Pros and Cons: Chess.com vs Lichess.org

Chess.com and Lichess.org. The two biggest platforms for online chess.

I’ve probably spent more than 200 hours on each of these platforms over the last year. I have grown my rating by nearly 100 % – and I know all the functions on these platforms “in and out”.

In addition to that, I’ve decided to spend my hard-earned money on a Chess.com premium account.

Not only that. I am not, and will never be, financially compensated or “sponsored” by any of these platforms.

That’s why I feel that I am the right person to give a complete overview of which online platform you should choose to play chess at – Chess.com or Lichess.org.

Key summary of the article

  • Both platforms offer great gameplay for players that want to play chess against their friends or random people.

  • There are bigger chances of meeting cheaters on Lichess.org.

  • Chess.com premium membership unlocks a great feature called Puzzle Rush.

  • Apart from Puzzle Rush, Chess.com premium is not worth the money.

  • In my opinion, serious chess players should be registered on both platforms.

  • For hobby players, it’s more than enough to choose one single platform, and I would go for Chess.com.

Interested in learning more?

Great.

I would recommend that you spent at least 2-3 minutes reading through the rest of the article. Choosing the right platform to play online chess will not only increase your chances of improving your game.

You will learn stuff like:

  • Is it worth paying for chess.com premium?
  • Why does Chess.com have a better anti-cheating system in place?
  • What’s the difference between the rating systems on these platforms?
  • Frequently asked questions
  • And a lot more…

Reading the whole article will also drastically reduce the chances of people cheating against you. It’s nothing more frustrating to play a good game of chess, only to find out that your competitor was cheating.

Let’s start.

What are the main differences between Lichess.org and Chess.com?

Chess.com

  • Got more users
  • Better anti-cheating system
  • Great collaboration with world-class players
  • Run a successful Youtube channel
  • Hosting live GM events
  • Premium membership opportunities
  • Puzzle Rush

Lichess

  • All features are 100 % free
  • User-driven open-source system
  • Free Stockfish evaluation of every game
  • Many free lectures and puzzles
  • Less “trolls” and immature players

What do these chess platforms have in common?

Both of these platforms have the following features:

  • You can play against other players in blitz, bullet, or longer games for free.
  • All your games will be saved in a database that you can access at any time.
  • Free registration.

Now, let’s dig a bit deeper into some of the above-mentioned things.

I know that cheating is a concept that a lot of people get annoyed by when playing online chess. Therefore, I will tell you how you can reduce the chances of playing against anyone using a machine to pick their moves.

Why is cheating a problem on Lichess.org?

Before I start this paragraph: I am not the only one claiming that cheating is a (big) problem on Lichess. A lot of people agree with me, which I will come back to later.

Capitalism plays a big role in answering this question. Chess.com is a platform that is driven by revenue and revenue alone. They would never allow their platform to become famous for a place where people would cheat. Therefore, Chess.com has put an awful lot of money and time into developing what they call a “fair-play system”.

This is what the Chess.com owners write about their cheating detection system in an article published on their website:

“Chess.com’s fair-play system is thorough, complex and rigorously verified by more than eight years of data from millions of games played by our own members online. Our system gathers and reviews different types of data and other information pulled automatically (and manually) from all member games.”

Chess.com

In other words: Chess.com has a fantastic system that can easily detect moves that should and moves that SHOULD NOT be played in a game where 1500 ELO players are playing each other.

How will Lichess.org admins detect cheating?

Mainly from users that are bright enough to understand that the other person is using a computer to choose their moves.

This is what a Lichess admin wrote in their own discussion forum thread about cheating:


Screenshot: Lichess.org/forum/

This reply from the lichess administrator is quite problematic.

Why?

Most beginner players do not understand what a “grandmaster move” is.

Therefore, a lot of cheaters playing against players in the lower end of the ELO rating system will never be caught.

Free vs Almost Free: Is Chess.com Premium Worth The Money?

Personally, I would say that Chess.com is worth the money.

That’s only because I am addicted to a game called Puzzle Rush.

The concept of Puzzle Rush is fairly easy to explain:

  • You have 5 minutes to do as many chess puzzles as you can.

  • If you make three mistakes, you’re out and have to start all over again.

  • Chess.com will save your score until the next time you play.

