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I have $150 to spend on a chess software. Should I get Deep Rybka 4? Shredder? What do you prefer/recommend?
I should also mention I am looking for something with a database of games, something to improve your game, and also something to play against.
Don't spend any money on rybka or fritz, there are many free engines out there who are just as strong or stronger than them, such as houdini, stockfish, comodo etc., and there are free GUIs which are good enough to do those things for you, such as Arena, SCID etc.
If you want to invest on chess software, I would recommend Chessmaster XI: The Art of Learning for Waitzkin's excellent lectures. To play against the computer, get Shredder Classic (not the Shredder that comes with the chessbase GUI), it can immitate human style on any level better than any other software I have seen (including the ones you have mentioned.) It also rates your level of play, not only according to the final results of the games against rated computer opponents, but according to your general level of accuracy.
Try out some of the free options first and see if they suit you, SCID database program, Arena engine GUI etc.
Chessbase (+ Big Database) is a great program but is not a solution to all your needs and I can understand why people would be reluctant to spend such a large sum. I agree with the above poster that you don't need to buy an engine as there are plenty of very strong free engines available, and that Chessmaster is worth the 15 bucks or so you'll pay for it.
You might also consider something like CT-Art
I would recommend a subscription to ChessTempo (so you have an a tactics trainer + good database), and some good training software (such as Chessimo, as you're young and ChessOK training software).
You can play against people in the live area of chess.com.
Now if you prefer to spend money on DeepFritz 24.2 or Shredder 72.6 3D, well, that's your money
Try ChessX at www.box.com/chessx It is one of the best looking chess database programs you can find anywhere and it is free.
SCID is free, but does not come with a massive database already populated. There are many sources of games in pgn format that you can get for free, to populate SCID. E.G. http://icofy-blog.de/
There is a lot of really good free stuff you can download. Try that first and only then spend your money. I have posted a document which is only slightly out of data called Computer Chess.pdf on www.box.com/chessx which lists a lot of sites from which you can download free chess software and purchase commercial chess software.
Right now the build I have posted for windows of chessX on ( www.box.com/chessx ) is older than the Macintosh version I have posted. But it is still pretty great. I don't post windows builds of engines, but you can go online and download the stockfish engine.
I just updated the windows build of chessX in www.box.com/chessX
You can download the stockfish engine at http://stockfishchess.org/download/
between the two you have a pretty good start without costing you a dime
With $150 to spend I would definitely use it for a subscription to a site like chess.com or even chesslecture.com (and possibly chesstempo.com). Some training software like CT-ART or chessimo would be ok. I certainly wouldn't waste that chunk of change on software that doesn't do much you can't get in free software. For database software, use SCID vs. PC, for training and analysis, use that and Lucas Chess. Also get Chess Position Trainer to practice and study openings. All free. The expensive programs don't really add anything you need to what those programs can do. Except headaches and debt.
Also, you can get a pretty good 1.35 million game database for SCID/SCID vs. PC here (lower right corner):
I dont mean to thread hi-jack, but i've been trying to get a similar question answered for Apple Mac. Its so confusing for someone new to the software side of things.
What free GUI and engine works for Mac? All i want is to play a game against the PC and then be able to analyse my game for blunders.
The best free engines for the Macintosh are
Stockfish, Critter 1.6, and Komodo 3. The best free User Interfaces are
ChessX, SCIDvsMac, and Stockfish GUI.
I post current ChessX builds for the Mac and recent Stockfish builds at www.box.com/chessx
ChessX is a Chess Database Program, Stockfish GUI allows you to play against the computer and SCIDvsMac does both.
Thanks James, sounds like stockfish does both (engine and GUI) for Mac, so i'll look into that.
bevan - try downloading both chessx at www.box.com/chessx and SCIDvsMac at http://scidvspc.sourceforge.net as well.
If you later decide to not use them you can always delete them
Try my free training program: http://www.chess.com/download/view/guess-the-move---chess-training-system
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