March 30, 2008

PlayChess Server

This is our completely new playchess server. It has much more power than the old one.

The old server had come to age. It couldn't handle that many games any longer. Some "expensive" features (namely the variant explorer) were too much for it.

I have to apologize for all the trouble in the past. We should have moved earlier to a new server. I hoped that the old server would do its work long enough so that I could prepare the necessary move. But fate has decided differently, so I had to transfer PlayChess to the new hardware in a hurry.

I tried my best to check if everything is okay. But PlayChess is a very complex web application. I cannot exclude that I missed something.
So I have to ask for your help: please check if everything works as expected. If you find some *new* error (that did not exist on the old server), please send an email to (this is a temporary email account). For any other problem or message you should use the usual email addresses and

The games will continue tomorrow (Monday, March 31st, approx. 12:00 GMT).
If any severe problem appears, I might be forced to reset the server (after solving that problem). In this case, the moves you will have made tomorrow, might be lost. Should this happen (I do not expect that), you would have to enter these moves again.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

New PlayChess Server

We have a completely new server with much more power than the old one.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2007

New Server

We have a new PlayChess server! I am currently configuring the new machine to prepare our move to this server.

This new machine is [b]much[/b] faster than the current one:
- dual core
- 2 GHz
- 2 GB RAM
(our current machine is an old Pentium with 800 MHz and 250 MB)

I *love* this machine! It will restore PlayChess to the fast and reliable chess server it once has been. So I would rather activate it as quickly as possible. However, this requires some careful consideration...

The PlayChess core system is working. This means, playing chess on the new server is already possible. Tournaments, games, variant explorer and the like work identical to the old server (which you are using just now).

Nevertheless, there are still some open tasks:
- we need a new forum
- we need a new blog system (do we really?)
- all player / game / tournament data must be transferred
- the domain must be connected to the new server
- automatic emails must be enabled

The current forum is based on outdated software, is not very elegant and requires too much administration. We need something that can be adapted and extended to provide some "community features".
Probably the best forum system available is *phpBB*, which will probably be used in the future (any better proposals?). However, this system is PHP based and runs on an independent database. Consequently, we would no longer have a "single sign on" for PlayChess and the forum. You would have to register and login for the forum completely independently. Furthermore, the login names of the forum would not necessarily be identical with the player names. The forum names would not be linked to the player info pages.
Is this a problem? Any solutions?

The current blog system is useful in many respects:
- public announcements of the webmaster (me)
- articles on very different topics by PlayChess members
The blog system is tightly integrated in PlayChess. It is based on an older version of Movable Type, extended with several nice plugins, all tailored for the needs of PlayChess.
Nevertheless, that system has its weaknesses:
- it is flooded with spam (time consuming for me)
- it prevents authors from using plain HTML
- comments are (nearly) unusable because of the spam problems
I am still unsure if we should use this blog system any longer. Even more, I even consider to give up using a blog system altogether.
Any opinions or proposals?

The timeline for our move to the new server depends very much on the forum and blog "problem". I would like to discuss this with you in the (old) forum. This blog article has comments switched off (for reasons explained above).

Post Scriptum
The new server is already available through the web. But I do not publish its address (URL) here to avoid the misconception that you can play there, already.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2007

No webmaster

I will be on a leave until next Thursday. PlayChess will run unattended, your mails will not be answered until then.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 03:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

My best wishes for the upcoming new year to all players and visitors. Health, peace and happiness to you and your families - and still more chess fun to you.

These are my plans for 2007:
- new server machine (soon!)
- new tournament types (auto-swiss, invitationals, team)
- last rounds of swiss tournaments
- community features
- improved interface (Ajax)

Don't mistake my recent "inactivity": I am working intensively under the hoods of playchess. Especially, I am developing an extensive set of tests. These are required in preparation of the move to a new machine and for new features.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

My very best X-Mas wishes to all players and visitors of PlayChess.

From tomorrow onwards you will be given some extra holidays and all member features will be available to guests, too.

Let us celebrate Christmas, now - no matter if you are Christ, Muslim, Hindu or Atheist (or whatsoever).

Thomas - webmaster

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2005

German / Deutsch

Some 150 pages are now translated into German, about 100 new pages have been published today. The German translation team (Caissafan, dudi, thedean) did excellent work. Thank you very much!

