I still fondly remember the days when a friend and I would meet up in the Sydney CBD, find an internet cafe and log onto the Internet Chess Club to play blitz in the 5 Minute Pool (I’ll explain what this is later).
Sometimes it’d be after a few beers at the bar, and sometimes it’d be after work.
Sometimes it’d be both… 😀
But we’d play for hours!
Every now and then one of us would shoot a comment over to the other like “Check out my board, I’m smashing a GM!“, followed by “Yeeeeeaaah, take it alllll” (as the GM opponent captures the sacrificed pieces and gets checkmated 😆 )
You can picture the scene haha.
It was a hell of a lot of fun and helped me to improve my chess enormously.
This was back around 2002-2003 and at that time I was still around 20 years old, and a player of about 2000 ELO.
Since that time a lot of chess sites have popped up (most infamously, chess.com) while others (like chess.net and world chess network) have closed their doors.
I have myself had paid accounts on chess.com, chess24 AND the Internet Chess Club.
So recently, 12 or so years since my daily ICC sessions, I bought a membership again…
The Internet Chess Club has so-called playing “pools” where you click a submit button and get thrown in a pool with players who are also seeking.
The beauty of it is that once games start they can’t be aborted (i.e people can’t abort because they think you’re too strong/weak, they have to just do their best and man up), and games are rated. Generally, you’ll get paired with somebody close to your strength as well, either that or with somebody who is a weaker player but has won a string of games and is expected to lose soon.
This is actually quite similar to the standard swiss system, and so ratings are much more reliable than normal “blitz” ratings where you can essentially choose your opponents and “eek” your rating up.
Playing in these rating pools is really fun/challenging because even if you aren’t titled, if you have a good run there’s a good chance you might get an FM/IM/GM as your next opponent and unlike other sites, they can’t just abort the game.
They start off immediately under pressure to win and you (as the underdog) can just swing the axe as hard as you can in your attempt to take the scalp! 🙂
Although chess.com has reasonably good videos that are fairly instructional, I find some of them annoying. It’s not their fault but they just rub my own personality the wrong way lol.
It’s like the Director of Content Management told the video lecturers that they must always have this high energy, pepped up demeanor, make corny jokes and be “funny” all the time.
I can see where they’re coming from, but maybe I’m a bit old for that style of silliness now. It just feels tedious when the guy is trying to be funny every 2 minutes. I must say I DO like Roman’s videos though, what serious player wouldn’t?
Today on ICC I was watching a video lecture by GM Yermolinsky and it was really enjoyable because to me at least, he was so down-to-earth.
He was like:
“I must say that I am not impressed with anybody’s play here in Bilbao… Of course, Magnus is great but nobody is even fighting. They say they aren’t scared of him, but their moves say different”.
I like hearing this type of harsh, yet sincere assessment from a strong GM with a cool Russian accent haha…. Definitely more up my alley then the comedy club at chess.com.
The ICC has been in the business of catching and banning computer abusers since people were using Fritz 5 to cheat back in 1997.
They are very good at it.
Given that the ICC is a paid site, it means ALL of your opponents will also be paid members.
Now this is HUGE because a paid member is very unlikely to cheat and risk losing their paid account.
On chess.com on the other hand… Even if YOU are a paid member and are a decent player, there is still a good chance that you’ll play against a free member who is cheating and has been banned several times with previous accounts. This can really ruin your user experience. Why pay money to play against Stockfish? I reflected more deeply upon my frustration with cheats in this post.
Given that I still live in China at this point, I constantly experience lag (because of the Chinese government’s deep packet inspection) and so my blitz rating has plummeted from 2300+ down to 2150 or so, primarily from time losses.
It generally happens like this…
Sure, this happens to all of us sometimes….but imagine if it happened to you every game!
I have chess friends here in China who have said that chess.com is basically unusable for them.
The Internet Chess Club on the other hand, seems to have no such problems!
I think it’s because the downloaded interface (as opposed to using chess.com’s web app) has better time handling tools, like timestamp for one. But this is a big deal for me and was a deal maker in the end.
So now I’m gonna log into the ICC and show you guys around the interface and play a couple games for you to see how it all works.
Then I hope you’ll take their free trial (in 2002 it was a 7 day trial, now it’s a MONTH!) and give it a try yourself.
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