Why the Downgrade?


So much in v3 is still sub-par to what was offered in v2:

  • The User Interface – simple as heck. Even the old timers could navigate it. V2 provided menus with WORDS. In the V2 Home Page one had:

    • V2 had but 1 (!!) scroll bar to operate.

    • Each page in V2 had its own URL, a history for any browser to assist quick navigation and User History. Unsaved content, e.g., could be recalled within browser history in V2.

    • All of V2's menu was in WORDS (+ Icons). Not Icons-only (+ hover words). In fact, V2's hover pop-ups were MORE WORDS with deeper explanations of what those links lead to.

    • V3 is Icon only. ⏰🚫🔎⚡️🥄💬⬆️🔗⚙✖️🈳  V3 is such a hodge-podge of icons. Good luck to the novice user in navigating the Cape Horn of interfaces in his/her dingy. Just look at how participation in groups / clubs has waned over the years! New Users cannot navigate the main interface without the aid of 13 or 14 thirty-minute YouTube videos to explain it all. No such videos were necessary for the operation of V2's user interface, neither were any chess players injured in the making of such.

    • V3 contains multiple in-browser focus points and scroll-bars. Multiple scroll bars.  Unsaved content is NOT recall-able nor stored in any browser buffer (i.e., it is lost if the page changes to another place). Often times screens are confusing as to whether a “⇐” BACK button will actually cancel a current sub-pane window (such as Analysis) or take the User to an entirely different location in browser history. The User can only HOPE it takes him/her back to where he/she hopes it goes. In other words, very poor User Interface design.

    • There is so much more content coming across the wires now, that V3 performance sans all the Ad-content is woefully slower compared to V2's simpler interface. I have documented this time-and-again for chess.com STAFF over the years(!!). On average, v2 responded with full page loads in 1/5th the time it takes v3 to respond. While v2 was “old tech”, the browsers and routers of the internet all deal with Full Page requests much better than multiple individual widget loads.

  • The Game Explorer – succinct, easy to navigate. Very fast response times as moves were entered or un-done. V3 is so slow comparatively.

  • Game Analysis and the compiled report that went with it in V2. Easy to see one's blunders, mistakes, and other minor errors.. and the lines of continuation for those tangents. V3 does not offer continuations like V2's reports did; they often conclude with 1 move of the blunder and that is it (see screen-shot below). V2's reports gave full lines of both blunder and best move continuations.

    V2's drawback to Game Analysis? One needed to scroll the screen just-right to view all the content in one screen on a laptop. V3, however, improved on none of this and, in fact, made it worse. More scrolling is necessary to view the current game score (+/- how many points) and the current move in the move history than ever before.  Navigating in-and-out of tangent lines is also less user friendly than before.  I tend define that as a downgrade.

  • The Tactics interface was also better.  Simpler and more functional on a single-page.  In v2, the user did not need to load the Comments section independently; it was already THERE.  Paginated properly. In v3, the user must weave her/his way around a plethora of non-descript icons and tabs… and pray like tacos that the 'back' button works.  Current v3 Tactics performance is quite buggy with screens suddenly disappearing, never to be seen again (as browsers do not have history of individual Tactics to reference any more).  And, don't get me started on the abomination that is the "Target Time" scoring algorithm in tactics training.... 🙄

  • v2's Activity Alert / Yellow box was a life-saver of time for the group admin.  Now alerts in v3 are all jammed together in to one bell of an icon, or listed in infinitude beneath a cryptic Icon system on the left, or now partially shown in a remake of the original with an additional scroll bar for good measure.

  • V2 had no need for a “focus” mode for chess games.

  • V2's pagination was optimal compared to v3. Recent changes to the code have now implemented one pagination option for v3 (in a Group/Club Notes section, e.g.)---or multiple pages for comments in tactics; that is quite an improvement. However, it still falls short of what pagination was in v2. One could see how many pages, e.g., were in total in a given forum in v2. V3's pagination is cryptic; one cannot foresee how many pages are in total in a given thread. In v2, one just needed to set a page number in the URL of a browser string to jump in to the middle of a discussion if one wanted. V3 cannot offer that option given how it is coded.