Etwa 150 Seiten liegen jetzt auf Deutsch vor, etwa 100 neue Seiten wurden heute freigeschaltet. Das deutsche Übersetzerteam (Caissafan, dudi, thedean) hat ausgezeichnete Arbeit geleistet. Vielen Dank!

Lob, Kritik und Anregungen zur deutschen Übersetzung können Sie gerne im "Übersetzer-Forum" anbringen.

Für die Störungen während der Aktualisierung der Website bitte ich um Nachsicht!

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Fishing mails from "Playchess"

Somebody is trying to trick the playchess members into clicking onto a mail attachment. The mails have the subject "Your Account is Suspended For Security Reasons" or "YOUR PASSWORD HAS BEEN UPDATED".

These mails do not stem from!
PlayChess mails do not have attachments - never.


Thomas - webmaster of

Following is the content of such a "fishing mail":

=============== START OF FISHING MAIL =====================
Dear Playchess Member,

Your e-mail account was used to send a huge amount of unsolicited spam messages during the recent week. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and confirm the attached document so you will not run into any future problems with the online service.

If you choose to ignore our request, you leave us no choice but to cancel your membership.

Virtually yours,
The Playchess Support Team
=============== END OF FISHING MAIL =====================

=============== START OF FISHING MAIL =====================
Dear user players,

You have successfully updated the password of your Playchess account.

If you did not authorize this change or if you need assistance with your account, please contact Playchess customer service at:

Thank you for using Playchess!
The Playchess Support Team
=============== END OF FISHING MAIL =====================

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

Finnish translation

Dear people from Finland, there is only one translator for Finnish, but every translation team needs - at least - two translators. You could help PlayChess a lot, if you joined the Finnish team. Even if you do not have the time to translate very much, simple cross-checking the work of our single Finnish translator would be much appreciated!

Interested? Please read the translator tutorial and apply for the "job".

Thank you!

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2005

Translators needed

The translation teams took up their work yesterday. Despite some initial problems, the teams are making good progress. The following teams have been founded:

- English (and functional testing)
- Dutch
- French
- German
- Greek (waiting for technical clarification)
- Italian
- Portuguese
- Spanish

The teams are still rather small: 1-3 translators, we need more "(wo)man power". Especially Dutch, Portuguese and Italian are below the "critical mass" of two translators per team.
If you are interested, please read the translator tutorial and apply for the "job".

Other languages are also possible.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2005

PlayChess 5.0

You didn't hear much from me in recent weeks. There were two good reasons: I have been in holiday and developed the next generation of PlayChess (mostly at the same time). If you are still waiting for a reply to your email, please apologize. I promise to do my "homework" as soon as possible.

New Features
The new version number will be 5.0, because the technical base changed substantially. There is not a single page that is untouched by these changes. Nevertheless, most pages should appear the same.

There is only one new feature: the PlayChess translation system. From now on, volunteers can translate the site into their native language. The translation process will happen "behind the scenes" for most visitors. But soon, (nearly) everybody will see PlayChess in his native language.

Please read the translation tutorial.

PlayChess needs you!
We still need volunteers for translating the site. If you are interested, please read the tutorial above and apply for this (unpaid!) "job".
Some of you offered their help long ago. Please confirm your offer with a short email. I will then activate your "translatorship" quickly.

Thank you very much in advance!

Any remarks or error messages about the new release should be posted to the forum

PS: News about the next round of the Swiss tournaments, planned feature enhancements etc. will follow soon.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

Server down for maintenance - success!

The PlayChess server will be down for about 2 hours, starting at ~11:00 GMT today (2005-09-01).
You will find a new version of the PlayChess system when the server is up again.

UPDATE: The server has been successfully updated to release 5.0.

Thomas - webmaster

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

FortKnox has made his very last move

Sjaak Coenraads (FortKnox) has died on July 8th.

If you ever met him here, you know that he has been one of the most pleasant players. We will miss him.

I had the pleasure to meet him in our HCL Swiss tournament. He found a novelty in Move 4 of the Grob opening - he defeated me easily.

This is the novelty. I have not found any example for this move in several databases, nor did I find a satisfying continuation.

You can find the complete game here:
Game page of HCL-S002-96.

We will not forget you, Sjaak!

