In the old days, people used to play chess through the mail, on the premise that any game's a little more fun when your challenger is far, far away instead of across the coffee table. You'd send off your move, and then wait a few weeks for your opponent to write back so you could make the move on your chessboard. While there was an old-world kind of charm in the arrival of a beautifully illustrated postcard, a single game could take months.
On the Internet, you can play chess with someone halfway around the world in real time. If you get really good, you can make checkmate in less time than it takes to address a postcard. In fact, you can read about chess, chat about chess, and even watch chess right from your computer screen.
But chess is only the tip of the iceberg. This chapter's your guide through the dense forest of games people play online, including:
General family games. Scrabble, solitaire, hearts, backgammon, dominos, and so on.
Online bridge and chess. Complex games with massive online followings.
Shoot 'em up games. Online, the bullets and paintballs are virtual.
Multiplayer games. Dungeons & Dragons meets the Internet.
Virtual worlds. Lead a second life via an online alter ego.
Fantasy sports. Test your management skills fielding a team.
Gambling. Win (or lose) real money in a virtual casino.
The Web has no shortage of games—or people to play them with. If you can play it with cards or a board, chances are there's ...