Chess is trendy and it makes sense for virtual game creators to tap into a new market of players inspired by “The Queen’s Gambit”. What PowChess has also done is bring competition for the online version of the game to an underserved community of players. Launched in beta on January 8, PowChess leverages BitcoinSV to attract more players who desire to compete for pennies or bigger stakes. Players can even pay others to oppose them, which is particularly helpful if you are eager to learn and want to compete against an accomplished board master. Perhaps most notably is PowChess’s donation program where a player can challenge an opponent and pay the stake for both parties, with the receiving party assured of the payout no matter the outcome of the game. It’s a way for wealthier players to support others or for experienced players to motivate enthusiastic novices to keep honing their skills.
“PowChess is unique because we have the payment integrated in the platform. So you can have micropayments. Wealthy players can play for large sums of Bitcoin and they wouldn’t have any issues with a credit card allowing them to make a deposit. But smaller players or players in countries where credit cards aren’t easy to get have a barrier to entry with other chess games. That’s not the case with PowChess,”
says Gal Buki, a co-founder of the German-headquartered company and long-time advocate for BSV and the big blocks it can deliver.
A TAAL client, PowChess benefits from the guaranteed pricing for transactions and the peace of mind of knowing there’s the necessary data capacity to manage volumes of game activity.
“What is good for us is we have a rate that is guaranteed by TAAL, which allows us to create more updates and more tokens, and to store everything on chain,”
“We’re able to save the whole game on chain without issue. It helps us to know our transactions will be in a block in a timely manner. It’s also good for a player to know that their transaction will be mined. For a player it is gratifying when he sees a mined transaction in a block and that his game has been validated and will always be there. It’s a better user experience.”
While a user can play for free against another competitor or an automated program, PowChess hopes to build a community of chess lovers who embrace the flexibility of digital currency. The minimum stake for a game with a payout is 100,000 sats (approximately $0.06 USD).
“You don’t have that lack of trust in this game that can happen in any online game or financial transaction. When players stake Bitcoin for a game they pay into an escrow smart contract and we pay out to the winner or to both players if there’s a stalemate from that pre-verified, immutable escrow contract. So the players always know the money is there and it will be paid,”
A software developer and former news broadcaster, Buki became a “big blocker” in 2016, when he followed the Bitcoin forking that split the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network from Bitcoin Core (BTC). BSV, the original Bitcoin protocol, emerged from a later forking event. Buki was convinced about BSV’s viability as a utility platform that can bring greater fairness and transparency to the digital world. He has been spreading the word through Telegram and other platforms. Two years ago, one of his fellow Telegram group members, Alexei Torgashov, an avid amateur chess player, sent him a message that asked why there was no version of his favourite game on BSV.
Torgashov and Buki started working on PowChess and since its public beta launch has attracted players from 88 countries, 28% of whom come from the United States. The company plans to begin wide-scale marketing, so its growth could expand quickly in the second half of 2022. It already is featured on the Haste Arcade store and tournaments, called Arena Games, are in the works. The tournaments are designed to allow very good players to enter the competition late and still have a chance of winning, saving them time from early-round challenges that could be viewed as tedious for them. There are also benefits for inexperienced players, Buki says, noting that PowChess will reward the first 50 finishers in a tournament with a slice of the pot.
“That’s an advantage for us, I think. Even players who are not so good will get something for participating, not just the first three players, which is how other games set their payouts,”