Pokemon What? InstantChess lives up to its name and could also take over your life

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Never mind Pokemon Go - multi-player chess is even more addictive. I already looked at chess against your phone, but it's easy to ditch that since the phone's CPU really doesn't mind if you take a break. Plus it can't gloat when you're doing badly. But pitch yourself against another human being and we're in 'darned if I'm going to let them win' territory - making InstantChess very addictive indeed. With the average game maxing out at half an hour and strict 15 minute time controls per player, you'll be at this for 25 minutes or so, and then another 25 and another, and so on. And soon you'll have spent a whole day trying to beat strangers at chess!

From the Store entry:

Play live chess with opponents worldwide.

With a great proportion of players from Middle East (30%), Europe (25%) and North America (20%), InstantChess offers a perfect battlefield for a clash of minds. Get on!

LEGENDARY CHESSMEN: 12 sets of elaborate chessmen representing the evolution of chessmen were reproduced from real objects and are now available on for the game.

Unlimited ad-free play for InstantChess website subscribers.

With tens of thousands of players worldwide, of all different abilities, matching up to an 'instant' game really is just that - instant. No hanging around in a lobby. All the games are managed by - and recorded by - the InstantChess servers (managed from the UK, as it happens) and, if you so desire, you can share or email a link to a game in order to analyse it later on the InstantChess web site.

Here's InstantChess in action:

Screenshot, InstantChessScreenshot, InstantChess

Written for Windows Phone 8.1, this nevertheless works well under Windows 10 Mobile as well. I logged in via Facebook and this seemed perfectly sufficient for the web site (for archival reasons) as well; (right) a 15 mins-per-player game in progress!

Screenshot, InstantChessScreenshot, InstantChess

The interface is kept simple and clear, though you can (right) jazz it up a bit with one of the various historical sets if you like! Pieces are controlled by dragging them and there's no lag at all.

Screenshot, InstantChessScreenshot, InstantChess

Communication is restricted (thankfully) to basic chess requests and an emoji to represent your mood. Everything's handled well by the InstantChess servers and just once (see shot above, right) there was a timeout on the opponent's end. Quickly resolved by them, thankfully...

Screenshot, InstantChessScreenshot, InstantChess

I was fascinated to see what happen if one player does go offline (e.g. through coverage, or intent, or device crashing, or whatever - effectively they get a minimum of two one-minute waits before you can declare victory. The chess clocks stop while in the paused state, of course, though this isn't supposed to happen in the normal course of events.

I've played several games and haven't seen an ad so far under Windows on my phone, but maybe they start coming in later on. It's £7 or so for a year of ad-free play using the InstantChess servers - this also gives you greater clock flexibility and time controls. Seems like a very good deal to me if you're a chess nut - the IAP options in, for example, the iOS game can work out a lot more expensive. Credit to the InstantChess folks for trying different monetisation options on the various platforms and I hope they're making ends meet!

Playing against a human being adds a massive dose of unpredictability that you just don't get by playing against machines. Challenging and recommended.

Source / Credit: Store