Thursday, August 10, 2006

Club Slams Door on Freeloaders

With the above title, I just thought I'd top DG's "Tightening the screws" post yesterday. Most of you have probably already heard of the Internet Chess Club's decision to increase their basic membership cost to US$59.95 (about AUD$85). The ICC is also removing the ability for "guests" to chat and play.

Two things. First, the cost is really nothing. But with rising interest rates and petrol prices, not to mention over-priced bananas, the ICC may find itself with a reduced customer base.

It will be interesting to see how Playchess will respond whose basic membership fee is still at the much lower US$31.50. The German service offers a much slicker interface and I particularly like the multiboard view during live tournament coverage. Plus there is, of course, GM Yasser Seirawan's dulcet voice ("dulcet" is a word I learned yesterday in a project walkthrough session, believe it or not. I just thought I'd slip that in).

What Playchess lacks, however, is atmosphere. Nothing beats kibitzing on ICC.

Secondly, why does ICC do away with guest chat and play? Surely a blunder! I recall my first trial years ago. I logged in as a guest, played a few games, went around the chat rooms, then decided to join for good. I always like going for a bit of a test run before a final commitment.

I have no doubt that are those who are basically "permanent guests", folks who just keep it creating new FREE accounts. These guys consume bandwith. And Caissa knows, I need all the bandwidth I can get - what with this stupid Australian senator who thinks that 1.5Mbps ADSL, offered by my ISP Telstra, is perfectly satisfactory. How do these women get elected for crying out loud?

I'm sticking with ICC.


Milan Lee said...

Ok, I won't miss the opportunity to advertise a bit ;) On Worldchessnetwork guests can play unlimited number of unrated games keeping the same username (accounts are not expiring). And every Friday is gold for a day, when all members have access to all features and events (usually with Larry Christiansen in schedule).

Interface is user friendly - no commands, everything on click. Pieces are also well designed.

While there are no multiple boards and features are somehow limited, the atmosphere is WCN's biggest advantage. And I think it beats ICC on that one. Most people are using their real names and the chatroom humor is on high level. While I found comments of titled players on ICC very useful, most of the kibitzing is trashtalk and argument (maybe I visited on full moon or something ;)) I'm not a puritan, I have played in chess clubs and bars, but WCN has better spirit.

Ok buddy, I hope you won't charge me on this :)

The Closet Grandmaster said...

I've never tried WCN myself. How much is it to become a permanent member? what about live coverage?

Anyway, it's the trash talk that sometimes makes ICC fun.


Anonymous said...

Coonan is talking about ADSL2+, which is not offered by Telstra. It is offered by iinet, tpg and a few others. The speeds are up to 24Mbps.

Telstra is way behind the eightball, and hasn't even offered full-speed ADSL1 (which is capable up to 8Mbps rather than the artificially slow 1.5).

If you're still using telstra for broadband, you need to get your head out of the sand!

Michael Goeller said...

I'm sticking with ICC, but you folks encourage me to take a tour of WCN and Playchess some time. The other day on Fred Wilson's radio show on ChessFM, American correspondence GM Jon Edwards gave Playchess a nice plug, saying he much preferred their interface and their features for storing games. I think, actually, ICC wants to make itself more exclusive, and that may become one of its appeals for those who can afford $59. For one thing, getting rid of anonymous, unbannable freeloaders will cut down on the worst trash-talk (for which they seem responsible, at least in my experience playing some of these losers). People are less likely to trash-talk when you know who they are.... The trash talk of kibitzers watching games is another thing...

Milan Lee said...

People will talk trash while hiding behind nicknames.

ICC has no protection against multiple free trials, just tested it. So kicking guests out is somehow losing its sense.