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Chess Software


Reviews of some Chess Programs

Commercial chess programs

There is a bewildering range of commercial chess programs available. I have used Fritz, Genius, Shredder and Chessmaster quite a lot and so I think I have quite a good feel for their strengths and weaknesses. The versions I have all came with their own databases of between 300k and 600k games. All four were easy to install and they all have fairly easy to use interfaces. Each is a very fine program in its own way so there are no losers here. I hope that the observations and comparisons which follow are of some use, or of some interest, or at least don't make you wish you had never stumbled across this page.

Program Playing strength Database functions Other features Other comments Mark/10
Fritz 7 Very very strong. Exceptionally good. Huge range of functions. Good at analysing your games while you're at work! Sometimes over-estimates advantages. Occasionally 'drifts'. A few GUI bugs. 9
Genius 6 Exceptionally strong, even on slower PCs. Adequate but unimpressive. Nothing that really stands out. Outstanding as a background analysis engine. Initiative seeking style. Very thorough. 9
Shredder 5 Strong. Unimpressive. Interesting triple brain analysis system. Outclassed by Fritz and Genius in terms of playing strength. 8
Chessmaster 6000 Reasonably strong. Not bad. Some training features, chess lessons, and 'fun' options. Very user friendly but not as strong as Genius, Fritz, and Shredder. 7.5

Running on a 3Ghz PC these programs analyse hundreds of thousands of positions per second. On fast PCs they are all very strong tactically and at tournament time limits you are probably never going to 'out-tactic' any of them. If you are looking for tactical training then any of these programs will do. My impression is that Fritz is the quickest at calculating, closely followed by Genius. It seems to me that Genius is less selective in its searches so that it tends to analyse a broader range of moves while Fritz analyses fewer variations but takes them deeper. Genius is amazing at very quick time limits (less than a second a move), which suggests that its 'instincts' are good.

I have tried running test positions in these programs and have come to the conclusion that each program has its own unique quirks. For example, I was analysing the position arising after the following moves: 1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 b6 4. e3 Bb7 5. Bd3 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 d5 8. b3 Nbd7 9. Bb2 c5 10. Rc1 Rc8 11. Qe2 h6 12. Rfd1 Bd6 13. cxd5 Nxd5 14. Nxd5 Bxd5 15. e4 Bb7 16. e5 Be7 17. dxc5 Bxc5. I first had a look at it myself and concluded that the game continuation 18. Bb5 was correct. I put the game on ChessGenius and after a few seconds it had spotted 18. Bb5!, was displaying it as its main line, and was showing 18. Bd5 19. Rxd5! ed 20. e6! (etc.) which is the critical continuation. Genius correctly evaluated the position as being clearly better for white. I closed Genius and opened up Fritz to get a second opinion (after first checking that Genius had given Windows back the memory it had been using). After calculating for about two minutes (Fritz was showing about 120,000 kN) it had still not promoted 18. Bb5 to its best line, though in the course of its calculations it had had 18. Bc2, 18. Bb1, 18. Be4, 18. Ba6, and even 18. a3 as being the best moves for White. Once I had played the move 18. Bb5 Fritz realised it was good but it took another three minutes (and 180,000 kN) for it to realise that White was clearly better in the ensuing complications. Why could Genius see the strength of Bb5 after a few seconds where it took Fritz minutes? I don't know! Similar quirks become apparent with each of the programs once you have worked with them for a while, though Genius seems to have the fewest of these 'blind spots'.

So, which is the best? Well, that's a very difficult question! There have of course been many computer tournaments in which these programs and others have played against each other. However, how well one computer program does against other computer programs is not necessarily very revealing because in computer vs. computer matches the ability to calculate a long way and to 'add up the bits' at the end of those calculations counts for far more than the cleverness and complexity of the programs' evaluation functions. For this reason I don't set much store by ratings achieved by computer programs against other computer programs.

