Happy Birthday: 15 years of playchess.com!

by André Schulz
9/20/2016 – Today the ChessBase playchess.com server celebrates its 15th birthday. On 20th September 2001 the server went public and only minutes later the first chess fans wanted to play. Today, thousands of chess fans from all over the world play and train on the server, watch the many audio- and video-files, and follow top tournaments live. ChessBase and playchess made online chess incredibly comfortable! To celebrate, ChessBase has presents for its readers, customers and friends.

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15 years of playchess.com

Hard to believe, but today the playchess.com server celebrates its 15th birthday. 15 years ago, on 20th September 2001, after an internal test period, the server was opened to the public and only minutes later the first chess fans wanted to play online - as if they had queued at the virtual door.

For some players the new chess server proved to be irresistible. One day Garry Kasparov was in Hamburg to record a new DVD in the ChessBase studio but while recording, he again and again sneaked into the office where new server functions were "tested". He soon proposed moves of his own and it did not take long until he had the mouse firmly under control.

Garry Kasparov tests the possibilities of online play

World Champion chess on the playchess.com server

Some of the first server members are still active on the server, others who play regularly today were not yet born when the playchess.com server went online. Over the years the functions of the server were gradually refined and adapted to changing operating systems but the "face" of the playchess.com has always been the same.

Playing chess online has its own particular charme. One click on a button and seconds later - if you have to wait that long - you start a game against someone who might live next door, in the same city or far away on the other part of the globe.

Every red dot indicates a player and experienced playchess users
need only one glance on this map to know what time it is.
It is afternoon in Europe. In Asia most people went to sleep, in
America people slowly start to rise in the morning.

Fritz 7 was the first ChessBase program with an integrated "server client" that allowed you to play online. Therefore, the server was often called "Fritz server". Later the client program was a stand-alone program which users could download for free. A couple of years ago ChessBase developed "Apps" for Apple and Android smartphones allowing you to connect to the playchess.com server via iPhone, iPad and all devices running with Android.

Two years ago ChessBase developed a browser version of the playchess.com server. In fact, ChessBase created a whole new world of Apps, which allows registered premium members to play, to train and to simply enjoy chess and profit from all the advantages of the playchess.com server via the browser.

The playchess.com browser version

In the course of 15 years millions and millions of games have been played on the server. World Champions and top grandmasters played on the server, beginners and amateurs. One day a mining engineer who lived in Atacame in the Atacama desert in Northern Chile wrote that the playchess.com server would be his only opportunity to play chess because in the desert it was hard to find other players, not to mention a chess club.

Robert Schwarz also has a hard time to find opponents. After all, he works at the South Pole. But he uses his free time to play correspondence chess via the playchess.com server.

ChessBase sent Robert Schwarz Fritz software to the South Pole
and in return he gave readers an idea of his work environment.

Real chess fans are happy when they know they are seconds away from the next game.

Incidentally, Robert Schwarz is one of the 705 candidates for the mission to settle on Mars which is to start in 2025 with the flight of spaceship Mars ONE. A return flight is not planned yet - let's see how the internet and online chess will work on Mars.

We celebrate 15 years of playchess.com. As a birthday present today, and only today, you get the Premium Membership for 15% less! And all those who are already Premium Members automatically get one month membership extra - for free!

To be continued...

(Translation: Johannes Fischer)

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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