Chess FAQ

Chess FAQ

Help Directory

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Why can't I log in?


If you are having problems logging in it is likely that you are entering either a different email address from the one used to register, or an incorrect password. If you can't remember your password then you will need to reset your password.

Another common problem is that you must have cookies enabled within your browser security settings. This is normal for any site that requires a login.

How do I archive my games?


If your inbox is overflowing with games, you should consider moving some of them to another folder. You can either move them to the default 'archive' folder, or another folder of your choosing. (You may create additional folders.)

When using Compact View

Select the checkbox on each game row that you would like to move. Multiple can be selected at once. Then select the more button (3 dots) next to your desired destination folder. Choose Move Games to complete the move.

When using Card View

Only a single game can be moved at once. Select the Archive button to reveal possible destination folders.

What do all the colored stars mean?


The colored stars indicate that someone is a subscribing member of the site. These users pay a nominal subscription fee which supports this site and its ongoing development. Click any user's star for details.The star also has a secondary purpose - the color of the star turns a deeper red as a user makes more moves on the site. (Therefore a red star indicates a veteran user.)

The stars are as follows:

  • Under 2000 moves.
  • Over 2000 moves.
  • Over 10,000 moves.
  • Over 25,000 moves.
  • Over 50,000 moves.
  • Over 100,000 moves.
  • Over 500,000 moves.
  • Over 1,000,000 moves.
  • Over 2,000,000 moves.

What do the alert icons mean when I view 'My Games'?


The alert icons warn you of time related penalties.

The alerts are as follows:

  • Over 24 hours of timebank remaining
  • Your timebank allocation is now being used.
  • You have less than 24 hours to make a move before your opponent can claim a win.
  • Your opponent may claim a win if you do not move immediately.

What is that green dot next to my name?


If someone has been active (made a move) in the last 10 minutes, a green dot ( ) will appear next to their name. If you do not wish to reveal if you are online, you may turn this off from the 'My Profile Settings' page.

What is a timebank?


The timebank is a time control that is used in addition to the timeout time control. It is designed to make games quicker by allowing you to select a shorter timeout period that you may otherwise feel comfortable with.

The timebank is a bank of reserve time that can be dipped into throughout the game. Unlike the timeout period which gets reset after each move, the timebank period never gets restored.

Why bother with an extra time control?

Your preferred timeout period may be three days but you fear that you may be unexpectedly unable to move at some point so you choose a seven day timeout. With the timebank option, you can choose a three day timeout and still have some emergency cover for these occassional delays. A well chosen combination of timeout and timebank periods can make games move at the pace that suits you best.

Timebank Details

Each game has a timeout period, specified in days. If you do not move within this period you will start eating into your timebank period.

Like the timeout period, the timebank period is specified at the start of the game. Below is an example of the timebank in use:


  • A game is started with a 3 day timeout period, and a 14 day timebank.
  • White makes a move.
  • Black then takes 3.5 days to make a move. Black has used the timeout period, and 12 hours of Black's timebank period has also been used. Black now has only 13.5 days timebank left for the rest of the game.
  • White moves again within the 3 day timeout limit. White's timebank is unused.
  • Black then takes 7 days to make the next move. Another 4 days has been taken from Black's timebank, leaving Black with 9.5 days of timebank.
  • White moves again within the 3 day timeout limit. White's timebank is unused.
  • Black now takes 13 days to move! Black is lucky his opponent did not claim the win because black only had 12.5 days to make the move (3 day timeout plus 9.5 days remaining timebank)

The remaining timebank period for both players in any game can be viewed graphically by clicking the 'info' link next to that game in the 'My Games' view.

My opponent messaged me during my game, how do I return a message?


When it is your turn to move, a chat button is enabled above the move button. Click this to reveal a chat box to enter your message.

A single message is sent with each move.

Note : In addition, you can DM (direct message) your opponent outside of a game.

What happens if my opponents stop playing?


Occasionally this does happen. If it is within three moves (remember moves are counted in pairs) you can simply delete the game. You will not be able to claim the win as the game is too immature.

If the game is over 3 moves and the move timeout period has expired, you may claim the win and the points. To claim a win find the game on the 'My Games' page. If your opponent has not moved in the agreed period, a skull icon will appear next to the game. Clicking the timeout link will award you the win and the points. Please be considerate with timeouts - send a reminder if possible. If a user is on vacation you will not be able to claim a timeout until their vacation ends.

How do I claim a draw?


