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  EKALAYA - a premium member

Why bother to pay cash for PlayChess…?

by EKALAYA
Last update: Apr 9th, 2002


…when everything on the Net is free, right?

Well, not anymore I'm afraid. With the dotcom bubble bursting and hundreds of dotcom companies folding down every day, Internet operators are now frantically trying to think up effective means to make money on their "virtual business". They have to re-learn the simple home truth that nothing beats the feel of cash.

But, like many of you I guess, I surf the Net for free things. Yes, to the knowledgeable few of us, it is still possible to get things for free or almost free on the Internet.

Information is what you can expect to get for free most often. Some of these are really useful. Like, want to know the salaries of the highest paid executives from different industries? Try or and tut tut to your satisfaction. Or how about economic data such as unemployment, consumer credits, housing starts and the like? Get them for free from or and be prepared to be overwhelmed by sheer volume of numbers. These are mostly US data though, but similar non-US freebies can be found in or whilst provides excellent information on the EU.

If you hate numbers, fret not for there are tonnes of FREE things for you too!

You want free music? Oh no, the real (ie the free) napster is closed; the existing one wants your cash now. But download a program called Morpheus from and voila, you can get free MP3 music from other people's collection in their PCs!

You want free everything…? Go to and try your own luck to find free books, free software, free game, free women (…oops!! but you can also have free men, only I'm not telling you where from )

PlayChess

So what have all these got to do with PlayChess…?

 
horror oh horror
Thomas Stahl
the PLAY Chess Webmaster
got the gall
asking we PAY to be Member

Now now, we would be silly to pay for chess, when we can get things like music, book and even women and men (ehm…) for free, right?

WRONG!

The fact is, Thomas has been doing PlayChess all on his own as a "labour of love". And by now I believe you share my views that this is one hell of an excellent chess site. Easy to use, easy to learn, and you get to play with all sorts of people from the quiet and
 
polite ones to the queer and wacky ones, with the usual sprinkles of loud-mouths.

But PlayChess' success is also its undoing.

Cinderella and Prince Charming  

More people playing in this site means bigger traffic volume passing through Thomas' servers, and there is only so much FREE service that the server host will provide him. If Thomas does not cough up real cash and hire bigger and faster server services, either PlayChess will grind to a halt (you keep getting those servers busy signals and you can't access your games, while your clock is ticking, ticking, ticking ) or PlayChess has to stop accepting any new members. Now THAT would be a real loss, for who knows what Cinderella or Prince Charming is just on the point of joining this site when the door is slammed shut…?

 
  We're no angels too!

Unfortunately for us, Thomas is no Bill Gates and he ain't got a deep pocket; hence the need to charge membership fee in PlayChess.

Unfortunately for Thomas, we are neither angels nor charities too and so we need good reasons to hand over our hard-earned cash for the good of this site.

The good news is - there are indeed several strong reasons to spend our cash on Play Chess:

Reason 1
Members can check up on their opponent's games, opening likes/dislikes, read his/her annotations and therefore learn about his/her psychology. This is a tremendous game preparation, and certainly far more than what you can do in a conventional (ie over the board) chess tournament.

The other day I started a new game with this chap called Freiberger. Well I can see from the flag next to his name that he is a Brazilian, but that does not really help me in playing good chess against him, does it? Now since I am a member I can learn a bit more about him. When I click "Wins and Losses" I got a screen like this :

 

Gott im Himmel! This guy is a roaring stallion.

In 36 games in the Human Chess Leagues, he only lost 2 games and his ability to win even while Black is nothing short of astonishing. So I knew right on that I had to be extra careful.

 

Then I check his "Preferred Openings" and I can see that he does not open (as White - which was the colour he took in our game at the time) with anything else other than 1.e2-e4. Since I can see from his "Wins and Losses" that he never loses as White, all I can check is what opening had cost him draws in the past. His 5 draws consist of 2 from Sicilian, 2 from Vienna and 1 from French Defence. Since I never play a Vienna game and I just hate the French (opening, that is, I have nothing against the French - in fact, one of my loveliest amour in the past was a frog), I really have to use the Sicilian Defence.

To cut a long story short, I lost that game after all and this is not surprising as the gap in our rating was over 200 ELO points. But knowing his "killing reputation" and his opening tastes, at least I had given myself a fighting chance to score.

Reason 2
Members can learn about particular openings by checking up on the annotation section, and read all the comments on a particular variation or line that they are interested in.
  Position after 7...Nf6!

Well another day I was playing this Smith Morra gambit (from the White side) and this time my opponent was the smarter one in using his benefits as a member of PlayChess.

After 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6! 7.0-0 Nf6! I fell into the trap of thinking that this is just an ordinary Smith Morra and I continued my moves almost automatically (ie without thinking) in the normal Smith Morra sequence with 8.Qe2? (to be followed by 9.Rd1 I thought). But my smart opponent had checked up this particular variation in PlayChess' annotation section and he saw something like this:

Well, the point is that in ordinary Smith-Morra sequence, Black would have played e7-e6 on his sixth or seventh move, and that would block his light-square bishop access to White's king-side.

  Position after 9.Rd1

But when Black refrains from doing e7-e6, White must play 8.h3 first before resuming the "normal" Smith Morra development of Qd1-e2; otherwise (as happened in my game) after 8.Qe2? Bg4!! Black gains a big advantage due to his ability to retard White's development. This is critical because White's compensation for gambiting a pawn is fast development; if he loses the initiative he loses the game. All of these are explained in those annotated games and in fact, from the 5 games in this variation that exist in PlayChess' annotation database (at the time this piece was written), White only manages 1 win and the other 4 games are won by Black!

My smart opponent prepared himself well, taking advantage of his PlayChess membership, and I paid dearly for my laziness when I duly lost that game…

Reason 3
Members can play a lot more games than guests, that is - at least up to 40 games at any one time versus up to 10 games allowed to guests.

Well this in itself ain't enough to persuade me to part with my hard-earned cash but combined with those powerful advantages discussed above, this is a nice icing on the cake!

Reason 4
Most importantly, all these benefits are offered for less than USD 2 a month…!

Well ok, I know cheap or expensive is relative and there are millions of people in my country who would count themselves lucky if they earn that much in a week… but, I will argue that those who can afford to have a PC in front of them do not have this problem.

So, be smart and treat yourself to a more enjoyable time in PlayChess but, like they say, this is a free country and the decision is yours…

EKALAYA

 

P.S.
To those readers who are seriously interested about earning cash from the Internet, admit it that people are just hypocritical, aren't they? Everybody knows what really makes money on the Net.

No, you don't…? As a matter of fact, the "Adult Internet" industry generated over US$ 900 billion in revenues in 2000 making it account for 13% of all revenue generated on the internet and making it the #1 product / service on the internet today! THAT, if we are frank enough to admit it, is about the only product or service that will really sell well on the Net. Ciao!


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