Well, I have to say that Chess Genius is my favourite, though in terms of playing strength Fritz may be stronger on faster PCs and Fritz has far superior database functionality. The reason I like Genius better is that I find that, as a background analysis engine it provides more useful and insightful suggestions. However, if you want a program to analyse your games for you overnight or while you're at work then Fritz is probably your best bet. Shredder is mostly good but sometimes its evaluations go a bit wild. I don't believe that Chessmaster is really in the same league as the other three programs in terms of playing strength, though it is still reasonably strong.

It is possible to try versions of these programs for free. A free trial of Chess Genius Classic can be downloaded from www.chessgenius.com. Chessbase Light (which is a demo version of Chessbase) comes with Fritz 4 as a background analysis engine and can be downloaded from www.chessbase.com. Time limited demos of Shredder Classic and Chessmaster can be downloaded from www.shredderchess.com and www.chessmaster.com respectively. Older versions of various programs are sometimes offered as freeware at the following page: www.top-5000.nl/cp.htm. As always, downloading software from the web can be dangerous. Be careful. Everything is at your own risk.

Here are some commercial chess playing programs which I have not tested.

(Since writing the above reviews I have also spent some time using the full version of Chess Genius Classic [Chess Genius 7]. The main differences between version 6 [as reviewed above] and version 7 seem to me to be that version 7 calculates slightly more quickly but does not come with a large database of games. )

Less commercial chess programs

There are many freeware and shareware chess playing programs available out there. Below is a list of 14 which I have tested and found to be fairly good. You ought to be able to find some of them at tucows zdnet or nonags. If you are willing to risk downloading from a less well known website then the chess section of winsite is well worth a look.

Program Comments Mark/10
Crafty Very strong. No interface! Use the Winboard interface, which is free. 7.5
Chessmate Reasonably strong. Neat interface. 7
Owl Chess Reasonably strong. Neat interface. 7
Winchen Decent playing strength and decent interface. 6.5
Waxman Decent playing strength and decent interface. 6.5
Pawn Decent playing strength and decent interface. 6.5
Rookie I don't like the interface but it plays fairly well. 6.5
WinChess Nice interface, reasonable playing strength. 6.5
Chess-it! Lovely clean interface. Plays terribly until you set its search depth to about 6. 6
Pax Adequate interface and decent playing strength. 6
Gromit Dislike the interface but its play isn't too bad. 6
Arasan32 Adequate. 6
KChess Not bad, I quite like the interface and it plays quite well but I can't make the computer play as white. 5.5
Free Chess I don't like the interface, it doesn't play particularly well and (on my PC at least) it's not entirely stable. Nice music though. 5

Some of these programs are shareware. If you want to keep them then you should pay for them.

Of course, none of these free programs can hope to compete with commercial programs. For example, I ran a 30 game engine match between Genius 7 and Crafty 21.1 (crafty is easily the strongest of the freeware programs I have reviewed); Genius won the match 24-6. This is quite something given that Crafty usually reports that it is calculating about 20% more positions per second than Genius.

(Incidentally, as of 2010 there is a freeware program called 'Stockfish' which appears to be considerably stronger than any other freeware chess engine. Worth looking into.)

If you want a program just for looking at positions on your PC and don't want an analysis engine then Zork is worth considering. It's very simple, very small, and does exactly what it says on the tin! Good for correspondence players. If you want to keep a database of games then Chessbase Light is worth a look.

There are also a number of chess training programs available, many of which can be downloaded from the web. Bookup by M. Leahy is one of the best of these - it helps you to study chess openings and there is a free/trial version which has enough features to be very useful. Two others are worth a mention. The first, Chess Mazes by A. Bartashnikov, requires you to find a safe path across the chessboard for a single piece making a series of moves without reply. I'm not sure how much this will help your chess but it can't do it any harm and it is quite fun. The second is Chess Memory by W. Jordan which feels like quite an old program but seems to run well enough under Windows XP. It tests your ability to remember chess positions by showing you a position for a few seconds and then giving you a blank board and asking you to reconstruct the position from scratch. Again, it's not clear that this will improve your chess but it's good fun and can't do your chess any harm.