A draw can be claimed without any interaction from your opponent under a number of conditions. These are as follows:

  • No piece capture or pawn movement has occurred for over 50 consecutive moves (100 half moves). Therefore the game has not progressed and a draw may be claimed by either player during their next move.
  • Insufficient material remains on the board to finish the game. If only two kings remain then either player may claim a draw during their next move.
  • Third repetition of a position. If any identical position appears three times during a game, then the game can be claimed as a draw. Please note that each repetition must be identical with regards to en passant and castling availability. A draw can only be claimed along with a move that contributes to a repetition. Claiming after the repetition has occurred is not possible, unless the same position can be repeated again on a future move.

How do I turn on/off move notification emails?


Email notifications can be toggled on and off from Notification Settings.

How do I change my user name?


After sign up you can can change your name to a unique alternative once within the first 30 days. Subscribers may additionally change their name once every year.

Change your account name from the Account Settings page.

How do I change my email address?


Change your email address on the Account Settings page.

How do I change my password?


Change your password on the Account Settings page.

What is a provisionally rated player?


Until a player has completed 20 games, they will have a provisional rating.

Provisionally rated players will have their rating locked at 1200 until 5 rated games are completed. After 5 games, a rating is displayed, but this rating is still considered provisional until 20 games are complete.

A provisional rated player is indicated by a lower-case 'p' next to their rating.

Some limitations apply to provisionally rated players.

How can I prevent my games from timing out when on vacation?


It is possible to prevent your games timing out by booking a vacation when you are unable to play.

Select the 'My Vacations' option from the player menu. Then follow the on-screen instructions to book vacations.

A vacation flag will be displayed alongside your user id when you are on vacation.

Please note : This is a subscriber only feature.

I just won a game. Why has my rating gone down?


The rating calculation (see below) means that until you complete 20 games (i.e. while you still have a provisional rating), it is possible for your rating to go down even when you win a game.

How is my rating calculated?


When you join, you are given a rating of 1200.

If you enter into a rated game, your rating will be recalculated on its completion so long as at least two moves have been made by each player.

Note: Until you have completed 20 games your rating may go down even when you win a game!

Until you complete 20 games, you will have a provisional rating. This rating is calculated as the average of all the games you have played. Each game is scored as being your opponent's rating (for a draw), your opponent's rating plus 400 (for a win), or your opponent's rating minus 400 (for a loss). If your opponent is also on a provisional rating, then the 400s above become 200s. If your opponent has played fewer than five games then their rating is treated as 1200 when calculating your rating.

Players are rated using the following formula:

New Rating = Old Rating + K * (Score - Win Expectancy)

K is a constant (32 for 0-2099, 24 for 2100-2399, 16 for 2400 and above)

Score is 1 for a win, 0.5 for a draw and 0 for a loss.

The Win Expectancy is calculated using the following formula :

Win Expectancy = 1 / (10^((OpponentRating-YourRating)/400)+1)

The Win Expectancy is used in the rating calculation but is interesting on its own. For example, the calculation below is for a rating difference of 200. This shows that if you have a rating 200 points higher than another player, you can expect to beat them, on average, three times for each four games played.

Win Expectancy = 1 / (10^(-200/400)+1) = 0.76

Note: ^ = "to the power of", e.g. 2^3=8.

If you have a non-provisional rating and you play a provisional-rated player, then you receive (or lose) only half the number of rating points you would normally. If the provisionally-rated player has played fewer than five games, then their rating is treated as 1200 when calculating your rating.

What is a FEN?


A FEN is a representation of a single position in a game of chess. Here is the FEN of the position after white makes the first move of the game - PK4.

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq e3 0 1

The first part of the FEN gives the position of the pieces on the board. Lower case letters indicate black pieces, upper case letters indicate white pieces and numbers represent the number of empty squares between pieces. The FEN reads from the top-left of the board to the bottom-right of the board.

  • The b indicates that it is black's turn to move.
  • The KQkq indicates that both sides have queen-side and king-side castling still available.
  • e3 indicates that square e3 is open to an en passant capture.
  • The 0 shows that no moves have been made since the last pawn move or piece capture.
  • If this reaches 50, the game is drawn (except in certain, defined, end-games).

The final 1 shows that this is the first move of the game. This number is incremented directly after each of black's moves.

How can I format my text when writing forum posts or messages?


To format text you should enter the following codes when writing your message/post :

Italics: [i]Text To Be Formatted Here[/i]

Bold: [b]Text To Be Formatted Here[/b]

The text will be formatted in the chosen style once submitted.

How can I display a chess board and pieces in my forum posts?


In order to display a chess board and pieces within a forum post you will need to enter the following code when writing your post:

[fen]Your FEN Here[/fen]

See the 'What is FEN?' question for more details on FEN construction.

