Thoughts on Free Chess Programs

Nov 19, 2016, 8:36 AM |

Hello all!
I would like to share my thoughts on the free chess programs available online

Background Information on the Free Chess Programs

Lucas Chess: The main feature of Lucas Chess allows you to play against various chess engine personalities. You can also create your own opening repertoire. There are also various training types that test you on tactics, openings by repetition, or guess the correct move.
Pros: Very good chess sparring partner to get an estimate of your rating if you currently don't have one in real life. Also, the training features are useful. Furthermore, there is a tutor that you can turn on while playing an engine personality that will show you the variation of why your move is wrong and also the tutors suggestion.
Cons: You can't turn on the engine like in SCID where it runs while you are making your moves. Additionally, you can't move backwards and forwards like in SCID to add new variations while on the current board; you have to append each time when making a new move and a pop-up board shows up for each candidate move.
Improvement Suggestions: Allow engine to turn on like in SCID when making moves. Also, allow add variation, new main line or try move on the current board like in SCID and move backwards and forwards freely instead of having a pop-up board with append for every single move.

Chess Position Trainer(CPT):
The purpose of CPT is to allow you to create your own opening repertoire and then train the repertoire you created. You do this by having two folders of white and black and then you create a sub-variation for each opening under each folder. There are two training types, the full line and random position. For the full line, the trainer tests you from the very beginning of your opening. For the random position, CPT will train you on random positions provided.
Pros: Good flash card concept to memorize your candidate moves in the opening. Also, useful UCI engine can be turned on while creating your repertoire. You can run games against an opening to identify where you or your opponent deviated from the opening line.
This program is the same as Chess Opening Wizard or Bookup but has a free limited version. The professional version of CPT is only $40 which is way cheaper than chess opening wizard, which is almost $200.
Cons: Not good for understanding the moves in the opening. Doesn't evaluate you on negatively evaluated moves (wrong moves). If you enter in a negatively evaluated move into your repertoire CPT it will count that move as correct in the training mode, when you want it to count it as incorrect. Also, there is no engine tutor during training like there is in lucas chess during playing mode
Improvement suggestions: Mark negatively evaluated moves as incorrect and allow an analysis board to pop-up during training mode when the move you made is incorrect to show you the variation that you entered in manually. Also, allow the engine to evaluate your move like in chess hero since you may be missing a move in your repertoire 

Chess Hero:
The purpose of this chess program is to have you tested on random positions with an engine that evaluates your candidate move as correct or incorrect.
Pros: Better for understanding the moves. Will evaluate your moves as correct or incorrect based on engine evaluation. The engine will show a variation of why your move is incorrect if you made the wrong move.
Cons: Will not test you on an opening from the very beginning like lucas chess and CPT do. Also, when you click that analyze button you cannot move backwards and forwards freely when trying to play a different variation.
Improvement Suggestions: When click the analyze button allow to move backwards and forwards freely so you can play different variations. 

SCID vs. PC: The purpose of this program is to manage a database of games. There are options within the program on how to manage the database of games so you can view the games.
Pros: Compared to the old SCID it comes with an opening book that shows the moves and lets you edit the opening book. Also, you can open the database of games as a tree. You can import and export pgn games. Finally, there is an opening
Cons: What happened to the training mode that the old SCID offered? It seems to be missing in SCID vs. PC. I'm talking about the opening training that you cannot do in SCID vs. PC.
Improvement Suggestions: Include the opening training that the old SCID offered.

Perhaps it is easier to make a video on all these programs to better understand what I am talking about for the improvement suggestions.

If anybody has any thoughts about these free chess programs please comment!