ChessJam: Live Online Chess (Or, The Best Thing to Happen to Chess in a Thousand Years)
The Beginning: A (Friendly) Rivalry
Several months ago my buddy Greg Wilson and I were playing chess online to, as he puts it, â€œfinally resolve who was the better player.â€ We started out on an iPhone app and then tried Yahoo chess. At some point I turned to him and he turned to me (or at least our avatars did), and we were thinking the same thing â€“ if this is whatâ€™s available, I bet we could build a more interactive, intuitive, and innovative online chess experience.
We looked at all the current online chess programs and were disappointed. Some looked more suited to a Commodore 64 than a MacBook Pro. All of them lacked the sharp graphics and technical functionality that weâ€™re used to in the projects we create for our day jobs. And most important, none were fun enough.
So we got to work. We recruited my partner Todd Williams for the UI design, because heâ€™s a front-end master. He made the face of our chess game both stunning and simple, functional and fun.
We employed Adobe technologies (Cold Fusion, Flex, Live Cycle Data Services) and built ChessJam as an Adobe AIR application so it would look and work equally well on Mac, PC, and Linux systems. As an Adobe app, it downloads locally and hooks into web services online so you get the best of both worlds.
Whether youâ€™re a chess enthusiast who sees only the board in front of him or a developer who can appreciate the back end (or both), ChessJam is a major step forward for online chess.
ChessJam in Real Life
ChessJam is beautifully medieval in looks and brilliantly modern in function.
ChessJam is simple enough to start playing immediately, and complex enough to accommodate the compulsive techies (you know who you are).
ChessJam adapts to different time constraints, with game lengths of 60, 30, or 10 minutes, and speed chess.
Players create profiles and ChessJam records wins, losses, draws, and allows chatting between players and observation of any game in progress.
ChessJam for All!
When Adobe AIR Marketplace launched three weeks ago, Chessjam was one of the first applications available. You can download a free 14-day trial, and after that itâ€™s just a one-time $15 fee. This small fee covers our development and operating costs, and it also ensures the quality of chess players and matches. The more players, the better the play will be, so from now until October 31st (the length of a free 14-day trial), the twenty people who play the most games will receive a free copy of ChessJam.
The pricing may change again soon. Download the free trial now and stay tuned for updates before the end of the month.
Chess Jam is easy to figure out, and quite intuitive, but here’s a brief demo to help you get started:
The Future of ChessJam
While the initial version of ChessJam is exceptionally functional, we have plans for several features to be added by the end of the year. Weâ€™re adding scoreboards where players who indicate their country, college, and/or company can rack up wins in Olympics-style rankings. Team play and the ability to play and observe multiple games at once are in the works.
While Greg and I still havenâ€™t determined whoâ€™s the better player, Iâ€™m happy to report that ChessJam is an awesome, satisfying platform for our continuing battle.