Sunday, November 08, 2009

A good game of Chess is hard to find

Chessmaster, in various incarnations, has had quite a following over the years, but it never was very serious chess; for that, you need Fritz 11, or a very short stack of quality hackers' chess engines (Crafty, Sjeng, GNU Chess, et al.) that work with eboard (which doubles as an FICS client for online play), xboard, Arena, etc.

The Nintendo DS edition is subtitled "The Art of Learning" by someone yclept Josh Waitzkin (you can locate him easily enough on Google, all by yourself), but apparently all he contributed is the ultralite chess tutorial.

However — and this is an important point — the game does play fun chess, offering A.I. opponents dialed back enough to keep a duffer like me entertained. No matter what level you're on, you can find someone to beat with Chessmaster. The A.I.s get tougher as you improve, so there's no danger of running out of someone to play with. If your kid's a chess genius, buy her Fritz 11.

The familiar Chessmaster is the highest-ranking A.I. in the game (ELO 1850), strong enough to beat good casual players.

Buyer beware...! The Nintendo DS edition, seemingly discontinued (?) by Ubisoft, was not worth $30 brand new in 2007, let alone the $119.97 it goes for these days at I bought a pre-owned copy for $18 at Video Games, Etc.

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