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 09:06 AM | Comments (22)

January 05, 2005

Holidays and Grand Prix points

The yearly holidays have been reset. You now have the full number of holidays available (7, 14 or 21 days).
The Grand Prix points (which are currently not used) are reset to zero. Thus, the new Grand Prix period 2005 has started. I will soon implement a function that will calculate Grand Prix points of past years from your stored data.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2004


I am on a holiday trip for some days. Probably back on January 2nd. No need to send emails during this period - they will not reach me... :-)

Thomas (webmaster)

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

My best Christmas wishes to all players of all countries and all religions!

Peace and understanding to all of you - especially to those countries where peace has to be considered a luxury.

Thomas (webmaster)

PS: Don't forget to request a holiday leave if you don't find the time to play.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 12:56 PM | Comments (5)

October 06, 2004

Men vs. Machines

Three strong grandmasters, Veselin Topalov, Ruslan Ponomariov and Sergey Karjakin are challenging three of the strongest chess programs, Hydra, Junior and Fritz in Bilbao.

The results of the first round are surprising (for me):

Junior - Topalov 1/2 - 1/2
Ponomariov - Hydra 0 - 1
Fritz - Karjakin 1 - 0

The machines lead with 2.5 : 0.5 !

You can follow the games live at

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 10:08 PM | Comments (1)

September 26, 2004

Kramnik vs. Leko

The world chess championship match between Kramnik and Leko is running. The first game ended with a win for Kramnik. You can follow the games live at

It is decided: Kramnik is World champion again.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 09:02 AM | Comments (2)

September 18, 2004

Kramnik vs. Leko

There are some interesting interviews of the players and their seconds at the Chessbase site. This Bareev has an astounding sense of humour...

For those of you who do not read chess magazines: Kramink and Leko play a world championship match starting on September 25th.

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

Security warning

Someone is sending out faked emails that seemingly come from PlayChess. But these email have nothing to do with Please delete them immediately, do not click on any of the links contained in this mail!

The mail shows up in your email client as coming from or from with the subject line "E-mail technical support message.".

This is the content of the mail I got this morning:

============== Start of faked email =====================
Dear user of "" mailing domain,

Some of our clients complained about the spam (negative e-mail content)
outgoing from your e-mail account. Probably, you have been infected by
a proxy-relay trojan server. In order to keep your computer safe,
follow the instructions.

For further details see the attach.

Password: []

The team

============== End of faked email =====================

As can be easily seen from the email header, this mail came from the network address (this is not playchess!).

And I don't sign my messages with "The team"...

Be careful!
Thomas (webmaster of

For those of you who can understand email headers, this is the complete header:

Delivery-date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 22:45:51 +0200
Received: from [] (
by with smtp (Exim 3.35 #1)
id 1C8Pbz-0003d1-00
for; Fri, 17 Sep 2004 22:45:44 +0200
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 17:45:31 -0300
Subject: E-mail technical support message.
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;

Hey, email cheater, do you read this?
You have to learn much more - this is too easy. We could really get you - and we will, if you try this again!

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

September 08, 2004

ACL Swiss, Round 5

The fifth round of our Swiss tournament in the ACL league will start on Thursday, September 9th at 22:00 GMT.

Tournament table of ACL-S001

After 4 rounds there are still 5 players with a "clean" score:
- Blitzmich,
- Lullo,
- Coolhandluke,
- Stefan Walter and
- JdR

The top pairings
- Blitzmich vs. Lullo,
- Coolhandluke vs. Cramneck and
- Stefan Walter vs. JdR
promise to become very interesting. But there is still a broad field of follow-ups (10 players with 3.5 points, 31 with 3.0). Any of these may well be the number one after this fifth round.

Good luck to all participants!

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 03:54 PM | Comments (4)

September 01, 2004

I am back!

You noticed it: strange messages on your player homepage, page changes that disappear an hour later and last not least: new errors ... well, your webmaster is back!

I have to apologize to all of you for my long absence. My regular job (the one I get a living for) demanded 100 percent of my attention. So I simply did not find the time for PlayChess.

That's why so many planned features are still under development. And it explains the delay with the Swiss tournaments. Our tournament director Paul has nothing to do with these delays - it's all up to me. Sorry!

The good news is that the next round of the Swiss tournaments will start soon. Players who did not start their game in the last round will be withdrawn from the tournament - unless they tell me otherwise (hint, hint, ...). The exact starting dates will be published soon.


Posted by Thomas Stahl at 01:25 PM | Comments (7)

April 18, 2004

Computer crash

Don't worry, I am not talking about the PlayChess server. But my development computer crashed some days ago.

Of course, I have backups of all relevant files. Nothing is lost forever. But I must set up a new development computer: not difficult, but time-consuming.