  • In v2, adding in chess diagrams is/was far easier than in v3. In v2, the FEN for a position was recorded ON the same screen as the game and move history. In v3, it's on a separate pop-up screen!?!? What UI-genius designed that? In v2, a Game Diagram could be created and edited within a couple of minutes. In v3, it's … painful. I cannot think of a better adjective to describe it.

   Can you point out where the FEN is in this screen shot of v3? 

  What does that "X" icon do?  If I press it, does my computer explode?  Do I find buried treasure?  Does a tic-tac-toe board pop-up?

  In this screenshot from v2, it's fairly obvious where

  the game FEN is located. Makes it far easier for a

  copy-paste operation by a user.

  Oh, and look, all the Icons are LABELED.

  What a novel concept.

I could go on. As someone (some-Dude may better) has accurately portrayed it: v3 is for those who like to play with computers, v2 is for those who like to play chess. I'm ready to go back to playing chess.


Okay - my screen shots did not make it... not surprised.

Screen shot of v3's analysis report (with shoddy continuation lines):

Screen shot of v3's cryptic find-the-FEN-string :



And, for comparison, v2's screen shot, clearly showing the current FEN for the game at-hand:


I agree that I was quite fond of V2, and it irritates me that there are icons now instead of words. 

The article introducing V3 summarized the difference in three bullet points:

  • The latest web technologies let us add features we could only dream of in the past.
  • Gorgeous, rich new graphics make the site, the boards, and the pieces beautiful in the highest definition.
  • The user experience has been revised everywhere, with a focus on clarity, simplicity and relevance.

The first point, I don't know what to say about. Very generic and a statement applicable to just about every change in this post-modern world. 

The second statement: personally I don't CARE about "gorgeous, rich new graphics". I came to play chess, not to be distracted by fancy graphics. 

Third statement: I'm sure the intent was "clarity, simplicity, and relevance", but at this point everything seemed so dumbed down that it's lost clarity. Like you said, Spacebux, they put a lot more focus on icons instead of words in the main page (maybe they thought a large portion of the chess-playing population were illiterate?), and it drives my head to hell. 

To cap it off, everything feels so superfluous now. It's distracting more than helpful. I would go back to V2 but they don't seem to have that option anymore. 



Just wanted to add to this post thanking you for the detailed analysis.  I've experienced a few of the same issues.  You obviously spent (and have over the past few years) a lot of time detailing the issues here in a detailed and knowlegable way and I appreciate your effforts.  I'm just another guy trying to play chess here as I have done for years, and it's a shame all this redesign fluff has made this more difficult and less enjoyable.  Thanks again for all your time trying to improve things.  - Insidejob


I notice the promised speed increase with the shutdown of v2 didn't materialise...


Given all these defects in v3, one would think it'd be an easy reboot and go back to v2.

However, Erik has a history of touting numbers. 

  • Look at how the site has grown! 
  • Those of you still clinging to v2, you're in the minority!  98% approve of v3!
  • Stats, stats, stats!

And yet, that seems to never address the fundamental flaws with v3. 

Over the years, we have listed - numerous times - the drawbacks and shortcomings of v3.  And Erik has gone forward, often times putting lipstick on his pet v3-pig.  And it begs the question---why?

What is it that v3 provides that v2 did not?  For all the defects in v3, there must be something or a few special somethings that keep him locked on to the v3-wagon.

  • Ad revenue?  Certainly, that has to be up... is v3 more efficient at dishing it out than v2?
  • SEO?  I have mulled this over in my head many times... I just can't see the justification there.
  • Deer in the headlights for all the shiny bells & whistles of v3?  Is he so blinded he cannot step aside and have an objective look at what the Dev Team has delivered (or, not delivered)??? 
  • Better Admin control over all the Users?  This may be one of the items holding Erik betrothed to v3... .  v3 delivers little for the end user of the site---maybe there was some special sauce for the site admin team.
  • Greater control of content creation - centralization of content creation?  Might be a part of it.
  • Titled Tuesdays?  I don't think this was a "thing" until the advent of v3, so this may be one of those pocket-pair gems Erik cannot let go of at the poker table.
  • I.P.O. ?   If the long-term goal of chess.com is to get to a public offering on the NASDAQ, would v3 be the only platform (of the two) to get Erik to that point?  Perhaps v2 did not contain the needed accounting hooks for listing purposes?

