Guess who came to the party

9/19/2004 – This week Playchess.com celebrated it third birthday. It is the fastest-growing chess server in the world, with over 100,000 registered accounts and 120,000 games played per day. One of its most prominent proponents happened to be in Hamburg on its birthday. Between recording sessions Garry Kasparov took time off to play some internet chess...

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Now we are three

The Playchess server was first installed in September 2001. On the 14th of September that year the Fritz 7 client, which allowed you to actually use the server to play against remote opponents, was made available for download. The first users got the program and started playing (some, we feel, never logged out since then).

Now, three years later, Playchess has grown to one of the biggest chess servers in the world. Every day well over 100,000 games are played on it – which adds up to an incredible 50 million games per year. Over 100,000 accounts have been registered, hundreds of Grandmasters and titled players can be encountered in the main playing hall.

Playchess and its Fritz clients have some very unique functions. For instance it is the only server with an integrated high-quality Chess Media System, which allows chess teachers and lecturers to talk to a world-wide audience, while moving the pieces, drawing arrows, highlighting squares, etc.

These lectures can be broadcast live, and they can be made available "on demand". There are many "Radio ChessBase" shows available from the past which you can simply listen to on the server today. The archives "Watch the girls play on ChessBase TV" certainly belong to the most highly frequented on Playchess.


In the ChessBase TV archives: postgame interviews with the participants of the European Women's Championship in Dresden in March 2004.

Kasparov on Playchess

This week Garry Kasparov was in Hamburg – for two reasons. On the one hand, as chairman of the oppositional "Committee 2008" in Russia, Kasparov spoke to the Baltic Development Forum. On the other hand – and here we let you in on a well-guarded secret – he was there to record a second DVD for a new multimedia series that will become available later this year. In this series the 13th world champion, who has led every rating list for over seventeen years, uses the full power of the Fritz Chess Media System to teach chess enthusiasts the big openings systems of chess.


Preparing for a recoding session in the ChessBase Media Studio

The Queen's Gambit is already finished, last weekend we recorded part one of Kasparov's "How to play the Najdorf". As Daffy would say: dah-rool, dah-rool!


During the sessions Garry did his research using the latest ChessBase 9.0 beta

Two gruelling days of video shooting – what does the great communicator do to unwind between takes: (a) a brisk jog in the park; (b) calisthenics in the office corridor? (c) a quick snooze on the office couch? The correct answer is: wander across to a Playchess terminal and have a few games of blitz.


Okay, just a couple of games, then we can do the next sections of the DVD


The ChessBase staff watch in fascination, as Garry wins game after game: Ben Bartels, Rainer Woisin, André Schulz and Matthias Deutschman (the voice of the German Fritz).

For his games in the ChessBase office Garry "borrowed" an account from one of the staff members. He was challenged by regular opponents of that member, who were shocked to see how well he was playing. "My, you are certainly having a good day today," one of them commented.

In the above chart you can see what happened to the server rating of our staff member. He wishes to remain anonymous for fear that people would stop playing against him if they knew that they might sometimes be facing Garry Kasparov instead of their usual internet opponent.


Someone out there may recognise the position in which he was mysteriously crushed by an otherwise humble 2500 blitz player.


A mug of tea, a computer terminal and mouse – that's all a chess professional like Kasparov needs to unwind

Addendum

Apart from players like Nigel Short, Mickey Adams, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and others, who play with their full recognisable names, there are a number of mystery grandmasters whose identities are not clear. Naturally they have received the GM "King" symbol by identifying themselves to the Playchess staff, but for the general public they are simply "shy" grandmasters who for whatever reason do not want people to know who they are. Many are among the top 20 in the world, and some have reached the top of the Playchess ratings lists, leading to vigorous and wide-spread speculation. Everyone has his or her pet theory. We will disclose the identities of these players as soon as they permit us to, or give them handles with their full names.

Oh yes, Garry has a nick called "Garry Kasparov", which he uses for special events. Whether he has a second account he uses to play regular games on the Playchess server? Now that will have to be kept a secret.


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