Playchess on Android review

by Albert Silver
9/5/2012 – Although it has been some time in the coming, and was direly missed by many smartphone and tablet owners, the wait is over and the mobile Playchess client for Android is out! Above all, the app is free for download and use, so don’t even wait to finish reading this review, by all means download and get it now. To find out more though, read the review by Albert Silver.

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Playchess on Android review

By Albert Silver

Although it has been some time in the coming, and was direly missed by many smartphone and tablet owners, the wait is over and the mobile Playchess client for Android is out! Above all, the app is free for download and use, so don’t even wait to finish reading this review, by all means download and get it now.

The good news is that even though this is ChessBase’s first version of the client, meaning one would expect some minor rough edges at first, all the essentials are there and covered in the spades. It allows subscribers and guests to access and view the games in the broadcast room, so you can follow all the current Chess Olympiad madness anywhere you go and not miss a move of your local heroes. It also allows you to play online at all time controls with the usual amenities such as pre-move, chat, and more. Though for this particular aspect, since it sends you to the main playing hall only, you will need to be a subscriber. Now that the introductions have been made, let’s see what it has to offer.

The first thing is to go to the Google Play app store and search for playchess.com.


Just download and install it, and then open it

Tip: if you would like to add an icon to one of the phone or tablet's screens for easy access, press on an empty space of the screen for a few seconds and a menu will appear. Select App (or Application) find the Playchess program, and select it. You can also move the icon around by clicking on it for a few seconds and then dragging it to another point of the screen.


The mobile Playchess splash screen


When you first open it this is the menu screen you will be presented with


When first entering the Broadcast area, you will see a list of all the games currently
running. The red exclamation points are the 'important' games, the black ones are
normal, and the halftone are finished games.If you long-click on a game a submenu
with further options will open.


After opening a game to observe you may wish to save the game
or chat with other observers. Click on the machine's menu button.
Although you can save the game manually, the program will
automatically save all games watched and played.


The chat window, separate from the board, is easy to read, easier even than the desktop
version, and shows the pictures for each player (provided you added one to your account profile.
Note that the picture can be taken using your phone or tablet's own camera.


Playing a game is extremely easy on the Playchess client and
one can filter the game type (bullet, blitz, or standard) using the
buttons, or filter the conditions with the formula button.

Tip: Before starting, enter the Settings and enable to auto-queen feature if you play bullet or blitz. Promoting a pawn is usually something that happens late in the game, and the last thing you want is to have the program ask you what you want to promote to when you only have seconds left on the clock.

Also, for speedy play, the program allows you to use the pre-move option, meaning you enter a move in advance, which will be played instantly after your opponents play provided it is a legal move.

Again, the games played are all stored in a PGN file on your phone or tablet for perusing with a reader such as the ChessBase Online for Android app.


The account button allows the standard account settings, whether to create a new one,
renew or update your subscription, or change your personal information. Even details
such as graphs of your playing stats are available.

While Playchess for Android is still a work in progress, it provides the most important essentials such as playing games, saving them, and of course, viewing the live broadcasts, which is great fun. It does not support multimedia yet though, so following GM Danny King's live commentary on the Istanbul Chess Olympiads is not possible, but no crystal ball is needed to know this will appear soon enough. If the ChessBase Online for Android app is any indication, one can expect major updates in the months to come with added features and finetuning. That said, the Playchess app is free and available now and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

You can find the Playchess.com app at this link


Topics Android, PlayChess

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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alnoth alnoth 7/24/2014 01:14
i have been wondering about this app... i use it, with mixed feelings.

overall its good, smooth play at lower speeds, clear enough interface. but i would not recommend it for bullet play.

heres my issues with bullet on this app:

- you can only pre-move 1 move
- you can only pre-move a move to an empty square (meaning you cannot pre-move recaptures for example, which is the bread and butter of bullet play)
- sometimes it does not register your move (you have to input the move repeatedly more times)

...which means, you lose most of time scrambles
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