The Argawalla brothers may be best known for Scrabulous and their follow-up game Wordscraper, but they do have other titles on offer. One of those is Chess Pro, the classic game available for you and a Facebook friend to play together.
As you can see from the image above, the game has been kept very simple. The chess pieces follow a simple, clear design and appear on a numbered chess board.
Players perform moves by clicking over a piece with the mouse and dragging it to the desired board square. When happy you click the “Play Move” button and the board gets updated. One problem I had with this was the other player didn’t automatically get their version of the board updated, so you sit there constantly hitting the refresh button when it is your opponents turn.
A small chat box forms part of the interface making communication simpler between players, but this is again hampered by the update issue. Messages don’t get displayed unless you hit the refresh button. Checking the options you can select the board auto-update, but this seems to be limited to every 2 minutes. Why not just have an update for both players every time an action is performed?
One of the game’s features is the ability to not only play simultaneous games, but also continue a game when the other player is offline. This means you can have a long-lasting game without the problem of you both needing to be online at the same time to play.
Chess Pro is not the only chess game available on Facebook. Just putting the term “Chess” into the Facebook search box gets you 5 pages of results. From playing a few from the list I believe Chess Pro needs to improve in a number of areas before it becomes the chess game of choice on the network.
To begin with there is no AI option so you have to play against a friend. Having an option to play against the computer is a good backup in case your chess playing buddies aren’t around, although the option to play against an offline friend is a plus point. Graphically it is also lacking and there are some better alternatives available.
Finally, it has no aids for the new Chess player. This would be useful as if you are new to the game it can be difficult to remember where some pieces can move. Alternative Chess Fan, for example, highlights the available destination squares your piece can move to when you click on it. It sounds simple, but very useful for a new player.
Right now, if you asked me to recommend a chess game on Facebook it would be difficult to whittle the choices down to just one. Chess Pro is a capable implementation with a nice simultaneous game and offline play feature, but it is limited and there are alternatives that offer more in terms of graphics and play options. The lack of automatic refresh-on-action updates also counts against it.