When it comes down to the most important part of the game, the play, the onus is comes back to the gamer himself. I played about 20 games in various modes, and the computer wiped the board with me in nearly all of them, most of them in a short amount of time, and without straining its obviously deep analytical database. In one of my very few good plays, I actually made the engine look several levels deeper than it had in any other prior position before making a move. Sadly, my next position wasn’t as good, and 6 moves later, Fritz had me in checkmate.
Once I started utilizing Friend Mode, I felt a little more competitive, and over several games, my handicap decreased slightly, as my play slowly improved. Friend Mode, along with the Beginners Course (an audio and video tutorial), is the place to start in Fritz 8 Deluxe
for anyone new to chess or chess software.
Once I felt comfortable playing against the engine, I used the games online connection to the Chessbase Playchess server, and played live against other players around the world. Unlike some games where playing against non-english speaking players, chess is a universal language that made my games against Russian and French players as exciting as those against players from the U.S. Of note, I actually managed to win one of my online games, further proving my slowly increasing skill.
The Playchess server is easy to use, and setting up or joining a game is very straightforward, and even just chatting can be very educational. The rating system in the game is based on the actual Elo rating used to describe the skill of chess players worldwide, and is helpful in finding players close to your own skill. Fritz 8 includes 1 year of full access to Playchess.com, so you have plenty of time to work on your game before going global.
The last, and perhaps most exciting feature, is a short set of video tutorials by World Champion Garry Kasparov. Kasparov uses his years of experience in explaining the intricacies of chess to make the various topics he presents understandable to even the beginning player.
While I found I truly enjoyed my experience with Fritz 8 Deluxe
extremely enjoyable, and barely tapped into some of the advanced features, I did find a few flaws. These flaws centered entirely around getting the beginning player up and running within Fritz 8, and advancing as a player. Teaching the basics of chess and helping the very new player learn the ropes. There’s not really a step by step guide through early games, and while hints and suggestions are available, these aren’t really provided in a way that benefits the true novice.
Finally, I looked for a way to encapsulate what I felt overall about my time with Fritz 8. I found what I was looking for in a conversation I had with F. Leon Wilson, a Master level chess instructor and founder of www.chesslearn.com
. “When it comes to chess software, I base my recommendation on the level of the player. To those who are just beginning, and in need of a strong tutorial, I recommend Chessmaster
. But for the advanced player, Fritz 8 Deluxe
is far superior. Fritz contains stronger engines and a deeper database. For those students learning opening books, or looking for move analysis, it is ideal.”
The most powerful commercial chess engine returns with a smoother interface, better boards, and a friendlier AI. Fritz 8 is not for beginners, but is clearly the best choice for the aspiring grandmaster.
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