Chess Software

Welcome to my article on chess software. I’m going to give on overview of chess database programs.

ChessBase

The world leader in chess database programs is ChessBase. ChessBase produces the most popular chess programs in the world for players who are above beginner standard. But, even if you are a beginner, I wholly recommend their software.

ChessBase has two main database programs ChessBase (yes, same name!) and Fritz.

If you have infinite money, buy both. If you are looking to save money, I recommend purchasing Fritz (or Shredder, Rybka, Junior, etc.; anything with the Fritz GUI + an engine).

What’s the difference? ChessBase has many advanced database functions such as the creation of opening reports and other statistical reports, but annoyingly, it doesn’t not include up-to-date playing engines. I like Fritz because it comes with basic database functions (which should be adequate for 99% of users) and includes a very strong and updated engine.

Should you get Fritz, Shredder, Rybka, Hiarcs or some other engine? I discuss this in my best chess engine article.

Also, take a look at my guide on how to use chess software for an introduction to Fritz.

Chess Assistant

Chess Assistant (Starter/Professional) is another popular chess software created by Convekta. It also has advanced database functions as well as strong chess engines included, but I find the Fritz interface more comfortable. In any case, Chess Assistant is good value for money. According to its product description, it boasts “the most advanced chess database system” and “lightning fast searches in databases with millions of games”. If this is true, I will be highly impressed since Fritz’s searches are far from “lightning fast”.


Scid

Scid, or Shane’s Chess Information Database, is a popular free alternative. It has been dubbed “the poor man’s ChessBase”. Scid supports portable game notation (PGN) and its own specialised database format. It can be used with chess engines such as Rybka and Shredder to play chess against or to analyse games. Scid can use up to five piece endgame tablebases.

What makes having ChessBase or Aquarium worthwhile when there’s SCID?

(This was a question posed on a chess forum.) I’m actually not sure. There’s probably nothing much that makes ChessBase or Aquarium better than SCID.

However, I started my chess life using the Fritz interface. I’ve played around briefly with Aquarium and SCID before, but I guess I’m just used to Fritz so I prefer it. I can’t think of anything highly significant, but Fritz does have some specialist features such an engine matches, blunder check, etc.

Concluding notes

One of the great things about buying chess database software is that you basically only need to purchase it once. Once you have it, unless some ground-breaking discovering is made, you can put it to good use for the rest of your life. For example, I am currently using Deep Junior 8 and Chess Assistant 7, both from a couple of years back. Other times, you may feel like getting a free lunch by going with software such as Scid.

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