Lichess vs Chess.com, Battle of the Top 2 Chess Websites

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Let’s dive into the old debate of which chess server is best, lichess or chess.com? We will compare the popularity of the sites worldwide and within ChessGoals survey respondents, compare the features head to head, and summarize which server you should select for your own play. For this article, we will focus on having a chess.com premium membership. Check out our post Is a Chess.com Premium Membership Worth It for more information on the benefits of signing up for chess.com. Please message us if we missed any key points and we will attempt to keep this page updated regularly.

Disclosure: ChessGoals is a chess.com affiliate and I am a part-time staff member at chess.com. I recommend trying both sites before deciding, and I use both sites regularly.

In this post we will cover:

According to Alexa 90-day search rankings, chess.com ranks 303rd and lichess.org ranks 1080th in worldwide web traffic. This serves as an estimate of the overall popularity of the websites.

Of the 386 players who have taken the ChessGoals survey, 360 (93%) play regularly on chess.com. 158 (41%) of survey respondents play regularly on lichess. Let’s look at the combination of the two sites:

Lichess vs chess.com
5 players don’t play regularly on either server, and 137 (35%) players play on both sites.

Improvement Metric

There is a question on the survey asking “Which rating system do you consider the best measure for your own chess improvement?” The rating that respondents choose is the one used to compute their annual rating change. Overwhelmingly, players chose chess.com ratings as their improvement metric, followed by USCF and FIDE ratings. Lichess ratings came next followed by other remaining categories. We compare the different ratings on the rating comparisons page.

ChessGoal Improvement Metric

Lichess

Price

According to the lichess about page, lichess is a free and open-source site powered by volunteers and donations. A lot of players appreciate being able to play for free without advertisements, and/or are fans of the open-source design. Lichess does have an optional patron program to donate to their site to help cover costs.

Live Chess

Game Interface

The lichess website has a very minimalist and clean look to it. The board stretches vertically with the clocks and player names to the right-hand side. Players who prefer lichess often state the website feel and design are top reasons to pick the site over chess.com.

Clean design of the lichess game view

Premoves

If you like playing fast games, lichess allows players to make premoves without taking any time off the clock. A ‘premove’ is when a player locks in their move prior to the opponent taking a turn. If after the opponent’s turn the premove is a legal move it will register with no time taken off the clock.

Variants

To keep chess interesting, some players like playing different chess variants. Lichess offers crazyhouse, chess960, king of the hill, three-check, antichess, atomic, horde, and racing kings.

Tools

Computer Analysis

The lichess post-game analysis is a very handy tool to get a quick snapshot of the whole game. The first tab, Computer analysis, shows the computer evaluation across the entire duration of the game and lets you know where the middlegame and endgame phases begun. The chart is clickable to immediately jump to that move in the game. Off to the right-hand side, there is a summary of inaccuracies, mistakes, blunders, and average centipawn loss.

Additional options on the right-hand side include toggling on the chess engine, checking the opening book, practicing a position against the computer, and learning from mistakes.

Lichess post-game analysis

Across the bottom, below the evaluation chart, are additional tabs for Move times, Crosstable, FEN & PGN. Move times will show a chart with how much time was spent by each player (y-axis) by move number (x-axis). Crosstable will show a history of the two players head-to-head and summarize the results in a nicely formatted clickable crosstable. FEN & PGN has options to copy or download the game (PGN) or position (FEN).

Studies

Lichess studies are a fantastic tool for saving analysis, sharing with friends, adding notes, and much more. This is personally my favorite lichess feature, and I use lichess studies when teaching students. Traditionally, serious chess players have tended to purchase Chessbase software for their database needs. Lichess studies are not as powerful as Chessbase, but they cover many of the main features and allow you to share your notes live.

Lichess Study

Chess.com

Price

Chess.com’s free accounts will have restrictions on each of the features listed in the image below. They do offer one free 7-day trial per each account and will offer a refund in the first 30 days if you aren’t satisfied (source). I personally recommend the diamond membership to players looking to spend serious time on improving and are comfortable paying $99/year. We covered the chess.com premium options in Is a Chess.com Premium Membership Worth It.

Chess.com Premium Options

Live Chess

Game Interface

Chess.com also has a clean interface that is aesthetically pleasing. The layout is more colorful compared to the lichess defaults, which will be a matter of personal preference. The moves are kept off to the right-hand side, with player names and clocks above and below the board.

Chess.com Live Chess

Large User Base

Both sites are extremely popular, but if your rating falls towards the extremes of the rating distributions it will probably be easier to find an opponent on chess.com. Try both sites though and see which finds you a game quicker at your rating level and for your desired time control.

