There are numerous websites where you can play chess online with friends and learn chess online for free. Playing chess online is an excellent way to test your chess skills and test if an opening is a good fit for you.
In this post, you will learn about 6 excellent websites where you can play and learn chess online, and 7 places to learn more about chess. There is nothing like seeing yourself making progress and winning more games to help you stay motivated.
When you play online you will be in great company. Top grandmasters play blitz and rapid games online for fun and competitively. One of the best Blitz players today is GM Daniel Naroditsky.
When playing chess games online, the type of game you play is entirely up to you. You keep it friendly and play chess online with friends or make it competitive and play in online tournaments.
One of the advantages of playing online chess is you can play with your friends who are far away from you and make new friends to play more chess games online.
Here is GM Naroditsky playing high level online chess and explaining every move he makes:
Six Super Websites to Play Chess Online
These six top-of-the-line websites are the best places to start playing chess online:
- Internet Chess Club (aka. ICC)
- Free Internet Chess Server (aka FICS)
You need to pay to become a member at ICC, but they offer a free month trial to help you decide if you enjoy playing chess games online. All the other websites on this list allow you to continue playing with a free account.
Here is a game to remind you even the best players have bad games at times. Nepomniatchi is challenging Carlsen for the World Chess Championship this year, yet he lost this game in 17 moves!
Viswanathan Anand – Ian Nepomniachtchi, 2020.05.07, 1-0, FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup, Round 5.1
Chess24 got started when GM Jan Gustafsson suggested the idea of a small chess video website to Enrique Guzman. In 2014 chess24 was launched with offices in Hamburg and Gibraltar.
Five years later, Play Magnus and chess24 joined together. Coincidentally, Play Magnus also launched in 2014.
Although chess24 has a premium membership option, you can open a free account and test the website before paying for a membership.
There are three time-controls to choose from – bullet, blitz, and classical (or rapid).
There is a lot of coverage of major chess tournaments with expert commentary and game analysis at chess24.com. Their articles about chess are freely accessible and they offer lots of opportunities for you to improve your game.
At chess.com, you can play bullet, blitz, rapid, and correspondence chess, become a member of chess clubs, enjoy tactics training and lessons with your free account.
The forums are a great way to get your chess questions answered by your peers and titled players. There are many blogs to help you learn more about different aspects of chess.
The large membership means you won’t have to wait long for a game no matter what type of chess you favor.
Because paid websites hold features back to entice people to buy a membership, the founder of Lichess wanted to create a website where everybody had equal access to all resources free of charge.
Unlike most other websites, your free account at Lichess does not subject you to ads. The website runs on donations from members, but these are entirely voluntary.
Thibault Duplessis started lichess.org back in 2010 as a hobby project. From humble beginnings, it has grown to the point where it hosts more than 1 million games a day.
Back in 2017, the first Lichess Titled Arena was won by World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. The competition included 118 titled players – 22 were grandmasters.
Quite an achievement for a website run entirely on donations and volunteers.
At liches.org you can play all formats of chess including bullet, blitz, rapid, classical, and correspondence games. There are blogs, forums, tactics trainer, practice lessons, and member-created studies to help you improve your game.
You will always be able to play chess online with your friends for free at lichess.org.
4) Internet Chess Club
The Internet Chess Club originated from a small community of chess players who started playing chess online back in the 1980s. Danny Sleator, a professor of computer science, discovered the community and helped them rewrite the software.
This led to an increase in the features offered on the website. In three years, the number of regular users rose from a few hundred to 10,000 regular users.
After your free 1 month trial, you will have to pay to continue as a member at ICC. If you are interested in playing in the US Chess Federation Tournaments, this is the website to join.
One of the most noticeable features of ICC is the USCF-rated tournaments. Apart from playing chess online take advantage of the learning center and chess videos to improve your game.
ICC offers excellent coverage of tournaments and the news feature will keep you up-to-date on what is happening in the chess world.
Unfortunately, if you want to play chess online for free you will need to find another website.
Playchess is a part of ChessBase and offers both free and paid membership options. Matthias Wüllenweber, Frederic Friedel, and chess trainer Gisbert Jacoby started the company thirty-five years ago.
The server for live games went online in 2001. This server also provides live coverage of chess tournaments with titled players offering commentary.
In order to play games at playchess.com, you need to register with chessbase.com. This allows you to work on your openings, middlegames, and endgames, and play online chess games in all of the most popular formats.
There are several courses available from titled players to ensure you break through any chess plateaus as quickly as possible.
6) FICS (Free Internet Chess Server)
Initially set up in response to ICC becoming a paid website, FICS offers you the option of downloading an interface software or playing at their website. You can play chess online for free at FICS.
