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Historic News Messages

Nothing is older than yesterday's news. But if you could not visit the site for a longer period, you might be interested in what happened during your absence.

Moving to new provider - December 8th 2000

Severe performance problems required the site to move to a new (more powerful) provider. The move succeded, but both providers "forgot" to notify me - and tell me the new IP address.

During the following break (about one week), I came to the conclusion that the "new" site should be much faster from the start - playchess needed a database.

Move notification emails - November 27th 2000

Another measure to improve the site performance:
The email notification level of all players has been reduced to "opponents' moves only". That means, you no longer receive your own moves by email. But if you really need these mails (to be sure that your move has been made), you may change this back at Settings -> Personal Data.

Running tournaments on player homepage - November 22th 2000

The tournament tables are no longer displayed on your player homepage.
Instead, there is a list of links to the corresponding tournament info pages. This saves download time and reduces the server load, hopefully leading to better response times for playches. For similar reasons, the lists of finished games are cut off. Only the last 10 games are shown now.

Portable Game Notation - November 14th 2000

The Portable Game Notation (PGN) of each game is now appended to the "game over" email at the end of the game.

Navigation between Games - November 13th 2000

Now, you may jump between all the games, where you are to move - without going to your player homepage. At the bottom of the move dialog of each game there is a little menu showing all the other games where you are to move. If you want to go to one of these games (before or after making a move), simply select the game and click on the "Go" button.

Running Games - October 31th 2000

Two improved features requested by several players in the PlayChess forum:

  • The running games on the player homepage are now ordered by time remaining
  • After making a move, the move dialog is replaced by a button leading to the next game where it's your turn to move. If no such game exists, a button leads to your player homepage.
Minor improvements: Incomplete moves now handled correctly (thanks, !), move list positioned on last move (IE only), different colors for success and error messages on the move dialog.

Site Search - October 10th 2000

You may now search the site (or the web) for anything you want.

Rabbit tournaments - October 3rd 2000

A faster type of tournament is now available: Fischer clock with 5+1 days for 7 players. These tournaments have a running rabbit on their tournament info page, the "classical" 10+2 tournaments are identified by a turtle.

New Layout - September 30th 2000
  • The font size for Internet Explorer is larger; it can be adjusted with the settings dialog of your browser.
  • Several changes for the Netscape browser should now improve the appearance.
  • The player and tournament directory offer improved features.
  • The winners of the "Game of the Month" election are published, now.

If any of these changes leads to problems on your system, please leave a note in our Forum. Please provide operating system and browser type.

Disappearing pawns - September 9th 2000

Due to a temporary error in the move algorithm, pawns may have disappeared from your games. Please check your games for missing pawns. If you find a game with a missing pawn, please send me an email with tournament and game number in the subject line, like

HCL-X012-1 white pawn on d4
This speeds up the correction time substantially.

Message Boards - August 24th 2000

There are new message boards. You may use these boards to announce your holidays for your opponents, make proposals for improving the site, ask for help or simply discuss general chess topics of any kind.

Move Notifications - August 19th 2000

You may now choose if you want to be notified by email of every move, or if you want notifications only about your opponent's moves. You might even stop move notifications completely - and check your player homepage yourself for any new moves.

Please go to Player Homepage -> Settings -> Personal Data and select your choice.

Move Messages - August 15th 2000

The messages to your opponent that may be entered with every move are now visible in the move dialog below the game board.

Modified Tournament Rules - August 10th 2000

The rules mentioned below have been corrected. See our help section for details.

New Tournament Rules - August 2nd 2000

There have been some cases of abuse of the PlayChess system. Silent withdrawal, games resigned after few opening moves, players using multiple accounts to achieve high ratings and some more "tricks".

These practices take away some of the fun of playing chess on this site. I cannot accept that any longer. Apart from taking measures against these players, I am forced to change some of the tournament rules - even if these changes restrict the honest players to a certain extent.

  • Minimal length of games
    Games that are shorter than 10 moves are not considered "real".
    This has the following consequences:
    1. The ratings of both players will not change.
    2. The game will be treated like losing on time for the loser - or for both players if the game is drawn (time out mark on player info, no new tournaments for a certain period of time).
    3. Similarly, these players will lose one Grand Prix point per irregular game.
    4. These games cannot be annotated.
  • Only ONE tournament for new players
    New players (less than 3 finished games) may play only one "evaluation tournament" in each league (1 ACL + 1 HCL tournament). This should limit the damage new "rogue players" can do.
  • Only THREE tournaments for established players
    Even established players may play no more than 3 tournaments per league in parallel.
  • Time out penalty
    The penalty for losing on time (or resigning to early - see above) is increased to 15 days per irregular game. That means: lose two games irregularily and you are banned from new tournaments for one month.