Here are five blitz games I played against five different chess programs. The first game was played against Fritz 7. The other four games were played against freeware/shareware chess programs. I have lightly annotated the games, not seeking to penetrate their depths but simply to flag up some of the weaknesses present in computer chess programs and to show how best to go about beating them. I do not wish to claim that my play in these games was particularly strong but it was enough to beat the programs which was all that was needed. Remember they are blitz games. Computers should perform at their best against humans in blitz games as the games tend to be of a highly tactical nature at that time limit. I tried to play in as anti-computer a fashion as possible and it seems that I was successful.

Game one

Fritz 7 has the black pieces.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qc2

This is quite a sneaky variation of the Averbach. The idea is that 7. ... c5 8. d5 Qa5 can be met with 9. Bd2. As you will see, this is a most effective system against chess computers!

7. ... e5 8.d5 a5 9.h4 h6 10.Be3 Nc5 11.h5

At first sight this looks like a mistake; surely white should be trying to generate an attack on the kingside and this move allows black to block the position with g5?

11. ... g5 12.f3 Nfd7 13.g4

No. White wants to block the kingside and operate on the queenside where he has a space advantage based around his d5 pawn.

13. ... a4 14.Nh3 Qf6 15.0-0 Ra6 16.b4 axb3 17.axb3 Rxa1 18.Rxa1 Na6 19.Nf2

The kingside in now fully bolstered, no sacrifices are likely to be effective and blacks kings bishop is firmly entombed.

19. ... Ndc5 20.Rb1 Re8 21.b4 Nd7 22.Nd3 Qe7 23.Na4 Qf6 24.b5 Nab8 25.Nb4 b6

This is not a great idea although if I had the black pieces I would have been tempted to play it. The problem is that black has no play on the kingside, he must play on the queenside, but once he has played b6 there is absolutely no way for him to do anything constructive.

26.Nc6 Bb7 27.Kg2 Nc5 28.Nxc5 bxc5 29.Ra1 Nxc6 30.bxc6 Bc8

This is the key position. It is here that we must decide whether white's strategy has been successful. He has blocked the kingside and the centre and must operate on the a and b files which he can completely dominate. Is it enough? Well, on it's own, probably not. However, Blacks bishops are dead. The bishop on g7 is useless. The one on c8 has no squares and gets in the way. I think that given these factors white has a clear advantage here. However, it is not that easy to make progress. White cannot win the c7 pawn so the only alternatives are to exchange off light squared bishops or to try to generate pressure alone the 8th rank.

31.Ra7 Qd8

The point of Ra7 is of course that black must put his queen on d8 so that his rook can come to e7 to cover the c7 pawn. Those are the only two squares he can use to defend it. This uncoordinates his pieces.

32.Qa4 Re7 33.Bd2 Bf8 34.Ra8 Bg7 35.Rb8 Bf8 36.Bd3 Kg7 37.Qa8 Re8

Now we can see the difficulty with having the queen on d8, it is on the wrong side of the rook!

38.Ba5

It might strike you that the plan Bd3-c2-a4-b5-a6 is a good idea, taking advantage of the pin on the c8 bishop. However, black has the move f5 which gives him too much play on the kingside given that white cannot get any of his pieces over quickly.

38. ... Be7

If 38. ... Kg8 then 39. Qa7 Re7 40. Qb7 is devastating. The point is that blacks light squared bishop cannot escape from white's rook after 40. ... BxQ 41. RxQ Ba6 42. Ra8.

39.Qa7 Bf6 40.Bxc7 Qe7 41.Bb6 Qf8 42.Bc2 Qg8 43.Ba4 Qh8 44.c7 Rf8 45.Bc6 Qg8 46.Bb7

Black is busted as white piles on the pressure.

46. ... Bd7 47.Qa8 Be7 48.c8Q Bxc8 49.Rxc8 Rxc8 50.Qxc8 Qxc8 51.Bxc8 Kf8 52.Bf5 Bf6

Now white brings his king over to the queenside to win some pawns.

53.Kf1 Ke7 54.Ke2 Bh8 55.Kd3 Bf6 56.Kc2 Ke8 57.Kb3 Be7 58.Bc8 Bd8 59.Bxd8 Kxd8 60.Bf5 Kc7 61.Ka4 Kb6

White needs to deprive black of the a6 square and use up all his tempi so that he can force black's king backwards.

