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The Best Computer Chess Software

Computer chess software is a great tool for the improving player. It can provide opponents at different skill levels, training materials, game analysis, and a lot more. There are two contenders for the title of the best chess program: Chessmaster and Fritz.


For beginners and novices, Chessmaster is the best choice. It offers a glitzy presentation and excellent training material. The tutorials by Josh Watzkin (of "Searching for Bobby Fischer" fame) are particularly outstanding.

Chessmaster features a wide variety of computer opponents and play modes. At the lowest skill level, opponents will hang pieces left and right. The difficulty can be scaled all the way up to the "Chessmaster" opponent, which supposedly sports a rating of 2879. Rated play, tournaments and training play are all offered. Online play is not well implemented - but this shouldn't be an issue with all the free internet chess sites that are available these days.


For serious tournament players, Fritz is the only option. It offers in depth game analysis features, excellent game data-basing, and advanced training options. In 2006, a "deep" multi-processor version of Fritz famously defeated world champion Vladimir Kramnik in a 6 game match.

The playing modes are excellent, although there is less personality to the opponents than can be found in Chessmaster. The "sparring" mode offers play that is perhaps the most human-like of any chess program - the program will make realistic tactical errors at adjustable depths. Online play is offered through the well-respected and busy servers.

Presentation-wise, the program falls short of Chessmaster. However, Fritz offers the unique Chess Media system. Videos of world class players (Kasparov, Kramnik, etc.) are synchronized with a graphic chess board, allowing for incredible training sessions.

Chessmaster vs Fritz Comparison

So which program is right for you? That depends on your skill level, and the features you're looking for. Here's a simple piece of advice: if you're a beginner or early novice, stick with Chessmaster. If you're a tournament player, stick with Fritz.

Here's a point-by-point comparison of the two:

Chessmaster: Fritz:

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Places to Play Chess - Table of Contents
Places to Play Chess Online
The Best Computer Chess Software
Getting Into Over the Board Chess
Online vs. Over the Board Chess