Multiplayer Chess

Playing chess online against other humans is fun, but if you have any difficulties, head here and find answers.

Can SparkChess work behind firewalls?

Yes, if you can browse the web, you should be able to use the multiplayer service.

How do you handle abusive users and cheaters?

We do not tolerate bullying, cheating or any other abusive behavior. If you have knowledge of such actions, please report the user’s nickname and their behavior. We may penalize their score, ban them for a limited time or, in extreme cases, remove their account and ban their IP. At least once we banned an entire IP range.

Is it safe for a child to play SparkChess online?

We are parents ourselves and we’ve taken precautions to make SparkChess Multiplayer a fun and safe environment for kids. Children under 13 do not provide any personally-identifiable information and don’t have access to the Chat feature. We believe this is the safest way to ensure that they are not exposed to inappropriate language (filtering is done for English only). However, we cannot make any guarantees. We recommend parental involvement in any online multiplayer game. If you notice anything offensive used in usernames or avatars, we encourage you to submit them to our attention.

Filtering the players by subnet will only show players connected from the same network – usually the same physical location. Use this option to have your children see only opponents from the same household or nearby area.

For schools and chess clubs we can offer a complete separate environment. Please contact us and let us know your requirements.

How is the multiplayer score calculated?

SparkChess uses an Elo-based scoring system. Elo may be a bit confusing for new chess players but it’s well-understood by ‘veterans’ and used by chess federations worldwide.

The basic concept is that the system awards points based on winning expectancy – which player is more likely to win, based on existing scores. Two players with equal scores are equal in skill and have both the same “chances”  (50%). In contrast, a player with a much lower score is expected to lose. Let’s have this example:

Player A has 2200 Elo points and Player B has 1600. Based on the formula, Player A has a 90% chance of winning, so if he/she wins, there’s no big “achievement” and will be awarded just 1 point. In contrast, Player B has only a 10% winning expectancy, so if he/she win, he or she receives 19 points. In fact, player B would receive 9 points just for a draw!

You can see how this system is fairer. Someone can’t accumulate score by playing only with other lower-ranked players. Also, scores don’t grow indefinitely, they tend to stabilize after a number of matches. Therefore, the best way to increase your score is to play (and win) against someone with similar score.

Here’s the formula we use:

S_{A}{}' = S_{A} + 20\left (R-\frac{1}{1+10^{\frac{S_{B}-S_{A}}{700}}} \right )

where S’A is Player’s A new score, SA is Player’s A old score, SB is Player’s B old score and R is the the game result: 1 for Player A winning, 0.5 for a draw or 0 for Player A losing.

Compared the FIDE’s Elo formula, we use different factors. 20 instead of 15 so players get more points for each win and 700 instead of 400. So players get at least one point even when playing against weaker opponents.

Of course, this system does not eliminate cheating problems so we rely on you to report any abusive players!

Is there a difference in multiplayer between the free and premium version of SparkChess?

Yes. Paying customers have priority access to the service, are able to use the Chat feature and can access private areas. Free users can play only if the server capacity is below a certain threshold and have limitations on the number of games they can play daily. There are many other subtle differences, for example a free user account has a score cap of 2,000 points.

Is the multiplayer service free?

Yes. There are no monthly fees, no subscriptions and no in-app payments.