Multiplayer Chess

Playing chess online with friends is fun, but if you have any difficulties, find your answers right here.

Can I connect to Multiplayer if I’m using Tor or a VPN?

Now why in the world would you want to do that? Joking.

Short answer: it depends.

SparkChess multiplayer requires WebSockets for connecting. Sockets allows for fast, near-instantaneous communication and are used by most messaging apps, games and so on. We used to support a HTTP fallback mode, but we removed it in 2018 because only few players needed it and it lacked in performance.

Back to VPNs, you must check that your connection supports sockets by running a WebSockets test here.

In our tests, we had no issues accessing the SparkChess website and multiplayer service through Tor and OpenVPN.

If you’re having issues with your VPN/Tor, consider disabling it for SparkChess. We do not track our players and we are not geoblocking anybody. We’re also not aware of any country blocking or tracking SparkChess.

What is Guest Login?

When accessing multiplayer, there is an alternative „Guest login” option. We added this features many years ago when we discovered that some players want to quickly experience multiplayer without spending any time to set up an account.

Guests are like ephemeral accounts. They start with 1000 points and their progress is not saved. They have no account to edit, no stats or history and they can’t join/manage teams and don’t have access to chat.

Use the Guest login feature only if you’re new to SparkChess and want to see how multiplayer works.

Are multiple accounts allowed in multiplayer?

Multiple multiplayer accounts are allowed, though not encouraged. We recognize that there are legitimate reasons for players to have more than one account. Having said that, using multiple accounts to inflate scores or for other negative purposes is not permitted and such accounts may be removed without warning.

What are playing areas?

After you log in to multiplayer, you’ll be presented with a list of playing areas and you’ll have to choose (“enter”) one in order to play.

Playing areas are also known as “lobbies” in multiplayer games. They are, simply put, virtual gathering places, where players meet and can then invite each other to play. Playing areas may have some restrictions, for example one of them is reserved to new players.

When you enter a playing area, you’ll see a list of available players. They are those not in a middle of a game, so if you click someone’s name in the list, you invite them to play. Or, you can just wait to be invited.

How can I set an avatar (profile photo) in multiplayer?

There are two main ways to add a profile photo in multiplayer:

When you’re creating the SparkChess multiplayer account, you’re asked to “Connect to Facebook” or skip. If you do connect, SparkChess will use the email address and avatar from Facebook automatically.

Alternatively, you can use the Gravatar service to add an avatar. Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar and it’s a free service from WordPress, the organization that maintains the WordPress software that powers over a third of the world’s web sites. Gravatar works by linking an email address to a public profile picture.

To add a photo, first you need to create an account:

  • Visit www.gravatar.com
  • Click on the big Create Your Own Gravatar button.
  • A simple account sign up form will be shown. Enter the same email address you’re using with SparkChess and a password. When you submit the form, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Click the Activate Account button on the email.

Now that you have your account, go to www.gravatar.com again and login from the top right. After login, you’ll see a page with the title Manage Gravatars and the text “Whoops, looks like you don’t have any images yet! Add one by clicking here!” Click on the link and follow the instructions.

If you’d prefer SparkChess to have its own avatar system, please contact us so we can see how much interest there is in this feature.

Why do I need the newest version to play in online multiplayer?

We are continuously improving SparkChess in all its areas: the AI chess engine, the multiplayer service, the user interface, the additional tools and so on.

The multiplayer service is particularly sensitive because of the complex interactions and also because a small number of players will always try to cheat their way into the leaderboards.

Whenever we update the multiplayer functionality, we need to consider how two players with different versions will interact. To give you a very simple example, if one player has Chat capability but the other doesn’t, what do we do? Do we let the chat-enabled player send messages to the other one, even though those messages will never be received?

Most cases are more difficult, for example when a move needs to be resent due to a client disconnect.  Even more complicated, when we discover a way to stop cheaters, we may need to effectively ban all old versions.

We try to keep these breaking changes to a minimum and even then we give a few months of transition period, but we can’t support old versions indefinitely.