I know that these rules - especially the second and third ones - restrict the use of PlayChess for (new) players. But the majority of the estabished players has to be protected.

Any comments on these changes are welcome. Please discuss the whole topic in our forum. Maybe new ways of protecting us from those "chess rogues" evolve from these discussions!?

Annotations for Dummies - July 23th 2000

The first tournament has ended. Tournament HCL-B010 is won by two players, and , with 3.5 points out of 4 games. Congratulations to the winners! And maybe they provide us with one or the other annotated game from this tournament!?

Apropos: I gave one Grand Prix point per game to all annotators.
Don't know what I'm talking about? Read our new help section on this topic. There is another must-read article of Jeroen on this topic.

Password in URL - July 13th 2000

On request of some members, "normal" actions no longer show the password in the URL line of the browser, if the PlayChess cookie is set.

With the PlayChess cookie set, you may go to your player homepage with the "MyPage" tab in the menu line on top of each page. This avoids using the "Login" tab, which requires you to enter your nickname and password, which would be visible in the address line of the browser.
Similarly, you may enter moves without supplying a password - just leave the corresponding field in the move dialog empty.

Some "exotic" actions, like changing the password or your personal data still show your password in the address line. However, these actions are seldom, so this should not be a big problem.

Player Directory - July 10th

The player list now delivers several pages of players. On each page are no more than 50 players. All very similar to the well-known lists of search engine results. Corrected another error in PAM.

Annotated games - July 7th

Now I found the offending error in PAM - hopefully. The Perl interpreter on the internet web server works differently from my test web server. I think I found a solution that satisfies both servers. Please try again to annotate your games!
If you find any problems, please notify me immediately!

Annotated games - July 5th

Corrected error in PAM (see below). This was a tricky one.
Now PAM works as expected - please supply annotated games!

Annotated games - July 4th

Your game is over and may be seen by others with the Java viewer in the Kiebitz section. But will these people really understand your game? Will they see your strategic plan that culminated in that fantastic Queen sacrifice?

Is this PAM?  
No, not without annotations.

But now you have the "PlayChess Annotation Machine" (PAM). All you have to do is go to the annotation page of your (finished) game, enter some variants and comments - and press the "red button". (Okay, the button is blue on most computers, but you get the picture, don't you?)

And PAM takes your comments, inserts some chess diagrams, puts on some really nice magic - and whoops - creates a nicely formated annotated game. Your game will be seen immediately by visitors of PlayChess.

It is as always here at PlayChess: Your business is chess (annotations), we (that's PAM and me) are doing all the rest. You need not know anything on HTML for publishing your game on the web.

Sound's good, eh? Wanna know how to do it? Okay.

First, you must have finished a game. You may annotate games you won, lost or that are drawn, but they must be over.
Look onto your player homepage. In the "Statistics" section are your finished games. Click on the link in the rightmost column "Annotate", then enter your nickname and password (automatically done if you set the PlayChess cookie) and start annotating. The remaining steps are described on the annotation page.

June 9th
  • Multiple identities
    Some days ago I disabled multiple identities (see below at "Registration") - except for Human/Computer. This "anti-cheat" mechanism is problematic for friends using the same email address.
    I changed that. A much better method is to forbid enrolling to the same tournaments for people with the same email address. This way, it is okay to use the same email address as long as you do not try to enroll to the same tournament.
    For cheaters, the effect is the same.
    For friends, this avoids the seduction to help your friend win against your opponents - and "persuade" her that the game with you is at least a draw.
    Isn't that better? Please give some comment!
  • Mail
    The mail message when resigning a game was the same as if losing by time. Thanks to "Mother Theresa"! (I found that after our game)
  • Player homepage
    The three links "Change Password", "Personal Data" and "Adjustments" are replaced by only one link "Settings".
  • Help section
    FAQ, "Common Problems" and newsletter.

June 3rd

First things first: The PlayChess site is nearing completion. I plan to launch the site "officially" on Saturday, July 1st. Two weeks earlier, say on June 18th, I will delete all tournaments, games and player accounts.

Then, you should register anew to reserve your preferred player name. From then on, the "real life" of PlayChess begins. Your games, tournaments, ratings, Grand Prix points - everything will then be "real".

The bad news: on June 18th your running games will be lost (for the last time). Sorry about that, but this is absolutely unavoidable. If your games are important to you, please try to finish them before that date.

Back to testing:
Once again I made some changes to the site - I hope you consider them improvements :).

