Brief introduction to chess on the internet

As I mentioned before, we do have a WHCF online at now, although there’s not much interest yet. Of course, the internet is a chess playground, so for those who are new to the online chess environment, here is a little information that you may find helpful. has quite a lot going for it. The main thing is that it is completely free and does not have any premium features requiring you to pay extra. Everybody gets everything free. You can donate to them (become a patron), but you don’t get anything extra for it. There are lots of teams you can join. Probably the most useful for you are ‘English Chess Players’ which is the ECF team, and ‘chess England’ which is the team organised by Adam Raoof (London’s most active chess organiser and a FIDE International Arbiter). Events like tournaments are organised by the lichess platform, and specifically within the teams (Adam is running this week’s Hampstead chess congress in his lichess team space). You can play chess any time of day or night. You do not need to enter a tournament, you just start a game.

Since lichess is completely free it is very popular, and it has been struggling a little over the last few days with the load on its servers.

If you have not found the other major places to go to play chess or learn about chess on the internet, then here’s a start. 

The Internet Chess Club is the original place that chess was played on the internet. I’ve been playing there for maybe 20 years (can’t remember). You can play for free as a guest, but it is basically behind a paywall. So it costs something like £40 a year (charged in dollars). 

Chess24 is a great place to watch major tournaments when they are on. They have a lot of free stuff, including live videos from major tournaments with grandmaster commentary. Frankly I think this is amazing - people who like to watch football have to pay a fortune to get live TV coverage of major events, chess players get it free! Chess24 have a lot of stuff behind a paywall too. seems to be the biggest on the internet at the moment. Again, they have free stuff, play for free, etc. And they also have stuff behind a paywall. 

Also I sometimes look at but that is only showing games from top tournaments, without commentary. You cannot play there. It is pretty basic.

You will also find sites hosted by well-known chess players and trainers. Often these have useful free educational material, and then you pay a fee to gain access to in-depth training materials. Two examples of this kind of thing are GM Nigel Davies and IM Cristof Sielecki Nigel’s site is interesting and comprehensive, while Cristof’s is basic and more of an advertising space for his books etc. 

Although I said that most chess played on the internet is fast, there are still plenty of people who want to play slow games. Lichess offers a correspondence option, for example. If you want to play correspondence really seriously then you can join events through the British Correspondence Chess Association ( or the International Correspondence Chess Federation ( There are also some clubs at lichess for players who prefer slow time controls, say game in 30 minutes or more. 

In regular correspondence play, which happens through the ICCF server at, it is entirely legal to use computers and databases. (I don’t know about lichess correspondence play.)

In normal play on the internet it is illegal (cheating) to use computers unless you are explicitly flagged as a computer user. 

If you become really keen there are loads of people posting chess videos at youtube and streaming at


What to do when your opponent announces mate in 73

Here’s a fairly amusing chess story to possibly entertain you.

Has your opponent ever announced “mate in 73”? Well, supposing they did, do you think you would reply “yes, I agree, great game, well played!”

It happened to me last month.

Of course we are talking correspondence chess here. I was playing for “Herts & Minds” (Hertfordshire) in the States and Regions Correspondence Chess Championship, Division 2. 

The event cross-table is here:

And you can replay the game here

Remember this is correspondence chess and both players are using computer engines and databases. So no blunders. But it does answer the question that a lot of people ask - how can you win/lose a correspondence game, when you have a computer engine to help you out? The answer is, basically, very long-term strategic weaknesses that the engine may evaluate as a tiny disadvantage, but the exploitation of the advantage is so far outside the engine’s horizon that it tells you that the position is “equal” or nearly so. 

However, your engine will not tell you that the final position, after 96 moves, is “mate in 73”. Because that is outside the engine’s horizon, too. 

But the International Correspondence Chess Federation uses “table bases”, for positions with up to 7 pieces on the board. In simple terms, this means that chess has been “solved” for up to 7 pieces. You can look up the best moves in a table. And the table says that, in the final position, with perfect play by both sides, it is mate in 73. Once an ICCF game gets down to 7 pieces, the players can simply pack up and go home, and record the result that the table base tells them is inevitable.

Club activities suspended

17th March 2020

Dear WHCF members,

David and I have decided that given the given the present circumstances the Welwyn Hatfield Chess Forum should suspend all activities until further notice.

Our constitution does not have any specific guidance for these circumstances, and calling an extraordinary general meeting is clearly not an option. However, we believe common sense dictates that the WHCF should cease all activities until we hear advice from the relevant authorities that normal social contact can be resumed.

Best wishes,


Chairman, WHCF

Coronavirus and chess

Coronavirus and chess

11/03/20 Message sent to Club Secretaries
As you will be aware, a significant proportion of our players are over 50 or 65. That, combined with the close proximity between players in a classical game strongly suggests to me that the chess community needs to take special care to minimise the risk of this virus spreading through chess activity. 
Naturally we should follow government advice and I refer you here to the ECF website,, which in turn contains information and links. 
However the following measures are particularly relevant to us and are likely to be updated if, as anticipated, the virus spreads. 
• NO HANDSHAKING! Use a elbow bump, fist bump, slight bow, etc.
• If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable TISSUE. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow could contain infectious virus that can be passed on.
• If you have a persistent cough, as opposed to the occasional one we all can exhibit, then perhaps you shouldn’t be out playing chess at all.
• If any player develops any virus symptoms then please keep the HCA Secretary informed.
• Remember, the virus spreads either through your nose, mouth or eyes via your hands, or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose, mouth or eyes.
• If a club does not want to play a match because of their perception of the risk, then please respect their wishes and advise the League Secretary.
• The HCA meeting on Friday 27th March, if not before, will discuss the implications of the likely interruption of our competitions.
• will endeavour to display any information about the impact of the virus on HCA chess activities.
At the moment there is no reason to suggest matches currently scheduled should be abandoned. 
Please be proactive in deciding what is appropriate for your club.
Alan Brewis

4NCL Round 7

  Welwyn Hatfield were placed 16th out of 68 teams in Div 6 of the 4NCL Online season 2.