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Monday, October 10, 2005

Kasparov Chessmate -- Chess For Pocket PC and Desktop

For chess lovers, this seems like an excellent program. I am a chess player and I often have a hard time finding other players.

This software fills the bill on the desktop and pocket pc.

Here's what another user has to say about Chessmate: (continued...)

"I have Fritz and Chessmaster, but I play Chessmate more than the other two at the moment. One reason is that tournament mode in Chessmate is really fun; the handicapping seems to work quite well, the players get stronger slowly, and on the Pocket PC the variation in moves that one opponent plays is not great so you can try the same ideas (better executed) if you lose. The variety of openings is not great, and this is also good because in effect you are getting drilled in a few standard openings. So the effectiveness of the handicapping and the lack of opening variety give me the impression that this has been designed as a learning tool. The other reason I use it is that it is quite a good way to store games you are playing with friends via sms, because in human v human mode it simply records moves; there is no chance to analyse the game with the Ruffian chess engine, which makes it quite fair.

The pocket pc version is pretty nifty; it has the tournament feature. The PC version is I think quite an impressive package; it provides a small number of challenging puzzles, some good text, and once again this really fun tournament feature. Under the tournament feature you play a number of progressively harder opponents, half the time you must play black. A tournament game is time limited and there is no take back or hint option. You can't save the game either, you must finish or resign.

Your rating is changed based on the outcome; wins or even draws against harder opponents can really help your rating leap. However, if you lose, you simply do not progress, you must beat all four players in the current round to progress, and you can take as many attempts as you like. Since each opponent plays with limited variety, you can easily play yourself back to the place you made a mistake, and do better this time. I also find this effective for learning. You must start the tournament in bronze level, which is a low level of opponent, so that could be 24 boring short games for a strong player.

All in all, this is surprisingly good chess software. For the money, it's worth it. I think this would be the first game I would give a child of all the chess software I own."

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