  • Registration
    It is no longer possible to create as many player accounts as you want with the same email address. From now on, you may create just ONE account for a human player and ONE account for a computer player. If you must have more than one human player, you must use a different email account for the second one.
    Why that? This should make it more difficult to use several player accounts to "push" one player to higher classes, rating and GP points.
    I am aware that this feature may be seen quite controversial. If more than one person use the same computer, they are required to create an email account at one of the many email providers available.
    What do you think of this feature? Should I keep or remove it?
  • Email messages
    • The layout and content of the mail has changed slightly. Similarly the subject lines. Please tell me if you have any ideas for improvements.
    • An error with the link to the player homepage (or login page) has been removed (thanks, Cade, I misunderstood your problem report).
    • There are now three different email addresses as senders of the mail messages: (league manager) (tournament director) (move notifications)
      This should help players to sort the emails into different folders of their email client. Messages from lm or td are more important and should be saved. Move notifications can be deleted anytime.
      Please note that all three mail accounts are "send only" (from my perspective). If YOU try to send an email to these accounts you will get a message from an autoresponder (try it!).
  • Chess viewer applet
    On the Java viewer page you may now browse through the moves of all games played at PlayChess. This requires a Java enabled browser. Please try it and report to me your browser (version) if it doesn't work.
  • Losing on time
    I changed the lock out time for enrolling to new tournaments. You are not allowed to enroll for 10, 20, 30, ... days after losing 1, 2, 3, ... games by exceeding the time.
    Inactive players (no tournaments) will be warned after 60 days and deleted after 90 days without further warning.
    Thanks, Polo, for your proposals!
    The current state of time penalties (and GP points) is now displayed on the player information pages.
  • Player homepage
    Minor changes (clock + since) in the "Running games" section.

Thanks for your help! I hope for more constructive criticism soon.

May 20th
  • Registration
    New users get their registration email with their prelininary password. There has been an error in the corresponding script.
  • New players in tournament
    If a player enrolls in one of "your" tournaments, you are notified by email. This way, you may start your game with this player, if you have the white pieces.
  • User names (nicknames)
    Underscore characters ("_") in user names will now be displayed with spaces instead. For example, "Mother_Theresa" is now shown as "Mother Theresa".
  • Help Section
    Extended the page on rating calculation, created content for the FAQ page.

May 17th

In the last days, I addressed the problem of inactive users. What happens when people stop playing their games and lose by time? What if people forget their tournaments? And what should be done with accounts that are not used for a longer time period?

These are my answers.
Please send me comments on the procedures described below and/or the numbers used.

  • Loosing by time
    First, a language question: what is the correct term for "losing on time"?
    If you lose ONE game by exceeding the time, nothing happens. After the second loss of this kind you are not allowed to enroll in tournaments for ONE week, after the next for TWO weeks and so on.
    Is that reasonable? Are the numbers too low? Or should I use an progressive (1, 2, 4, 8 ... weeks) lockout mechanism?
    The number of games lost by time is visible on the player info pages. After finishing a game "regularly" this number is decremented. The "lockout date", however, is not changed by that.
  • Inactive tournament players
    After every 5 days of inactivity (not visiting the site) players that participate in at least one tournament will get a "reminder email". Are 5 days too short?
  • Dead accounts
    Inactive accounts of players that are not playing any tournaments will be deleted automatically after 60 days. Email warnings will be sent after 30, 40 and 50 days.
    Are these time intervals too short?

As you may have noticed I urgently need some terms and descriptions for the situations above. Quite obviously, my "Germish" isn't good enough. Any proposals?

It seems that not many of you tried out the Computer Chess League (CCL). The registration, player data, player info and homepages are different than in the two "human leagues". I would appreciate it very much if you could concentrate on this league for a while.
I think anybody can simulate a computer - just play silly ;-))

And the last - important - point:
Thank you for all your help !!

May 10th

Hello from Germany, fellow testers! There are some quite important changes on the site triggered by the change requests of Springt zu einer fremden Website. PlayChess ist für diese Inhalte nicht verantwortlich!Jeroen. A big THANK YOU to Jeroen, Cade and Kelvin!

The most important change is the transition of WECL into HCL, the Human Chess League (see below). I used the opportunity to delete all games and tournaments played in the former WECL. This way, all the erroneous data of the WECL (especially ratings) are removed. And we all have a new start with "clean" data.