Chess.com blitz rating distributions

Multiple Premoves

Chess.com premoves take 0.1 seconds to register. Some users prefer a 0.0-second premove, some prefer a premove to always take at least 0.1 seconds off your clock, and others wish the premove didn’t exist. This is really a matter of personal preference. IM Danny Rensch on chess.com is a big proponent of premoves taking 0.1 seconds. One thing that premove fans can agree on is the benefit of multiple premoves strung together on chess.com. If I have 0.5 seconds on the clock and a forced checkmate sequence in 3 moves, I can string together multiple premoves to secure the victory.

Rating Accuracy

There are many different chess ratings out there. Common ones are chess.com, lichess, FIDE, and USCF. Each rating pool will have a different distribution of players, a slightly different system to calculate the ratings, different time controls being played. It’s impossible to perfectly map ratings between categories, but our rating comparison page attempts to give players a guide on where they stand. There is a long-standing tradition of what a rating means though. Players rated over 2200 for example are typically considered master-strength.

I did a post on chess.com titled Are chess.com ratings the most accurate. Chess.com ratings fall closely in-line with traditional over-the-board rating systems employed by USCF and FIDE. They even recently added a +150 point bonus to bullet ratings in 2020 to help keep things in check. The summary is that lichess ratings tend to be higher than over-the-board ratings by 100-300 points depending on the rating category and one’s level.

This has the benefit of adding confidence, but when you meet a new chess player it’s misleading to quote your lichess rating without adding a qualifier. For the best estimate of one’s over-the-board strength, we recommend using the rating comparison page.

Variants

Chess.com also offers the most popular chess variants: 960, 3 check, king of the hill, and crazyhouse. All of the variants we have discussed so far involve two players battling it out. What if you have a group of three friends that want to play together? Chess.com has your answer, additionally offering both bughouse and four-player chess. In mid-2020, a list of new variants were rolled out that include fog-of-war, automate, chaturanga, and a few more.

Tools

Analysis and Report

Chess.com has a very powerful analysis and game report tool that is receiving new upgrades on a regular basis. On the main report tab, there is a description of how the game flowed, in the screenshot, it was determined to be sharp. Below the chart are links to personalized training lessons.

Below the board are different charts with the move numbers on the x-axis and the other metrics (score, time, move diff, criticality, and themes) on the y-axis. There are so many features here it’s hard to describe them all in one article, so it’s best to try them out for yourself.

Chess.com Report

Lessons

Chess.com lessons are one of, if not the very top, recommend resources for chess learning for players below the advanced level. For players not interested in paying for a coach, chess.com lessons are the next best option. The lessons are in video format with exams after each section. I ran a lessons study for players rated <1000 on chess.com, and the summary is that they helped players improve at a faster rate.

Chess.com Lessons

Content

Chess.com has migrated its homepage to chess.com/today, which is a portal for all things chess content. Typically there is live content at any time of the day on chess.com’s TV channel. Below that you can find the latest news both in online play and over-the-board events. Recent articles, videos, and community blogs are also highlighted on the page.

Additional Features Comparison Table

FeatureLichessChess.com
Learning the BasicsLearnLessons
PuzzlesPuzzlesPuzzles
Squares NamesCoordinatesVision
Instructional VideosVideos Videos
Coach DirectoryCoachesCoaches
Opening ExplorerOpeningsOpenings
Links to Additional Features

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Steve Miller

    Thanks for the work

  2. Matt Jensen

    Thanks Steve!

  3. Randy Merrell

    Nice article. I donated to Lichess years ago. Then I could no longer log on. I wrote to them and no response. So I spend my time on Chess.com. Chess.com keeps improving. It has everything I need. I think the Lichess site is past it’s prime. You get what you pay for.

  4. Sergiu

    both are very good

  5. Loophole

    I still don’t get it. Why do people pay for playing when it is free somewhere else? I think it is more the feeling of a community that chess.com sells, rather than some important features.

  6. @anaychaplot

    Thanks for telling me about chess.com and lichess

  7. Bongosounds

    17 avgust 2020 21.00 Mid European Time. Live chess online players: Chess.com 83244, Lichess. 71139, Chess24 6441, ChessFriends 4597, Playchess 3429, FlyOrDie 3030, PlayOk 2581, ChessAnyTime 1326, ChessHotel 987, ChessPlanet.ru(ChessOK) 642, FICS 590, FideOnlineArena(PremiumChess) 361.

  8. Stefan Bolton

    17 avgust 2020 – Visitors by Country (Alexa)

    Chess.com
    1. United States 26.9% 2. India 13.0% 3. United Kingdom 4.2%

    Lichess.org
    1. United States 22.3% 2. India 7.7% 3. Germany 5.8%

Comments are closed.