There are interfaces for Windows, OS X, Linux, and Android. Babaschess is the most used interface but only runs on Windows, while Raptor runs on Windows, Linux, and OS X.
Activating your account requires entering the standard information (username, real name, and email) and then entering the activation code emailed to you in the Activation Form.
Fortunately, there is a convenient guide if you are new to FICS that will walk you through the process. There is also access to pages with the rules of chess if you are a complete beginner.
After you activate your account, you can download your interface of choice and play for free. A selection of major tournaments is relayed live during the year.
Six-Figure Prize Money Is Not Uncommon in Online Chess Tournaments
The popularity of online chess has grown so much a lot of online tournaments are attracting the very best chess players in the world. The next game is from the Magnus Carlsen International held in 2020 with $250 000 in prize money.
Anish Giri – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 2020.04.19, 0-1, Magnus Carlsen Invitational, Round 1.2
Frequently Asked Questions About Chess Online
Is playing chess online good for you?
Yes, playing chess online is good for you because it gives you the chance to try new openings and work on your middlegame and endgame techniques. You also get to test yourself against stronger players.
One of the best ways to learn how to play an opening is to play it in lots of games. Then you can analyze your games to understand what you remembered and what you might have forgotten.
There are plenty of websites where you can play chess online with friends for free to help you learn your openings and improve your game more.
What are the best chess online sites?
The best online chess sites for playing others are chess24.com, lichess, chess.com and chessbase.com.
How do you play chess online with other people?
Almost every online chess website will offer you a free account option with limited access to their features. However, lichess.org is entirely free and provides all members access to all the features.
Does playing chess online raise your IQ?
That depends on the type of games you choose to play. Bullet chess is more likely to increase your ability to use a mouse faster than it is to improve your thinking.
Rapid chess with the clock set to thirty minutes or more is the most likely to help you improve your concentration and thinking ability.
Is it easier to play chess online or in-person?
This depends entirely upon the person. There are different dynamics to consider. When you play online chess, you have greater control of your environment and can minimize disturbances.
For somebody with social anxiety playing online will be much easier than in a crowded hall.
Another factor to consider is the type of board you will play on. In-person games require a chessboard, and many online chess players have trouble adjusting to the 3D board.
An excellent way to help ensure you do not encounter this problem is to use a chessboard at home when studying openings and analyzing games.
Is chess the hardest game in the world?
No, chess is not the hardest game in the world to learn. In fact, chess is easy to learn but extremely challenging to master. The game “Go” is harder than chess.
Is there a free online chess game?
Yes, there is a free chess game. You can play for free on numerous websites. For example, chess.com, lichess.org, chess 24.com, and chessbase.com.
How can I learn chess for free?
Is online chess popular?
Online chess is extremely popular among players of all levels, from beginner through to titled players. In fact, chess.com regularly has a “Titled Tuesday” competition where you must be a titled player to participate.
Online chess tournaments continue to provide proof of how popular online chess has become. In the Opera Euro Rapid 2021, Magnus Carlsen received $30 000 for winning the tournament. Other notable online tournaments in 2021 included the five-event Grand Chess Tour, the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, and the Hastings All-Play-All.
Be sure to check your favorite online chess website for the opportunity to watch these tournaments live. Most of the major tournaments are streamed live by chess websites.
Seven Prime Resources to Learn Chess Online
Learning and playing chess online with friends is lots of fun. You can go at your own pace and structure your training to fit in with your schedule.
Here are seven first-class resources to help you take your chess skills to the next level:
GM Sam Shankland was the 2018 US Champion and a mainstay on the US Olympic team. You are sure to pick up a few tips from watching him play, whether it’s at the board or online chess.
Your number one resource for exceptional chess training. There are thousands of high-quality chess training videos, Chessable products, and an extensive selection of books covering every aspect of chess.
There are videos devoted exclusively to openings (the Deep Dive series gives you opening coaching by GM Damian Lemos), others to improve your middlegame play (Empire Chess and Master Method courses), and endgame play (the Endgame Renaissance series has you covered no matter what your playing strength).
Along with the lowest price guarantee, you can save even more by becoming a member of the iChess Club. Depending on the membership you choose, you can get 25% to 60% off the regular prices plus an additional 5% off video courses on sale.
Club Membership also gives you access to exclusive videos, allowing you to learn about an opening and test it in chess games online before buying a course.
After upgrading your account to the Premium account, you get full access to the video library and eBooks.
The videos are made by titled players and cover openings, middlegames, and endgames. There are also general interest videos like “The 50 Greatest Chess Players of All Time” and “Highlights of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge,” which provide opportunities to learn from the best chess players of the present and past.
Of course, one of the best ways to improve your chess is to analyze your games. Your Premium membership gives you access to a robust cloud engine and a vast database of chess games.
