Chess Stars Player's Guide (FAQ)

This page provides information about how to use Chess Stars.

We explain : how to start a game, offer a draw, chat, use pre-move, seek, and formula, compete in our contests, customize your layouts, and more.

If your question is not answered below, please contact us here, and we will do our best to help.

  • Chess Stars Know-How

  • What are the benefits of membership?

    Chess Stars membership is free of charge, and it includes a wide range of chess tools and features.

    To see the benefits of Chess Stars membership, please visit:

  • How do I change, or recover, my password?

    If you can't log in and you need a new password, go to

    If you simply wish to change your password, please view your Profile here:

    and click "Change Password" at the bottom left.

  • How do I start a game?

    Either click "Play", just above the chat zone, or click a player either in the chat zone or in the Players tab.

    After you click "Play" set the parameters of the game you are looking for, and then click "Seek".

    Or, after you click a player click "Play" at the bottom of the dialog, set your parameters and click "Challenge".

    When you challenge someone you can also click "Odds", and set different time controls for you and your opponent.

    After a game click "Rematch", above the chat zone, to challenge the same player again.

  • How do I offer a Draw?

    While you are playing you will have the buttons Draw, Adjourn, Abort and Resign above the chat zone.

    Click "Draw" while it is your turn to offer a Draw (up to three times per game).

    Your opponent has 10 seconds to accept your offer to Draw, Adjourn or Abort the game. After 10 seconds, the offer is automatically declined.

    When you enter a move, your Draw Offer is cancelled.

    In rated games you can offer a draw starting from move 20. In unrated games you can offer a draw on any move.

    Until each player has made two moves, either player can Abort the game without needing agreement from their opponent.

  • How do I chat with another member?

    There are several ways you can chat with another member.

    You can click their username either in the chat zone, or in the Players tab, then click "Chat".

    Or, as a short cut, you can RIGHT-click their username (either in the chat zone, or in the Players tab). Then you can immediately type your message and send it to them.

    Use the <Enter> key, or click "Tell" to send your message.

    You can also select a username in the drop-down next to the "Tell" button to choose which player to chat with.

    During a game you can activate either the "Opponent" check box, or the "Viewers" check box, or both, to chat to these members as you play.

  • Where can I get Computer Analysis?

    There is a check box marked "Analyze" in the Engine tab in Computer Chess, and in the Book tab in Live Chess and in the Game Explorer.

    Activate this check box to start computer analysis. In Computer Chess you can choose either the Stockfish or ModChess analysis engine. In Live Chess and Game Explorer, the analysis engine is Stockfish.

    In Live Chess you can choose where the analysis will appear. This way you can see the analysis (in the Chat tab) as well as book moves (in the Book tab).

    In Live Chess you can use Computer Analysis any time you are not playing, such as when you are viewing a game or following a tournament.

    You can also use Computer Analysis (as well as Book Moves) to review any game and find errors and improvements.

  • Can I see who's watching my game?

    Yes you can.

    While you are playing, or watching a game, the number of viewers is shown at the bottom of the chat zone. This number will rise and fall as viewers come and go.

    Just to the right of this number, move your mouse over the zoom icon () to see who's watching.

    You can also click (or touch) the zoom icon to see this information in the chat zone.

  • Can I get an email of my game?

    Yes, as a Chess Stars Member you can send any game to yourself through email.

    In Live Chess, use the GAMES tab and select "My Games". Click any game to load it onto the chessboard.

    Then click the "Game" button (top right) and choose "Email".

  • How are prizes paid?

    Our preferred, quickest and easiest payment method is through Paypal. We will send you an email to request your payment information.

    If you cannot use Paypal, we will try to send payments of $300 or more another way, but it may not always be possible for us to do so.

    You are responsible for any fees that may be incurred sending or receiving prize payments.

    Payments are normally sent through Paypal during the month following the month in which they were won.

  • Chess Stars Concepts

  • What is Chess Stars Membership?

    Chess Stars Membership is free. All you need to do is join the site!

    You can see the benefits of Chess Stars Membership here.

  • What are Chess Stars Credits?

    You can use Chess Stars Credits to join events, send Grand Master Queries, and more.

    You can find a detailed explanation of Chess Stars Credits here.

    If you wish to purchase additional Credits, you can get them here.

    You can check your Credits balance in Live Chess, in the "Events" tab.

  • What are Chess Stars Crowns?

    Chess Stars Crowns are a virtual currency used in Chess Stars contests.

    You can find a detailed explanation of Crowns and Contests here.

  • What are the Chess Stars Contests?

    Choose Your Moves and Win! is our exclusive, patent-pending, educational and entertaining contest that offers the opportunity to win cash prizes by predicting the moves in a live match between Chess Masters.

    You can find a detailed explanation of Crowns and Contests here.

  • What is a "Grand Master Query"?

    Grand Master Query is an exclusive Chess Stars feature that connects you directly with some of the best chess players on the planet.

