How does Lichess Make Money? | Business Model Explained

If you’re an avid chess player, you’ve probably heard of Lichess – a free, open-source chess platform that boasts millions of users worldwide. While Lichess provides an amazing service to chess enthusiasts around the globe, many people wonder how the platform generates revenue.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the business model of Lichess and explore the various ways the platform makes money.

What is Lichess?

Lichess is a free, open-source chess platform that allows players to play chess online with people from around the world. The platform was created in 2010 by Thibault Duplessis, a French software engineer and chess enthusiast. Since its launch, Lichess has grown in popularity and now has millions of registered users.

One of the main reasons for Lichess’s popularity is that it is completely free to use. There are no hidden fees, and users don’t have to pay for any of the features or services provided by the platform. This raises the question – how does Lichess make money?

How does Lichess Work?

How does Lichess Work?

Lichess is a free, open-source online chess platform that allows users to play chess against other players from around the world. The platform offers a variety of game modes, including bullet, blitz, rapid, and classical, as well as a number of chess variants, such as chess960 and King of the Hill.

To get started with Lichess, users can simply create an account and log in to the platform. Once logged in, they can choose to play against the computer or other players, or they can explore the various features and tools available on the platform.

One of the key features of Lichess is its analysis board, which allows users to analyze and review their games in detail. The analysis board includes a variety of tools, such as a chess engine that can provide analysis and suggestions for improvement, as well as the ability to add comments and annotations to the game.

In addition to playing and analyzing games, Lichess also offers a number of other features and tools, such as puzzles and tactics trainers, as well as the ability to create and participate in tournaments and teams.

Lichess also has a strong focus on community, with a chat feature that allows users to communicate with other players, as well as forums and blogs where users can share their thoughts and insights on the game of chess.

Another key aspect of Lichess is its commitment to fair play and anti-cheating measures. The platform uses a variety of techniques to detect and prevent cheating, including algorithms that analyze players’ moves and behavior, as well as a team of moderators who work to investigate and address any reports of cheating.

Overall, Lichess is a powerful and user-friendly online chess platform that offers a wide range of features and tools for players of all skill levels. Thanks to its focus on open-source development and non-profit, community-driven funding model, Lichess has become one of the most popular and respected online chess platforms available today.

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History of Lichess

Lichess was founded in 2010 by Thibault Duplessis, a French software engineer and chess enthusiast. Duplessis was frustrated with the existing online chess platforms and wanted to create a platform that was completely free, open-source, and ad-free.

Duplessis began working on Lichess in his spare time and launched the platform in June 2010. The initial version of Lichess was very basic and lacked many of the features that are now available, such as puzzles and tournaments. However, even in its early days, Lichess was praised for its simplicity and ease of use.

Over time, Lichess began to grow in popularity, and Duplessis continued to work on the platform. In 2013, Lichess added the ability to play chess against the computer, and in 2014, the platform added support for mobile devices.

In 2015, Lichess underwent a major redesign, with a new and improved user interface that made the platform even more user-friendly. The redesign also added new features, such as an analysis board and a chess database.

Since then, Lichess has continued to evolve and improve. The platform now boasts millions of registered users from all over the world and has become one of the most popular online chess platforms available.

One of the key factors that sets Lichess apart from other online chess platforms is its commitment to being free and open-source. The platform is run entirely by volunteers and is a non-profit organization, relying on donations from its users and supporters to keep the platform running.

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Lichess has also gained a reputation for being a safe and friendly community for chess players of all skill levels. The platform has strict rules against cheating and harassment and has a team of moderators who work to ensure that the platform remains a positive and welcoming space for all users.

Lichess’s Revenue Streams

Lichess's Revenue Streams

Lichess is a non-profit organization that relies on donations from its users and supporters to keep the platform running. In fact, Lichess is run entirely by volunteers who are passionate about chess and want to provide a high-quality, free platform for other chess enthusiasts to use.


One of the main ways that Lichess generates revenue is through donations. The platform accepts donations from its users and supporters, and these donations go towards funding the development and maintenance of the platform.

Lichess accepts donations through various channels, including PayPal, Patreon, and Bitcoin. Users can make one-time donations or become monthly supporters.

Lichess also offers a unique feature called “thematic donations.” Thematic donations allow users to donate towards a specific area of development or improvement on the platform. For example, a user could donate towards the development of a new feature or towards the improvement of the mobile app.

Advertisements (Non-Intrusive)

While many websites rely on advertising to generate revenue, Lichess takes a different approach. The platform does not display traditional ads, such as banner ads or pop-ups, that can be intrusive and annoying to users. Instead, Lichess displays non-intrusive ads that are relevant to chess players.

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Lichess’s non-intrusive ads appear on the platform’s homepage and in its mobile app. These ads are designed to blend in with the platform’s design and do not disrupt the user experience. Lichess works with a few carefully selected advertisers who share their values.


Lichess also generates revenue through sponsorship. The platform has partnered with various chess organizations and tournaments to provide sponsorship and support. For example, Lichess was a sponsor for the 2021 FIDE Candidates Tournament, which is a major event in the world of chess.

Lichess also offers sponsorship opportunities for users who want to organize chess events. Users can apply for sponsorship from Lichess to help fund their event, whether it’s a local tournament or a global championship.


Lichess is a unique platform that provides a free and open-source chess experience to millions of users around the world. While the platform may not have traditional revenue streams such as subscription fees or in-app purchases, Lichess has found creative ways to generate revenue while maintaining its commitment to providing a high-quality, ad-free experience to its users.

Through donations, merchandise sales, non-intrusive advertisements, sponsorship, and affiliate marketing, Lichess is able to fund the ongoing development and maintenance of the platform. The fact that Lichess is run entirely by volunteers and is a non-profit organization speaks to the passion and dedication of the chess community.

Overall, Lichess’s business model is a testament to the power of community and collaboration. By relying on its users and supporters for funding, Lichess has been able to create a platform that is truly for the people, by the people. Whether you’re a casual chess player or a serious competitor, Lichess is a platform that is worth supporting and celebrating.

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