Thanks to an opening tree with expandable and sortable tabs, you can gradually expand your opening repertoire. This allows your repertoire to grow as you improve your chess skills online.
You are welcome to stick with a free account. Then playing online chess with friends won’t cost any of you a penny.
When upgrading your account, chess.com offers you three options – gold, platinum, and diamond membership. This allows you to match your membership with your schedule and level of chess.
The gold membership allows you 25 puzzles per day and 5 Puzzle Rush and Puzzle Battle daily. The other two memberships allow you an unlimited number of puzzles daily.
Gold members also have restrictions on the lessons with unlimited access to “New to Chess” and “Beginner Lessons,” but only 3 lessons per week from other sections. Platinum members get an extra two lessons per week from the other sections. In contrast, Gold members have unlimited access to lessons and videos.
The good thing about these three tiers of membership is that you can upgrade as your chess improves or free up more time. You don’t need to pay more for features you don’t use.
Your paid membership also gets you access to a cloud engine, a database, and video lessons.
As with chess24.com, you can keep playing chess online free with your friends at chess.com.
This is not your usual website where you can play games while you learn chess online. Chessable is devoted solely to offering you training through a variety of courses.
Although you have to purchase the courses, a cheaper video-free option, and there are numerous free courses.
There is a strong scientific element behind the training, which uses the dopamine effect to increase the effectiveness of learning chess online.
Another training feature is spaced repetition and scheduling based on the moves you get correct and the ones you get wrong. Moves you get wrong will show up more frequently in your training than the ones you get right.
There are many more features for you to explore, and you can test the method with one of the free courses.
Learning, along with playing chess online, at lichess is free. You get unlimited access to the tactics trainer, a powerful cloud engine to analyze your games, and member-created chess studies.
Where other websites like chess.com limit the number of tactics puzzles you can solve daily, Lichess has no restrictions. This makes it a great option if you want to take your tactics training seriously.
The extensive collection of studies covers all aspects of chess. Some are created by regular chess players, but you will also find many studies created by titled players.
You can make further use of the wisdom these titled players possess by posting questions in the forums. Somebody is sure to point you in the right direction or provide you with the missing bit of information you need.
Because all features are available to all users, there is no need for a paid membership option. You will always be able to play online chess free at lichess.org without fear of missing out on vital features.
If circumstances allow, you can donate towards the upkeep of the website and become a patron.
Two of the main features which draw people to Chesstempo are the tactics trainer and guess the move games.
Chesstempo offers both correspondence and live games. The free account gets you two endgame studies, and two guess the move games.
As with chess.com, there are three tiers of membership – silver, gold, and diamond. Silver is the only level that restricts the number of endgame studies you can do daily (20).
Gold and Diamond membership offers spaced repetition learning of chess openings. The number of positions in your opening repertoire increases with each tier from 20000 (Free), 25000 (Silver), 40000 (Gold), and 60000 (Platinum).
Aimchess.com is a more personalized online chess improvement website. The website analyzes your online games and creates personalized tactical puzzles for you to solve.
Their assessment of your games is based on the following six factors: opening performance, time management, resourcefulness, tactics, endgame, and advantage capitalization.
You can get a free report of your online chess games from other websites like chess.com, lichess.org, and chess24.com if you register with aimchess.com.
This website is dedicated to chess training rather than playing online chess games.
More Top Quality Online Chess Tournament Play
The Sharjah World Stars Tournament was won by Mamedyarov who collected $3000 in prize money. He finished unbeaten in the 10+3 online tournament.
Here is his victory against second-place finisher Harikrishna.
Pentala Harikrishna – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 2020.06.12, 0-1, World Stars Sharjah Online International, Round 3
Final Thoughts About Chess Online
Online chess is an excellent way for you to improve your chess skills. The good news is most of the websites offer a free account for you to use to test the waters.
Chess courses and eBooks are now more readily available and affordable, making it a lot easier to learn chess online.
The advantage of a chess course is you can pause it or return to it as often as you need without incurring any additional expenses. As your chess skills improve, you will find yourself learning more about the chess training courses you purchased.
Follow the advice of GM Simon Williams and remember to have fun while playing online chess. A good way to ensure you have fun is to play online chess with your friends.
Become a fearsome opponent online with help from GM Daniel Naroditsky. In his exceptional Master Method course, GM Naroditsky covers all three aspects of your chess game.
From the opening, through the middlegame, and into the endgame there many practical tips you can implement right away. All the essential elements you must master to get better at chess are covered in-depth.
There are 15 hours of grandmaster chess training for you to enjoy at 50% Off! with Instant Access to the Naroditsky Method by GM Daniel Naroditsky.