V3 has broken many dreams and promises.  As G-man pointed out , the performance boost promised after v2 was turned off never came to fruition.  Most of us in IT knew that was pie-in-the-sky promise when we heard it.  Now that v2 has been turned off for months, we can all see the empty basket of that campaign promise.  And, the propaganda machine for V3 has quieted dramatically since v2 was finally shut-off.


... Which leads me to believe that v3 exists for the purpose of the last item in my list---the IPO.  Nothing else in my guesses makes logical sense for what we've seen - from STAFF, from Erik, from the Dev Team, and from the Cult of V3.   Only the out-and-out enthusiasm (or greed, if you prefer) for a public listing can explain why one would cannibalize a better site, albeit an older one, for a lesser one. 


When satisfying the wants of the old cadre and being content with a slow, methodical increase of membership is not enough; when working through real member issues and wants is no longer a priority; when touting account numbers and site visits is one of the most quintessential statistics; when UI design is no longer centered around real User Feedback and Experience; when you keep around an older version of the site for YEARS just to satisfy the disgruntled 2% .. to keep them hanging on for just that much longer until you hope they can See The Light of the new version, you know the penultimate goal has shifted from a User-Centric one, to a Share-Holder-Centric one.

Nothing else makes sense to me.


Great summary and analysis Spacebux!


I think it's more than unfair to say the site isn't user centric when that was the very reason they kept V2 around for so long - they even sent a person around to @Spacebux's house to try and understand what was happening.

When I was at university, one of our group projects was to assess the options for video learning and remote training. In the end, we recommended satellite connections, because the codecs at the time just didn't deliver the quality required. We completely missed the improvement in both bandwidth and compression technologies that make today's Facetime and Skype connections possible. My point is that while V3 sends more data than V2, that doesn't mean its worse: it's worse for people with old computers and old connections maybe, but for an increasing number of people - particularly young people - it's not a issue at all.

Using icons rather than words makes the site easier to translate to and navigate in other languages: there's a huge potential audience whose main languages are Spanish and Chinese that Chess.com is now better positioned to reach and connect with.

The reality is that the V2 technology platform didn't support the things Chess.com wanted to do to grow not just the site, but the number of people interested in and therefore playing chess - not just appealing to existing chess players, but getting more people into chess through innovations like the Pro Chess League, the Speed Chess Championship, Puzzle Rush and these new interactive lessons, things that might have arrived even earlier if they hadn't spent so much time & effort trying to appease people who were never going to be appeased.

I appreciate that change is hard for people and that some people prefer simplicity and the way things were: if they can find a place that provides that for them, that's terrific. Chess.com is looking to the future - the near future at that - and is never going back to the way that it was, no matter how much people want to say that the old ways were better. Chess.com has metrics on not only many people are joining the site, but how long they stay, how long they play, what they look at and do - if V3 was hurting them as much as some people want to say that it is, I'm sure they would have done something about it.

The "Cult of V3" doesn't need "propaganda" any more - the war is won, it's over. And yet, Chess.com lets complaints like these stand - surely if they were as narrow minded as some want to portray them as, this content would be removed and its proponents banned. Choosing to stay but choosing to continue to complain about it seems like the least sensible option to me - then again, we are talking about people here, so maybe in a weird sort of way it does makes sense.

That's my take on things. Your Mileage May Vary,


My mileage does vary.

I think it's quite rich to insinuate the "war is won, it's over".  That's typical of one side of a debate that no longer wishes to discuss and defend it's side -- typically the losing one -- as it is no longer defensible.   In one post you summarized all the talking points the Cult of V3 ever had over the years: all of them 'emotional'.  None of them technical nor logical nor technically accurate.

a.)  Icons are better than words.  Really?  So, anyone can just look at a bunch of Japanese or Chinese or Hindu script and readily understand those pictographs??  No training or translation required, right?   But, let's play the Icon game. 

    ✖️ <-- What does this mean? 

