Anyone out there using the Chess-With-Friends app? It’s pretty basic. Not exactly an exciting app. It servers the purpose – but native resolution on the iPad would be nice – the 2x magnification on the iPad looks pixelated, and the layout looks like waste of space. The board colors seem monotonous. It would be nice to select different board colors every once in a while. I’ve been waiting on a Chess-With-Friends update for quite a long time now.
News Flash! It’s not coming!
Want a breath of fresh air? May I recommend the Chess.com app? Here’s some iPhone screen shots of come of the hundreds of available board styles, or “themes”.
Themes can be highly customized. There are four selections that make up a theme: pieces styles, board colors, backgrounds, and sounds. Most themes are prebuilt with matching elements – but you can select the board color from one, with the background of another, etc – to create your own combination. Once a theme is chosen, it becomes part of the user’s environment. Just sign in, and you’re immediately greeted with webpages, and/or an app environment that reflects your theme. All games, lessons, tutorials, etc … will use that theme.
Now, if you’re like me, you may be reluctant to creating an account. My first thought was: This app looks too serious! I’m going to get stomped by anyone playing here. But the attractive boards caused me to give it a try anyway. And, I’m glad I did. Those initial fears have been relieved. I can assure you – you can feel at home whether you’re just getting started learning how the pieces move, or whether you’ve been into serious tournaments for years!
In the app, (and, on the web site), there are lessons in the form or exercises, videos, and web-tutorials. These fall into basic, intermediate, and advanced categories. No matter where you’re at, your skills are bound to improve. Play a few tutorials and strategy exercises, and you’ll get a rough rating assigned to you. That’s actually a good thing. When you are paired off for game challenges, you’ll be playing against those with similar ratings. (Chess is most fun when you’re evenly matched and anyone can win the game.) The more games you play, and exercises you participate in, the more accurate your rating will become.
Another feature I like: During game play, you can break out from the game into a scratch board. The scratch board hold the complete history of that game, but t’s opened at the current state. You can run through various move combinations in turn by turn as far as you like, back up, change things, as much as you want – before closing down the scratch board and returning to the game. Scratch boards are available for the turn-by-turn games.
There are lots of ways to play a game, but they all fall into two basic forms:
- Timed bullet play, means players sign up for 10, 20, or 30 minutes total time – the games are played in one session. There’s no need to hit a Submit button, once you move a piece, your opponent’s board is updated, and it’s his move. Pretty realistic for tournament style play.
- Turn-by-turn play is typical for me. Games can be initialized with a maximum of 3 or 5 days per move.
One of my favorite features is the ability to analyze game play. Once a game is over, it can be analyzed, move-by-move. Each move is given a rating of Excellent, Good, Inaccurate (with a rating of the degree of inaccuracy), and blunders. Often, at different stages of the game, the analysis will consists of “A better move would have been ____, followed by several moves following that better move. Tap on any move in the analysis and the board will reflect that point in the game; from there you can used the VCR-like controls at the bottom to follow advance through moves.
I could go on and on with other benefits of creating an account. For example, I’ve never learned openings before. But there are so many explorer tools and videos to do exactly that. You don’t have to use all these features. But, since they’re there – you might be encouraged to give them a try one day. 🙂
Of course the site makes money by offering advanced features for paying customers, but you certainly don’t have to pay anything to enjoy most of the features described here.
If you do decide to download the app, and give it a try over a game – my username is “richiwalt”. Hope you try it out.