Insight on good/bad websites. Know an interesting chess-related website? Share it with us.
Most players who are serious about studying their games and those of other players have at least heard about ChessBase but the website, Chessbase.com, is also one of the best places to get a daily update of important chess happenings around the world. Set up in 1998, their massive databases, containing most historic games, permit players to analyze and store their games. The program permits searches for games, and positions in games, based on player names, openings, some tactical and strategic motifs, material imbalance, and features of the position. The ChessBase database software integrates chess analysis engines, such as Fritz, Junior, Shredder (all Chessbase products), amongst others. The current version of the program is ChessBase 11, which was released in 2010. They offer an extensive and excellent selection of chess CDs and DVDs, including monographs on famous players, tactical training exercises, and training for specific opening systems. The various “Fritz Trainer” DVDs are a personal favorite. They also publish ChessBase Magazine six times per year, which comes as a thin printed text and accompanying CD with multimedia chess news, articles on opening novelties, database updates (including annotated games), and other articles. All these are designed for viewing within their database software, but many have a more up-to-date version of ChessBase Light than the free version available from their web-page. If you intend to study the game at any level, you simply have to start with some mega-database like Chessbase or the newer ChessKing.
The Chess Tempo website offers standard problem solving, blitz problem solving and 2/day endgame problem solving for free. What I love about this site is the feedback you get, whether you get a problem right or wrong. First of all there are the member comments, revealing both their approaches and their blind-spots. Then for the tactics problems there are computer evaluated variations demonstrating why various solution attempts fall short. But what I really think is great is that for the endgame problems, you can click from the starting position to see the outcome for each move for both players to the end of each possible line. Also available for free is an up to date Chess Game Database as well as the ability to play rated games against the computer. As soon as you get a username and password, the problems given to you to be solved become easier or harder, depending on how well you are doing. Chess Tempo gives user ratings for both tactics problems and endgames. There are two categories of premium memberships (Silver currently $20 annually and Gold currently $35 annually). If you click on 'Members' , you will get all the membership information on what is included for each of the premium memberships. For example 20/day endgame problems are available with the Silver membership and an 'unlimited' number for the Gold membership. And Tactic/Endgame problem game source links are available with Gold memberships.
With this website, ultimately what you are paying for is something that some players, particularly those of us from an "earlier" generation, want to hear ... a human voice providing verbal insights about games as opposed to only going over Fritz variations on your own. ChessLecture.com currently has 1762 videos by well known players. Quoting from their web-site 'If you have a connection to the Internet, you can watch our videos! Our video library works on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and the iPhone'. I have gone through 311 lectures since Oct 2010. Lectures are categorized as being on Openings, Middlegames, Endgames, Strategy, Tactics, Annotated Games, Opening Traps and a few other topics. They are also categorized as being Beginning, Intermediate or Advanced. I have found it most useful to sort the lectures by date and look at consecutive lectures so as to get ideas on a broad variety of topics. This perhaps has helped my game even more than other websites. There's not much free on this site, except a couple of demo-lectures. I have been paying $99.99 a year for the last two years and this is the cheapest package. It includes unlimited Web access to their entire video archive and unlimited iPhone access to their entire video archive. I get a discount by paying for a whole year at once rather than $12.95 a month. By the way, please be aware that all membership plans will automatically renew at the end of the membership term unless you cancel your account (and in the FAQ they do provide instructions for doing so). If you have ChessBase you can download lecture games and use Fritz to check out what is being said in the lecture. It is interesting to hear the various lecturers think out loud.
This website is free to those wanting to watch live games, commenting or additional services cost more. It has every major and national tournaments' games one can think of and provides great real time and post game viewing features. Every game has an ongoing Houdini or Stockfish engine running, providing assessments after every move for the top four moves, and a select few have live GM, IM or FM analysis. I have found this site to have the fewest glitches of all websites that provide live coverage. It would be nice if you could watch multiple games on one screen, but it is easy enough to open and close ongoing games in the same tournament, since it saves a reference tab for you from the closed game that you can switch back to with one click, so easy. Just ignore the comments from the peanut gallery that pop up, you can manipulate your screen so they are not as prominent. I highly recommend this site.
With an extremely busy link-laden home page, this website by the American IM seems to promise much. Front and center are book reviews from various well know chess writers. The archives use about 2-4 point font size implying their importance and the astrology and spiritual journey links are a distraction from the main purpose most go there, chess! The Instruction items I saw by Orlov and Martin were very good, and the book reviews were comprehensive and entertaining. Each page is full of distracting links, but for chess book reviews and to a lesser degree, instruction this is a fine site.
For the vast majority of chess players this should be a "favorite" website. The chess shop used to be USCF's partner until recently. One section provides weekly/daily articles including a useful daily survey or "highlights" from other websites as well as regular endgame, tactics and video additions. The second main section provides nearly 20 monthly recurring columns on a wide variety of chess topics besides the usual chess themes ... something for everyone including book reviews, an arbiter's review of common rules questions, new book reviews, new DVD reviews, scholastic's and correspondence chess columns, a beginner's column (Novice Nook), and more! There is also a section showing the latest additions to their chess shop - useful, particularly if checked regularly. Finally, a REALLY helpful feature of the website is the archives section for their main columns - reviews of OLDER books but also helpful when trying to research one of the other columns - like endgames or the beginner's material. Like Chessbase, New in Chess, and ChessBomb, this should be a staple of the chess websites you regularly check, even if it is just for "desert."
Most people seeking chess education may find the idea of joining right away a little off-putting. Only two lectures are available to review before joining this site. There are three different levels of membership ranging in price from $12.95 per month, up to $229.99 per year. The lecture I reviewed was ok, but probably and hopefully, not the best they have. Chesslecture.com should get a more exciting speaker to provide this key first marketing demo lecture. The website is unique in its focus on teaching via chess lectures alone but try out the free Jesse Krai lecture before making a final decision. Kinesthetic and expository learners would find this tough going, but the mostly visual and audio learners, might find it beneficial.
Overall a very interesting website covering many top level international tournaments with a lot of intriguing features. Watch tournaments live, with GM commentary. Listen to interviews with top players, some you've heard of, many you have not. Analysis of many of the games of top ten players. Photos - Videos. GM lectures. and more.
I just love these Russian chess websites - its like eating Peanut M&Ms - you just never get enough. But getting past the Russsian LANGUAGE barrier is vexing. Luckily, this website can be switched to ENGLISH! Woo hoo! And it may be the best of ALL the Russian websites. Almost every feature is "top shelf" though the "Articles" aren't all that relevant to those of us on this side of the pond(s). "Best Games of the Month" may be the best part of the website. Lots of interesting games - lots of good analysis! "Reviews" is sort of an in-depth tourney review but focused on the action. "Portrait" has great articles on top-name players with lots of interesting analysis - its the next best thing about the site. "Interviews" often has personalities one doesn't know (or I don't) but many I do know (Svidler, Korchnoi, Khalifman). They are all supposed to be GMs and they're giving pretty candid answers to various questions - fun stuff to read when you're tired of studying. This is one of those websites I just keep coming back to ... cool name too!