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Tools in a chess player's workshop - Mac

In macOS, as in other systems, you can use programs for every chess enthusiast, from the beginner to the very advanced, for the correspondence chess player and the fan of competitive chess engines.

This post is dedicated to adults chess players who would like to use the most interesting, useful and proven tools - programs ( not web-based tools and servers ) for various chess activities in their chess workshop - Mac operating system (macOS).

My goal is not to discuss as many programs in as much detail as possible, but to demonstrate the key capabilities of the tools I have selected in relation to specific chess activities, e.g. training, analysis, database and engine use, etc.

This entry will be updated on a regular basis when I feel that there is software worth presenting to you dear readers.

To learn about the capabilities and practical use of the best chess software, I invite you to visit the course area.



Training / Practice


Play Chess Offline

Hiarcs Chess Explorer

Play Chess Online

ICC for Mac

Chess Game Annotations / Database / Analyzes

Scid vs. Mac

Chess Engines

Banksia GUI

How to play chess

Fortunately for us fans of this Royal Game, you don't need to read several books to play your first chess game :-)

Learning to play chess is relatively easy and quick. Mastering the basics of the game will allow you to play one or more games, which is important in memorizing the chess rules.

It is a good idea to simply ask someone who can play to show us the basics of chess. If we don't have such an opportunity, I suggest reading just one page of Wikipedia, where the rules of chess are described in a very simple and understandable way.

Training / Practice

SparkChess (authors: Media Division SRL Team) is a commercial program that also runs on Andoid, iOS, iPadOS and Windows systems.

SparkChess is a very elegant program with many options for learning, training and practice. It is characterized by readability and simplicity, which does not mean that the program is poor, on the contrary.

After launching, we are welcomed by a window with precisely described options to choose from.

By selecting Learning, more detailed selection options appear:

Once you enter the Lessons area, SparkChess offers numerous lessons that are mainly geared towards beginner chess players.

So let's check out some of them.

First: Promotion and En-Passant.

The lessons are interactive and include commentary.

The student has buttons to e.g. go back to previous comments of the program to consolidate the acquired knowledge.

Another example: Tactics - Overloading.

The program automatically revived the chessboard showing the correct move.

At any time during the lesson, the student can use the explanations of the computer trainer.

I will show this in the following item taken from the lesson discussed above.

After clicking on the Analyze button...

...A menu appears after the checker containing: Control, Mobility, Attacks and Close button.

Depending on which button you click, SparkChess describes the position in detail and shows important things on the chessboard with colors,

When you click the Show Coach button, program show threat indicators and the directional arrows for moves.

If you need a suggestion to consider, then SparkChess will show suggestions when you click the Help me button.

We can change or set a different position at any time. This is a useful feature when checking different lines.

When learning or practicing, SparkChess often shows useful tips.

It is worth training and learning from the best... also from their mistakes.

SparkChess has annotated chess games in its database.

Below are screens from two different games.

Not only learning and training a chess player lives :-)

The program also offers the opportunity to play and test your skills against computer opponents with specific skills.

To conclude the coaching capabilities of the program,

SparkChess can easily explain and show on a chessboard why your move was good or bad. Visualizations highlight threats or suggest opportunities for attack. Custom position settings give the student ability to train different potential continuations with the AI commentary.

I would like to emphasize that SparkChess is a very friendly program.

This is a great advantage, especially for chess enthusiasts taking their first steps and for children learning the basics of the chess.

Play chess with computer ( offline )

Hiarcs Chess Explorer (authors: Michal Rudolf, Mark Uniacke) is a commercial program that also runs on Windows systems.

HCE ( Hiarcs Chess Explorer ) uses the Hiarcs chess engine, which won the World Computer Championship in Beijing in 2008.

HCE is a program with a clear, easy to understand interface. The look of the program is very elegant and inviting to start playing chess.

The interface is highly customizable, the user can use many features of the program depending on the needs.

Below are two examples.

Let's play chess! :-))

HCE has a unique property that allows this program to adjust the strength of the game to the level of the chess player. It is not fun and does not bring much 10 defeats in a row with a program capable of beating a World Chess Champion.

HIARCS author Mark Uniacke said in video interview that one of his current development priorities is to improve HIARCS to play in a more "human way" with different Elo strengths.

And it does indeed feel when playing against Hiarcs that this engine makes "very human" moves, which can be an advantage for chess players because these moves are understandable unlike the moves of other engines against which any chess player would lose any game.

When selected: Match player strength, the first chess game will play against Hiarcs with a strength of 1600 ELO points (the average club player plays with this strength).

Here's a view from my first game against Hiarcs.

Nothing on the s is distracting, we can see the chessboard timers and game notation. Of course we can adjust the size of the windows, such as the chessboard, to suit our needs.

During the game, our progress is monitored by the Coach. If he thinks we made a mistake, or that we could have made another good or interesting move, then a window is displayed with information.

If we don't believe the Trainer, when we click the Show refutation button, the computer opponent's movement will be shown in an animated way.

