Saturday, October 24, 2009

Big Changes at ChessJam - app now free!

We received some fantastic feedback on the overall gaming experience of ChessJam but we realize that for ChessJam to reach it's ultimate goal as the best place to play online chess, we need to build a community of quality players. Therefore, we are making the following changes effective immediately:
  • To increase distribution, we are no longer charging for the ChessJam application. If you are a trial user of ChessJam, your application should automatically update to version 1.8 which is a fully functional version with no trial. We will eventually start charging a small fee for blocks of time but for now, we are focused on getting as many quality players as possible into the castle!
  • To help us minimize spam and other behavior that negatively impacts our users, we are now requiring valid email addresses at registration. After creating a profile, a verification email is automatically sent to the user. This email contains a link that verifies their account.
An email has been sent to the email address that you used at registration that contains a link to verify your email address. You will not be able to login to ChessJam until you verify. If you have not received a verification email or if you registered using the wrong email address, simply email us at and we'll get you going.  

Some accounts have already been pre-verified so if you have not received an email, try logging in with your existing account.

ChessJam now tracks player ratings! 
We have implemented ratings in ChessJam and have applied the ratings to all users. We implemented the ELO rating system using the standard FIDE K-factors.
  • Your rating and other stats are not impacted by playing robots. The robot's rating will change but yours will not.
  • Ratings are only computed for human-vs-human games.
  • You can see your rating in the profile screen
  • All new users start with a 1200 rating
  • You will now see ratings beside user names in the application
  • We will create a set of rooms for non-rated games soon
Big things are coming!
We are working on a "Challenge Court" where users can gather to challenge each other to a game.  We think you'll like our unique approach.  We are also working on tournaments, multi-game support, correspondance play, game exports as PGN and other features. Stay tuned!

Where to get ChessJam
Go to and click "INSTALL".  ChessJam runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Sunday Night ChessJam!
Several of us will be hanging out in the castle Sunday night from 9PM to midnight EDT.  Join us!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ChessJam 1.7.1 released

We had a few reports from people with slow network latency that some moves were shown twice when playing robots. This problem has been fixed in version 1.7.1. Your existing version will auto-update.

You'll also notice some new robot icons in the rooms.

We also opened a new room for pre-arranged games. If you and a friend want to play, it's a place to meet.

More coming very soon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Robots added to ChessJam

We just added multiple robots to ChessJam. Come check them out! Greg blogged about them here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

ChessJam - a bit of history

From Greg's Ramblings

For the past eight months, I've been working with two friends, Todd Williams and Sean Carey, on a little side project called ChessJam.  This project started in February, 2009 when Sean and I decided to play a game of online chess with each other to finally resolve who was the better player.  We explored several online chess sites and to our surprise, we found all of them disappointing.  This led to a discussion about what we could potentially build ourselves.  We knew that UI design would be key, so we rounded out our team with Todd, artist, UI designer and ninja Flex developer.  All three of us have demanding day jobs so the journey has been a bit slow, but we are finally ready to show the world what we've built.

ChessJam is a desktop application that you can use to play live chess with other people via the Internet.  You will quickly notice that ChessJam is a bit different than the other online chess sites.  Our goal from day one was to create a user interface that is both functional and fun.

  • Rich graphics and sound
  • Simple interface - pick a tower, pick a room, sit at a table and play on a 3D or 2D board
  • Multiple game parameters available (60 minutes, 30 minutes, 10 minutes and speed chess.  More coming soon)
  • Full disconnect/reconnect capabilities
  • Tracking of wins, losses and draws
  • Player to player chat
  • Watch any game in progress
  • Much more coming soon!

The Technology

The front end of ChessJam was built with Flex and deployed as an AIR application so it will run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.  The back end is ColdFusion and LiveCycle Data Services.  I am already working on a new blog post titled, "The making of ChessJam" where I will share why we chose this particular combination of technologies and the challenges we faced.  You might be surprised so stay tuned!

How We Monetize ChessJam

We knew from the start that we would need to charge something for ChessJam to offset the operating cost, but that's only half the reason.  If you have tried any of the free online chess sites, you know that they are filled with many people that really aren't there to play chess.  From my personal experience, I was only able to play a decent game about one out of four attempts!  Many users leave in-progress games without warning (especially when they start losing!).  Other users tried to get me to click a link to see their webcam and other garbage.  It was not the fun atmosphere that I had hoped for!  By charging a small fee, we hope to eliminate a lot of this noise.

The ChessJam application is free for 14 days.  After the 14 day trial, there is a one-time $15 charge for the application.  There are no recurring fees.  Basically, you pay $15 and you can play chess using ChessJam forever.

October Promotion

We realize that it's very important to grow a good community of users, so to encourage people to use ChessJam during these early days, we are going to give away a free copy of ChessJam to the 20 people that play the most games between now and October 31, 2009.

Personal Challenge

I want to have a little fun with this one.   I will give away a free copy of ChessJam to any user who can beat me in a single game of chess.  I am available during the following timeslots:
  • Saturday, October 17, 2009 9AM EDT
  • Saturday, October 17, 2009 11AM EDT
  • Sunday, October 18, 2009 9PM EDT
  • Monday, October 19, 2009 10PM EDT
  • Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10PM EDT
  • Thursday, October 22, 2009 10PM EDT
  • Friday, October 23, 2009 10PM EDT
  • Saturday, October 24 9AM EDT
  • Saturday, October 25 11AM EDT

Dates and times are subject to change based on my work/travel schedule.  In other words, be flexible and work with me.

If you are interested in challenging me to a game of chess, email with one or two preferred dates.  I'll update this blog post as the timeslots are assigned.

If you beat me, you get a free copy of the app.  If I beat you, you have to pay triple for it and blog about how great it is! (just kidding :-) )


Video demo (view in HD on Youtube for best viewing)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ChessJam 1.6 released

We fixed a major bug that was preventing some games from starting correctly.  We also improved the ability to detect if the other user abandoned the game.

Version 1.6 is a required update.  All previous versions will no longer be able to login to ChessJam.

Our marketing blitz starts tomorrow so we should start seeing some real traffic in the game!

The trial period has now been extended to 14 days.  If you have problems during the trial, please email us at chessjam at

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ChessJam is live!

On Tuesday, October 6th, 2009, ChessJam 1.0 was launched in the Adobe AIR Marketplace. The application has a 3 day trial and cost $15.  There are no subscription fees.

We are already working on new features and other language support.  Stay tuned!

You can follow us on Twitter at