Aquarium vs Fritz 13


Anyone have an opinion on which of these is the more functional product  for analysing openings and games?

I use ChessBase extensively, with Houdini or Rybka in infinite analysis window, a custom opening book window along with the game board and notation in their own windows, and one or more databases in other windows. I've been using the product since CB 7 and have CB 11 now.

I'm thinking about trying out Fritz 13, or Houdini Aqaurium Pro for a change of pace for opening and game analysis. They both appear to have features I don't get with Chessbase by itself. I've never used Fritz or Aquarium.

I notice Aquarium has this thing called 'Idea Project' and Fritz 13 has something that sounds similar called 'Let's check'. Are these really that useful? Are there other features with Aquarium and/or Fritz that make them better for analyzing openings and games?

Any opinions on which one of these products is the best for opening and game analysis?

Here's the pdf from Chesscafe review on Houdini Aquarium Pro:

Here's the Chessbase link reviewing Fritz 13:


Well, I've used Fritz more, but that is just my opinion.


I join the question. Has anyone tried both products and can really compare them?

The new engines Aquarium uses have better ratings, but can a human being really tell the difference? Which one is more user-friendly anyway?


Fritz is by far, far, I mean, as far as it can ever get, more user friendly than Aquarium. Aquarium has some analysis options that might appeal to correspondence chess enthusiasts (I mean, the tournaments in which computers are allowed, not "online chess" here on who analyze a single position for hours or days, actually. Or I don't know, some super grandmaster trying to build a decent line in some obscure opening variation or something, but it's really like an ancient version of DOS, while fritz would be Windows 7. And fritz is more than enough for analyzing games and openings, if you are not a correspondence chess player with too much time on your hands or a super GM.


I see, thank you. So, to sum it up, Aquarium does have some extra analysis options, but is less user-friendly.


I have both, and until recently preferred Aquarium over Fritz 13 for my analysis of positions but now find myself using Fritz 13 more.  Both can do infinite analysis perfectly fine.  The key discriminators between each are:

Aquarium:  Has the IDEA feature that lets you interactively and extremely deeply (very very deeply) develop a tree from a given position, game or set of positions with evaluations that represent not just one line but the full tree from that position.  You can do that interactively and also let it run automatically - forever.  So it is really good for developing your own personal opening book to a lot of depth.  A lot more so than deep position analysis in Fritz 13.  The integrated database is very nice for annotating games as well.

Fritz 13:  Has the new "let's check" feature that allows you to quickly see deep analysis from a variety of engines you may not personally own and allows you to quickly check if a position has already been analyzed by others.  You get points for more deeply analyzing positions - so they appeal to our competitive nature to build up the database that is expanding quickly.  But more importantly, and the reason why I find myself using Fritz a lot now, is that it is very easy to create training positions/questions from your games in Fritz 13.  It will automatically do it during analysis - and then you can select additional positions and mark them as training positions.  I find that helpful to periodically go back over my games and remind myself of tactics I did not see when I played them.

I don't really agree with Philidor about the UIs.  The aquarium UI is very similar to that for Fritz 13 - both are "ribbon" based and have a windows 7 look.  Once you know where everything is in Aquarium I find it just as easy (easier for some things) than Fritz.  However, Aquarium has so many different analysis features that it can be a bit confusing.  Most people do find Fritz 13 easier to use on a day to day basis from comments I read.

So I really think both are great.  But the conclusion I came to is that right now I really just need to get better at playing chess in I am focusing a lot on improving my middlegame and tactics and trying to pick some simple openings that may not necessarily be the best but that won't get me into deep theoretical lines or at least that keep my opponent out of their comfort zone.  The analysis features and in particular the training position capability in Fritz 13 seem ideally suited to reviewing my games for tactical mistakes.  Aquarium is ideally suited to getting really deep into positions and building move trees that would be very useful to try to find a novelty in a theoretical line to set up a favorable end game.  Its IDEA analysis helps you find that sort of thing...but I have come to the conclusion I am just not ready for that yet and need to focus on just getting better in general. 

Hope that helps.  Short version - both are excellent and have their pros and cons.  Philidor I think hit the nail on the head though about what is best about aquarium - very very deep position analysis and expanding opening theory.

I really wish we had one program that combined the best of both :P


Thanks Matt for the detailed review. For those still not sure on what to go with I suggest downloading the demo and giving it a try.


If you've already bought in to Chessbase as your DB program, Fritz 13 sounds logical since it integrates with CB 11.  Aquarium is powerful but the integrated combo of Fritz/CB is tough to beat.  Personally, I find the Aquarium interface overly "busy" but maybe that's the price for advanced features (most of which are overkill for a duffer like me).


