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"Opening Pro": An openings reference on your iPhone

The Opening Pro app ($1.99 from Gaussian Knights - view in iTunes) is not the only iPhone chess app to provide guidance through the theoretical thicket of chess openings (see below), but it might be the only one whose primary purpose is about openings.   As such, its user interface provides a more robust set of features for finding, selecting, managing and reviewing your favourite openings than anything else in the Store today.

The app provides the opening moves for more than 1700 book openings - all of which are categorized in the search/selection menus by ECO code and opening name (often including moves in algebraic notation).  You can either drill down through "Opening Systems" (for example, [B34 - B39]  1. e4 c5: Sicilian Defense Accelerated Dragon) to get to the individual opening you want to explore - or you can search directly by opening name or variation name (including any chess notation that may be included in the name).




Once you've selected an opening, you can quiz yourself by playing through the game, making moves for either white or black.  Once the opening moves are complete, you are alerted; at this point, you can keep playing against the built-in AI, which iPhone chess enthusiasts will be happy to know is none other than Tord Romstad's excellent 'Glaurung' engine.


Conveniently, the app remembers the openings you've reviewed recently and allows you to maintain a list of your own favourite openings; both of these lists can be accessed easily without performing a new search.

Again, the focus here is very much on openings practice.  As an iPhone chess opponent, the app is relatively "bare-bones" from a features standpoint.  The UI is not configurable, and your control over the engine is limited to a single setting to determine whether Glaurung takes 1, 2, 5, 10 or 30 seconds for each of its moves.  The lack of 'handicap' settings makes sense in the context of the app's main purpose; after all, why hone your openings only to the point where you can achieve early middle-game equality (or better) against a dumbed-down opponent?

What strikes me as a bigger and more relevant gap is that, in the current version, you cannot display the engine's analysis.  Having a visible evaluation from Glaurung on moves made after going out of book would really add a lot of value here.  (Pretty please...)  [Edit (Dec 16):  Already added!  See comments.]

In any case, $2 isn't too bad for a Glaurung-based openings-book trainer.  I'm going to try picking all my repertoire openings as favourites, and I'm already looking forward to future updates.




Here are a few notes on how Opening Pro compares to two other apps that provide openings assistance:

Opening Pro
# of opening moves in book:  Unknown.  "Over 1700 openings in total!" according to publisher
Pros:
  • Price
  • ECO catalog or text-based searching
  • Maintains recent openings and user favourites
Cons:
  • Other chess features are simplistic or non-existent
  • No engine analysis option once out of book


tChess Pro
# of opening moves in book:  Approx. 15 000
Pros:
  • Openings Library allows opening to be selected before game
  • Shows multiple opening book move-options per position, with percentages from 125000 GM games
Cons:
  • ?



Hiarcs
# of opening moves in book:  "1.2 million positions and moves"
Pros: 
  • Deepest opening book on the platform
  • Integrates view of book moves on main screen
  • Includes notation ("!", "?", etc.) to indicate Hiarcs's book evaluation of the moves
Cons:
  • Cannot pre-select an opening (although you can enter the appropriate moves manually for both sides and then activate the AI at any point you wish)
  • Opening name is shown only when first non-book move is played

Cheers!

Comments


  • 4 years ago

    DeepGreene

    Yeah, definitely some issues with the board colours, etc.  Hopefully, this will be addressed in an update soon.

  • 4 years ago

    joukop66

    After ipod operating system update my opening pro started to look really strange :( I've been using this little app so much and now it's wrecked.

  • 5 years ago

    DeepGreene

    Hey, good news...

    The new version of this app just hit the store, and it's added some really cool features:

    - option to view engine analysis

    - in addition to the opening book used for training, you can now also see the preferred moves in Glaurung's opening book as well

    - new options for the game clock ("game in..")

    - Adjust the engine's Strength and playing style

    - Can now show alternative book moves

    Basically, the app has many more of the features of the free version of Glaurung, but complemented with a nifty set of openings training features.  :)

  • 5 years ago

    DeepGreene

    @Skipp - Yep!

    @thebadthief - I agree it could be a tad more robust on the chess-app features.

    One nice thing - I have it on pretty good authority now that an update is pending which will include a host of improvements - including visible engine analysis.  :)

  • 5 years ago

    Skipp

    Will Opening Pro and/or Glaurung work on an ipod Touch also?

  • 5 years ago

    nodutytorescue

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 5 years ago

    nodutytorescue

    Nice practice app for openings-- after just a few mins of use.  But another con is that you can't turn the click noise off in a setting (there are no settings). For me this is a pain, as I have to turn the volume down and then I have to remember to turn it back up to hear my alarm. 

    Also, on the last move of every opening sequence there is a pop up that says it’s the end of the sequence. First, there has to be a better way to inform the user than a pop up, and second, the pop up obstructs the board, so you can't see the last move until you press the 'ok' option on the pop up.

    Little UI things like this make the app far less enjoyable.

  • 5 years ago

    tamagen

    I find Glaurung, a free chess app on the AppStore, is not only a very strong chess program, but also shows you the book moves (and their relative percentage likelihood in play) at the bottom of the screen after each move (at least until you are out of book). This is an excellent tool for experimenting with openings.

  • 5 years ago

    DeepGreene

    No, sorry, demetrios18.  The Pre won't run iPhone/iPod Touch apps.

  • 5 years ago

    DeepGreene

    Yes, westcoastchess, it works fine on an iPod Touch.

  • 5 years ago

    westcoastchess

    can it work on the normal Ipod or is it only for Iphone?

  • 5 years ago

    Politicalmusic

    Great.  Another way for me to be paranoid when I play OTB.

  • 5 years ago

    Enormous_Gastropod

    Ooooo... pretty... =)

  • 5 years ago

    DeepGreene

    That would be cool, but no, sadly.  :)

  • 5 years ago

    Arv123

    nice app

    is it possible to change the lines in the obk?

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