If you’re still confused about the concept, this Youtube video might help you to understand what it’s all about:

It looks fun, doesn’t it? 🙂

Apart from Puzzle Rush, are there any other reasons to buy Chess.com premium?

Not for me. I’ve seen that I have access to some lectures and opening theory, but I don’t really care about that.

I checked them out quickly before writing this article though. Frankly, I would say that Lichess got just as good lectures for free compared to the “premium” ones on chess.com.

One semi-cool feature is the fact that you get a yellow shining star close to your name when you play opponents. Everyone can now see that you got enough money to spend on a chess.com premium account. 😉

My “show off” star close to my nickname on Chess.com.

Different ELO rating system – chess.com vs lichess

I didn’t know about this rating issue before I started to play chess online.

After playing a couple of hundred blitz games on each platform, I went to my brother and told him:

“I feel that I’m always playing so well at Lichess. It’s quite amazing that I keep winning against these 1500+ rated players!”

Then he told me something that crushed my self-confidence. I wasn’t playing against 1500+ rated players. But Lichess got a different rating system – making it much easier to rank higher compared to what you can on Chess.com.

I’m not going to go into depth with this topic, but you have to be aware of the rating difference. This article from chessgoals.com gives some great insight.

This is literally how you can translate your chess.com rating to lichess – and vice versa:

LichessChess.com
Blitz rating13001000
Bullet rating12251000

In other words, it’s about 200-300 rating point difference between Lichess and Chess.com for blitz and bullet.

What do other people say about this topic?

There are many people joining the  “chess.com versus lichess.org” debate on the various discussion forums.

These are some of the most informative ones:

Believe it or not: I don’t always have the answer to everything.

It might be well worth looking into someone elses’ opinion sometimes. 🙂

FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions. These are questions that I found on various chess forums – and I included especially questions that have not been answered properly by other websites online.

If you got any OTHER questions, feel free to give me a shout in the comment section below the article. I’m more than happy to share anything I know about Chess.com and Lichess. 🙂

✅Are there other chess platforms to consider?

Magnus Carlsen, the best chess player in the world, has launched a platform called Chess24.com. I’ve registered myself on that website (so you don’t have to).

To be honest, it’s just a copy of chess.com. What annoyed me most about Chess24 is their eager effort to make you pay for their premium subscription service. I’ve never gotten so many “aggressive” sales emails from any company ever before.

Thumbs down. My advice is to stick with either Lichess org Chess.com.

✅Can chess.com be used for free?

Absolutely. You don’t have to buy a premium to play games against other people or people you know.

You can even download the Chess.com app on your phone if you want. That’s also for free.

✅Why do most grandmasters and famous chess players play on Chess.com?

As mentioned before, Chess.com is a platform that earns a lot of money. They spend some of that money on paying grandmasters to play on their platform.

I can’t even think of how many players that people like Chessbrah and Hikaru Nakamura have recruited to their platform.

Lichess is a 100 % free platform – and can’t pay anyone to promote their channel.

✅I don’t want to pay, but I want to analyze my games – which platform to choose?

Lichess. 100 % lichess.

The fact that Lichess allows you to analyze all of your games with Stockfish is brilliant. That’s why broke/poor people that want to improve their game often start with Lichess – and then they might move on to Chess.com premium if they want to play Puzzle Rush.

✅Why are there so many “mean players” and “trolls” on chess.com?

Because that’s the first website people will go to when they start to play online chess. Young and immature players will appear sometimes on chess.com.

There are many ways they can annoy you. Writing bad words is one of them. Another way is to wait out their game instead of moving a piece – hoping that you might forfeit the game before the time runs out.

I have seen less of this type of behavior on Lichess.

Additional chess articles on Sustainability Matters

Are you still here?

Oh well!

This website has actually grown to become quite a resource for “up and coming” chess players. Many of our chess-based articles have become extremely popular – and you can hopefully see something you would want to read in the list below:

Please don’t forget to leave a comment below. That would make me super happy! 🙂

32 thoughts on “Pros and Cons: Chess.com vs Lichess.org”

  1. I have had (and paid for) chess . com for a few years, and thanks to this article I have JUST registered on lichess. I don’t play much, so we’ll see how it all goes on lichess.

