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Chessmaster Game

Chessmaster Game

Chessmaster is the big hit that attracted the attention of millions of chess enthusiasts worldwide. Learn everything about the best-selling chess game franchise in history and what set it apart from other games.


What Is Chessmaster?

Chessmaster is a computer and console chess game series that was first published by Software Country and later acquired and developed by Ubisoft. The first game of the series, Chessmaster 2000 (shortened to C2000), revolutionized the chess gaming industry after its release in 1986. Chessmaster would have over 20 different releases on multiple platforms, with the final release being the 2008 Chessmaster: The Art of Learning for the PlayStation Portable.

Chessmaster 2000's title screen.
The Chessmaster series was widely popular among chess players. Image: Chessmaster 2000, Ubisoft.

There are mainly three reasons why this series stood apart from the competition. The first was the AI-powered "personalities" based on historical players introduced as early as 1994. For the first time, anyone who bought the game could face a machine that emulated players like GM Vladimir Kramnik.

Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition's different personalities.
Players could choose to play against many historical figures of chess. Image: Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition, Ubisoft.

Another feature that made the game stand out was its library of chess lessons, tutorials, and analyzed games. Particularly famous were the tutorials delivered by IM Josh Waitzkin.

Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition's Academy.
Lessons for beginners and intermediate players were among Chessmaster's best features. Image: Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition, Ubisoft.

Lastly, Chessmaster's success also stemmed from its accessibility as a chess game. Anyone could buy a copy of it, as it was available in all major gaming platforms. Here is a clip of GM Hikaru Nakamura playing Chessmaster with his older brother on a Super Nintendo Entertainment System when they were kids.

Chessmaster Accomplishments

Chessmaster is the best-selling chess game franchise in history with over 5 million copies sold. For more than 20 years, it was the go-to game for chess lovers.

Although not as strong as other engines, Chessmaster has always played a strong game. In its debut year, Chessmaster 2000 was the first off-the-shelf game to win the Personal Computer class of the United States Open Computer Chess Championship. In 2002, Chessmaster 9000 even beat the three-time U.S. champion GM Larry Christiansen in a four-game match with a score of 2.5-1.2.

Chessmaster Games

Both games in this section are from the 2002 match between Chessmaster 9000 and GM Larry Christiansen, who himself wrote the annotations provided.

In the first game, Chessmaster 9000 was reproducing the playing style of former world champion Alexander Alekhine. Christiansen won the first game of the match after C9000 played a dubious move in the opening. Still, the game was balanced until the machine lost a pawn. Christiansen was then able to convert the game.

For the second game of the match, C9000 tried to mimic GM Bobby Fischer's style. Chessmaster displayed its dominance in a tactical game when, after only 15 moves, it managed to gain the edge. C9000 had no trouble winning the game and tying the match.

After this game, Chessmaster won the third and tied the fourth games, winning the match. This result shows that even though Chessmaster was a game designed to teach beginner and intermediate players how to play better chess, it could still face (and beat) professional players.

Conclusion

You now know what the Chessmaster series is, when it was created, what it has accomplished, and more. If you enjoy learning about chess, you can visit our Lessons page to improve your game. If you want to enjoy a showdown of the best chess engines in the world facing each other, you can check out Chess.com/CCC.