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.

ChessBase 15 - Mega package ChessBase 15 - Mega package

Find the right combination! ChessBase 15 program + new Mega Database 2019 with 7.6 million games and more than 70,000 master analyses. Plus ChessBase Magazine (DVD + magazine) and CB Premium membership for 1 year!


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.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


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psamant psamant 9/21/2016 08:20
Happy birthday! I have been a player since early days of Chessbase (in 2002) and have been the owner of Fritz7 and Fritz13. Happy to say that Chessbase has maintained its high standards and improved over time. I have never felt the need to look at other chess sites as there are always players available on Chessbase.
uchebi uchebi 9/21/2016 04:50
Happy birthday chessbase.
tabula rasa tabula rasa 9/21/2016 12:08
Happy Birthday CB ! Thank you for this beautiful CHESSPOINT .
Rebse Rebse 9/20/2016 10:34
Congratulations !
But "Fritz 6 was the first program with an integrated "server client" " is wrong, it was Fritz 7 !
Using Fritz from version 1, i joined 04.10.2001 and still play sometimes.
HelenaBL HelenaBL 9/20/2016 06:39
Happy Birthday for Chess site No. 1 !
Nltmsc Nltmsc 9/20/2016 05:22
Happy Birthday!
HenryKissinger HenryKissinger 9/20/2016 02:54
Happy birthday Playchess. I joined in 2003 and have racked up about 40,000 games so far (admittedly helped by an unhealthy fixation with 0:1 for a couple of years). According to my reckoning if those games were played end-to-end non-stop that would be 85 days straight!
sicilian_D sicilian_D 9/20/2016 02:54
Happy Birthday chessbase! thank you for having a good website!
soimulPatriei soimulPatriei 9/20/2016 01:10
Happy birthday chessbase.com! Chessbase.com was the first serious server I have played chess 13 years ago. I wish you the best of luck.