    I have NEVER received anything approaching spam from chess . com. Just putting that out there…

  2. Lichess.org is great! It completely has no ads and is fully free there is no paid features! Here’s a fun fact! If you try to create an account on chess.com and type int Lichess in it it won’t accept it! But anyway I have used chess.com for a little I found it out from Lichess.org. I agree with the negative points of chess.com in this article.

  3. From about 2002 to 2021 I played exclusively at ICC…I managed to get to about 2000 rated playing 20min games.
    On ICC, whose ratings are more in line with FIDE than other site, this made me an expert chess player (you could expect an FM to be about 2200 in standard games in those days).
    ICC is (was?) a serious site for people who are serious about chess…at least it was…it seems a bit empty and neglected now…its a shame…its where I ‘cut my teeth’ at chess and it made me into a very good positional player and improved my analysis and strategical planning.
    Before ICC I never used to really analyse positions, I found after joining ICC I HAD to analyse to even remotely get a chance of winning even at the 1400 level…
    ICC…you made me the man I am today and I thankyou…
    Lichess players distinctly lack the skills of analysis and planning…its all short range tactics and short range tactical ideas….you can spot them a mile off…there is no depth….even at 2000+ they do not see the ‘truth’ of a position…
    I never really tried chess.com I don’t like the interface…

  4. Generally, I play online chess in chess.com and i like to play game on this website. So i highly recommend to all chess lovers to play game on this site.

  5. okay here’s my 2 cents

    lichess.org has stronger engine although both sites claim theirs are Stockfish 13. i have tried “making” them play against each other (don’t think its impossible… ya know. i opened two windows. so its basically human vs computer on each site.. the same thing that most cheaters do. but i didn’t violate rules since i played as a guest). no time limit. both were playing in their highest levels (chess.com = Maximum/Level 25 vs lichess.org = Level 8)

    RESULT : lichess.org won. and it always was. i tried many times. chess.com’s ‘Stockfish is no match against lichess.org’s Stockfish, but they show you good matches.

    lichess.org’s Stockfish is undefeatable so far in my experience. i have also tried other chess websites’ engines/computers (shredder, spark, mathisfun, chess.org, etc). i tried their highest levels. but they are all no match to lichess.org’s Stockfish!

    lastly… i have spent more times on chess.com since i think it has more features…. and more dramas/conflicts/debates and stuff including some members protesting/questioning/defending the site admins’ decisions (which are somewhat fun to read) but maybe its because i haven’t spent enough time on lichess.org.

  6. Lichess also has a puzzle rush now called puzzle storm, and I don’t understand why would you say that Chess.com has a better cheat detection system. Blatant cheaters(Those who copy the top moves of the engine) are more or less banned in less than a day while it takes more than a month for chess.com to do that. I think you should update your article(especially since Lichess also got Puzzle Storm)

    1. Great! One point to note is that however someone may prefer Lichess (eg me), they cannot deny that chess.com has really done a great job of promoting chess in the lockdown, eg by Pogchamps

    1. Wow, that would be amazing! Thanks for the tip.

      Currently, when I open that link, it says “This feature is disabled on the Lichess development server.”

      Best,

  7. Jaya Shankar Singh

    Although few of the points raised by the author are acceptable but the half cooked article needs to be updated.
    Let me give the readers few important points:
    – The chesscom mobile app “Game Report” is best for beginner to understand faults and identify best moves.
    – Lichess app is obsolete and user must access their website to fully use the service. On mobile you can add the page to home screen to use as an app.
    – Lichess has a “Study” section which even chesscom premium account can’t enjoy where people can collaborate to learn. Make moves, go back, draw arrows, chat, audio chat, analyse each moves and learn chess in the most innovative way possible. (Best way to teach or learn chess with almost no additional resource).
    – Lichess and chesscom both uses same engine foe analysis but lichess is completely free and unlimited.
    – Moderators on Lichess are quick to respond and take genuine actions against BAD players. Response from chesscom to one of my reporting about abusive player was so sarcastic that I stopped reporting players on their website.
    – Lichess offers best gameplay specially with features like “take-back” request option when you are playing with your friends.

    1. Hi Jaya and thanks for your valuable input.

      In regards to the points above, I simply haven’t had the chance to explore many of them due to the reasons below:

      – All games I play are played on desktop. None on mobile.