62.Bd7 Ka6 63.Bc6 Kb6 64.Bb5 f6 65.Bc6 Ka6 66.Bd7 Kb6 67.Bb5 Ka7 68.Ka5

Hooray!

68. ... Kb7 69.Be8 Kc7 70.Ka6 Kc8 71.Kb6 Kd8 72.Kc6

The pawns are of course worth more than the bishop.

Ke7 73.Bg6 f5 74.Bxf5 Ke8 75.Kxd6 Kd8 76.Kxc5 Kc7 77.d6+ Kd8 78.Kd5 Ke8 79.Kxe5 Kf8 80.c5 Kf7 81.c6

Clearly the game is now over ... but I wanted to have some fun (!)

81. ... Kg7 82.Bg6 Kh8 83.Kf5 Kg7 84.Be8 Kf8 85.Kg6 Kxe8 86.e5 Kd8 87.e6 Kc8 88.Kxh6 Kb8 89.Kxg5

Six passed white pawns. Pretty aren't they?!

89. ... Ka7 90.Kf6 Kb6 91.c7 Kb7 92.Ke5 Kb6 93.f4 Ka5 94.f5 Kb5 95.f6 Kb4 96.g5 Ka4 97.g6 Kb3 98.h6 Ka3 99.h7 Ka2 100.h8Q

Queen number one.

Kb3 101.g7 Kb4 102.g8Q Ka4 103.f7 Kb3 104.f8Q Kc3 105.e7 Kb2 106.e8Q Kc3 107.d7 Kd3 108.d8Q+ Kc3 109.c8Q+

Queen number six!

109. ... Kb2 110.Qh2+ Ka1 111.Qa8+ Kb1 112.Qdb8+ Kc1 113.Qec8+ Kd1 114.Qgb3+ Ke1 115.Qfb4+ Kf1 116.Qcc4# 1-0

Fritz 7 is checkmated.

Game two

Arasan has the black pieces.

1. d4 Nf6, 2. c4 g6, 3. Nc3 Bg7, 4. e4 d6, 5. Be2 O-O, 6. Bg5

This is the Averbach system which is as I said, quite a good choice against a computer. White is usually able to generate an attack against black's kingside which is often difficult for a computer to handle.

6. ... Na6

Not very scary!

7. Qd2 e5, 8. d5 Qe8, 9. O-O-O Bd7, 10. h4 Nc5, 11. f3

Now it must be admitted that this position is rather like a Saemisch in which white has put his kings bishop on the rather odd e2 square. However, black's set up is not one which is feared by Saemisch players so the inconvenience of the misplaced bishop is negligible.

11. ... b6

A wasted move.

12. g4 Qc8

Another wasted move.

13. h5 Qd8

The computer is drifting. It has no plan.

14. hxg6 fxg6

A good decision by the computer, hxg6 would be terrible for black.

15. Nh3 Na4, 16. Nxa4 Bxa4, 17. Rdg1 Qc8, 18. Bh6 Qa6,

To justify this move black would have to generate an attack of his own on the queenside. I don't think it is possible to generate such an attack here. Thus the queen is out of play on a6.

19. Bxg7 Kxg7, 20. Ng5 Kg8,

Oh dear. I think 20. ... Rh8 was necessary. White is threatening both 21. Ne6+ and 21. Nxh7 Nxh7 22. Qh6+ both of which look bad for black.

21. Ne6 Rf7, 22. Qh6 Rc8,

What? Perhaps the computer was hoping to play c6 soon?

23. g5 Nh5,

No no no! 23. ... Ne8 is better, or even the desperate looking 23. ... c6. After Ne8 white might then try tripling pieces on the h-file (Rh2, Rgh1) in order to play Qxg6 hg Rh8++ but black can still fight.

24. Rxh5 Ra8,

Of course not 24. ... gh 25. g6 with multiple threats. But Ra8 is just a terrible move (24. ... c6 was better).

