Fritz 8 Deluxe
|a game by||Viva Media|
|Editor Rating:||8/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 2 votes|
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Fritz 8 Deluxe gets a qualified, high-end Fans Only rating because while the game is quite fine for learning chess, its strength lies in its everyday use as a playing and analyzing tool. It is, possibly, the end of the line for a chess analysis and its fan base should include everyone looking to improve their games. However, Fritz 8 Deluxe does not go out of its way to draw in the beginning or casual dabbler. There are no cute characters or fancy animations to teach the game, no battle chess feature. There are some valuable training features, like opening and end-game training, a visual threat aid, a coach and a spy aid that gives you a view of what the computer opponent is thinking of moving next. But by and large beginner hand-holding is available in other products, including some titles by the same publisher.
In the software itself, navigation is through a basic Windows menu bar and it's not altogether clear what is where at first. On the other hand the Windows-based interface is flexible in the layout of the panes that shows the board, the scorecard and the various analysis tools. There are some standard layouts to choose from, or you can arrange the panes any way you desire and save the layout for later use. There is also a full screen mode where you can get the board and pieces alone.
But balky navigation is a mere quibble compared to the immense power of the program, the base engine of which is the first to beat human world champion Gary Kasparov. Once you get to know the tool you'll find your favorite features quickly enough. Do you want to analyze a position? Study your favorite opening? Review a famous game from the comprehensive game database? All and more are possible.
For playing you can choose a Friendly game, where you adjust the computer opponent's skill as a measure of material (100 points = 1 pawn.) Then the rating will adjust itself depending on if you win or lose. Or try Handicap and Fun mode where a dialog allows adjustment of sliders for the opponent's overall playing strength rating and for how it behaves in certain situations, such as protecting its king and managing pawn structure. Also in Handicap Mode is a selection of generalized opponent types with slider pre-sets. You can start out whipping the "Drunk," the "Moron" or the "Patzer" (bungler) and then work your way up to the "Steam Roller" or "Assasin" (sic). You can also customize any of them to your own specifications. And for just plain "fun" (chess fan-style that is) there's shuffle chess, where the computer scrambles the pieces for a random starting position and the opening book is cast to the wind.
For multiplayer play the chess server at Playchess.com connects directly through the software. Guest log-ons are available and this virtual community is quite active with over 1500 users logged on during a recent visit.
Though visually the game is not exciting and navigation may hold you up a bit in the beginning, Fritz 8 Deluxe is everything a chess lover could want. You may never need to buy another chess program.