Many of my students have requested guidance on the subject of computer chess programs.  In my “How To Be A Grandmaster” series where I interviewed over 40 leading chess grandmasters, the expert answer almost always recommended to stay away from using a computer chess program for analysis until reaching a very advanced level (usually around 2200-2400).  It is important to point out that using a computer chess program for tactical and endgame exercises is a very efficient method of study, and also that using a computer chess program to double-check your analysis is perfectly acceptable.  The moral of the story – computer chess programs aren’t all bad, but are better for your chess game in small doses.  For more information on computer chess programs, the below list features three of the best computer chess programs currently on the market.  Click the following link for information on How To Use Computer Chess Programs

Shredder

Shredder is a computer chess program that has remained at the top of the international scene for almost 2 decades.  Shredder has won many WorldComputer Chess Champion Titles in blitz and standard chess, and has proven without a doubt that it is one of the stronges computer chess programs conceived to date.  The latest PC/Mac version is Shredder 12 and is priced at just under $70 USD.  One of the things that I like about Shredder is that the software is more user-friendly and a bit easier to learn than some of the other top computer chess programs.  Shredder offers a 30-day Free download trial for potential customers to check out the hardware and make sure it’s a good match.  Shredder is also very well-known for it’s iPhone and iPad apps that sell for less than $10 each and enable the user to study chess in any situation.  For any readers that maintain websites, Shredder provides a free plug-in with daily updated easy, medium, and difficult chess puzzles.  Although I believe chess players should avoid chess engines until they reach a more advanced level, I would recommend Shredder for chess players of all levels who are interested in working with a computer chess programs.

Rybka 4

Rybka has remained the undisputed strongest computer chess program in the world since 2007 – however just how it got to the top is currently being disputed.  From 2007-2010, Rybka won 4 straight World Computer Chess Championships.  In 2010, Deep Rybka 3 was rated over 200 points higher than the nearest opposition.  However, in June 2011 founder IM Vasik Rajlich was officially accused by the International Computer Games Association to have plagiarized programming code from top open-source rivals Crafty and Fruit.  The case is still pending, although Rajlich continues to deny the allegations to date.  As for the quality of the product, Rybka is the strongest chess engine in the world today.  The latest version – Rybka 4 UCI – is priced at just under $50 USD and is definitely one of the most powerful personal computer chess programs ever created.  Potential users can also download an earlier and more basic version of Rybka 2.3.2a to get a feel for the computer chess software and see if they like it.  Rybka is a computer chess program that has been created with the advanced chess player in mind, and I would not recommend it for beginner to intermediate chess players.

Fritz Chess

Fritz 13 is definitely one of the best computer chess programs on the market, because it is much more accessible to the average player.  Fritz 13 is not as strong as the aforementioned computer chess programs, however Fritz 13 offers a variety of training programs focused on opening mastery, tactical awareness, and endgame technique.  Fritz 13 is also a very personalized computer chess program includes insight and commentary by many leading Grandmasters (Garry Kasparov, etc..).  If you are especially confounded by a position, a cool feature of Fritz 13 enables the user to send this position to a central server where it can be analyzed by other users and engines to provide a fail-safe answer to any chess question.  Fritz 13 costs $50 USD and is highly recommended for chess players of all levels due to the interactive features of the software.

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