Is a Chess.com Premium Membership Worth It? (Updated for 2021)

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Before we get started, I want to address the elephant in the room. No, this is not a paid post from chess.com, however, we are chess.com affiliates and get a percentage of the revenue if our readers subscribe. With that out of the way, let’s explore the benefits of a chess.com premium membership.

chess.com membership tiers

Live Chess

Let’s begin with what doesn’t change. Getting premium will not change anything in-game. Upgrading your account does not give you an advantage over the board at all. Likewise, as a free user, you have no disadvantage in a game against premium members. The in-game experience is going to be the same whether you are a premium member or not.

No Ads

Ads are annoying and we all hate them. If you buy any tier of chess.com premium all the ads disappear. That being said, the ads on chess.com are not intrusive and won’t ruin your experience. I view the ad-less experience as a bonus of getting a premium membership.

Puzzles & Puzzle Rush

One of the biggest benefits of upgrading to a premium membership is tactics.

Puzzles

Chess.com puzzle training is a terrific resource to get up to speed on tactics. With a free membership, you get five puzzles per day. The Gold membership will get you 25 puzzles to solve per day. This is a lot, and I doubt anybody would average over 25 per day. If you are upgrading your membership solely for tactics, I would recommend the gold membership.

At the platinum and diamond membership level, you will get unlimited puzzles. This is particularly helpful if you want to go over many easy tactics via learning mode, a hidden gem of the chess.com puzzle training.

chess.com tactics learning mode

In learning mode, you can select specific themes or motifs as well as a rating range for the puzzles. This can be extremely helpful to fast-track the weaknesses you’ve found in your game. Being a free, or even a gold member, can slow your progress if you want to utilize learning mode. Want to practice simple forks or positions with the bishop pair? Learning mode is your friend.

Puzzle Rush

For those who don’t know, the puzzle rush mode is exclusive to chess.com. The goal is to solve as many problems correctly as possible before your time runs out. They have three modes: 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and unlimited time. Once you get three problems wrong, your session ends.

Puzzle rush is insanely addictive and it’s a great way to improve your tactics in a fun way. Be careful, though, rapidly doing easy tactics can develop bad habits. It is important to balance puzzle rush with doing difficult tactics that make you think and calculate.

Free users are limited to one attempt per day. If you’re anything like me, you restart any time you get an early problem wrong. The free tier wouldn’t cut it for my puzzle rush addiction. Gold members get 5 attempts per day, while platinum and diamond members get unlimited attempts.

With puzzle rush, comes puzzle battle. Puzzle battle is a 1-v-1 puzzle rush battle vs another opponent. You play a 3-minute puzzle rush and try to get a higher score than your opponent. Each player receives the same puzzles in the same order to keep the game fair. Like live chess, you get a rating that adjusts after each match.

Lessons

Lessons are chess.com’s best-kept secret. The curriculum they have is outstanding and massive. These lessons range from absolute beginner (How to move the pieces) to very advanced (Advanced Endgames). Lessons have been highly recommended in many of our learner series interviews. Each lesson has videos and hands-on challenges where you find the best move using the educational material presented in the lesson.

My personal favorite chess.com lesson series is Silman’s Lessons in Strategy. As you can see, the course is massive, and I mean massive. Each lesson has a game to analyze and apply positional principles. You may be asked to push your advantage, limit counterplay, fight for a draw, or find a knockout blow. You will get feedback on each incorrect move. The lesson will even give you a hint or mention a positional principle you are trying to use to find the best move.

Let’s go through one position from Silman’s analysis of a Bobby Fischer game from 1960. Try the lesson here.

Bobby Fisher Lesson

The context on the right is so valuable to chess improvement. Silman breaks down the position, the history of the opening, and Bobby Fischer’s strategy against the Sicilian defense. He says that the d5 square is a big hole in black’s defense, as no pawn can defend it. Silman asks how to exploit this weakness and lets you find the best move. My initial thought was Rd1 to further reinforce the d5 square.

Fischer lesson wrong move

My initial thought was wrong, and Silman explains that we need something more direct to influence the d5 square. I can see that black’s f6 knight is doing a good job defending that square. If we eliminate that knight, black can only defend the d5 square with their light-squared bishop, making the d5 square a permanent weakness.

Fischer lesson correct move

We can see the green checkmark indicating that we got the problem right and a description as to why it was the right move. This lesson has 12 challenges in total. There is a wealth of knowledge in this lesson. This is just one of many, many lessons in Silman’s strategy course (which has two parts!)

What lessons are available to you?

  • Free users get access to all the “New to Chess” lessons, and 1 additional lesson per week.
  • Gold members get access to all “New to Chess” and “Beginner” lessons, and 3 additional lessons per week.
  • Platinum members get “New to Chess”, “Beginner”, “Intermediate” and 5 additional lessons per week.
  • Diamond members get unlimited access to all lessons.
  • See all info here.

Unlimited lessons are far and away the biggest selling point to get a diamond membership. A chess.com study showed that the lessons feature “had a significant positive association with rating change in both blitz and rapid over a six-month period.” If you’re looking to improve, lessons are an excellent place to start.

Bots

If you like playing against the computer you will love the chess.com bots. These bots are very fun to play against and even allow you to play against chess celebrities. Chess.com is always adding new personalities to their arsenal of bots.

Adaptive Bots

The chess.com adaptive bots have ratings of 600, 900, 1200, 1600 and 2000. Each opponent will play closer to real humans than playing a nerfed chess engine such as Stockfish. Tomas, for example, will play a tough positional game. This means that you will get a purposely slower game that is less tactical. You can test out your positional chess by playing Tomas.

