Friday, February 25, 2011

On-line Chess - Part 1.7 - Challenges

Ok, you logged in to a chess on-line web site and you are ready to start a game but how could you find an opponent? There are several ways to. The most common is the direct challenge: from the list of on-line users you chose the one you would like to play with. Yes, maybe you know the player by its nickname and would like to play with him/her, or looking at the player rating you can chose to challenge someone a bit stronger than you to increase your own rating. So the choice is yours in this case.

Figure 7 allows the player to invite another player and to show the list of current invitations

There is another possibility: you create the game you want (setting time limits and color for instance) and wait for someone to come to your table. In the other way round, you see a list of created games with their characteristics and you can chose to join the game you want. Nice, but you may ask: “why should I see a list of lots of games I don’t want to play?” In fact, you may be not interested to play against too much stronger people, or too much weaker people. That’s why some good gaming web sites allow their user to set constraints when creating the game. Those constraints limit the possible opponents to players with a rating inside a fixed range or inside a range around the creator rating (300 points below and 300 points above for instance).

Figure 8 game creation with rating range constraint

A similar concept is used by other sites where each player specifies the constraints and the system will find automatically an opponent that fulfills that requirements: the user does not chose to join the game because it is not allowed to see the list of created games.

What happens if there is none who can play with you? Play against a computer seems to be a forced choice but is it what you really wanted? It is better to be clear: “Sorry, no one available. Retry or if you want you can play against the machine”.

Interesting is the feature to invite a friend of yours even if he/she is not a registered user. The invitation needs only the email address and if your friend is checking his/her email in that moment he/she could join the game with you (but if he is not connected…).

I talked about friends. That is a concept widely used in most gaming web sites. You have the chance to maintain a list of other users (your friends) and check if they are connected, if so you can challenge one of them or chat with him/her. The concept behind is simple: a friend is someone you want to be connected with, someone you want to play with often. Some online chess providers have another interesting feature which is the opposite of friends: a list of people you don’t want to play with. In fact when the system finds automatically an opponent for you, you won’t have the chance to reject the match usually (in some case instead that is possible: the game can be null if the player doesn’t move his first move or acknowledges the match). Using the black list (or block list or no-play list) the system will not create a match between you and the undesired user.

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