25. Rgh1

Threatening 26. Qxg6 hg 27. Rh8++ or 26. ... Kh8 27. Rxh7 Rxh7 28. Qxh7++

25. ... gxh5, 26. g6 Qxc4+,

1-0 (26. ... hg, 27. Qxg6+ Kh8, 28. Rxh5 Rh7 29. Rxh7++)

Game three

Chessmate has the white pieces

1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. Nc3 Be7,

A variation the computer didn't know.

4. Nf3 Nf6,

Hoping for 5. e5 Ne4 which is pleasant for black.

5. exd5 exd5, 6. Ne5

The computer doesn't understand the position. It is too early to occupy e5.

6. ... Bf5, 7. g4

Oh dear. Weakening the kingside for no good reason. A typical computer mistake. The program can't see far enough ahead to realise why this is a bad move. I doubt many human players would make this mistake.

7. ... Bg6, 8. g5

More weaknesses. Again, for no apparent reason.

8. ... Ne4, 9. Nxe4 Bxe4, 10. f3 Bf5, 11. Bd3

The computer offers to exchange it's good bishop for blacks bad bishop. In this position the move is not so bad, but the fact that it is not so bad shows that there is something wrong with white's position!

11. ... Bxd3, 12. Qxd3 O-O, 13. f4 f6, 14. Nf3 fxg5, 15. fxg5 Nc6, 16. c3 Qd7, 17. O-O

Brave is one word to describe this move. Stupid is more apt. Blacks position is probably winning now.

17. ... Rae8,

The immediate 17. ... Qg4+ doesn't achieve much.

18. Qb5

Defending the knight on f3 by tactical means. Thus 18. ... Qg4+ 19. Kh1 RxN 20 Qxd5+ wins the exchange.

18. ... Kh8, 19. h3

If 19. Kh1 then 19. ... Qh3 and both the rook on f1 and the knight on f3 are attacked.

19 ... Qxh3, 20. Nh2 Bd6, 21. Rxf8+ Rxf8, 22. Bf4 Bxf4,

Chessmate resigns (23. Nf1 Be3+ 24. NxB QxB+ 25. Kh1 Rf2 26. Qxd5 Qh3+ 27. Kg1 Qg3+ 28. Kh1 Rh2++)

Game four

Gromit has the black pieces.

1. Pd2-d4 Pd7-d6 2. Pc2-c4 Ng8-f6 3. Nb1-c3 Pg7-g6 4. Pe2-e4 Bf8-g7 5. Bf1-e2 O-O 6. Bc1-g5 Nb8-d7

The Averbach with it's characteristic attacks against blacks king is often effective against computers.

7. Qd1-c2

Sneaky. Covering e4 and allowing 9. Bd2 after 7. ... c5 8. d5 Qa5

8. ... Pe7-e5 8. Pd4-d5 Nd7-b6

A passive square for the knight.

9. Pb2-b3 Ph7-h6 10. Bg5-e3 Bc8-d7 11. Qc2-d2 Pg6-g5

A bad idea.

12. Ph2-h4 Nf6-h7 13. Pg2-g4

It is probable that white has many better ways to play this position, but no matter, it is the computer's play we are interested in.

13. ... Pg5xh4 14. Be3xh6 Bg7xh6 15. Qd2xh6 Qd8-f6 16. Rh1xh4 Qf6xh6 17. Rh4xh6

At the cost of a pawn black has diffused white's attack. However, the cost proves too great for the machine.

17. ... Pa7-a5 18. O-O-O Pa5-a4 19. Kc1-b2 Pa4xb3 20. Pa2xb3 Nh7-g5 21. Ng1-h3 Kg8-g7 22. Rh6-h5 Ng5xh3 23. Rh5xh3 Ra8-a5 24. Rd1-h1 Rf8-g8 25. Rh1-a1

Admitting that this is where the rook belongs after all. The extra pawn is still there so a few tempi don't matter much.

25. ... Ra5xa1 26. Kb2xa1 Rg8-a8+ 27. Ka1-b2 Nb6-c8 28. Nc3-d1 Pb7-b6 29. Nd1-e3 Ra8-a7 30. Ne3-f5+ Kg7-g8

Gromit was wise not to take on f5. Black's last hope is that he can make use of his better bishop. The good knight vs. bad bishop ending which ensues after 30. ... Bxf5 31. ef!? still leaves white with enough to win. (White will play Bd3 and g5 leaving black very cramped on the kingside.)

