A pleasant surprise
Nearly a year ago, I said that I still preferred to play on the paid Internet Chess Club (ICC) because of the consistent good level of professional competition. I knew that GMs, IMs, and other strong players used Lichess, but I wondered if the site was merely had some really strong players, and a bunch of weak opponents for players like me in the 2000-2200 range.
I was also concerned about opponents on free sites not always … shall we say … playing fairly.
Well, I have now regularly used Lichess for the past few months, and must admit to being converted. In fact, I rarely log into ICC any longer.
There are many features I have not felt a need to try yet, but I can recommend playing and solving puzzles on the site. I haven’t yet had the thought that my opponents are dishonest, and the puzzles are typically quite good.
I also recommend it as a platform for (virtual) classroom tournaments. In my opinion it is far superior to ChessKid.
I’m ready to proclaim something I never thought I would: after all these years, I don’t think I will renew my Internet Chess Club membership when it next runs out, and I’ll stick to Lichess.
One thing ICC does still have going for it: official online tournaments. They do them very well! There’s a reason the recent NYS Girls was held on iCC, the City Champs will be held there, and the Continental Chess Association has been holding online events there for several months.
ChessKid is a wonderful concept, but needs a lot of improvement before it reaches the level of ICC, Lichess, or even its parent chess.com. Their issues for me are mainly about ease of use for children in getting a game, and flexibility for coaches in setting up and adjusting tournaments.
I hope its developers continues to work, because it has promise. The more good chess sites, the better for the long-term growth and health of chess.