I am using Aquarium 2011 with free engines Stockfish 2.3.1 and Houdini 1.5 for analysis,  and standard Fritz 13. I find that Aquarium 2011 has drawn me into making infinite analysis of my games, together with my own annotations. Its a lot of fun doing this and you understand your games more with your own annotations. Its also got a four million game huge database where you can easily find positions in the openings to quite a suitable depth. However, it is as said somewhat less user friendly than Fritz 13 in things like database management, etc. Fritz 13 has infinite analysis too, but usually, one is drawn to use the automatic full analysis. Fritz 13 is much easier to use than Aquarium, and its Friend mode is superior to Aquarium's handicap mode if you want to play chess with a computer. What I do is do infinite analysis to annotate and understand the games on Aquarium, and then do automatic full analysis by Fritz 13 to check and compare. Full automatic analysis of Fritz 13 is superior to that in Aquarium. Aquariums IDEA analysis in my opinion is superior to deep position analysis by Fritz 13. To save money, I just buy both interfaces and use strong free engines to analyze in both. If you have lots of money, you can go for Houdini 3 in both Aquarium and Chessbase, but I dont know if that matters to a patzer like me who is still trying to eliminate simple tactical errors in my games


I have a couple thousand chess positions (not complete games) that I want to analyze, what would be the best program where I could just give it a file with all the FENs and come back and have nice solutions for each? Aquarium is a database program, right? So I would want either Houdini or Fritz? Can either of them do this? 

I have Fritz 9 but I want to get something newer. I'd also like to get a big database with GM games and start a personal database.


I want to update my comments about Aquarium 2012 and Fritz 13. My new Aquarium 2012 totally wiped out my old database for analyzed games. Aquarium 2012 is full of bugs at release time, including a bug that wipes out your database when you try to compress the database (ie. remove deleted games). If you want a bug free program that is well tested when you buy it and ready to go, Fritz 13 is the way to go. I am an owner of both Aquarium 2012 and Fritz 13. I was happily using my new Aquarium 2012 until it started showing all these bugs. This is an honest post from an ordinary user of both programs, who is a casual player that wants to enjoy and improve (Note: I updated from Aquarium 2011 to Aquarium 2012 and that was a big mistake, since Aquarium 2011 was already relatively bug free while Aquarium 2012 was full of bugs as I mentioned.)


I play chess since 1978 and use chess software (Macintosh and Windows) since 1992. I have Aquarium 2011, currently not installed in my laptop. Aquarium is so difficult to use and so confusing that one has to read over pages and pages of technical manuals just to learn how to perform basic stuff. And it has bugs, yes.

I bought Fritz 13 but never could use because it never activated, not in the "normal" way and not using the alternative way. Apparently it active once and lost the activation some hours later. Chessbase support did nothing and rejected to refund me.

I recommend Hiarcs Chess Explorer. It is the newer one; still not the most furnished in features but it is very solid and the easiest to use.

In the free side of things, Scid Vs. Pc is also highly recommendable. It is free and very rich in features. It is not so easy to learn (even if like a kids toy when compared with Aquarium), but there are good tutorials for Scid (Scid vs. PC is just a fork) on YouTube.


I have both. Fritz GUI is more intuitive, but it doesn't mean Aquarium's is unusable. You just need to learn and get used to it.

Aquarium offers more advance analysis options, but I don't really make use of them much. However, I still prefer Aquarium's way of doing analysis. It essentially takes an overview of the whole game, taking note as it goes along, before going deep into each move. So Aquarium does not allocate an equal amount of analysis time for each move. It allocates more time on moves that it thinks deserve further examination, and less time on moves that it thinks are not important. The advantage is that your game analysis isn't cluttered with tons of machine-generated variations. You get feedback based on their relative importance (pretty much like analysis coming from a human being). The disadvantage is that the analysis may not be as thorough. It may not offer you better alternatives for moves that it thinks are not so critical in the game.

Most importantly, at least in my case, Aquarium offers database features that allow you to keep your old games, while Fritz does not. This is why I am sticking to Aquarium.


I've been looking at ads for both Houdini 3 Acquarium and Fritz13.  Either one will kill me.  But, I also like to replay games from NY Times (unfortuately, now only Sundays) or Chess Life.  Which program is easier to set up positions and replay/save a game?  Is there a way to copy and paste a game into the software and watch it being replayed?  Thanks. 


FRITZ 13 HANDS DOWN... just upgraded an hour ago bought the download version on amazon and its quite the improvement. Love the "Lets check" feature so its kinda using other engines online that already analyzed the position to get a different story. Really dope!