Learning to play chess

If you think SparkChess is not playing correctly, you should have a look here. Some chess rules are subtle and casual players may not be aware of them.

How can I improve my chess skills?

There are many ways you can get better at chess, the first being, of course, to play as much as you can. SparkChess has 5 AI opponents for all levels and a multiplayer mode so you can play against other people people like you.

SparkChess Premium includes over 30 lessons on basic topics ranging from rules to openings and endgames and basic strategies and 70 chess puzzles to help you learn how to spot tricky moves.

We also have articles on chess on the site written by accomplished authors (dr. Alexey Root is a Woman International Chess Master). Some articles, such as those written for us by George Zeigler, go in detail, commenting games from start to finish with diagrams. You can follow the progress of these games move by move.

Another way to sharpen your chess skills is to play chess puzzles. We have hand-picked puzzles from games between grandmaster and we’ve included even historical context and info on the players. You can try to solve these puzzles online (they all have solutions). Puzzles are a great way to improve your understanding of the situation and think a few moves ahead. And being games from the masters, you’ll also learn a trick or two.

You can also join a local chess club. Also, iChess.net has many chess video courses available.

What is Claire’s rating? What about Boris or Guru?

SparkChess AI opponents are engineered to behave like casual human players, not robot overlords. Except for Guru, they’ll play fast and loose and will favor variety over the best move. Cody is child-like an Deon is still learning the basics. So our advice would be to just play and have fun!

If you must know, Claire has an Elo rating of 1500 depending on her mood. Boris is 1700 on a good day and Guru is around 1900-2000. If you really need a stronger opponent, we could go as high as 2100.

How can I find what version of SparkChess I have?

If you’re unsure what version of SparkChess you have, it’s easy to find it:

  1. Open the game and start a new single-player game against any of the AI opponents.
  2. Click on the SparkChess logo at the top-right (top-center on mobile phones). An “About Window” will open.
  3. Just below the “About SparkChess” title, you’ll see a text in yellow, like this: “9.1.0 online lite

The first part (numbers, e.g. 1.2.3 is the version number); the second is the platform (e.g. online, desktop_osx, iphone, etc.); the third is the type (lite or full).

How is Stalemate declared?

Stalemate occurs when the player who must move is not in check but has no legal moves. This situation happens most frequently when the player has just the King left on the board and any move would place them in check.

A stalemate causes the game to end as a Draw, therefore the player who has the advantage should try to avoid it and checkmate instead, while the disadvantaged player may try to force a stalemate to avoid losing.

Your chess engine is too easy! Is that the best you can do?

Congratulations! You must be an advanced player; most likely you’ve played in tournaments. Our Chess AI was created to be fun and quick, not brutally strong. If you are an advanced player, you can still enjoy SparkChess’ multiplayer or by using its Board Editor and the PGN/Replay features.

Your chess game is too hard! Help!

Try playing on with a weaker opponent, like Deon or Cody. If you download the Premium Version, you have access to some help tools that will help you make better moves. SparkChess Premium also includes over 20 chess lessons covering the basic rules, strategies, openings and endgames.

You can find more articles and puzzles here on sparkchess.com.

Why can’t I castle? How do I castle?

To castle, you move the king to the desired position – if castling is available, the rook will be moved automatically. Castling is not possible if the king or the rook has moved; or if the king is in check; or if one of the squares the king must travel is controlled by an enemy piece. According to the official FIDE rules, you can castle if the king was in check previously.

I just moved my pawn two squares and then it disappeared!

Most likely you were the victim of an en-passant take. Don’t feel too bad, many casual players are not familiar with it. Please consult the official chess rules for details.