If, in the heat of the chess battle, you forget about the countdown clock, then Hiarcs will offer you the option of adding additional thinking time.

In each successive chess game, Hiarcs adjusts his playing strength more and more to the level of his human opponent. He does this in such a way that each game is challenging and motivates the chess player to play better and better.

After playing at least a few games, it's a good idea to check rating.

The chess game is over. You would like to check the entire game for strong weak moves. Or maybe... you could play something completely different at several points in the game ?

HCE has an analytics module that, like other features, can be configured at our discretion or we can use the default settings.

Here's how the computer Coach annotations for one of my games.

A nice and useful addition is the ability to use the electronic chess board to play with the Hiarcs Chess Explorer program.

For more details, I encourage you to visit the manufacturer's website. Below is some information about what we can do after connecting electronic chessboard to Hiarcs Chess Explorer.

What distinguishes HCE from most other chess programs are the detailed aids prepared by the authors.

The program is easy to use, however, for the user's convenience there is a traditional help file (the size of a book), context-sensitive help available for each option that is currently used, and numerous instructional videos.

Hiarcs Chess Explorer is a long-established program, developed over the last several years. Its latest version ( Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro ) was released at the time of creating this entry.

Customer support and service stands at a very high level, which is repeatedly confirmed by users on Internet forums.

Hiarcs Chess Explorer is a program written by professionals, polished to the smallest detail.

I highly recommend.

Play chess with computer ( online )

ICC -Internet Chess Club is one of the oldest and most recognized places to play chess online.

This is a commercial and extensive chess server that will provide entertainment on many chess fronts.

ICC is available to play for all hardware and system platforms through its website.

For the most popular ones like Mac, Windows, Mobile, etc. - provides a dedicated program to play on this server.

After logging into the server, we are greeted by a program in the Lobby.

We can filter and customize the view.

After selecting the time for the game using the buttons at the top, the program will search for an opponent with a similar ranking.

Here is the beginning of the first game played by chessengeria.

As an untitled player, I was given a ranking of 1400 before the game started.

The results of the first games have a big impact on the ranking. After playing just a few games, depending on the results of the games, the ranking can change by up to several hundred points.

When we want to take a break from the game for a bit, we can watch other games while they are going on. During the observation, the program allows you to run the chess engine, which displays an analysis and a move suggestion.

Every day we can participate in interesting events such as lessons, simulations with famous and titled players and...

...Also play in tournaments...

In a very nice atmosphere :-)

We also have access to a profile, statistics and a library of games played - for each ICC member.

This data can be useful when, for example, preparing against a selected opponent.

You can examine and analyze each completed game, make graphical annotations and use the chess engine to, for example, check our moves.

When there are interesting events going on, such as the World Chess Championship Match, then ICC provides a live feed with commentary by the Masters and Grandmasters.

As an ICC member, we are provided access to a database of hundreds of videos of lessons and previously covered events.

ICC also offers chess training opportunities through chess coaching and...

...access to the Learning center.

You can choose a teacher...

...From among several hundred Masters and Grandmasters - and sign up for online lessons.

ICC is not only a place to play chess over the Internet.

Being a member of Internet Chess Club we can realize our chess passion in a very wide range, meet interesting people, as well as train and learn from the best.

Chess Game Annotations / Databases / Analyzes

Scid vs. PC is a free program, a fork of Shane Hudson's Chess Information Database (SCID), started in 2009 by Steven Atkinson.

It was also released for operating systems: Linux, Solaris, Windows and other Unix family systems like FreeBSD, OpenBSD.

In the case of Scid vs. PC, the more accessible it is - the better for us - chess players.

In macOS system Scid vs. PC is called Scid vs. Mac.

Scid vs. Mac work the same way like Scid vs. PC on each other system.

In terms of handling chess games and databases, and engine-based analysis, Scid vs. Mac is not inferior to professional and paid software.

A feature of the Scid vs. Mac program that is worth emphasizing is that a novice player as well as a chess expert will be able to very easily use this program adequately to their needs.

Example no. 1

A beginning chess enthusiast simply needs to collect his chess games in one database, in some games he would like to add text annotations and from time to time use the chess engine hints.

Example no. 2

An advanced and experienced player needs many databases of chess games in order to quickly and efficiently manage a collection of millions of records. He very often uses advanced chess notation in his games, prints games with diagrams and regularly looks for chess novelties while preparing for different and strong opponents. When analyzing many positions and games he uses different chess engines and endgame tablebases simultaneously.

I invite you to watch a few pictures showing the capabilities of Scid vs. Mac.

Annotated chess game...

...With Comment Editor.

Promoting variation.

Diagram with current position.

Position analysis by single chess engine: one line of analysis.

Position analysis by single chess engine: main chessboard, three lines of analysis, threat suggestion, variation board.

Simultaneous position analysis by two chess engines, variation boards.

An analysis of the entire chess game by the chess engine, along with the annotations and variations it adds.

A view of the chessboard with the last move.

Selecting the type of chess database.