    You must be logged in to Live Chess to send a Grand Master Query. A Grand Master Query costs 5 Credits.

    To send a Grand Master Query, click the "Game" button above the chat zone, or click the download icon () below the left side of the chessboard.

    Check the box marked "Grand Master Query", then click "Apply".

    You can send both the game you have currently loaded on the chessboard, and any chess question you wish to enter in the form provided.

    Before using the download icon to send a query, be sure and load any game (or use Setup Mode) about which you wish to inquire.

    You can expect a reply by email within about 5 business days.

  • What is Pre-Move?

    Pre-move is a feature that allows you to enter your next move while it is your opponent's turn to play. Pre=move is only available in the Live Chess application.

    Enter your Pre-move the usual way, either by dragging a piece from one square to another, or by clicking the start and end squares of the move.

    Once you have entered a Pre=move, it will be played automatically as soon as your opponent's move arrives - provided that it is still a legal chess move at that time.

    You can cancel your Pre-move by clicking (or touching) the "Lightning Bolt" symbol above the chessboard. You can also cancel a Pre-move by entering a different Pre=move, or by clicking the RIGHT mouse button anywhere on the screen.

    Turn Pre-move on or off in Live Chess, at Settings - Formula.

    Executing a Pre-move will not cost you any clock time!

  • What are Increment and Delay?

    Increment and Delay are two ways you can get extra seconds to play each move.

    With Increments, the extra "Seconds Per Move" are added to your clock every time you play a move.

    With Delays, on the other hand, your clock counts down the extra seconds before starting to decrease your time.

    Delays cannot accumulate from move to move, but Increments add time each move whether you use that time, or not.

  • How many Ratings do I have?

    Chess Stars maintains up to seven (7) separate ratings for each player. These ratings provide a numerical measure of your performance in each speed class.

    Bullet ratings are for fast play - 1 or 2 minutes per game, or 1 minute per game plus 1 second per move (either increment or delay).

    Blitz ratings are not quite as fast - from 3 to 14 minutes per game without any seconds per move, or a combination of minutes per game, plus seconds per move, that totals anywhere from 3 to 14.

    Standard ratings are for slower play in which the total of minutes per game, plus seconds per move is at least 15.

    For rating purposes, we do not distinguish between the "increment" and "delay" clock modes.

    Chess Stars maintains one set of ratings for Normal chess, and another set for Random and Scrambled chess, combined. You also have an overall rating, which considers all games equally.

    The ratings shown in the Players tab are the ratings for Normal chess, only.

    To see your ratings - or those of another member - choose yourself or someone else in the Players tab, then click "Stats".

  • What is the Game & Opening Explorer?

    The Game & Opening Explorer is an application available from the "Learn" section in the top menu.

    This application presents an integrated view of more than 3 million games from our Master Game database.

    Use the Book tab to see opening moves and their statistics. You can also find any opening by name or ECO.

    The Games tab shows games you have selected in several categories, plus your own personal Game Library.

    Use the Players tab to find games of great chess players from Philidor to Carlsen.

    You can also search for nearly any strong chess player by entering the first 3 to 5 letters of their last name.

    The Events tab shows famous events in chess history, so you can review the games in historical tournaments and matches.

  • What is "Game Review"?

    At Chess Stars, every non-tournament game ends with the message "Begin Optional Game Review".

    You and your opponent now share the board - both of you can navigate back and forth and even enter new moves. Anyone viewing the game will follow along.

    Use the "Restore" button at the lower left to get back to the game you played.

    You can also click the "Game" button above the chat zone - any time you are not playing - and begin reviewing on your own. You can either "Import" or load any game before you start reviewing it.

    While reviewing, you can choose another member - or several - and "Invite" them to share the board with you.

    You will stop reviewing, automatically, when you start playing or viewing another game.

    Another way to stop is to click the "Game" button, then choose "Stop Reviewing".

  • Chess Stars Terminology

  • What is a "Seek"?

    A Seek is a challenge you create that can be accepted by any member who receives it.

    Issue a Seek by clicking the "Play" button above the chat zone. Your Seek will appear in the "Seek Graph", and it will also appear in the chat zone for members who enable that feature.

    Choose the options for your Seek before you send it. These options include the time control, type of game and more. You can change the options by sending another Seek.

    To cancel your Seek click "Play", then "Retract".

  • What is the "Seek Graph"?

    The Seek Graph is a matrix that shows all of the outstanding Seeks according to rating and time control.

    The rating values are based on the time control and type of game in each Seek.

    The Seeks are color-coded so you can easily distinguish among rated and unrated games, or Normal and Random games.

    Hover the mouse (or touch the dot) to see the details of each Seek before you decide to accept it.

    You can accept a Seek either by clicking a dot in the Seek Graph, or by clicking the blue "Accept" link in the chat zone. When you touch a Seek dot on a touchscreen device you will get a details screen first, and then you can touch "Accept". First come, first served!

    View the Seek Graph by activating the "Graph" check box just above the chat zone.