  • I found the buried treasure.
  • If I click this, my window disappears.
  • A tic-tac-toe board is about to pop-up.
  • Multiplication will follow.
  • I should have taken the blue pill.

What does that mean?  That's a figgin' Icon that could mean just about any thing to any one.  Words matter.  Words have meaning.  Words have a far better defined connotation than any Icon ever could.  🔗🏳⬆️🚥⚙ <-- any one of these could mean multiple things to multiple people.  I don't think you have to be terribly obtuse to comprehend that issue with Icons.

Words are even easier to translate nowadays given how convenient translation services and programs are.

b.), c.), & d.) -- irrelevant as you have no substantial point to argue, just emotion gone awry.

I would guess you are one of the Dev Team trying hard to justify the shoddy work done on v3, as many have done in the past.  Simply put, the Dev Team members are only comfortable in programming things a certain way, this is how it was done, so they will defend the defective work to the absurd end of their days... to justify the paycheck Erik wrote for them.  V3 is SUB PAR to V2 and the Dev Team knows it.


I would hardly describe V3 as being "the losing side" - it and not V2 is now the only interface used by Chess.com, and an increasing number of people have no idea what V2 was, and those that do don't see any need to keep on defending a change that has been made and which is not going to be undone.

Words are easier to translate, sure, but it's the way the menus are integrated into the platform code that probably means it's much easier to have international language files for ALL hover text than to try to translate them piecemeal in the menus: surely that's a well known feature of web development?

An icon can be changed easily without disrupting the UI by changing the width of the text in the menu, which can do things like push icons that used to be aligned nicely on the right off the page or screen - a more helpful suggestion would be to suggest what sort of icon would be more intuitive.

Having said that, people can see the help text for what an icon does by simply hovering over it - they don't have to click on it or guess. I do know that's a general problem with tablets like the iPad and the Microsoft Surface, as the touch screen interface doesn't really do mouse hovering, but that's a separate issue and doesn't look to be yours.

Furthermore, your specific screen shot is no longer true - the FEN string IS on the same page as the analysis and the icon to download it is NOT the "X" icon but the one that looks a bit like an atom:

Unless you were looking at something other than the computer analysis of a game from your archive on the web site?

I have an IT business analyst background with some dev experience, but I've never done any work for Chess.com in either capacity: I worked for a large multinational for over 20 years, but have worked for a not for profit medical research institute for the last 3 or 4. I have had some personal interactions with @erik and his team, though, and I find these sort of attacks directed at their personal intentions and integrity really annoying, which is why I'm dignifying it with an attempt at a response - criticise their execution, sure, but sometimes I think Chess.com is way too tolerant of members who seem to have little interest in actually contributing to its success.


Uhhh... if you are translating "Hover text", you are still translating text.

"An icon can be changed easily without disrupting the UI ... "  ⇐ I take that to mean Icons are Meaning-fluid, and you've just made my case for Icons versus Words with Icons being of less intrinsic value than Words.  Thank you.

"Furthermore, your specific screen shot is no longer true - the FEN string IS on the same page as the analysis and the icon to download it is NOT the "X" icon but the one that looks a bit like an atom."


  1.  In v2, one did not have to open ANY additional side-widget-window.  It was always THERE, on the main game screen.  Very easy to see, very easy to find.
  2. So what the thunder is the "plus" + icon for?  And, I thought the Icon you circled is the "Share" icon.   Do you not SEE the complete disaster that is v3 for the over-reliance on Icons?!?!?  Iconification of a website is not a win-win for everyone involved.  It permits lazy-UI developers to get away with shoddy work.

Yes, it is a shame new comers to the site are not made aware that chess.com has had better User Interfaces.  A crying shame.

I find these sorts of defenses of Erik's Dev Team to be really annoying.  People who cannot understand that discontent is real, and is indeed earned.  When you go buy your next computer and it has a multi-color backlit keyboard, a brand new Windoze O.S. with all the bloat-ware one can ever hope for, and the biggest Ultra-HD LED touch screen one could fit inside a lab room, and you're wondering why it's taking you 5 minutes to do the same thing you used to do in 1 minute with your old system, I hope you never bother to curse & swear in Microsoft's general direction.  I hope you say to yourself that THAT is progress!  That you simply don't understand all the hard work and intention put in to that brand new system that is simply dogging it in so many aspects... .




