Chess Terms
Fritz

Fritz

Nowadays, anyone with an internet-capable device and a connection can download a strong chess engine for free—but this was not always the case! In the early 1990s, one of the strongest commercial chess engines was Fritz, which is still around and very powerful.

Let's learn more about Fritz. Here is what you need to know:


What Is Fritz?

Fritz is a commercial chess program developed by Frans Morsch. In 1991 ChessBase started working with Morsch and added Fritz to their database program. In 1995 Fritz won the World Computer Chess Championship, defeating an early version of Deep Blue. In 2000 Pocket Fritz (designed for handheld devices) won the World Computer Speed Chess Championship. 

Fritz is available on Windows and other platforms. In 2009 Fritz was released on Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and Sony PlayStation 3.

Fritz chess engine
Fritz for Nintendo DS. Image: Amazon.com.

In 2010 Fritz was rated among the top 10 engines, according to the Swedish Chess Computer Association (SSDF) rating list with a rating of 3110. It was also in the top 10 on the Computer Chess Ratings List (CCRL) in 2010 with a rating of 3088.

Fritz has been continuously updated since 1991 and is currently on Fritz 17. It has had a few incarnations, including the previously-mentioned Pocket Fritz, Deep Fritz, and Fat Fritz (which is available with Fritz 17).

Fritz computer chess program
Fritz 17. Image: Chessbase.com.

Fritz Accomplishments

Fritz' 1995 World Computer Championship title and 2000 World Computer Speed Chess Championship title are strong accomplishments, especially considering that it hasn't participated in computer and engine contests much since 2004. Aside from those titles, Fritz has played multiple matches and games against world champions, including GMs Garry Kasparov, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, and Vladimir Kramnik

Fritz chess computer
Vladimir Kramnik has played two matches against Fritz. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In 2002 Deep Fritz drew an eight-game match against Kramnik with a 4-4 score. One year later, it drew a four-game match with Kasparov. In 2005 a Fritz 9 prototype drew a game against Kasimdzhanov, and in 2006 Deep Fritz 10 defeated Kramnik in a match by a score of 4-2.

Fritz Games

Speaking of the 2006 Deep Fritz-Kramnik match, game two had one of the most unusual moments in all of chess history. Kramnik had equalized early and at certain points of the game was pressing. Fritz was able to equalize, and the following position was reached:

Fritz chess Kramnik
Kramnik had the black pieces in this position. What do you think he played?

Black has the chance to make an outside passed pawn on the queenside, and White's b2-pawn is hanging. However, Black's king is just weak enough that a perpetual check is likely (and checkmate in one move is threatened).

In the position above, Kramnik made a move that GM Susan Polgar called the "blunder of the century":

Crazy! Have you ever seen a world champion hang mate in one in an equal position before?

In the second example game, we see Fritz defeat the mighty engine Shredder (which holds 19 world titles). Fritz gains the bishop pair out of the opening in exchange for taking on doubled c-pawns. After 30.h4, almost all of White's pieces are on the kingside, and Fritz conducts a memorable attack:

Conclusion

You now know what Fritz is, what it has accomplished, and more. Head over to Chess.com/CCC to watch top engines battle at any time on any day!