31. Rh3-h1 Ra7-a5 32. Pg4-g5 Bd7xf5

Oh dear. Big mistake.

33. Pe4xf5 Pb6-b5 34. Rh1-a1

Not 34. cb Ne7 attacking d5 and f5 and giving black chances to equalise.

34. ... Ra5xa1 35. Kb2xa1 Nc8-b6 36. Ka1-b2 Pb5xc4 37. Be2xc4 Nb6-c8 38. Bc4-d3 Nc8-b6 39. Bd3-e4

White has the ideal set up. He will always have the threat of g6 creating a passed pawn on the kingside. All he has to do is invade on the queenside with his king. Piece of cake.

39. ... Kg8-f8 40. Kb2-c3 Nb6-d7 41. Pf2-f3 Kf8-g7 42. Kc3-c4 Kg7-f8 43. Kc4-b5 Nd7-b8 44. Kb5-a5 Kf8-e8 45. Pb3-b4 Ke8-f8 46. Pb4-b5 Nb8-d7 47. Ka5-a6 Nd7-c5+ 48. Ka6-a7 Kf8-e7 49. Ka7-b8 Ke7-d8

Now it's time to drag either black's king or knight to the kingside by creating a passed pawn there.

50. Pg5-g6 Nc5-d7+ 51. Kb8-b7 Nd7-c5+ 52. Kb7-c6 Nc5-d7 53. Pb5-b6 Pc7xb6 54. Kc6xd6 Pb6-b5 55. Pg6-g7 Nd7-f6

Black has chosen to stop the pawn with his knight. It doesn't work.

56. Kd6xe5 Nf6-d7+ 57. Ke5-d4 Nd7-f6 58. Kd4-c5 Pb5-b4 59. Kc5xb4 Kd8-c7 60. Kb4-c5 Nf6-d7+ 61. Kc5-d4 Nd7-f6 62. Pf3-f4 Kc7-d6 63. Be4-f3

Black is almost in zugzwang. 63. ... Kd7 allows 64. Ke5 and 63. ... Ke7 allows 64. Kc5 Nd7+ 65. Kc6 Nf6 66. d6+ and now 66. ... Ke8 67. Kc7 threatening Bc6 which is terminal, or 66. ... Kd8 after which I believe that 67. Bd5 Ke8 68. d7+ Nxd7 69. Bxf7+ Kxf7 70. Kxd7 Kxg7 71. Ke7 is a forced sequence which leave black unable to prevent the pawn from queening on f8.

63. ... Nf6-g8 64. Bf3-h5 Pf7-f6 65. Bh5-f7 Ng8-h6 66. Bf7-e6 Kd6-e7 67. Pg7-g8Q Nh6xg8 68. Be6xg8

The rest requires no commentary. (or formatting)

68. ... Ke7-d6 69. Bg8-e6 Kd6-e7 70. Kd4-c5 Ke7-e8 71. Pd5-d6 Ke8-f8 72. Kc5-c6 Kf8-g7 73. Pd6-d7 Kg7-h6 74. Pd7-d8Q Kh6-h5 75. Qd8-g8 Kh5-h4 76. Be6-d5 Kh4-h3 77. Bd5-f3 Kh3-h2 78. Qg8-g2+

Gromit is checkmated.

Game five

Winchen has the white pieces.

1. d2-d4 e7-e6, 2. N-f3 f7-f5, 3. N-c3 N-f6, 4. g2-g3 d7-d5,

The Dutch Stonewall. An excellent opening to play against a computer. Black's plan is to attack white's castled king. The computer will not realise that it is doomed until it is too late.

5. B-g2 c7-c6, 6. O-O B-d6 7. a2-a3?

A wasted move.

7. ... Nb8-d7, 8. B-g5 h7-h6, 9. B-d2

Probably not a great square for the bishop. Obviously 9. Bh4 was out of the question because of 9. ... g5, but I think that f4 might have been worth a go. The white pawn left on f4 after Bxf4 g4 is more of a strength than a weakness in that it will support a knight on e5. Also, black's dark squared bishop is a very fine piece and it is definitely worth swapping it off. However, if white wanted to play Bf4 he should probably have do so before playing Bg5 as h6 is probably useful for black in that it supports g5 although it does prevent black from playing his rook to that square via f8 and f6.