    Your Seek Graph will adapt to any changes you make to your Formula, as soon as you save them.

  • What is my "Formula"?

    Your Formula controls which Seeks and Challenges you will receive, and where they will be displayed.

    You can view and edit your Formula in the Live Chess application.

    Access your Formula in the Settings tab, by selecting the Formula radio button.

    To update your Formula make any desired changes, then click "Update Formula".

  • What are my "Preferences"?

    Your Preferences are general settings such as pieces, board, coordinates, notation and sound volume.

    You can view and edit your Preferences in any of our applications (while you are logged in).

    Access your Preferences in the Settings tab. In Live Chess, please select the Preferences radio button.

    To update your Preferences make any desired changes, then click "Save Preferences".

  • What are my "Custom Layouts"?

    Your Preferences include three Custom Layouts - Monitor, Landscape and Portrait.

    We advise using the Monitor layout on a desktop or laptop computer, the Landscape layout on a Tablet (held in Landscape orientation, with the shorter edges on either side) and the Portrait layout on a smart phone (held vertically, with the longer edges on either side).

    However, you can modify any or all of these layouts to suit your needs.

    First, click the radio button for the layout you wish to customize.

    Then, set the Chessboard size to anywhere from 30% to 96%, and set the tab height to anything from 350px (pixels) to 2000px.

    Finally, make sure "Save Layout" is activated, then click "Save Preferences" to customize the selected layout.

  • What are "FEN" and "PGN"?

    FEN, which stands for Forsythe-Edwards Notation, is a standard way to record a chess position.

    PGN, which stands for Portable Game Notation, is a standard way to record one or more chess games.

    In any of our applications, click the "Game" button, then click "Import/Export" to see both the FEN notation of the current position, and the PGN notation of the entire game.

    You can copy either of these to your clipboard (type Ctrl-C) and save them to a file.

    You can also paste in your own text (type Ctrl-V) and click "Import" to study an outside game using our applications.

  • What is "Random" chess?

    Random chess is a game style in which each player's back-rank pieces are placed randomly at the start of the game, except that the two bishops always go on opposite-colored squares.

    The placement is symmetrical, so your opponent's pieces will be a mirror image of your own, just like regular chess.

    You can still castle, provided that it is otherwise legal to do so. However, many of the positions will have the King or Rooks starting on unusual squares, in which case castling will not be possible.

    Random chess is not the same as "Chess960" or "FischerRandom". That is a game in which castling is always possible, but the castling move does not follow the normal rules of chess.

    Random chess is easy to play and understand, because the rules are exactly the same as in regular chess.

    Random chess has 2880 different possible starting positions.

  • What is "Scrambled" chess?

    Scrambled chess is another game style in which the back-rank pieces start in random locations, with the bishops on opposite-colored squares.

    However, this version is not symmetrical - your opponent's pieces will usually be placed differently than your pieces.

    To make it more interesting, each King will either be in a corner, or next to a corner - and if the King is next to a corner, there will either be a Knight or a Bishop in that corner - never a Rook or Queen.

    Castling is not possible, but also not necessary, since the Kings start near the corners of the chessboard already.

    The rules of Scrambled chess are the same as regular chess - but there are 622,728 different starting positions!

  • What is a "Book Move"?

    A Book Move is a move from our master game database (up to move 25 in each game).

    You can see the Book Moves in the Book tab either in Live Chess, Computer Chess or Game Explorer.

    Book Moves are not available in Live Chess while you are playing, but you can see them when your game is over by navigating through the game while viewing the Book tab.

  • What is "Stockfish"?

    Stockfish is a super-strong, open source chess engine that runs on our server, as well as your own computer or device.

    Stockfish runs on our server during Contests and Broadcasts so that everyone can see the same analysis.

    You can also trigger Stockfish to see its analysis of games you are viewing, or reviewing, in any of our applications.

    Stockfish uses a technology called "asm.js" to run very quickly and efficiently, even inside a web browser.

    You can get Stockfish here:

  • What is "ModChess"?

    ModChess is a lightweight, pure Javascript chess engine that provides an additional computer opponent you can play against. ModChess is not as strong as Stockfish.

    ModChess is based on "Garbochess", but has a modified evaluation function written by Marty Hirsch.

    You can get Garbochess here:

  • What is W*?

    When showing the Book Moves for a given position we present each move in the database, the number of games in which that move was played, the percentage of these games that were won by white, the percentage won by black, the percentage that were drawn, and W*.

    W* is the "winning potential" or "batting average" for this move, from the point of view of the White pieces.

    For example, if all of the games in our database were drawn after this move was played, then W* would be 500. But if half of the games were drawn, and the other half won by White, then W* for this move would be 750.

  • What is "ECO"?

    ECO stands for Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. ECO codes classify chess openings into 500 groups from A00 to E99.

    You can use the Game & Opening Explorer to see which opening moves go with each ECO code.

    ECO code is a registered trademark of Chess Informant.