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A decade ago, it was clear that if you wanted to play against titled players, ICC was the best way to go. With the rising popularity of free chess servers such as lichess.org and chess.com, is ICC still the best place to play chess if you are looking for games with masters? Does chess.com have more masters/day that visit their site? I suspect that that there are significantly more titled players that play on chess.com these days but since I don't have an ICC account, I cannot verify. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks.

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    I've switched to lichess since it is free, has a decent mobile app for playing online, has useful analysis features built in the app, and is fast in finding/kicking cheaters when reported. Chess.com is very slow in dealing with cheaters, and for ICC you have to pay too much money.
    – TMM
    Jul 11 '17 at 2:34
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    I think this is "opinion-based". The ratings in ICC are inflated and their service is very expensive. I'll never go back to ICC, even they were free. Lichess is better and much better.
    – SmallChess
    Jul 11 '17 at 2:41
  • I find that it is very difficult to find strong players in lichess however. It seems that the only way is to play in a tournament and that means that you will have to play many weak players just to play a strong one a couple times. Jul 11 '17 at 3:04
  • Also, SmallChess, I think this question is not entirely opinion base because the question at its core is asking which site has more strong players, which is a objective question. I didn't put lichess up there simply because it isn't popular enough to have enough strong players. Jul 11 '17 at 3:07
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Playchess.com, hands down, the best by test. The best interface - essentially the same as ChessBase - whereas ICC is clunky, and Chess.com is increasingly for kids.

At Playchess, 2000 players play like 2000 players, and 1400's play like 1400's. I find the rating strengths fairly equivalent to OTB tournament strength.

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Honestly I believe that Chess.com is the best site for strong players and to gently and steadily climb up the ladder according to your rating. What I have witnessed in Chess.com is that there is a background algorithm which works for everyone and when you ask for a game it would exactly pair you up in a range which would be +400 & -400 rating points. You can even customize it according to your wish.

The benefit is if you are a 1800+ player, it would show up on the dashboard and other players would also be observing your game which is quite encouraging and you never get someone who would be too much below your rating.

Moreover, the site has infinite material resources about openings and middlegame understanding from top-level players, which makes it a great deal if you want serious progress. Even there are a lot of advertisements and strong players play there regularly, the UI is also superb.

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