Re: places to play chess online
Traveled around with a few sites, thought I might give some feedback of the ones I've tried.
1. Internet Chess Club: One of my personal favorites, but it costs money so I no longer play there. It has players of all strengths pretty much whenever you want. The best part is the entertainment value. Who doesn't want to watch Naka and other top GMs duke it out in blitz? Chess.Fm and the live coverage commentary are amazing entertainment as well. There are also teachers you can hire to teach you, which is a nice bonus. The events are pretty awesome too but the old awesome simul givers are getting fewer. Honestly however, most of the resources on ICC can be compiled elsewhere for free, so use judgement whether or not you want to pay. This is really only for live chess, correspondence doesn't work well.
2. Free Internet Chess Server: Again, for live chess. When it comes to free, this is my go to website. It is very similar to ICC in its formatting. While it lacks events, the play there is almost identical to the play on ICC. It may take a little longer to find a game, but there are fairly strong players that play there. You won't get the same entertainment value as ICC however since there are no GMs playing blitz all day and there are fewer events. For standard enthusiasts, you'll be happy to know there ST Bunch is also on FICS as well as ICC!
3. Chess.com: This is probably the best website for correspondence chess. Lots of players and lots of features. I use the live chess as well and while I do prefer FICS because it fits my style more, Chess.com offers a perfect place to play online without download. There are lots of players there too and the occasional master. I've heard rumors about no cheater regulation, but I haven't noticed any huge problem yet. The other features make it superior to many other sites. If you pay for diamond membership, you get access to AMAZING instructional videos from top players (almost as good as chessvideos.tv
4. Chess Cube: It's a great site for live chess. Again there is no download necessary and there are plenty of players, some fairly strong, but it seems like the peak strength is a bit weaker than on some of the other sites. The overall usage is very simple and intuitive, but the ads and point system game limit requirements are annoying. It uses a currency and asks you to pay for full membership a lot.
5. ChessManiac: A nice free site for correspondence. The live chess isn't great, but the correspondence and team matches are great. There are lots of features and friendly players willing to help, making a nice atmosphere. There are fewer players and there are cheaters though. There aren't too many masters around either.
1. Chesshere: I think there was a game limit....don't remember exactly.
2. GameKnot: I just never picked it up much. I can't really give it a fair evaluation. It's all correspondence chess and there are limits to play.
The rest I probably haven't tried. Hope this helps somebody