Learning how to play chess online has never been easier. Lockdowns led to a boost in popularity of all types of online chess instruction, and today you’ll find no shortage of teaching tools and people to play with.

No matter how you like to learn, you can find a way to play chess online. Here are the most popular options:

Playing Games

Feeling adventurous? You can jump right in and play online games against real people. There’s no shortage of places to play for free, including:

Chess.com

Chess24.com

FIDE Arena (The official online site for the International Chess Federation)

You can also find a variety of games for Android, iDevices, Xbox, and Playstation.

Most chess games allow you to play against both real people and AI opponents. If you’re learning, you can play against bots on the easy setting or use a tutorial mode.

Playing against real people right away does add some excitement, but it’s usually not the best way to learn, because you might find yourself outmatched quite often. Fortunately, most online chess games allow you to pick similarly skilled opponents. 

Group Classes chess

Chess Engines

Chess engines are another type of chess software. They’re computer programs that recommend piece moves in real-time.

You don’t play chess on a chess engine. Instead, you run the engine underneath a chess program. They’re a useful teaching tool because they help you understand your options at every point in a game.

You can also use a chess engine to help you cheat at chess against online human opponents, although you risk bad user feedback, site bans, and other potential consequences.

Videos

YouTube and other video services have a huge array of video lessons available. They’re made by teachers of all types, so you should have no problem finding someone you like. Plus, many video courses include multiple parts, so you can go from beginner to expert while watching the same instructor.

Videos give you the most freedom because you can watch them whenever it is convenient. The ability to pause and rewind is another benefit, especially when learning complicated concepts.

On the downside, videos don’t allow you to interact with the instructor. If you have a question, you’ll likely need to look elsewhere for the answer.  

Learn Chess Online

Streams

You can also watch live video streams of people playing chess. Twitch’s Chess category has many different options available day and night.

Watching someone play chess live has many benefits. On most streams, you can talk directly to the streamer, asking questions about moves they make. Also, streams offer opportunities to watch two humans play against one another in real-time.    

The biggest potential drawback with streams is that you have no control over the streamer’s schedule. If they’re not online when you can watch, you’ll have to miss the show live (although the recorded version is usually available to view later).  

Another potential issue with streams is that many streamers aren’t necessarily teachers. They might offer some tips here and there, but they won’t always explain what they’re doing in a beginner-friendly way.  

Forums

Chess forums allow you to discuss the game with people of all skill levels and from all around the world. Reddit has several options, including r/chess and r/chessbeginners. Chessgod101 and ChessPub are two other popular, well-established forums.  

Forums combine the benefits of videos and streaming. You can ask real people questions about chess, but you also have lots of flexibility, time-wise. You can post on and read the forums whenever it’s convenient for you.

One possible drawback is that forums usually lack lots of visual media. Many people prefer to learn chess by watching the pieces move around the board. While forum users occasionally post pictures and videos, it’s mainly a text-based medium.

Online Classes

Online classes are an increasingly popular way to learn how to play. They’re held over Zoom or similar video platforms. Two types of online chess classes exist:

Private Classes – One-on-one instruction, usually for 30, 45, or 60-minute sessions.

Group Classes – Multiple students view the live class simultaneously

Both are available for all types of skill levels, including many specifically geared towards beginners.

Online classes combine many of the benefits of video, forums, and streaming. You can watch the moves performed in real-time and ask questions. Plus, unlike streaming, online classes are 100% dedicated to helping you learn.

Final Thoughts

When you find a teaching method you enjoy, learning to play chess is far more fun than frustrating. Even better, you can not only learn the basics, but also develop serious skills, from the comfort of your own home.

While all methods have benefits, most people find that online classes are the easiest and most effective way to learn. If you’re interested in taking an online class, check out Amphy’s live online chess classes for many different options.  

Chess is an amazing game, enjoyed by folks of practically any age and from every walk of life, and you can start learning how to play it today!