I’m sure you’ve seen some of my other threads/posts on this very forum and seen that I’ve been very much down on ICC for a while now. The reason so is because I legitimately care about the server and the direction it goes in the future. I have tried out every other server extensively and when it really comes down to it, this (ICC) is the best place to play. If you had to play only on one server for the rest of your life, this one would serve you the best.
Why? A few reasons:
1) Best player competition at all levels. There’s no question about this. You will find that people’s ratings on ICC are actually deflated due to how difficult the pool of of talent is around here. Every other online server features *inflated* ratings. Basically, if you’re hanging with 1400 standards on ICC, you should have no problem with 1400 FIDE’s. It’s really difficult to say the same about the other servers, especially Lichess where, although they’re using a different rating system (Glicko2), the player pool is far, far weaker overall. ICC is the best place to *play* chess, hands down.
2) Best network connection and best handling of lag compensation: Nobody else does this effectively. At all. You guys are light years ahead of others in this very important department.
3) Adjournments, adjudications, and overall disconnection protection: Nobody else really offers anything on this front. Anywhere else you play chess online, a disconnect is going to equate to a loss pretty quickly. They all vary on how long they give you to return but ICC is the only place where the game can be saved on the server for both players to pick and play where they left off in the future. Basically, it makes ICC the only legitimately viable place to play classical chess online.
4) SpeedTrap and the Help Channel: Nobody else really has a professional and/or volunteer staff that will legitimately address your concerns 24/7. Whether your concerns are cheating, “how to’s”, or just a suggestion: There’s someone to actually chat with online about this 24/7. As said, nobody else offers anything like this. PlayChess usually doesn’t even respond to customer support emails. Period. There’s a disconnection bug over there that has existed for literally 2 years and they’ve been aware of it the entire time. They’ve done nothing to address it and they just ignore anyone who inquires about it at this point. Things like that don’t go on here at ICC. If something is legitimately bugged and effecting game play, people care and address it immediately.
5) Pools + Rating System: By far the best here. Not even close. As Lichess just showed us by trying to copy ICC’s framework - It’s not that easy to do. The pools + lobby, along with separate rating systems for different time controls and variants, is done the way it should be done here. Nowhere else even puts effort in on this front and in large part, the rating systems are all over the place on sites like Lichess and Chess.com as a result.
6) Best Coverage Of Live Events: PlayChess covers MORE events but when we say “cover” we mean, you can simply watch the games on the server. They don’t actually have live coverage of events unless they’re of the most major kind, and that coverage is nowhere near on the level that ICC’s coverage of the same major events provides. There simply is no better place to watch live events and discuss them with titled players.
7) Multiple Clients + Near Endless Customization Of Said Clients: Once again, the only other server that even offers client based chess is PlayChess. Now, Fritz 15 vs Blitzin 3.11 is a legitimate debate and a matter of opinion. That said, if you don’t like Blitzin, you can try one of the other handful of clients available for ICC. If you use any program other than Fritz 15 to play on PlayChess, you’re getting an inferior experience compared to what you will on ICC. You have less of an edge in this category over PlayChess than you do in the others, but other than PlayChess itself, nobody else even offers a client and there’s very little true customization to your gameplay experience. If this matters to you at all (and how could it not?) there’s only two sites to consider - ICC and PlayChess. Trust me, go with ICC.
8) Leagues: The Team 45+45 and individual 90+30 leagues here are as good as is possible. This is the only place where the server itself organizes the game, the start time, and forwards the results to the league automatically. Further, as already covered, nobody else offers disconnection protection and adjournments/adjudications. Right there, those sites are not really equipped to handle classical chess let alone classical chess leagues. ICC does so basically flawlessly. I doubt anyone will ever catch up to them here.
I could write more but this is a good start and I don’t want to go overboard until the ICC staff addresses some of the issues around here that really, really need to be addressed at this point. ICC needs to become more progressive, modern, and high tech. We need stat tracking and performance graphs. We need some new bells/whistles for Blitzin like move time. The video section needs to be polished up and we need additional content. This “under heavy construction” drills/training section you’re working on - Let’s finish it already! It’s going on forever. Get SOMETHING out the door, at least. You can’t just leave it “under heavy construction” for 18 months. To the average customer, it looks shoddy, unprofessional, and like you just gave up on the project. You really think they’re going to flip to the next page and sign up immediately? As said, you’re leaving tons of money on the table. You should have a far larger player base than you do right now and if you started implementing the suggestions of myself and others (as seen on the server and in other threads around here) I know for a fact you’ll see an immediate return on investment.