L ichess (Lichess.org) started as a “simple tech experiment” and grew into the second most popular chess website on the internet, second only to Chess.com. According to Alexa, Lichess is currently one of the 1,150 most visited websites globally. Lichess is entirely free for users, has no advertisements, and is open-source, meaning the code is publicly accessible.
Over the past ten years, Lichess has evolved to push the boundaries of online chess. On a 2017 podcast episode of The Perpetual Chess Podcast hosted by Ben Johnson, Thibault Duplessis, the founder of Lichess, talked about how Lichess has evolved through the years. Duplessis was a twenty-four-year-old coder at the time and described himself as an average chess player. Duplessis decided to use chess as a vehicle to show the abilities of open source for real-time communication. Early improvements were just for Duplessis’ technical pleasure.
Lichess attracted an enthusiastic community that would cause the site to expand rapidly. Coders, developers, and players were all attracted by the core principles of Lichess. Having no advertisements is a point of emphasis for Duplessis. He describes advertisements as pollutants that make people stupid.