How can I display an interactive board showing the game history in my forum posts?


In order to display an interactive board within a forum post you will need to enter the following code when writing your post:

[pgn]Your PGN Here[/pgn]

As an example, to view the Immortal Game, you would post this :

[pgn] [Event "Immortal game"] [Site "London"] [Date "1851.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Anderssen,A"] [Black "Kieseritzky,L"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6 6.Nf3 Qh6 7.d3 Nh5 8.Nh4 Qg5 9.Nf5 c6 10.g4 Nf6 11.Rg1 cxb5 12.h4 Qg6 13.h5 Qg5 14.Qf3 Ng8 15.Bxf4 Qf6 16.Nc3 Bc5 17.Nd5 Qxb2 18.Bd6 Qxa1+ 19.Ke2 Bxg1 20.e5 Na6 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Qf6+ Nxf6 23.Be7+ 1-0 [/pgn]

In order to create links you should enter the following codes when writing your message/post:


Link to a game: [gid]GameID Here[/gid]

Link to a User's profile: @username (Replace spaces with hyphens)

Link to a Forum thread: [threadid]ThreadID Here[/threadid]

Link to a Tournament: [tid]TID Here[/tid]

Link to a Clan: [clanid]CID Here[/clanid]

Link to a Clan Challenge: [ccid]ChallengeID Here[/ccid]

Link to an FAQ: [faq]FAQ ID Here[/faq]

You must replace the text between the tags with the required ID.


Most of the required IDs are found in the "URL" (shown in the address bar) when viewing the page you wish to link to.

The required 'FAQ ID' can be found on the right hand side of the FAQ page (Below the required question's title bar).

Can I create links to other websites when writing forum posts or messages?


Although it is not possible to create links to other sites in the public forums, it is possible to do this within the private forums. In order to create links to other sites you should enter the following codes when writing your post:

[url=]Link Text Here[/url] videos can also be inserted into private forums using [youtube]movie id[/youtube]

How do I hide text, such as the answer to my puzzle, in my forum post?


You can hide text using the [hidden] tag - useful for any riddle/quiz like question you would like to post to the forums. An icon must be touched with your mouse pointer to reveal the answer.

For example,

What did the snowman say to his friend? [hidden]Can you smell carrots[/hidden]

Can I take a move back/reinstate a timed out game if my opponent agrees?


Unfortunately, no. Once a move has been made it cannot be taken back. It is possible to start a new game from any position though. To do this you can recreate a position by using the 'Set Piece' facility when creating a new game.

Hey! Something crazy just happened on the board, there must be a bug!?


Please make sure you are familiar with the en passant and castling rules before reporting a bug. The help forum is often a good place to get assistance if you are confused by the rules.

How do I delete a game?


If a game is under three moves it can be deleted from the 'My Games' page by clicking the bin icon. If a game is three moves or over, it can not be removed, but can be archived.

People keep challenging me but I don't have time to play them all. How do I stop this?


To select the maximum number of games you wish to play, change your challenge settings from the My Challenge Settings. You may still challenge other people once you are at your limit, but others may not challenge you. Optionally, you may further set a rating range in which you will accept an invite.

Enabled Buddy Privileges to only permit your friends to challenge you.

If you receive a challenge you do not want to play you can just delete the game. The challenger will be notified by email that you have declined their challenge. Do not feel that you have any obligation to play a game you don't want to.

How do I castle?


Please reference the castling section.

How do I read the last post in a thread without browsing through all the old posts?


Click the last post link from the thread list to jump right to the end of the thread.

What can I do about an offensive post in the forums?


Just click the 'Alert Moderator' link below the offending post. The post may be removed automatically, or one of the site moderators will take action if required. Posts containing obscene language will always be hidden.

What can I do if I have a strong suspicion my opponent is cheating?


If you believe your opponent is cheating, and you can provide some supporting evidence, please raise a Fair Play Support Ticket.

Why can't I see any pieces on my board?


If you are seeing a blank board with no pieces, try holding down Ctrl with Shift and simultaneously pressing the refresh button in your browser.

Alternatively you may wish to try clearing your web browser's cache.

Firefox users can do this via Tools > Options > Privacy > Clear Now.

Internet Explorer users can use Tools > Options > General > delete... > Temporary Internet Files > delete.

For other browsers, please see your browser's help files.

What is the difference between and


Each site is identical. Same users, same games. No difference. It is just a different domain to the same site.

Post a link

Add link to a message or forum post by using [help]faq[/help] as shown next to each question.