Friday, 6 November 2009

Chess Reviews: 115

Fritz 12

‘The Truly Great Chess Program’


There can’t be many chess players who have not heard of Fritz. This latest version, the twelfth in an incredibly successful series, looks like being THE must-have chess item of 2009.

Fritz can be used in many different ways. It is a tireless playing partner (mercifully, it comes with an abundance of playing levels, so everyone can experience some wins), a very powerful analytical tool and a serious training weapon. It can be used purely for fun or for preparing against the world’s best players.

Boasting a ‘completely revised ergonomic interface’ - which means it looks very nice and is extremely easy to navigate and use - the latest version is, quite naturally, one which carries a whole host of improvements.

Here’s a few highlights…

The choice of playing and analysis engines is impressive, offering various versions of Comet, Crafty, Rybka and, of course, Fritz 12 itself.

The database contains as astounding 1,546,900 games, from the year 1625 all the way up to the end of August 2009. This is a considerable update from previous Fritz databases.

There are 12 hours of tutorials. These are segments from ChessBase’s popular ‘Fritz Trainer’ series of DVDs. The selection includes video lectures from the likes of Kasparov, Korchnoi, Shirov and Mueller and cover all aspects of the game.

The ‘Spy’ feature, pointing out threats on the board, has been improved and now highlights only the important threats rather than dishing out arrows as if it is representing Custer’s Last Stand.

There is a display for ‘hotness’ combined with a ‘Mate-o-meter’. The two dials swing either way according to the sharpness of the position and whether or not a checkmate is imminent.

There is a new opening book by Alex Kure, which can be opened up so one can check one’s opening knowledge during games against the engines.

Here’s an example of some of the features in action.

Kramnik - Karpov

Zurich Champions


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0–0 6.0–0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7

A normal position. It is easy to see that it has been played many times and that, as yet, there is no danger at all of a checkmate appearing.

10.Bd2 Bd6 11.Bg5 Nbd7 12.Nbd2 c5 13.Bxf6 Qxf6

Suddenly the ‘hotness’ level is creeping up. Karpov has somehow misplayed a line he should know very well indeed and Fritz 12 is busily working on ways to force a considerable advantage.

14.Ne5 Bxg2 15.Nxd7 Qxd4 16.Kxg2 Rfd8 17.Nf3 1–0

If Karpov had prepared this line against the Catalan using Fritz, he would have kept well away from the continuation chosen in the game.

If your computer’s graphics card is up to the task, it is possible to view the playing board in 3-D. There are various designs from which to choose and it is good to see that The Turk is still one of them.

In addition to all of the features already mentioned (and a whole lot more besides those), there is a 12 month premium membership for the Playchess server.

Fritz revolutionised the world of chess and it is very good to see that ChessBase are not content to rest on their laurels. It is astonishing how much fun and instruction Fritz 12 has to offer, yet it remains very easily accessible to all players.

The installation and operation of the program are both very easy; Fritz 12 is definitely user-friendly and nobody needs to be an expert to get things up and running in mere minutes.

If you haven’t yet experienced the delights of Fritz then you really are missing out - so put it on your Christmas list, right now!

For further details of Chessbase products, please go to:

Missed a review? Pop along to my archive:

1 comment:

Chess Geek said...

I tried Fritz 10 and the interface was a disaster. I was so disappointed to find that after 10 versions it was still a mystery how to access many of the functions! Fritz may have a huge marketing budget behind it, it was really frustrating to use. I'll stick with Aquarium and Rybka with it's extensive online community, support, better features, greater usability, and of course much stronger playing strength.