As I announced earlier, Convekta has a new internet chess server. Since the original article was written, there have been some new developments. First and foremost, this server is now the official server of the Russian Chess Federation. Second, Convekta has managed to secure a major sponsor for an online tournament, which is to be held on July 15th, 2004. The total prize fund for this tournament is 20,000 USD.
Note: I've recently received correspondence from Convekta about this tournament. I originally stated that knowledge of Russian would be necessary to play, but now I've found out that it is not a requirement. Registration is open to everyone, and I will have more details on this tournament soon.
Right now, there are several features which set Convekta's server apart from some of the others. Some of these features are still in the process of being fleshed out (like multiple language support), while others are very mature. Here are a few things that might be of interest:
There are logistical difficulties associated with disseminating 6-man tablebase results, due to their huge space requirements. Convekta, in cooperation with Eugene Nalimov, is making six-man tablebases available on the server. If you want more information on how to get the tablebase information, please refer to this article.
Convekta has integrated chess forums into the server, which they call "Associations". Forums support rich text, graphics, chess boards, etc. Language localization support is still being worked on, so you may see an odd mix of characters, depending on your machine's configuration. Most of the forums are currently in Russian, but they do have a newly created English-only section.
My feeling is that this is potentially very useful, but it remains to be seen if a critical mass of English speaking players will also use the forums.
An Interesting Cultural Mix
It goes without saying that dual language support provides opportunities to meet people and players that you won't see on the other servers, most of which only support English. During my forays onto the server, I've played a number of GMs, WGMs and IMs that I've not seen anywhere else.
I've noticed that most of the players using the server are from Russia or Eastern Europe, so the best time for people in North America to find players online is in the morning and afternoon hours. As the number of users on the server grows, it should become easier to find opponents.
Strong Anti-Cheating Measures
Convekta is devoting an enormous amount of energy into cheat detection and prevention. While there is no 100% foolproof detection method, Convekta has a set of techniques which have proven very effective in tests on other online events. 'Nuff said.
Good User Interface
Those of you familiar with other Internet Chess Clients will find Convekta's very easy to use. The GUI has four main windows, with tabs on each one. A button bar on the left of the screen also allows you to change the modes of the windows. Make sure that you check the "Info" window when you first sign on, since it will tell you if you've got the latest version of the software.
All the normal commands that you're used to are present on the server (like finger, ping, match, tell, etc), and Convekta has put a very nice GUI wrapper around the command line, for those that don't want to bother with such things. Also note that Convekta has implemented something akin to "noescape", so that a permanent disconnect results in forfeit of the game.
For More Info
It was once said that nothing good in life is free, but this maxim does not apply to Convekta's server, where both an account, and the client software is being offered free of charge. You can download the client from http://188.8.131.52:4777/download/clubca_e.exe.