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It's not often you review a game dating back to the 16th Century. But what I'm bringing today is the wonderfully slick massively multiplayer experience that Chess.com has turned this board game into. Three words sum it up for me; tournaments, rankings stats and community - if you've never been into Chess now is the time because Chess.com takes this board game and fits it into your life, even into your phone.
I won't go into the game of chess here - believe me when I say if you lived to a hundred you'd still be learning this deep, intricate turn based strategy.
Taking a spin around the www.chess.com website you find a plethora of ways to do chess your way. You can play in tournaments, create your own rank or unranked match or simply get hooked up with anyone who wants to play from their thousands of members. It even has mobile phone support for those who like to make their moves whenever, wherever - a smooth java based version of the main site and works a dream. The main site also offers live chess games where you have to make moves quickly.
The main action happens in the online chess area where you're looking at about 3 days a move. It sounds strange as some games can last literally months, but it doesn't take long to get into playing that way.
The site offers a number of really user friendly (if slightly geeky) lessons and tools to get you playing well in no time. The best thing about all of it is that it's free, if you want it to be. There are enhanced features that can be purchased for very reasonable monthly subscriptions at various different levels depending on how seriously you want to take your time on the site. I played for a good month to see if I would enjoy it before I took out my first month subscription- which can be paid for via PayPal incidentally.
You soon find yourselves making friends with people you've played a few times and it's a great feeling when you all get into the same tournament together.
So after eight months what keeps me coming back for more? Well chess is an amazing and complex strategy game that seems to get deeper the more you learn. The community is also a big draw. You soon find yourselves making friends with people you've played a few times and it's a great feeling when you all get into the same tournament together. Then there are the stats you can paw over to see how well you are playing or not. This is a premium part of the site but is done really well and was my biggest reason to go from free to premium.
Chess.com has put chess on the internet for all the world to play, and they have done it very well. The site is ever improving and once you've given it a few weeks you'll be hooked. Most importantly Chess.com has made chess an enjoyable and accessible experience for the everyday men and women who have busy lives. This is perpetual gaming and it fits into life.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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