  • Human Chess League
    This replaces the old "World Email Chess League".
  • MyPage
    Players who set the PlayChess cookie (see below) will now see a new menu tab "MyPage". This tab leads back to your player homepage from anywhere on the site.
    The "Login" tab is still present for these players. This allows to use more than one identity during the test phase.
    BTW: The PlayChess cookie works even with WebTV (thanks, Cade!).
  • Computer Chess League
    The league is now enabled! You MUST use a different (computer) identity to play in the CCL, since humans are not allowed there :-).
  • Player Directory
    You may now select the players according to several criteria (human/computer, class) and define a sort order before the list of players appears.
    This is necessary to allow for larger numbers of players.
  • PlayChess Cookie
    After setting the cookie you return to your player homepage automatically.
  • Download of Games
    All games played at PlayChess may be downloaded from the service page. Only games longer than 10 moves are included in these PGN files.
  • Change Password
    The input is now checked for blank entries (Thanks, Jeroen!).

May 3rd

Improved features:

  • Rating Calculation
    The rating calculation (NOT the rating performance Rp) should now work correctly.
  • Registration and Personal Data
    The input in these forms is now checked more strictly, especially the addresses of homepages and images.
  • Email Address
    It will be no longer possible to use the same email address for different player identities. This should prevent (or at least make it more difficult) cheating by using more than one player identity.
    For the test, this feature is currently disabled.
    Please let me know what you think of this idea!
  • Country and Flag of Players
    These player attributes are now separate. You should now get "Country USA" instead of "Country f174" in your registration email. Similarly, the country text appears on the player info page. (Thanks, Jeroen !)
    Hint. Please update your personal data to enable this new feature! You don't need to change anything, just click on the "update" button of the form.
  • Layout of Player Homepage
    Some minor improvements: Welcome text for new players, image links to player info page.

April 28th
  • Sonneborn-Berger Value
    The ranking in tournaments no takes the SBV into account. If two players in a tournament have the same number of points, the SBV gives that player the higher ranking who made his points against the players with many points.
    A better explanation of the SBV will follow soon in the help section.
  • Grand Prix
    I got no feedback on my idea of the Grand Prix (see below). So I simply implemented it - maybe this stimulates some reaction :-). The small two and three player tournaments (these are only available in the current test phase!) give 5 and 7 Grand Prix points to the winner.
    The winners are determined using the SBV (see above). If two players have the same number of points (say 4), but different SB values, then BOTH players are promoted, but only the player with the higher SBV will get the most Grand Prix points.
  • Player Lists
    The player lists now include the Grand Prix points. They can be sorted easily by clicking on the column head. See the new player directory!
  • Promotion and Demotion Notification
    These mails will now only be sent if your class REALLY changes.

April 27th
  • Ratings
    Corrected an error that allowed to gain rating points while losing a game.
  • Adjustments and the PlayChess Cookie
    You may now use the "Adjustments" link on your player homepage to store your nickname and password on your computer. From then on, nickname and password will be filled in automatically in nearly all dialogs.

April 26th

I found a very, very, very tricky error that came up when Black resigned. Probably an error not caused by me, but by the PERL system. Please notify me of any (similar) errors!

Thanks to "Chris" - he stimulated my bug search.

April 25rd New features and corrections:
  • Image
    Now really correct :-)
  • Statement and Career
    Players may now enter a short and/or a long statement that are visible on the player information page. Change your "Personal Data" to set these attributes.
  • Wins and GrandPrix
    The number of won tournaments will be displayed on the player info page. Similarly the number of "Grand Prix Points" will be visible.
    What are Grand Prix Points?
    The first places of every tournament will be given a certain number of "Grand Prix Points" (like in motor sport events).
    5 Players: 10 for first, 6 for second place
    7 Players: 15 for first, 9 for second and 5 for third place
    9 Players: 20 for first, 12 for second, 7 for third place and 3 for fourth place

    The idea is to create a measure that allows to compare very strong players with weaker players. These GPP points are the same in all classes. This allows to give prizes to the "best" players at PlayChess - and giving all players a chance to win.
    What do you think of this idea?

April 23rd New features:
  • Date of last visit
    This is now visible on the player information page.
  • Default images
    Every player now gets a default image corresponding to his/her gender. (no longer Khalifman/Polgar)
Several features should now work correctly:
  • URL in homepage and image (registration)
    These should now work correctly as specified in the comments of the corresponding page.
  • Rating calculations
    Didn't work for new players, should now be correct. The rating graphic should now be correct, too.
  • Creating new windows
    Changed all (?) links so that no new windows are opened.
  • Password when enrolling to tournaments
    This password is now hidden.

April 21st

Start of beta test. Several immediate error reports - GREAT! Thanks to all testers!!

April 14th

The PlayChess-Forum is opened. Currently we use an external service for this.

April 14th

Added the Kiebitz page.


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