I have Arena but I find it is a little hard to use. Are there any other more user-friendly GUIs out there?
you might wish to try chessbase?
yeah I would say chessbase is the best if you have the money.
A very easy one : Tarrasch
SCID vs PC (a fork of SCID).
Fritz 12 gui by chessbase is the best one there is right now
A really nice one is Chess Partner from Lokasoft but it's not free. http://shop.lokasoft.nl/product.php/53/2
You can analyze, plug in your favorite UCI or Winboard engines, pit engine against engine, play on ICC and more. I don't think it's "better" than Arena (which I love) but I personally find it easier to use. My chess software needs are relatively modest. YMMV
As of this date it's about 31 American dollars for the download. For $53.41 you can buy Rebel 12, the last commercial version of Rebel, and get Chess Partner as part of the package. I recommend this version of Rebel as it comes with special features tailored to the Chess Partner interface.http://www.lokasoft.nl/rebel12.aspx
You could alternately buy Chess Tiger 2007 for the same price and get Chess Partner that way. CT is no longer one of the top programs, it's SSDF ELO being a puny 2774!
Just some extra options to consider. FWIW
Looking at this again, it depends on what you want from your GUI.
If you're heavy into chess databases then the best free alternative is probably SCID itself.
If you want some ability to scour databases and do a lot of game and position analysis with engines, then SCID-vs-PC is a bit friendlier and easier to configure; the drawback being that it doesn't do everything that SCID does.
If you want to run engine vs engine tournaments, Arena is the way to go, although Scid-vs-PC will also do this to a lesser degree.
If you want a GUI to actually play games against, with variable opponent strength and similar bells and whistles, then I can't speak from much experience, although Shredder isn't bad.
I think I still get more mileage out of WinBoard than any other GUI. Scid vs PC is now a close second, with Fritz 12 / Chessbase 11 being distant third. Now and then I also use the Shredder GUI. I have but rarely use Tarrasch, Kvetka, BabasChess, ChessPad 2, ChessX, Chess King, and Arena.
One of the nice aspects of Arena is that you can turn off almost all of the display, until you have nothing left besides the toolbar and the board! Just start right-clicking on things and you'll eventually get rid of the extras. :)
Slight digression: Are there any GUIs out there that offer interesting graphical presentations of analyses and opening trees, different from the 'standard' found in e.g. Fritz or Aquarium?
Chesspad 2 is free and good, but I'd spring for an older version of Fritz if you're not really hurting for $ (or Euros, Dinars, Zlotys, Pounds, etc). A cheap older version of Chessmaster would probably work too, although it's tough to say for sure since I don't know what your idea of a swell GUI is.
Read reviews both good and bad before buying any version of Fritz, ChessBase sells Fritz and Fritz Chess, FC is a cheaper knockoff of the real McCoy. And checking with members here first before buying is a good idea too.
BTW I own Fritz 12 and am pleased with the GUI and pretty much everything else about it.
you can get chessbase light for free. go to chessbase.com and 'downloads' and it'll be under there. it's really nice. fritz-like.
It's already very hard to find out how you are able to play with Black instead of White.
It's often surprisingly difficult to get a chess program to let you play black. Solving that problem was one of my motivations behind writing my Tarrasch Chess GUI (www.triplehappy.com) actually. In my program you can always start a game, at any time, from any position, as either black or white. In particular, it doesn't matter whose turn it is in the current position. Most chess programs assume you want to play the first move of the new game, and since by default you are starting in the initial position where white has the move .... well you end up playing white.
Wow, Tarrasch has some nice features! I like the simplicity of the GUI. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear quite right on my Dell Latitude D820 laptop at native resolution - some of the controls lie on top of others. I've seen that problem before with other software (Delphi, MATLAB GUIs) so you're not alone. I don't know what the solution is though.
Still, good job!