Zarkon Fischer's Free Chess Programs
Currently viewing: Free Chess Programs»  Software List»  GUIs

Arena 2.0.1

This compact interface for UCI and winboard engines is one of the very best chess downloads. As the name suggests, its primary use is for engine tournaments and matches, which are easy to set up and manage. However it's also a good first choice for trying out your latest engine, whether for analysis or playing a game against. Features I like are the customisable colour schemes, threatened pieces, analysis arrows and variation board, game overview, and keyboard shortcuts. In this version there is also internet server support, if you want your engine to play online. Downloads on the site include Arena packaged with partner engines (which will allow you to get up and running quickly) and opening books.

Shane's Chess Information Database (SCID) 4.2.2

Here's the premier open-source chess project, and a GUI that is jam-packed with features. Its main strength is with databases, but it can be used for a whole lot more. Now (March 2009) with a new improved interface! If I could use only one free chess program, this would do well enough!

Read more in Pick of the Best...SCID

Shredder Classic

This program is available as a 30 day demo; however, there's nothing to stop you uninstalling and reinstalling it after 30 days (this may not work after version 2.0 - but older versions can be downloaded from the Internet Archive)! It has a clean, easily customisable interface, with several piece sets, board designs, and layouts. It's well designed and straightforward to use. There are a couple of unique and useful tablebase functions - the endgame oracle and wildcard analysis, for which you can also use the online Nalimov tablesbases. It comes with the Shredder Classic engine, which has an adjustable ELO playing strength, and can also be used in other GUIs.

Chess Assistant 7 Light

Despite the built-in limitations to this light version, it is still one of the most useful GUIs for the advanced player, with a quality notation display, configurable engine output, and very good database support.

Read more in Pick of the Best...CA7Light

José 1.4.4

For an added dimension to your games, this gorgeous-looking java-based interface has an excellent 3d board (screenshot), as well as many ways to adjust the appearance to your liking. With its own database format and pgn support, you can also replay and analyse other people's games. Don't miss the bonus textures, opening books and large databases on the download page. There does appear to be the odd glitch in the program, and in 3d it can occasionally freeze or give an error message (but that may just be me); nevertheless, a great download!

ChessPad 2

This is a good, low-resource, program for analysis or playing against. The latest version has UCI support, and it's possible to have many engines loaded and easily accessible at one time. An older version with some tree functions is also available.

Fritz 5.32

Fritz is the odd one out among the GUIs listed here, in that it only supports old Chessbase engines, of which a few may be downloaded for free. But don't let that stop you, as this is a classy piece of software, and one of the top free chess downloads. It's a great place to start!

Read more in Pick of the Best...Fritz