Chess Online Over the Internet
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has affected all aspects of life. Chess is no exception. 10 years ago, it was hard to imagine millions of people playing chess online. And yet, it’s exactly the way things are today.
The leading platforms, such as Lichess, Chess.com, and Chess 24 were quick to catch on. The number of tournaments has grown tremendously as a result. By the way, Chess 24 got bought out by a company owned in part by the current world champion Magnus Carlsen.
Of course, online chess has existed for a while. But world-class players have only embraced it in 2020. For mere enthusiasts, this is a welcome development.
Some have even changed their career paths. Hikaru Nakamura considers himself the greatest chess streamer, not a player in the traditional sense.
These days, anyone can face a grandmaster without leaving their house. However, achieving victory requires knowing the inner workings and distinctive characteristics of online chess. This article aims to shed some light on the subject.
Let’s begin by describing the typical online chess tournament formats. The Swiss system is a classic example. The participants play the same number of games and only face the same opponent once. They receive one point for victories, one-half a point for draws, and zero for defeats.
The Arena format – is a completely different world, compared to offline events. Firstly, there are no rounds to speak of. As soon as one game ends, another begins right away. The more games a person plays, the higher their chances of winning the tournament. A victory is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a defeat is 0.
How to Earn More Points?
After winning 2 or more times, each consecutive game deems twice the points. There is also a ‘go berserk’ option, inspired by the legendary warriors.
In short, streaks grant 4 points for a victory and 2 for a draw. With that in mind, the optimal scenario would be winning a streak in berserk mode. In that case, the victor gets 5 points. So what’s the catch? By going berserk, they sacrifice half of their overall clock time. With a 1+0 time increment, the berserk approach leaves only 30 seconds to spare.
When to activate the berserk mode?
The streak ends with a defeat, so it’s best to proceed with caution. Going berserk is usually a good idea when the opposing side is definitely outmatched. It may also be warranted when the tournament enters its final stages. Some go that route to take a higher spot in the rankings.
Imagine a heated battle over the Internet. There are only a few seconds left. In this case, it’s extremely difficult to secure victory without a timely premove. Essentially, it’s a move scheduled ahead of time during the enemy’s turn. It will be executed automatically as soon as the rival makes up their mind.
The advantage lies in the fact that on Lichess such a turn occurs instantaneously. It takes no precious time away, which is crucial in a pinch. The downside is the possibility of miscalculating the foe’s plans and losing immediately.
A premove only makes sense when there’s no doubt about the opponent’s next action. For example, when they are about to capture a piece. Alternatively, use it as a last resort to try and win under a time constraint.
The Devil’s in the Details
For a positive experience, a comfortable mouse and a fast internet connection are a requirement. Nothing is more disheartening than getting disconnected in the middle of an important match. Especially so, when success is almost a certainty. Additionally, the board shouldn’t look too big. Aim for 10 to 20 cm or 4 to 8 inches.
How often would someone decide not to queen a pawn upon reaching the promotion square? The chances of that are minuscule. Hence, it’s only logical to enable automatic queening in the settings. This simple step could potentially save a couple of precious seconds at the decisive moment.
All of the above concerns the technical aspects of the game. But the strategic element is equally important. In blitz and bullet (1-2 minutes per game) chess, strive to perplex the opponent. Force them to stop and scratch their head, and hopefully run out of time.
Only use the most familiar and well-studied patterns. Alternatively, favor unusual openings that waste the opponent’s time. Attack the enemy king. For instance, the King’s Indian Defense is very beneficial for Black. Whites tend to have trouble figuring out an appropriate defense when time is running out.
Practice Makes Perfect
Visit various websites that offer aiming exercises for gamers. This type of practice significantly improves mouse and cursor accuracy. Moreover, speed and reaction times will also increase.
Keep in mind that playing chess online is first and foremost an amusing pastime. Don’t get too hung up on failures. There can be no triumph without defeat.