Checkmate: how to play chess online with friends
Chess, the ancient game of war, has stood the test of time due to its deep strategic elements that allow for creative play. Even if you’re not a master tactician, you might know the game from watching chess hustlers dispense advice to relieve overconfident people of their money in city parks, the many Bobby Fischer movies or, recently, the popular Netflix joined the Queen’s Gambit.
The thinker’s game has evolved a lot over the years from traditional analog chess to computerized chess. In fact, the latter has been around for so long that you’ll spot Kurt Russell playing a version in John Carpenter’s The thing. However, today’s chess lets you take advantage of wireless technology and netplay to challenge friends (and strangers) around the world.
If you’re curious about how to get into 21st century chess, read on to learn about the apps and boards that let you compete against other enthusiasts remotely.
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If you are new to chess or returning to the game after a long time, Chess.com should be your first stop. The free, ad-supported service (available via web browser or mobile app) features over 60 million players from around the world, so you’ll always find a match. In addition, you can learn from the many tutorials, fight the CPU, complete tactical challenges, see matches in streaming and check your statistics and your overall ranking. Chess.com’s three premium services (starting at $4.99 per month or $28.99 per year) include an ad-free experience, 67 AI challengers, gameplay analysis, video lessons created by experts from chess and the possibility of playing several games at the same time.
Chess has been a part of video gaming since the early days of the industry, but few titles have paid as much attention to the classic strategy game as Chess Ultra. Developed by Rispstone, Chess Ultra is packed full of goodies, including tutorials, 10 grandmaster-approved CPU levels, online play (with classic, blitz and marathon style content), Elo rating system, Twitch integration, the ability to replay classic matches, and VR compatibility with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. On top of all that, Chess Ultra is simply stunning, with lovingly rendered 4K boards, rooms and environments that give the game a relaxed vibe. It is available for PC and console.
Measuring 0.78 by 21.25 by 21.25 inches, DGT’s flagship sensor-laden chessboard combines premium wood construction (either rosewood or walnut) with high-tech guts. The included Fritz software lets you play games against human opponents via playchess.com, practice, and import PGN (Portable Game Notation) files of past matches to study at your convenience. Connect the tournament-ready board to a PC via Bluetooth to have the AI detect your moves and announce counter moves. Additionally, you can download the LiveChess Cloud beta software for free to watch live matches on your PC.
Square Off produces many chess sets, but its flagship model, the 11.9-pound Grand Kingdom, best exemplifies the influence of contemporary technology on the game. Measuring 1.9 by 23.7 by 19.0 inches and featuring a premium rosewood finish, the Grand Kingdom Set uses Bluetooth to connect to the Square Off mobile app to play online competitors through Chess.com. The magic, however, is in automated chess pieces. When playing remote AI or humans, opposing pieces on your board attack and defend based on their inputs. Adaptive AI and the ability to stream matches live complete this cool chess package.
If you want a tournament-ready wireless chessboard, this is your game. The 0.7 x 20.4 x 18.0-inch Square Off Pro features adaptive AI, interactive lights that guide you through movement and error, magnetic board sensors that detect piece placement (no need to press squares!), and a roll-up design for easy transport. You can connect the Square Off Pro to the Square Off app via Bluetooth to analyze your game or challenge people using Chess.com or Lichess. It weighs a light 2.2 pounds and has a battery life of around five hours, which is perfect for playing chess from anywhere.