Please note: My esteemed colleague and co-blogger, life-partner J.Conian has been out for a bit, while his computer rehabs from its drinking problem. In the meantime, I'm going to talk about chess and count the days until he returns to regular posting.
The way it works is that players have anywhere from 2 to 14 days to make a move. A player may participate in many different games simultaneously. There are enough other users so that I usually have about five or so active games. I like this system, in part because I am compelled to view games in terms of 'one move at a time.' Very often when it is my turn, I've forgotten what is happening in a given game, so I have to analyze the board and make my move all over again. I feel like this is improving my chess playing skills. But with a handful of games running at once, I usually don't have to wait long to take my turn on one of them.
Gameknot.com is a membership based site, and you will need to create a profile to play. Membership is free, but they've got two pay-membership levels: gold and silver. Basic 'free' memberships allow you to run a bunch of games, but only by joining other games already proposed by other players. When a game is proposed it appears in a queue, and is marked 'looking for a challenger.' A player may join any number of these. With free membership, you are only able to submit one game at a time of your own. I never find this to be a problem, as there are always a bunch of players waiting for opponents. Silver and Gold memberships allow you to propose as many games as you like, and perhaps some other perks that I don't know about yet. I briefly had a silver membership, when I was feeling generous, but that didn't last long, and budget cuts set me back to the free membership.
Another element of the player profile is that there is a point system that evaluates your ranking within the community. Everyone starts with a rating of 1200, and you gain and lose points as you win and lose games. The points lost or gained are adjusted based on the difference between your total points and your opponents total points. My current point count is 1065, and if I beat a player with 1300 points, I'm sure to get a big bonus. But if I lose to that same player, I shouldn't lose too many points. However, if I play an opponent with 935 points, the point ratio will be reversed, and I'll stand to lose more, and gain less. I started with 1200 at first like everyone else, and was quickly knocked way down. I think I bottomed out somewhere in the 700s, at which point I began my slow climb back up.
My one concern about using video-chess is that I am becoming spoiled with the overhead view and flat pieces. It is much clearer to me than playing on an actual board with actual pieces. I find my brain gets more scrambled when I play real chess, and I am much more likely to overlook pieces. That said, I still overlook plenty when playing chess on gameknot.
Final notes: There are tournaments and other special events, but I've never participated in these. There are also daily chess puzzles, if that's your thing. Also, there is a sort of instant messenger client attached to every game, allowing you to talk to your opponent. I rarely use this. You can also create a friends list; I haven't done that either. But it's never too late to start! I just now requested friendship from my sister, tykedyke, after probably five years of using gameknot.
if you ever want to play a game of chess, my screenname is: drpottsiv