The History of ICSes - Parts 7 & 8

"Some of the things that were done in volunteer fashion when the Net was just a small community may no longer be possible" - Joel Maloff

Part 7: Why Yahoo! Is Not an ICS

The multinational corporation known as Yahoo! has several Java based games where you may play with other players.  Those games include chess.  However, Yahoo! is NOT, I repeat, NOT an ICS.  You lose time no matter what and if you disconnect there is no adjournment.  The games themselves are not even saved.  You cannot pick up a piece before it is your turn.  Notorious cheating runs rampant with several people attaining obscene ratings floating at around the 10,000+ mark.  There is only one option to play and that is via Java.  There is no telnet access.  Numerous arguments against Yahoo! in this respect and yet several idiots still claim that this is an ICS or better than an ICS.  Number uno, Yahoo! IS NOT AN ICS.  Deux, the lack of features and rampant cheating ensure that even a poor ICS is better than Yahoo! unless you're a cheater yourself that likes to be unrestricted in his/her cheating.

The java "room" where you go to get a game from amongst the people here.

The actual game board itself - lack of features, notation is in "computer-speakese".

Compare Yahoo! to an ICS and you will see that there is truly no competition.  Some other "non-ICSes" include:

World Chess Network -- NOT AN ICS

Kasparov Chess -- Also NOT AN ICS

FIDE Play Zone -- ANOTHER NON-ICS

With the 4 major non ICSes named, some other common NON-ICSes referred to by people include "pogo.com" , "games.com" , and something called "MSN Game Zone".  Those and a lot of others are NOT ICSes. 

So by now you're probably asking "What ICS should I go play on and using what?".

Part 8: Five Years of Reflection

I wrote this "History of the ICSes" during the final months of 2002 and updated them for the last time in late January of 2003.  More than five years have passed since then and as I write this in mid-May of 2009, several things have happened.  To retain informational value, I've only slightly modified these pages, but for the most part, they are unaltered.  I also replaced the original Part 8 (which contained a hilarious FAQ that was probably in very poor taste) with this new introspective "journal" entry about my thoughts on ICS history over the past few years.

I think I'll have to go through the changes that have occurred, according to the parts in order:

Part 1 - Windows Vista does not come with telnet as a default application.  Are you kidding me?  I had to add that sentence into the article itself because I'm still in disbelief after I found this out.  You have to jump through some hoops in order to get telnet "activated" on Vista (as far as the MS program goes).  Also, I'm pretty sure that fewer and fewer people even know what ASCII means, much less what ASCII art would be.  Here's a fantastic example of ASCII art that I'm going to immortalize on here just so we have a permanent example to gaze upon as it disappears from the Internet.  On a side note, FICS hasn't been the same since Bugholio left - he was the premier ASCII artist of FICS, although some of the images he created weren't exactly PG-13.

Part 2 - ICC has raised its rates from $49 to $60 a year.  This is a direct change implemented by the new CEO of ICC - Joel Berez (Zork) after ICC hired him away from GamesParlor (USCL).  ICC acquired USCL and World Chess Network and merged the two to create World Chess Live, a hybrid USCL-cultured, ICC-codebased server.  They also acquired a new Spanish-only chess server (ajedrez21 aka chess21) and integrated that server directly into ICC itself.  ICC also adopted the USCL proprietary interface to create "Dasher" - their second (!!) proprietary interface that works on ICC, but is the required interface for their WCL server.  ICC has remained the flagship ICS (not much has changed there).  If anything, ICC has actually grown larger.

Part 3 - FICS is the hardest server to evaluate in the past few years.  FICS hasn't fully admitted what it's done with the USCL deal, and with USCL being acquired by ICC, I'm not quite sure how this impacts things - ICC definitely was able to acquire some insight into FICS' inner workings.  And over the past few years, FICS has turned into something akin to the pre-1998 days when Friar and Binford were some of the highest ranking admins in charge.  In other words, FICS seems to have regressed a bit.  They've added atomic chess and Loser's chess, but were the last major server to do so.  They have no code improvements coming.  The admin team seems stagnant.  There have been some external projects that have improved FICS, such as the new database for games on FICS, but nothing that directly impacts the codebase.  I think FICS has strayed too far from its roots, but that's my opinion.

Part 4 - chess.net... HAHAHAHAHA.  The end.

Ok, not really.  But come on, chess.net just keeps making its codebase worse and worse.  They went entirely pay within the past few years and must have a player base of about 50 dudes and 200 computers at this point in time.  Their admins are incompetent.  There's been scandal after scandal.  They add categories like "stealth" and "atomic" which are entirely unplayable and unusable and claim they have those variants (stealth has been removed for years, but atomic remains).

Part 5 - MEWIS-2 died, SICS died, ZICS died (as per my prediction), ICChess.net died (also per my prediction), GICS is still alive though.  Not much to say here.  GICS is a really small server and only German players ever log in anymore.  As well as it should be.

Part 6 - US Chess Live began its downward spiral when it allowed Paul Truong to join its server as a part of the administrative staff and alphalio & Indigo left.  That was the exact day the server began circling downwards in a spiral of darkness.  Soon, it went entirely "Royal" for the most part.  ICC bought it out due to its former CEO pushing to do so and probably put it out of its misery.  It still survives as WCL but I don't hear about it very much anymore, if at all.

Part 7 - Yahoo! still has its chess section, but has blocked the YICS project from functioning by utilizing captcha - which is rather hilarious in my view.  To view more about the YICS project, go to its site.  I'm not sure how much longer that will still be a live link, but it was being run by one of the tossers that made one of the smaller servers fail.

And there you have it - a short introduction to the history of ICSes.  I'll have more about each and every server on a separate page someday in the future.


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[Last original modified: 25 January 2003]
[Last revised modified: 20 May 2009]