There is a wide range of websites offering to play chess online for free. Some of these sites offer the possibility to play chess and other games, others allow us to play only chess in different modalities, others do not require registration before playing etc... That is to say, there are many features.
Most players opt for those sites that are free and do not require prior registration. So today I want to talk about those websites where we can play chess without having to pay and that offer a totally valid service, if what we want is to play without complicating too much, and without opting for additional paid services.
To make this selection I have taken into account several criteria: the design of the web, if previous registration is required or not, the loading speed, the server response, the number of users, how usable and appealing is the interface, the design of the pieces and the board, if we are bombarded with advertising or not and if the web is specific to chess or not.
I have tried to put myself in the shoes of the player who wants to play chess fast and without complications.
POLL: Which is the best website to play chess online according to the players?
Of course, before starting with the ranking, I recommend you to take a look at our online Chess Club, where you can find everything you need to play better: classes, courses, tutorials, trainings, a lot of friends in more than 20 countries...
With a daily volume of over 4 million games and 50 million members, Chess.com is the largest online chess community. The basic subscription is free, but premium users have access to additional training, video and statistics options. In addition to games, chess.com offers many additional services (even with a basic subscription), including the popular Puzzle Rush contest, video tutorials, video broadcasts of various tournaments around the world.
Chess.com hosts major online competitions, including the PRO Chess League, where the best teams on the planet battle for glory and cash prizes.
There are several levels of paid membership that open up access to assignments, lessons, game analysis and other features; the cost of the annual unlimited-access diamond subscription is $139.64.
Cost: The basic subscription is free, the annual diamond subscription with unlimited access costs $139.64.
Pros: Players of all levels will find it easy to find a rival, not to mention the abundance of training materials and entertainment services.
The second largest online chess community on the Internet, a non-profit website registered in France that calls itself a "free/free open source chess server". It operates on a voluntary and donation basis." The site is known for its fast server, which provides minimal delay in receiving/sending moves, making it preferable for those who like to play by the minute. You can play and analyze your games, use the database and engine, learn the basics of the game of chess and solve problems.
Lichess is also known for its Titled Arena tournaments, in which the world's strongest grandmasters (Carlsen, Firouzja, Andreikin and many others) participate.
Cost: Free access (and always will be!).
Advantages: Easy to find an opponent for a player of any level, with almost no delays.
Chess24 went live in 2014 and has offices in Hamburg and Gibraltar. What started as the idea of creating a website with chess video content has grown into a unique project that not only allows you to play chess games online , but also to watch live tournaments (perhaps with the best interface of the tournament sites on the chess market) and train, or just have a good time. The site provides the user with high quality training videos and broadcasts, and is also known for hosting the Banter Blitz Cup with top players like Carlsen, Firouzja, Duda (and this list can go on).
Following the merger of Chess24 with Magnus Carlsen's company in the spring of 2019, the World Champion began actively participating on Chess24 by playing with subscribers during his Banter Blitz sessions and providing online commentary during tournaments.
Premium subscriptions provide access to educational video series, e-books and opportunities to challenge Grandmasters during Banter Blitz sessions. It also provides access to the database, PGN games and other privileges.
Cost: Basic subscription is free, annual premium subscription is $129.99.
Pros: Easy to find an opponent for any level of player, a large number of training materials and entertainment services, great page layout for viewing tournaments.
The Internet Chess Club: Founded in 1995, ICC was a pioneer in online chess. All modern middle-aged grandmasters have certainly spent endless hours on the legendary BlitzIn client, playing, chatting with other players or teaching chess.
In 2005, ICC had more than 30,000 subscribers. As the Internet became more accessible and mobile, ICC lost its dominance in the browser gaming segment. However, ICC is still considered one of the most reliable services around. Access to the site's servers can now be obtained in several ways: by installing the client application, through a mobile application or a browser. ICC also offers video tutorials.
Cost: Annual subscription costs $69.95.
Advantages: Stability and reliability, training videos.
Playchess is powered by ChessBase, the creator of the world's most popular chess database software. The site is fully integrated with ChessBase software and other ChessBase programs such as Fritz. This allows you not only to play chess online, but also to watch tournaments, analyze games and use the database.
You can play in guest mode without registering. To take advantage of the full functionality, you must download the client application and create an account. A premium account gives you access to training videos, a large collection of tactical exercises, an updated database, PGN downloads and other privileges.
Cost: Free in guest mode, the cost of an annual subscription is $49,90.
Advantages: Compatibility with other products of the developer ChessBase.
The growth of subscribers
The need to stay at home and maintain social distancing has led to a boom in online chess activity. Major sites have been reporting abnormal subscribers since the beginning of the month, an average of 40%. In a recent FIDE newsletter, the quotes are from people at the top of the three major gaming sites.
"We have broken all daily records for games played, new subscribers and concurrent players on the site," said Nick Barton , director of business development at Chess.com . "We have recently witnessed a surge in the number of new member registrations to 50,000 in one day, and this number has grown steadily over the past two weeks."
"Over the past few weeks, the average number of lichess.org users during peak hours has increased from about 45,000 to a high of 82,000. We estimate that, as with other sites, our numbers have increased by approximately 40% since the beginning of the month," says Theo White, spokesman for the pro bono platform.
Daily subscriptions to "Chess24.com have tripled with the introduction of self-isolation in many countries," says Chess24 CEO Sebastian J. Kuehnert . "The number of games played every day on our platform has doubled on average compared to the same period in 2019."
Online chess will certainly allow you to brighten up your days in the coming weeks, and you are sure to find like-minded people of any level regardless of your platform of choice.