technology and to congratulate CNC for bringing this service to FIDE." Not so sure about that; they are having a hard time detecting cheating at OTB events these days.
They claim, "When the full version of FIDE online arena starts in October, every move of every game played by full arena members will be monitored and extensively analyzed by the anti-cheating system and a special team of experts. Every member's playing history is evaluated with a Fairness Index rating, allowing you to see quickly if an opponent is reliable or not."
They will offer challenge games and tournaments, master challenge matches and simuls, free master lessons and lectures, full statistical analysis, broadcasts of major FIDE events, chat, game files, multi-lingual interface and more. From October on the site will be fully operational and guest members can update to full membership whenever they wish. The test version of the arena is for guest members only. Becoming a permanent guest member is free. Just fill in and send the guest membership application. You can register at FIDE Online Arena HERE.
I am not sure how this will affect other chess server sites and my guess is Ilyumzhinov sees it as a way to make more money from chessplayers. Apparently this is not going to be a correspondence site though and since I didn't sign up, I am not sure what the fee would be, time limits or anything else. Also, if one is not a "full member" does that mean their play won't be monitored for engine use?