On many levels, online chess is rather like instant coffee - quick, convenient and available on demand, 24/7.
But most serious chess players are like coffee connoisseurs. Under most circumstances, they would rather savor the ‘real thing’ than settle for its ‘instant’ counterpart, despite the associated pre-requisites – a physical chess set, a suitable opponent, an appropriate environment, and sufficient time in hand.
We will examine the reasons for this – and there are many – later on in this piece. But first, lets take a look at what makes online chess so attractive to the thousands of ‘casuals’ around the world.
The Advantages of Online Chess
No need for players to come together at a pre-designated time and place. No requirement for a stable surface to place the board on. No chance of pieces tipping-over and upsetting the entire game. You needn’t bother about your appearance. You can dress as you please, settle down where you want, and even play on the go!
Pick Your Opponent
When it comes to picking an opponent, you’ll be spoilt for choice. For no matter what level of proficiency you possess, you’re sure to find hundreds, if not thousands, of opponents at similar levels of proficiency, ready and willing to test their skills against yours – any hour of day or night!
With online chess, you have the flexibility to pace your game as you prefer. If you’re keen to get a quick game in within your lunch hour for instance, you can, by mutual consent with your virtual opponent, restrict the maximum duration of each turn to 30-seconds or less. While this does little to improve the strategic aspects of your game, it is great practice for rapid chess, and generally help you develop your quick-thinking abilities.
But the very attributes of online chess that ‘casuals’ see as benefits, are often viewed as drawbacks for most serious exponents of the ‘royal game.’ Let’s take a look at why they believe that virtual chess simply does not measure up to the ‘real thing.’
No Substitute for Real Chess
Touch and Feel
For many, the sheer pleasure of playing Chess is inextricably linked to the tactile elements of the experience. The feel and heft of an exquisitely crafted chessman, gliding smoothly across a quality chess board borders on the orgasmic. The mechanical drag and drop action of moving virtual pieces across a two-dimensional board on a computer monitor doesn’t even come close.
Reading Your Opponent
Chess is a highly cerebral form of non-contact combat, which makes the presence of a real opponent a key component of the overall experience. Serious players study their opponents to read subtle changes in expression and body language. They see this as an intrinsic part of the experience. Playing against random, faceless entities, just doesn’t get their competitive juices flowing in quite the same way.
Provided you can access the level of talent you seek, only the real version of the game can help you drill and master the complex strategies and tactics, offense and defense, maneuver and counter-maneuver – openings, gambits, exchanges, sacrifices, and positional play. The utility of online chess as a means to hone your chess skills, while not entirely absent, is fairly restricted in its scope.
By no means is online chess something to scoff at. When you have nothing to do and no one to play with, it can be a constructive way to pass the time. Over time, it can help you respond swiftly, and more often than not – correctly, to challenges both at chess and in life.
But in order to truly experience, and gain multi-dimensional benefit from chess – on visual, tactile, intellectual and psychological levels – and reap the full rewards in terms of holistic skill development, nothing compares to good old fashioned OTB Chess.
And the experience is only exponentially enhanced when you use quality equipment. So, if you want a taste of what thousands of chess enthusiasts truly savor, then invest in a quality chess set and start playing in earnest. And there’s no better starting point than Royal Chess Mall – one of the world’s leading chess supplies portals – to get thing moving in the right direction. ‘Check’ us out!