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Tools in a chess player's workshop - Windows - Part 1

In Windows, 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 - Windows operating system.


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.

Contents

Program​

Learn / Training / Practice

Chessmaster

Play Chess Offline

Hiarcs Chess Explorer

Play Chess Online

ICC for Windows

Chess Game Annotations / Database / Analyzes

Chess Assistant

Chess Engines

Shredder Classic


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.


And if you have Windows available, learning to play chess with Chessmaster might be an even better idea.



Learn / Training / Practice




Chessmaster (currently owned and developed by Ubisoft) is a commercial program that runs on Windows system.

Chessmaster (CM) is a program with a long and glorious tradition, which was very popular and intensively developed in the 1980s and 1990s and in the first decade of the new century. In 2002, CM sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

Just a dozen years ago, CM was paving the way for chess software development and was a competitor to the biggest brands in that area.

In the years when CM was created, the Internet was not yet around or widespread. Therefore, CM has many built-in options that allow offline learning, fun and competition.


The last version released was the 2007 ChessMaster Grandmaster Edition.


The quality of the whole CM program is very high and the chess learning and training modules deserve special attention even today - in 2022, 15 years after the last release.

Before you continue with this post, I must inform you dear reader, that at the time of writing this post (February 2022) Chessmaster cannot be purchased from its manufacturer/publisher.

CM stopped being developed by Ubisoft, which at one time was very surprising to the loyal chess community and supporters.


Until the eventual resumption of the Chessmaster cycle, to acquire this program, it is worthwhile to browse auction sites (e.g. Allegro, Amazon, Ebay, etc.) and other places where software and games are distributed.


Chessmaster in a still unpacked box fetches a high price at auctions.


If you manage to get your own copy of this excellent program, then you should know that the latest version of it works on the modern Windows 10 and Windows 11 systems without any problem.

( According to the specifications, the officially supported systems are Windows® XP/ Vista )

It's worth knowing that earlier versions like Chessmaster 10th Edition and Chessmaster 9000 are not much inferior to the Grandmaster version and are worth getting interested in. Especially since earlier versions were also released for other operating systems (e.g. Chessmaster 9000 for Mac).


Ok, so let's take a closer look at what Chessmaster offers in terms of chess learning and training.



Learn


Academy

  • Josh Waitzkin's Academy

The academy is led by International Master Josh Waitzkin.

The lessons are interactive, the student is asked to make choices, the CM provides opportunities for undo and redo.

There are many lessons and they are divided into thematic groups.


I will show some examples.
















  • Larry Christiansen Attacking Chess

Interesting and informative game examples with commentary.



  • Chessmasters Series

Lots of lessons and cool quizzes designed for chess players of different levels.





Famous games

Beautiful, informative and surprising chess games with rich commentary and analysis.




Database

Something for "chess nerds" ;-)


Openings

  • Pracice Openings

  • Openings Book Reference

  • Openeings Book Editor

  • New Openeing Book


Do you know how to play against the Latvian gambit ?



Play

Chessmaster uses a chess engine called The King (author Johan de Koning), which plays with a strength of about 2700 Elo points (super grandmaster level - top 50 strongest human in the world).

An unusual feature of this engine is that it can be configured in a very detailed set of settings. In practice, this means that Chessmaster or rather the various computer opponents from this program.


It can play with strength from novice to grandmaster and in the style of Paul Morphy (aggressive, spectacular attack) to tough, controlled and precise defense (Tigran Petrosian).

  • Training Mode






  • Ranked Play


  • Set Up Position


  • Tournament

You can create a chess tournament (offline) with humans and selected computer opponents.





  • Online (doesn't work for me, probably due to lack of developer support)

  • LAN


Fun


Play

Different game modes and chess puzzles, as well as chess learning for the youngest :-)



Puzzles


Mini Games


Learn Basics






Chessmaster is a program that even today after 15 years since its last release, amazes with its vastness of training possibilities, variety of lessons and refinement of details.

The visuals as well as the sound stand at a high level. It is very good for young people especially for children, whose attention is attracted by various colorful graphic elements, humorous animations and sounds (Fun mode).


Chessmaster can be very helpful for those starting their adventure into the world of chess - from novices to intermediate chess club players, will benefit the most.


It is a great pity that CM is no longer developed. It would certainly find many buyers, and more importantly, it could ignite a love of chess for more people.


I heartily recommend the Chessmaster program for learning, training and practice.



Play chess with computer ( offline )


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


On both platforms, Hiarcs Chess Explorer is identical and behaves the same. One of the few differences, for example, is the appearance of the window's top bar, which looks appropriate to the operating system on which this program is running and at the moment (February 2022, HCE version 1.11.1) dark mode is only supported on Mac.


HCE ( Hiarcs Chess Explorer ) 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.


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 Windows, Mac, Mobile, etc. - provides a dedicated program to play on this server.


On Windows platform, ICC is identical and behaves the same like on Mac.


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.