But of course, playing chess online has its drawbacks. I’d like to look at a few of them in this article. Let’s go!
- Cheating. I would have to call cheating the top annoyance when it comes to online chess, especially for long games. A good, honest player might put in an hour or more of his or her time trying his hardest, never realizing some kid is duping him or her with Houdini. Cheating is a huge problem online.
- Bad habits. When we sign on to our favorite chess server, it’s very enticing just to seek a bullet or fast blitz game because of the ease. But if you are serious about your chess and play or plan to play in real tourneys, I suggest 15/10 or longer (fifteen minute game with ten seconds added per move).
- Ability to play anyone. This seems like a benefit, but sometimes it’s not. If your online strength is around 1700, you can ‘pad’ that rating by playing lower rated players, but you won’t learn anything. Also, your rating will never truly climb. It will take a good number of games to gain twenty points if you only play lower rated people, but when you meet up with the aforementioned kid using Houdini, he’ll steal thirty from you and your rating will just tread water.
- Discourages OTB chess. OTB (over the board) chess really is fun and rewarding, whether at the local club or a huge rated tournament. But why would we travel to play with real people when signing onto a chess site from home takes mere seconds and costs no gas?
- Lag. To put it bluntly, lag sucks. Lag is when an internet connection slows down due to latency. If you play online chess regularly, then you are familiar with the phenomenon. We can experience it, our opponents can experience it, even the chess servers themselves can experience lag. Sometimes, lag results in an accidentally disconnection and, if in the middle of a good game, can be very, very annoying. If you are a member of a site like ICC or FICS, type /help lag next time you are on. Annoying, I tell ya.
- No pain, no gain. This kind of goes with the ‘bad habits’ part, but I thought it warranted its own section. Because online chess encourages fast games, the losses don’t hurt so badly. A blitz or bullet player just seeks again after a game and starts afresh. Someone who plays slow games, though, such as a Team 45/45 League player, goes on a roller coaster of emotions throughout a chess game. The wins feel really good and the losses hurt terribly. Please, if you play online chess, consider a slow game now and again; you’ll be glad you did.
- No internet, no chess. This especially goes for people living in rural areas. If we have an internet or power outage for whatever reason, online chess goes away. Or maybe the PC is down for the count due to a virus or hardware malfunction. This may seem like a trivial issue, but if you’ve ever been in the mood for a game and gotten the No Connection Available message, you know how irritating it can be.
- Rude/vicious players. The anonymity of the internet gives a lot of people license to be nasty. If you play regularly online, expect insults and accusations of all kinds. I have personally been accused of cheating and told my mother was a whore after games, and just about everything in between. I don’t have a hot temper when it comes to this type thing, so I just return their comments with a smiley emoticon and move on. Why bust a blood vessel over some kid in India who has learned a few insults in badly broken English?
- Distractions. I probably should have put this higher on the list. Distractions can, will, and do affect your chess. Someone knocks on the door, the television is on, the kids are crying, the phone rings, we are surfing other sites between moves, etcetera. These distractions are simply not there at a live chess tournament.
I’m sure there are a hundred more drawbacks to online chess, but these are a few I feel are important. If you are new to online chess, do your research and get to know the site you are on very, very well. You can never have too much knowledge.
Just remember to keep a cool head and expect just about anything when playing chess online. As an experienced senior administrator, I have seen it all come and go. There’s nothing new under the sun, as they say.
Good luck and good games to you!