A Look at How the History of Online Chess Began

For some people, the action starts and end on the basketball court. For others, it’s all about baseball and the excitement it brings. Meanwhile, there’s a good majority that enjoys a great game of online chess.

But people nowadays don’t have the time to go out and seek a game of chess with others. Heck, all of our time is mostly spent in front of a computer for work and leisure purposes. But the beauty of modern technology is you can play your favorite game of chess online.

chess with friends


What is Chess

But first of all, what is chess anyway? Well, chess is a strategy game played by two people. It uses a 8×8 grid game-board with 64 squares and it is played by millions of people all over the world.

A chess player has 16 pieces to use in defeating an opponent. These are: 8 pawns, 2 knights, 2 bishops, 2 rooks, a queen, and a king. All of these pieces have their own set of moves meant to capture the opponent’s pieces until he or she is defeated.

chess with friends

Now, that’s how the game of chess is basically played. But how about online chess? How did the history of online chess start?


How Did Online Chess Start Out

It all started when two guys from the University of Utah, Michael Moore and Richard Nash, decided they want to play chess with people far from their area. They solved that problem by creating the Internet Chess Server, or ICS, on January 15, 1992.

As it stands, the ICS was the first big thing in the history of online chess.

At first, playing chess through this server was a problematic experience. We kid you not because you have to wait for a long time before a move was transmitted to your opponent. It was that bad folks.

Just imagine, you decide to open up the game with Queen’s Gambit. There you are, waiting for the slow connection those days to transmit your move. Chances are, you could have finished an entire meal before your opponent makes their move.


It was 1992

Although it has its fair share of problems, the ICS was still a hit for small group of chess players. Now mind you, this was 1992 and computers connected to the internet was a luxury most people cannot afford. And yet, this was how the history of online chess was born.

After quite some time, the people who managed ICS added important features to make the game more stable. One of these additions was graphic support. With this simple feature, the game was smoother to play with a reduced amount of lag.

When 1992 was about to end, Daniel Sleator become the man in charge of ICS. In two year’s time, he did all he can to eliminate network lag after so many players complained the heck about it. 1994 came around and he copyrighted the code on which ICS was based upon.



Once it was copyrighted, Sleator had all of this offers from companies to commercialize ICS. But there was just one problem about that. There were some people contesting his right to the ICS’ code and they don’t want the guy to get all the glory.

After a little more than a year, Sleator decided to commercialize ICS and cash in on the potential money he’ll earn. Let’s not forget this guy didn’t invent the first portal for online chess. He just made improvements to it.

He also made the move to change the name from Internet Chess Server to Internet Chess Club, or ICC. And get this, he also went ahead and charged people $49 dollars a year for membership. Now, that’s downright savage folks.

Of course, this plan did not go well among existing chess players who used the ICS. Most of these people went the extra mile to improve the game. All of a sudden, the server’s manager pulls the rug on them and charges them money for their favorite game.

chess board


Free Internet Chess Server

Isn’t that a douchebag move folks? Well, Chris Petroff thought of the same thing. In retaliation, he created and launched the Free Internet Chess Server on March 3, 1995.

Through this server, chess enthusiasts all over the globe can enjoy the game without the hassles of paying for an annual fee. FICS users has free and unrestricted access, as opposed to how things are managed in ICC.

Meanwhile, John Fanning also formed an online chess portal called chess.net to challenge ICC and FICS. These three are still available for chess players today.

10 years ago, 2007, the ICC acquired the World Chess Network and merged it with one of their own servers, Chess Live. Once the system was fully integrated, ICC named it World Chess Live, where chess enthusiast hone their skills online.

With the widespread rise of the internet, chess has become readily available to everyone. This availability has spread outside of official online chess servers. You can search around and you’ll find one in no time at all.

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