A chess game between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky was the best. The best chess video games aren’t like that at all. Rules for chess are simple, but it is one of the most difficult tests for foresight, tactics, and mental strength that there is, even though they are easy to learn. Many different kinds of programmes and games are out there because there are so many different reasons to play software chess, like for fun, to learn, and to compete.
This guide will show you how to play computer chess, with advice for both people who just want to play for fun and people who want to learn more about opening moves and historical games.
The best free online chess games
Lichess.org is the online chess game I like best. It’s free and can be used for a lot of different types of matches, including ones that last a long time. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to set up an account to play. I find that means I’m more likely to see players who resign or ask for a draw right away because you never know who you’ll be paired with. For practise, you can also play against the Stockfish engine, which has a lot of moves (more on what that is in the sections below).
You can use Chess.com, which isn’t commercial. As a way to play chess online quickly at any skill level, it’s one of your best bets. You’ll have to put up with a few ads and be pestered to pay for a premium subscription. It runs in your browser and has a simple, clean board design. There are a lot of people playing, so I haven’t had a problem finding a match with someone of the same skill level as I am every time I play (which is to say, not very much skill).
The best chess videogame
If you don’t want to use the complicated software in the sections below, Chess Ultra is the game for you. It’s a beautiful chess game. It has VR support, an AI opponent with different levels of difficulty, local and online multiplayer, Twitch integration, and the ability to export games. It also has the ability to save games. It also has basic tutorials for newbies. To play chess, this is your game. It’s simple and beautiful, just like chess itself. It’s also a good deal: on Steam, it costs $13 and is on sale for $9.09 right now.
Try Simply Chess if you want to play for free. So, yeah, it’s free. It’s not that good. With a separate account, you can play online. It has a good computer opponent thanks to the Stockfish engine, and it can play against you online (see the section below for an explanation on that).
The best chess engines
To play against a powerful, customizable computer opponent for the study of chess, you’ll need to get a computer chess engine, like Fritz. I think the free and open source Stockfish engine or one of its variants is a good choice.
Also, Komodo is one of the best, but you’ll have to pay for the most recent version (Komodo 9 is free). Houdini costs €40 for the standard version.
These engines are mostly for practise. You can play against them, look at chess moves, and put them against each other. They’re for people who really want to learn about the game. If you’re not sure if a chess engine is something you want to play with, don’t buy one. Free engines are very powerful. I look at the rankings on computerchess.org.uk.
The best chess engine GUIs
An engine alone won’t do much for you, because they don’t have any kind of graphical user interface, just a console, so you won’t be able to do much. To play against a chess engine or use it to look at boards, you’ll need a chess GUI. There are many free ones. All but a few come with engines already installed, so you can start with one download and get going right away.
Lucas Chess: It’s simple and easy to learn for people who are new. It has a lot of engines and training tools, and the UI isn’t too hard to figure out even if you don’t know how chess engines work.
For new people, Arena Chess is more complicated than Lucas Chess, but it has a lot more features and can be used in 19 languages. It also has a Linux version.
There are a lot of features in WinBoard and XBoard, but the GUI isn’t the best. They both have chess variant support, too.
If you want to play against an engine, SCID is the same as the other GUIs on this list and can be used to do that. It’s best for quickly organising and analysing databases of games. You’ll want to use it with MillionBase, a huge database of chess games in PGN format that you can download here. You can also use other chess game databases. If you like the SCID interface, you can also use SCID vs PC as a chess GUI.
Commercial chess software
You can play and learn a lot about chess for free, and that’s where I’d start. But if you have a lot of money, you can get a lot more bells and whistles with a pro package. Much of what you’re paying for is how well they’re done, and how well their training tools work.
Fritz 15 is a piece of chess software that has been around for a long time. Its current engine is written by the person who made the Rybka engine, Vasik Rajlich (though you can use it with other commercial and free engines). In order for it to work, you need to get the activation keys first! As with any free software, the interface is complicated. But it comes with a huge database of games, and some nice features. You can play against a computer opponent that adapts to your skill level in “Friend Mode.” Hints that aren’t too direct also help you learn without forgetting why one move is better than another.
There is a 6-month membership to Playchess.com that comes with Fritz 15. As long as you’re willing to spend the money, this is a good option for you. It’s not as easy to use as the free options, though, so I’d look up some tutorials.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, Fritz 14 is still available, as well as the $20 Fritz for Fun 13, which isn’t as simple as you might think. You get a lot of the same features as in later versions, and you can even import new engines.
There is a more expensive, less flashy choice called Hiarcs. It has a lot of features and data, but I haven’t tried it out yet.
ChessBase 13 Academy costs $150 and ChessBase 13 Pro costs $235. Only chess players or people who want to make their own chess engines will want to pay that much for it. People don’t use these tools to play chess, but to look at chess games.
If you have a PC, SparkChess is a great chess game that puts fun first. There are a lot of different boards in this game. So, you can choose a board that you like. Online, you can play this game of chess against a computer or another person. Everyone can play this chess game.
5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel
American studio Thinkspace is going to release a chess game called 5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel in 2020 for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. It’s a chess game with a twist.
When the segment moves through ranks and files, it moves through time and timelines as well. Its main mechanic is called multiverse time travel. The game has been praised and rated well by critics. It was praised for having a complicated and elegant look.
It needs a computer with a 64-bit processor and a computer operating system that can run it.