      – I haven’t had much experience with the Chess.com moderators.

      – From my experience, the “take back” request option is mainly used by the same players that spend 9 minutes on one single move when they are in a proper losing position.

      Anyway: thanks a lot for your comment. I understand you favor Lichess over Chess.com any day of the week! 🙂

  8. Lichess is awesomer in my opinion, I have tried the two, first Chess.com, which I fell in love with for years until I discovered Lichess.

  9. I believe lichess is the best option. Chess.com has been banning too many titled players from their site ever since they had their new “fair play system” installed. I dont think titled players are cheating at such a high rate increase over the last year. Players have also been muted for any reason or no reason at all and have had their accounts banned or restricted. Its is were all the spoiled brat kids play and also why they save all your conversations whether private or not so they can ban you later. Its a very orwellian globalist minded company and its not worth the money. Lichess puzzles are way better. Chess.com is repetitive and their puzzles are mediocre because they are ‘designed’ and not from ‘played games’ like lichess. Stick to lichess if you dont want to have all your hard work wiped out due to some over zealous moderator over the over extensive cheating game analysis that is based on only 8 YEARS of games played on the site and master games. man go against the grain and make computer moves out of coincidence and end up banned and unable to access your account and be labeled a cheater. Use chess.com at your own risk. You can get banned for any and no reason at all. Its such a rip off. These companies want to buy lichess so you cannot play for free. Give you money to a open source community based chess site like lichess instead and become a patron and help bring quality chess to us all.

    1. Hi Solomon, thanks for your comment.

      I do really appreciate all the feedback from people in the comment section.

      I haven’t had these bad experiences with chess.com (YET…?), but I do acknowledge that more and more people look at lichess as the best option.

    2. I can attest to everything he says. And as someone who’s played on both sites, I don’t at all understand why you’d say there are more cheaters on Lichess. I’ve heard from most others that it’s the opposite. My own experience says the same.
      When playing on chess.com I encountered engine users every single day I played. After playong on Lichess I can only confidently say that I’ve encountered one. I feel much more safe playing on Lichess.
      This whole article seems more like an ad for chess.com

      Their so called fair play system cares more about the statistics than catching actual cheaters. And if the person in question is a paid member, there’s a chance they won’t care at all.

  10. Norwegian TV recently interviewed the guy who owns lichess. He said that they tripled their amount of users during this weird time we’ve been in so far this year (2020). In other words: people tend to play more chess online, which is great for everyone.

    Unfortunately, I am sure the greedy chess.com guys see the same numbers. And they tend to force people to buy their premium accounts etc.

    1. Hi Jonny!

      It looks like you’re also watching the NRK chess tournaments. I’m glad it’s more of us.

      Yes, I saw that interview. I don’t agree that chess.com is necessarily greedy or “force” anyone to sign up to a premium account. I mean: you can still play as many free chess games as you want on their platform without paying any money.

      However, I do understand your point of view on that.

  11. Do you know if you need a VPN to play at either lichess or chess.com from China?

    I found your website because you have so many great articles about living as an expat in China so I just wanted to ask if you had any experience with this as well.

    1. Hi M1lf 🙂

      Nope, you don’t need a VPN to play on either of these platforms. I have many Chinese friends that I still play with on Chess.com.

      However, there might come a time where the Chinese Communist Party sees value in developing their own online chess platform, which might mean that they’re blocking both of these platforms.

  12. Hey, thanks for the link to the ChessGoals rating comparison.

    Very well-written and thorough post! I think for chess improvement the lessons on chess.com are a huge selling point for their premium plans.

    Hope to see more chess posts!

    1. Hi Matt.

      Thanks a lot for your nice comment. And the link given to your website is well-deserved – you have created a great platform for people who want to become more educated about chess.

      The lessons on Chess.com might be good, but frankly, I’ve never dug too deep into them. I feel my chess skills improve almost only by playing puzzles and games. 😉

  13. the only reason why I love playing at Lichess is that I can say that my rating is about 1700 instead of 1300 (which it is on chess.com haha)

  14. Kyle Wannabe Walker

    Lichess is a place for fun. Chess.com is a place for being spammed with commercials and “great offers” all the time

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