Interview to SparkChess.com Community Manager Liviu Niculescu
September 25, 2021
We got in touch with Liviu Niculescu, community manager at SparkChess (https://www.sparkchess.com/), one of the most popular online chess website with computer or multiplayer gaming modes.
The simple and intuitive interface makes SparkChess “a game of chess everyone can enjoy”. When You play against computer on SparkChess You realize there’s a really cool AI opponent (with “secret ingredients“) that feels more like human player. SparkChess is available online as well as an app for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Before visiting the website and start playing SparkChess, don’t miss the following interview to Liviu Niculescu: You will read an amazing story about a successful software house! Once open a time in 2002…
Dear Liviu thank You for spending your time with us! Please tell about Your cool company in Romania! When was SparkChess developed and how has the community grown up to 100.000 players?
The origins of SparkChess lie in the era of flash games. In 2002, we created flashCHESS, the first online chess engine that did not rely on server software. Despite its shortcomings – it was not very powerful and did not follow all the chess rules correctly – it was an instant success. At that time we realized that there are a considerable number of people looking for a quick game of chess during a break, people who are intimidated by overly powerful chess engines. In 2008, we rebuilt the game from the ground up for the new web and called it SparkChess. It’s when we also developed the new powerful yet human-like AI with different personalities, allowing casual chess players to enjoy playing against the computer and feel the thrill of outsmarting their opponent. Two years later, multiplayer support was added, with the focus of enabling friends to play chess online together. With the 2020 pandemic, the success of this approach became very clear as it allowed isolated family members and friends to play together. Ultimately, the success of the game lies in listening to our wonderful community. We update the game regularly, not only adding new features, but also constantly refining the experience to make it fun for players of all ages – we have many players as young as 5 and as old as 90.
Which countries are the top players of SparkChess and what is the most popular game or website tool people use?
Most of our players come from the United States, followed by UK, Canada and France. SparkChess is available in eight languages, including Italian or Russian. Many people love to try the interactive chess puzzles that we publish regularly on the site. We select them from famous games between grandmasters and solving them is a great way for players to improve their skills by spotting opportunities.
What suggestion would You give to a beginner player? What is the best way to start learning chess?
The best way to learn is by playing! On SparkChess, players can play against different computer personas (start with Cody if you never played before). The game will highlight all valid moves for a piece, so it’s easy to understand and learn the rules. Then you can move to learning strategies and openings with SparkChess Premium, which features an Opening Explorer with over 100 opening variations, 30 interactive lessons and even an AI coach.
Please advise our readers about features for general, single-player and multiplayer games on SparkChess.com.
SparkChess is available online as well as an app for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. It’s an excellent way to get better at chess – learn the proper rules (including the elusive en-passant), practice openings, test strategies, use the board editor to recreate famous positions with FEN strings, replay famous games, import/export PGN games and databases and let the computer help. There are 4 different board styles (a 2D diagram, a fixed 3D design and two fully 3D chess sets) to suit any style – from the playful kid to the serious tournament player. In multiplayer, players can put their skills to the test against other chess enthusiasts or can now just watch live games as they unfold. The online games are synced in the cloud across player’s devices, so they can track their progress and replay old games.