Fritz 9 Play Chess
Review by Old
"Computer chess," in its earliest forms and iterations,
has been a favorite pastime of mine for many years. Having been
on high school and college chess teams (don't laugh, you football
jockswe even had our own cheerleaders!), I found live adult
opponents harder to come by as I grew older, moved around and didn't
feel like traveling to central city somewhere for the lone area
chess club. Then I discovered primitive computer chess sets, desk
and travel size, which afforded some practice and entertainment
but little challenge.
With the arrival of the PC and, especially, the Internet, the situation
has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The Fritz and
Chessmaster series have provided increasingly broad, deep,
educational, challenging and improved iterations year after year.
Fritz, with its PlayChess.com online accessibility, gives
a player like me a range of offerings that I couldn't possibly have
envisioned 15 years ago. Just take a look at only some of the features
of Fritz 9:
- A one-million (!) game database covering four centuries of chess;
- Training modules, from a video beginner's course to sample lessons
and interactive training for attack, defense and check improvement;
- Coach and help function explaining all moves;
- Hand-holding move by move if you choose (best move, etc.);
- Hint, Spy and Kibbitz engine;
- An opening book, with one million opening positionsfully
searchable and interactive;
- Graphical commenting, with arrows, highlights and medals;
- A computer opponent that will tailor itself, after a few games
with you, to provide just enough challenge to keep you on your
toes and continuing to improve your own skill;
- One-year free membership in PlayChess.com, the largest online
chess community, offering a nurturing and friendly environment
of players at all levels of ability;
- And, lest we forget to mention the heart of the game, Fritz
9, the most powerful chess engine available, the same engine
that has defeated the world's number one Grandmaster, Garry Kasparov.
I have Fritz 8, and this ninth version does show some interesting
improvements. You now have available two 3D computer opponents,
accompanied by an optimized graphics and physics engineone
that breathes easiest with a 128 MB graphic card! Positional
play instruction is now available, as well as customizable boards
and different, even novel, playing levels (sparring, fun, shuffle,
Those who play computer chess look more to clarity and efficiency
of graphics and interface than they do a showpiece for their latest
nVidia card. Fritz 9's interface is functional, improved
a bit from last year, with only occasional times of cumbersomeness.
It gets you where you want to go without too much hassle. The new
twists on 3D graphics are nice, a bit of fun, especially playing
against the 3D rendered characters (Turk and Mia), but not essential
for this kind of game. I found I mostly reverted to 2D renderings
of my favorite sets from Fritz 8.
There's some accompanying classical music, if you choose, as well
as often sarcastic and biting commentary from your opponent. Other
than that, the clink of the moving pieces is all you'll hear from
the game (my school cheerleaders aren't around any more"Go
Who should consider acquiring Fritz 9? Generally, two groups
of folksthose who are somewhat beyond the beginner level,
desiring to analyze, explore openings and other elements in detail,
really take the game seriously, and those whose membership in PlayChess.com
is about to expire, or who wish to join for the first time, and
can get one free year with game purchase (a $35 value), making the
net cost of Fritz 9 only $5.
In summary, then, Fritz 9 expands upon the excellent versions
of the past two years with updated graphics, broader tutorials and
helping tools, and an expanded database. It moves well beyond the
depth and scope of its main competitor, the Chessmaster series.
Not only is its Fritz engine one that puts even Grandmasters
to shame, but also the intricate analyses available to the player
from that engine allow for continuing growth in personal skill.
Finally, this year, in an attempt to be all things to all players
at all levels (raw beginner to Grandmaster), Fritz 9 has
made great strides with its new tutorials. If you're going to buy
one program, this is the one, especially since it includes the $35
value PlayChess.com membership.
Release Date: December 2005
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium II 300 MHz (P4 2.2 GHz recommended)
64 MB RAM (256 MB recommended)
Windows 98/SE/ME/2000/XP (XP recommended)
Windows Media Player 9
GeForce 5 graphics card with 128 MB RAM (recommended)
Where to Find It
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