Tomas chess bot.

Bots by Skill Level

If you want to play bots to improve, there are many, many bots available for you. There are 15 bots at the beginner level ranging in Elo from 250 to 850. Each individual bot has different attributes and will play differently.

There are also 15 intermediate bots, ranging in Elo from 1000 to 1400. There are 20 advanced bots with Elos from 1500 to 2100. Ever want to play a master? You can choose from 10 master bots ranging in Elo from 2200 to 2450. Each bot is a fictional character with a unique playing style.

Beth Harmon

That’s right! You can play the Beth Harmon bot on chess.com! You can play Beth at age 8, 9, 10, 15, 17, 20 and 22. The rating range for Beth starts at 800 and goes all the way up to 2700.

Chess Streamers & Top Players

If you’ve ever wanted to play a chess streamer, chess.com again has you covered. You can play against xQc, both Botez sisters, Gothamchess, and more!

If you want to test out your skills against a Grandmaster, you can play against Hikaru Nakamura, Vishy Anand and others.

Hikaru Nakamura bot

Endgame Trainer

Chess.com’s new Endgame Trainer is a great way to improve your endgame play in a fun way. They have many themes to choose from:

endgame trainer themes

Each theme then has categories, and each category has a set of problems.

endgame categories

Challenge Mode

Challenge mode in the endgame trainer is where you will likely spend the majority of your time. Here you’re able to solve 5 positions of your chosen theme/category as fast as possible. Chess.com will track your time which you can compare against your previous times. Perhaps chess.com should implement a “Mario Kart ghost car” feature.

The problem ends when you solve the problem, stalemate your opponent, or draw due to insufficient material.

challenge mode

Practice Mode

If you’re rusty on a certain endgame you will want to spend some time practicing before you jump into the challenge. In practice mode, you are set up on an analysis board with an engine. You will make moves and play out positions. Chess.com’s interface will give you feedback on if you made the best move. It will offer you alternate moves, and tell you when you blunder (although I wouldn’t know 😅).

practice mode

Learn Mode

If you’re brand new to a certain endgame, Chess.com provides you with helpful, relevant videos and articles for how to convert. If you want to learn how to convert a two-bishop mate, for example. Chess.com links you here; a 10-year-old, tried-and-true, article about how to convert these positions. The same is true for any endgame you want to study and practice in their trainer.

learning mode

Game Analysis

Free users can analyze games but are not able to save their analysis and come back to it later. Gold, platinum, and diamond users can save any game analysis and review it at any time. Paid users also get deeper analysis in post-game computer analysis.

Chess.com is constantly improving its analysis features and has some recent updates. Premium membership allows you to view the accuracy score for yourself and your opponent. This gives an overall feel for how well-played the game was. Deeper analysis insights on the games with an option to retry mistakes and highlight key moments are also included. The analysis tools will also give feedback on training recommendations such as puzzles and lessons based on your own mistakes.

Key moments not only highlight areas to improve, but they highlight great moves that you found throughout the game. From a psychological perspective, this can be very beneficial to aspiring chess improvers.

In the future, Matt plans to have an article specifically on the chess.com premium analysis features. We believe this is the best single tool for efficient game analysis currently available. The only competition that we see in terms of features would be to purchase a stand-alone chess program like ChessBase, but the learning curve is steep and we don’t recommend ChessBase until players are at the expert level. ChessBase also costs more than a yearly diamond membership to chess.com without including all of the other features mentioned above.

Opening Explorer

The opening explorer is another handy resource offered by chess.com. Free accounts are limited to a depth of just four, but premium accounts and go as deep into any opening as you want. You can follow an opening you just played to see if you stayed in the book and where the position deviated from the mainline opening theory. You have the option to explore both master games and games of specific players, including yourself.

Videos

The chess.com video library is another treasure trove for chess improvement. There is plenty of free content, but upgrading to a diamond membership will give you unlimited access to the entire video library. There are 10+ minute videos added nearly every day from extremely strong players.

Conclusion

You get a lot when you upgrade to a chess.com premium account. Unlimited puzzles, puzzle rush, lessons, and much more. The lessons are my personal favorite and are a tremendous resource for chess improvement. Upgrade your account today for unlimited lessons and grow on your journey to chess improvement.

FreeGold
($29/year)
Platinum ($49/year)Diamond
($99/year)
3 Puzzles/Day25 Puzzles/DayUnlimited PuzzlesUnlimited Puzzles
1 Puzzle Rush/Day5 Puzzle Rush/DayUnlimited Puzzle RushUnlimited Puzzle Rush
1 Lesson/Week3 Lessons/Week5 Lessons/WeekUnlimited Lessons
AdsNo AdsNo AdsNo Ads
1 Full Game ReportUnlimited Game Report and AnalysisUnlimited Game Report and AnalysisUnlimited Game Report and Analysis + Max Analysis
First Endgame in Each SectionAll Endgame PositionsAll Endgame PositionsAll Endgame Positions
Opening explorer depth 4Unlimited Opening Explorer DepthUnlimited Opening Explorer DepthUnlimited Opening Explorer Depth

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Dennis Mays

    Nice article Jesse. I was unaware of all of the training resources that are available on Chess.com. The lessons are great way to improve. The Diamond membership comes to $0.27 per day if purchased on an annual basis. Not a bad deal!

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