9. ... O-O, 10. N-h4 Q-e8, 11. N-f3?

Definitely bad. The only way to justify 10. Nh4 was to follow up with 11. f4. The move f4 is often very effective in these kinds of positions as it takes the sting out of g5 by black. By playing Nf3-h4-f3 white has forced black to put his queen on the square he wanted to put it on anyway and has lost two tempi in the process!

11. ... Q-h5,

Now against a human opponent I would certainly have played e5 here, freeing my position and giving my c8 bishop some hope of seeing some action. e5 is the best move. But against the computer the text move is superior.

12. e2-e3 g7-g5, 13. Q-e2 N-e4, 14. B-e1

White is drifting. The computer has no clear plan. I could probably have put question marks after white's last three moves but they are not so much bad as simply pointless.

14. ... Nd7-f6, 15. h2-h4?

One should not advance pawns in front of one's castled king. I think Ne5 was called for.

15. ... N-g4, 16. h4xg5?

Oh dear. Opening the h file really doesn't help white at all.

16. ... h6xg5, 17. b2-b3?

Only a computer could play a move like this. Under enormous pressure on the kingside white calmly plays a quiet pawn move on the other side of the board. However, white is probably already lost. The tactical try 17. Nd1 Rf7, 18. Nh4 gh, 19. f3 fails to 19. ... hg when the threats against h2 are terminal. It is time for white to run for the hills. 17. Bd2 planning 18. Rfb1 and 19. Kf1 20. Ke1 21. Kd1 etc. was white's last hope.

17. ... R-f7, 18. b3-b4 R-h7, 19. b4-b5 N-h2 20. Nxg5 QxNg5, 21. NxNe4 f5xN, 22. b5xc6 Q-h6,

Black could of course just grab the exchange on f1 but the position has become hopeless for white. The rest of the game is simply me avoiding tactics and trying to swap off pieces. I'm sure there are better moves for black all over the place but with such a material advantage anything sensible will do. No further commentry is necessary.

23. f2-f4 e4xf3, e.p. 24. c6xb7 Bxb7, 25. Rxf3 NxRf3+, 26. QxN R-f8, 27. Q-g4+ R-g7, 28. Q-h4 QxQ, 29. g3xQ e6-e5, 30. K-h1 e5xd4, 31. e3xd4 B-g3, 32. BxBg3 RxBg3, 33. R-b1 B-a8, 34. R-b5 R-g4, 35. Bxd5+ BxB+, 36. RxB Rxh4+, 37. K-g2 R-g4+, 38. K-h2 K-f7, 39. R-f5+ K-e7, 40. RxRf8 KxR, 41. c2-c3 K-e7, 42. K-h3 R-g8, 43. c3-c4 K-d6, 44. K-h4 R-c8, 45. c4-c5+ K-d5, 46. K-g4 Kxd4, 47. K-h3 Kxc5, 48. K-g3 R-f8, 49. a3-a4 a7-a5, 50. K-g4 K-d5, 51. K-g5 K-e4, 52. K-h6 R-g8, 53. K-h7 R-g5, 54. K-h6 K-f5, 55. K-h7 R-g6, 56. K-h8 K-f6, 57. K-h7 K-f7, 58. K-h8 R-h6 mate

Winchen is checkmated.

In conclusion therefore, the main problem with the freeware/shareware programs is that, even against fairly weak play, they have a tendency to drift, playing moves which do not improve their positions. They also often weaken their positions for no good reason, probably because the consequences of the weaknesses created are beyond their horizons. Fritz 7 is far stronger than these freeware/shareware programs and rarely drifts. However, in blocked positions with few tactics around, it too is unable to find constructive moves. Fritz makes very few weakening moves and appears to have a far better sense of positional feeling than the freeware/shareware programs.

(The game against Fritz also appears on my chess computers page, and all five games appear on my chess games page.)


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