Playing chess on the Internet is fun. Playing chess for free on the Internet is even better! On FICS, there are no fees, ever. The only thing required is to download a playing client and create an account. Sounds pretty simple, right? It is, and you will be glad you did it! Here are some highlights of the server.
Administrators and Teams
FICS comes complete with administrators who help run the site, Service Representatives that hang about in the help channels answering questions, Tournament Managers that are constantly running tournaments (and even take requests!), an Adjudicate team that sets the result of unfinished games, and even a Computer Abuse team that handles the use of engines (cheating) while playing games.
At one time, FICS was run primarily on the Thief chess playing client, but today there are bunches to choose from, and Babas Chess is gaining in popularity every day. Just go to www.freechess.org and choose which one looks best to you, then create an account and log on!
At any moment, there are literally hundreds of players on FICS, ranging from the absolute beginner to actual Masters of the game! The seek ads (type sought when you log on to see them) are always plentiful, and folks there play everything from the fastest bullet chess to the slowest, turtle-paced games. There is never a shortage of competition on FICS.
Are you interested in Atomic Chess, Crazyhouse, Bughouse, Loser’s, Fischer Random, or other Wild variants? You can find them on FICS, and there is a great deal of active players on there who also enjoy variants, which makes it a great place to brush up on your alternative chess skills.
Each player who plays rated games will achieve a numbered rating which more or less reflects his or her overall strength. While this number will probably vary from your USCF rating (if applicable), everyone on FICS is rated using the Glicko system (type help Glicko when you log on), and so therefore they are proportionally accurate. With the Glicko system, it is possible to estimate your USCF rating by taking away approximately 200 points from your FICS rating. Therefore, if you have a rating of 1800 on FICS, it is safe to assume you are approximately a 1600 rated USCF player. Of course, other factors can be involved, and this is simply a general blanket rule.
If you are a chess player, and would like to play on the Internet, why not give FICS a try? Signing up is absolutely free, and only takes a few minutes. The clients are fully customizable, as well, allowing an infinite number of boards, colors, and settings to make your stay more enjoyable.