How To Play Chess Online For Free

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Playing chess online is a quick-and-easy option to fire up a game at a moment’s notice. This post will review the top websites and apps to play online chess for free, and we will go over some screenshots to get you familiar with the process.

This post contains chess.com affiliate links. We recommend chess.com for ChessGoals users, but we also support using other sites.

Chess Online Web Browser

Chess.com (Chesscom)

The world’s most popular chess online site is chess.com. Chess.com is free to play, but they do have premium options that unlock a wide array of chess improvement tools. We have a separate post discussing the merits of purchasing a chess.com membership.

Signing Up

Signing up for a chess.com membership is free and easy. Simply fill in a username, email, password, and select a skill level. The skill level will help determine your initial ratings, but don’t worry too much about that because they will quickly adjust to your playing strength.

Chess.com Sign-up

Seeking a Game

The chess.com homepage shows relevant news, articles, lessons, and other useful content. Click on the play button on the left sidebar to play a game. As of this post, there is a new play beta link that we will focus on.

The right-hand side will show a default time control (for myself it’s 3-minutes) and a drop-down arrow with more options.

Play Options

The rows are sorted with bullet categories at the top (1 min, 1|1, and 2|1), followed by blitz (3 min, 3|2, 5 min), rapid (10 min, 30 min), and daily (1 day, 2 days, etc.). Select a time control and click the play button. Most of the ChessGoals free study plans recommend a mix of daily, rapid, and blitz games.

Play a Friend

To select a friend to play click on the Play a Friend button.

Play a Friend

There are 4 options to get started with your friends.

  1. Challenge Link – Copy and paste a link to send to your friends so they can challenge you directly.
  2. Find Friends – Search for friends via email, Facebook, or recently played opponents.
  3. Invite Friends – Invite your friends via Facebook, email, Twitter, or with a direct link.
  4. Click a Friend – If you are already friends with someone and they are online, you can simply click on their username to create a challenge.

Other Sites

Here are the other sites in order of popularity on ChessGoals:

  • Lichess.org – Lichess is the recommended site if you choose not to play on chess.com or are looking for a playing site in addition to chess.com. We ran a post detailing the comparison between the two sites.
  • Chess24 – The third most popular site with additional resources for premium members.
  • FICS – A free site alternative.
  • ICC – At one time this was the most popular site for chess professionals.

Device Apps

Playing chess online vis the chess.com app is extremely popular with ChessGoals users.

Google Play Store

Signing Up

Signing up for chess.com on the app is very straightforward. Type in the username you’d like and follow the on-screen instructions.

App Sign-up

Seeking a Game

To seek a game on the Android app, select the drop-down arrow to the right of the 10 min box. This opens up options to play multiple live time controls as well as daily time controls. Leave the vs Random box alone if you’d like to seek a game against a randomly chosen opponent near your own rating.

Seek a Game

Play a Friend

To play a friend, click the arrow to the right of vs Random and new options will appear. From here you can search for the username of an opponent, or click on one of your friends. If there is a friend you’d like to play, but you aren’t chess.com friends yet, click on the invite a friend option and follow the prompts.

Play a Friend

Apple iOS

Signing Up

Similar to Google Play, the sign-up process involves clicking the Sign Up link on the log in screen.

iOS Sign-up

Seeking a Game

The iOS version of the app also has preset options for live chess (labeled game clock) and daily games. Select the time control you’d like and hit the orange play button.

iOS Seek a Game

Play a Friend

To play a friend, click on the Play a Friend button and select the friend you’d like to play. If they are not currently on your friends list you can use the search box or the invite button.

ios Play a Friend

Next Steps

If you’ve made it this far, most likely you are new to online chess or chess in general. There are a few steps you can take to help you on your chess improvement journey.

1. Premium Study Plans for sale

12-week premium study plans PDFs with weekly reminders, email support and a community of others working to reach their chess goals.

2. Study Plan Worksheets

By signing up for the newsletter (right sidebar), you receive a link to access our free study plan worksheets.

3. Free Study Plan Information

We always want to keep some free content available for users. We have 6 different free study plan pages that break down different information and resources.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. boikobo tshipa

    want to join chess online

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