You continue to operate on the assertion of emotional arguments. 


I completely missed one of the chief arguments for V3, which was that it supports browsing from mobile devices - menus with words don't work in that context, as there just isn't enough screen real estate, and increasingly more people are using it that way. I'm pretty sure that the V2 technology platform couldn't cater for it either.

The challenge is not in translation of the text, but making those translations available - it's much easier to do for hover text than it is in user menus. It's the difference between having a single file with all of the text linked to the relevant hover points with having to look up the relevant translation within the menu code. And that's not taking into account the impact that text might have on the menu itself (needs a wider menu because the translation into X has more text? Hey, now it's extended over something that was previously visible).

The gap between seeing an icon and understanding what it does seems to be a problem for you - just hover over it and you will get the meaning, it's not really that hard. I get that some people value simplicity over everything else, but the majority of people are perfectly fine with accepting a little more complexity for all of the other benefits it gives them. It takes 5 minutes to figure it out? Perhaps, but after that it's not a problem - on an ongoing basis, it's still simple to get to and simple to do. The fact that you are unwilling to invest the time & effort into learning how it works up front but are choosing to invest it in criticism of the change and of the team responsible for the change is something I hope people can see and assess for themselves.

I bought myself a blue back lit mechanical keyboard for the office - I avoided the multi-colour ones, they seemed just a bit too much happy.png I do wish some Microsoft would hurry up with better integrating stuff like Yammer into their overall ecology, and I'm still not a personal fan of OneDrive yet, but that doesn't bother me - what did bother me was when Microsoft Australia was directed to strictly apply their global licensing policy for Medical Research Institutes to us when in the Australian context, MRIs are generally not-for-profit organisations (unlike in the US). That would have increased our licensing costs by more than $1 million, so we're glad that discussions with Microsoft finally helped them understand. Is this costing you that sort of money, proportionally? Maybe you need to get together a group of like minded people, get government support and lobby Chess.com on somewhere other than their own community forums. Maybe on reddit or in a Google group?

Spacebux wrote:

You continue to operate on the assertion of emotional arguments. 

Emotional arguments are generally what people relate to. Betamax was a better video recording technology than VHS, and yet it lost out in the end. It's true of many things in life: it's not whether something is "better" but whether it's "good enough" and has enough of that emotional stuff that people get on board with it.

Caedrel wrote:
Spacebux wrote:

You continue to operate on the assertion of emotional arguments. 

Emotional arguments are generally what people relate to. Betamax was a better video recording technology than VHS, and yet it lost out in the end. It's true of many things in life: it's not whether something is "better" but whether it's "good enough" and has enough of that emotional stuff that people get on board with it.

HDDVD was better than Blu-Ray, but still went away. 


@Spacebux, you want V2 back?  I miss the quill pen.  So much better than mechanical typewriters.  You can't Tweet with a typewriter, but the quill pen at least has twittering in its history.

But progress is progress.  I think the Flash kill date is next year anyway, so a change was forced whether Erik wanted it or not.

Reepicheep14 wrote:

@Spacebux, you want V2 back?  I miss the quill pen.  So much better than mechanical typewriters.  You can't Tweet with a typewriter, but the quill pen at least has twittering in its history.

But progress is progress.  I think the Flash kill date is next year anyway, so a change was forced whether Erik wanted it or not.

You’re back!

Reepicheep14 wrote:

@Spacebux, you want V2 back?  I miss the quill pen.  So much better than mechanical typewriters.  You can't Tweet with a typewriter, but the quill pen at least has twittering in its history.

But progress is progress.  I think the Flash kill date is next year anyway, so a change was forced whether Erik wanted it or not.


Hahahaha.. and yet chess is even older.  Nice non sequitur there.  Come back with a real argument and we'll talk.

Care to guess which O.S. your nearest ATM is running?


sniff sniff  ... is something burning?  Oh, it's @Reepicheep14 .. 'cause he got burned.  🚭🚭