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Chess Computer Software?

  • #1

    Is there any software I can buy where you can learn, play, and have analysis capabilities? I especially like the analysis on here as it is quite clear. I have heard about Chessmaster and Fritz and would just like to know what you guys think of these kinds of programs as I'd like to pick one up.

  • #2

    I just went through that process not long ago after returning to chess after decades.  Here's my novice opinion and what I did.

    First, go download a free Universal Chess Interface (UCI) program just to see how they work.  I like Arena 3.0 or SCID but there are others that are similar.  Then download one of the better chess engines such as Houdini 1.5a, or Stockfish 2.3.1 and the opening book from their site.  Play with it a bit and see what it does.

    Finally, I bought a copy of Fritz 13 which comes with databases, an opening book and other goodies.  It handles all common formats and is updated on a regular basis.  Its engine is quite good, though not up to Houdini 3 level, but that's not an issue unless you're playing at the GM level or better in my opinion.  There are lots of analysis and teaching options in Fritz which may not be attractive to upper level players, but for the rest of us, they work great.

    Once you learn how to handle your UCI, forget it for game analysis until AFTER you go back over your games and analyze them without the chess engine.  Only then, load the PGN of your game and turn the engine loose to check against your own analysis.  You have to do the work in order to learn.  Letting the engine work first is far less effective.

  • #3

    Go buy Fritz 13 and join the satisfied Fritz users. Fritz is an excellent tool for analysis and learning. It is easy to use Fritz. Aside from the users manual, there are many video tutorials in youtube.

    P.S. Make sure the you buy Fritz 13 by Chessbase. There is another program called Fritz Chess 13 and I have no idea if it is good.

  • #4

    I'll look up Fritz. I was hoping to find Chessmaster Grandmaster but it's as if it does not exist anymore and there isn't a store around that carry chess games.

  • #5

    Arena 3.0 is free and comes with several engines, an opening book and tablebase (3-piece endings).


    SCID vs. PC is also free, although I haven't used it.  Arena is an excellent way to get an idea of what extra capabilities a good UCI has that Chessmaster did not have.  I think Chessmaster has been discontinued.  I have found Fritz 13 to be very good with loads of features.

  • #6

    Don't waste $ on Fritz without checking out Arena and/or Winboard first (both free) loaded with free chess engines such as Houdini, Stockfish, Firebird, Rybka (old versions of course)

    I own F12 and wish I had known about all this freeware before I bought it. If you don't like the freeware you can still buy whatever you want.

  • #7

    Thanks guys, I downloaded all of those last night so why not just use those if they are so highly recommended?

  • #8

    I don't want to be an advertisement for Fritz, but it has some features lacking in the free UCIs.  First, it handles both Chessbase and common PGN files transparently.  Second, it connects to the Chessbase site online for opening line analysis which is kept up to date with recent tournaments.  Third, the Fritz engine is very strong.  Some of the free UCI's have limitations on the size of databases they can handle - I'm not sure about Arena since I haven't used it for that.  Fritz also comes with a huge database of games and has some excellent teaching functions.  But you can find thousands of games online and learn from books, too.

    The price of Fritz is a couple of good chess books which isn't unreasonable, so the choice is whether to get a free UCI and a couple of books or Fritz with the online Chessbase features.  I don't think you can go wrong either way.

  • #9

    There are some chess engines (that can be added to Arena or Fritz) that can be throttled down for play against the computer.  Alternately you can limit the move time by the computer to handicap it, and some engines (Crafty comes to mind?) can be used in "personality" mode.  Personally I never play against the computer so that isn't a factor for me.  I use it only for post-game analysis.

  • #10
  • #11
    zackp93 wrote:

    I'll look up Fritz. I was hoping to find Chessmaster Grandmaster but it's as if it does not exist anymore and there isn't a store around that carry chess games.

    Chessmaster 10th edition is almost as good as Chessmaster Grandmaster, and it's fairly easy to find at a reasonable price. (Check eBay or Amazon, etc.)

  • #12
    jempty_method wrote:

    If you are on Windows but not Windows 7 you might even investigate downloading the old Fritz2.5.1 -- this is the engine I play training games against, I've gotten to where I can draw it about once out of every 3 games (where I take infinite time but it only takes 5 seconds), which is less discouraging than losing dozens of games in a row to the strongest engines with little or no hope of even drawing, ever.

    And even if you're using Windows 7, you can use the DosBox thingy to run Fritz 2.51. And an added benefit of DosBox is that it slows down the application even more. Smile

  • #13

    I downloaded Winboard, ScidVSPC, JOSE, Kvetka, and Arena. I essentially want a way to analyze games and practice tactics so that I can improve my game.

  • #14

    I would suggest you stick to one.  They can be a bit tricky to learn, so pick one (I would suggest Arena but take your pick) and read the Help files, then work through the menu trees.

    If you turn the Analyze off and just make moves by sliding or clicking pieces, the UCI will create a move listing which you can save and use the engine later for analysis.  Or you can play the engine and save that game for later analysis.

  • #15

    Okay, I'll take a look at them all. Thank you for the help!

  • #16

    Will keep that in mind. I find they all work quite similar, though SCID has tactics and mate in 1-4 puzzles which I find very helpful to my game overall. I find those help as I am recognizing check and mates easier.

  • #17

    Here's a couple of free downloadable tactics training programs that look interesting, although I haven't tried them out myself.

    Lucas Chess:


    Yatt (Yet Another Tactics Trainer): The programmer is a Chess.com member, and he has version 1.3 in the Chess.com download area. But he also has version 1.5 on his home web page.



  • #18

    Also, http://chesstempo.com/ for tactics training.

  • #19

    Hey EscherehcsE and yottaflops, thank you! I'm looking at all of these. I play games and I have NO idea what I'm doing at certain points, but now I'm at least beginning to get it thanks to the training on here!


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