- Round 4 of ACL-S001 is delayed
- Conditional moves will come a little later
- Several smaller improvements cannot be published now
- Some older emails are temporarily lost
- I am very, very busy...

By the way, the conditional moves will be phantastic! Most of the programming work is already done. During my tests, I fell in love with this feature - how could PlayChess exist for such a long time without it?
You can simply "click in" your conditional move sequences (these are hidden from your opponent). As long as your opponent makes one of the moves forseen by you, he automatically gets an immediate reply - until he finally deviates from your move sequence. These automatic moves are a great tool so speed up games, especially in the opening phase.
Got curious? Good! But this feature is for members only... ;-)

A side product of this development is that you will be able to see your moves immediately: you enter g1-f3 (with mouse or keyboard) and the Knight jumps from g1 to f3.
These new features rely heavily on Javascript. If you are still using a browser from the stone ages (say Internet Explorer below 5.5 or Netscape 4.x), you should consider upgrading to a current version. And please activate Javacript (for the PlayChess site, at least).

I hope to resolve my computer problems within the following two weeks. My priorities are as follows:
- set up development computer
- round 4 of ACL Swiss
- conditional moves
- league tournaments
- forum

And now: back to work!
Thomas :-)

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 08:57 PM | Comments (3)

March 06, 2004

Security warning

As it seems, somebody is sending out faked emails in the name of PlayChess.
These mails do not originate from PlayChess, do not open the attachment of these mails - probably it contains a virus.

These mails typically contain something like the following:

Dear user of e-mail server "",

Our main mailing server will be temporary unavaible for next two days,
to continue receiving mail in these days you have to configure our free
auto-forwarding service.

Further details can be obtained from attached file.

Best wishes,
The team

Obviously this does not stem from me. There is no "PlayChess team" here. And I never send out any attachments.

Thomas Stahl (webmaster of PlayChess)

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 06:26 PM | Comments (5)

December 18, 2003

Christmas presents

mickey.gifYes, Christmas time is near again. (are you surprised?)

Are you going on a leave to your relatives? No opportunity to play chess, but little time on your clocks? Don't worry: I have reset your counter of taken holidays; thus you can stop your clocks until you come back (the full 7 / 14 / 21 days are available).
At the beginning of 2004, all holiday counters will be reset again. Taking some free days now will not diminish your number of holidays for 2004.

But if you have no time (or money) for a holiday trip, you can (at least) enjoy yourself here at PlayChess: for the next two weeks, all players can use the functions that are normally reserved for paying members (with one exception: your game limit will not change). So feel free to click on all these links that are marked with a blue triangle.

By the way: wouldn't a PlayChess membership be a nice Christmas present? Maybe you should put it on your wishlist - and hand this list over to your parents or husband/wife?

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 10:59 AM | Comments (7)

December 09, 2003

Web logs, blogs, diary - what?

You probably noticed it already: PlayChess is getting bigger. I integrated a specialized content management system (CMS) into the site. This "web log" (short: blog) system enables anybody to write content for PlayChess.

Why? The idea is to provide a platform for the PlayChess community, where you can write about chess-related topics of any kind. You can analyze the latest Kasparov game, report about your experience with a certain opening, discuss the critical position in your last OTB game.
And of course you can talk about your PlayChess experiences, too.

Who? In principle: any PlayChess member. You don't need to be a programmer, no need to know HTML. The only requirement is that you have something to say which is of (more or less) general interest.
On the other hand, this is not another kind of forum. Here is the place for amateur chess journalists who would like to write some articles and see theír name published in the internet. Even if the articles need not be long (10 lines can be enough), you should be prepared to put some effort into your writings. "Quick and dirty" posts are better at home in the forum.

How? Just send an email to me. If we don't know each other yet, please tell me a little about yourself and the topics you want to publish. I will then send you detailed information and a password.

Web logs at PlayChess
We will have several blogs (web logs) here. Each serves a different purpose and has its own group of authors.

Diary. This is my personal playing ground. I will use it to announce new developments.

Chess world. Reports about the world of chess. These articles may or may not relate to PlayChess. Here you can analyze games, report your latest experiences or present some interesting links to chess sites. It's all up to you - please, surprise me with your ideas!

More... I have some more ideas what we can do with this blog system. But let us start slowly and get some experience...

Posted by Thomas Stahl at 05:13 PM | Comments (1)

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