Zarkon Fischer's Free Chess Programs
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02/08/16  I'll just come briefly out of retirement to mention https://en.lichess.org/, a superb new place to play chess for free online. Go and have a look. You'll be impressed!

20/09/12  I'm working (very slowly) on a new chess software website at http://zfchess.50webs.com/. There's just 3 articles there at the moment, including one that I've just finished on the best places to play chess online.

13/08/12  Just updated all the links - I was amazed how many weren't working after nearly 2 years - apologies to recent visitors who must have been frustrated by all the dead ends! Now I'm on the latest version of Windows, it might also be worth mentioning that all these programs were reviewed on Windows XP, so there may be a few that won't work in Windows 7, though "compatability mode" is worth trying, as with Fritz 5.32.

08/10/10  Chess Hero 2.3, Stockfish 1.9.1, Mayura Chess Board 2.3, Crafty Chess Interface 6.0, and a new strong engine, GullChess 1.0 released. This will be my last update to the site! A good place to follow the latest computer chess news is EVCOMP news. So long and thanks for all the fish!

28/07/10  Houdini 1.03a released, and now supporting multi PV. It has overtaken Rybka 4 on the IPON rating list, and is probably now the strongest engine available. There's also a new version of another top engine, Critter 0.8. One of the best freeware chess programs, Chess Hero 2.2, has further refinements, including a time bar, new graphics, and a game history. Lucas Chess 3.70 has some new training options. Glass 1.6 is an engine with personalities for playing against. Penguin v5 added to database software.

03/07/10  Stockfish 1.8 released.

12/06/10  OpenChess is a new independent Computer Chess discussion forum, following problems with censorship at the long-running TalkChess forum.
Rybka 2.3.2 for multiple processors, 32 and 64-bit, has replaced Rybka 2.2 as the new Rybka demo to mark the release of Rybka 4. Houdini 1.01 is the latest Ippolit derivative that may have the edge on the others.

24/05/10  The top 5 engine, Komodo 1.2, has been released with MuiltiPV mode. Perhaps the best engine for tactical positions, Spark 0.4, has also been released. Critter 0.7, by Richard Vida has been making huge improvements.

02/05/10  Stockfish 1.7 released, and it may now be the strongest wholly legitimate engine available! Loop 2007 , formerly the commercial engine, Loop 13.6, is now free. The Deep Fritz 12 Demo was not quite as earth-shattering as I first thought, as I was able to use some of the features, such as UCI engines, only because I had a registered version of Fritz installed. Nevertheless, it's worth a look, and gives you some nice 3d sets to use in Chessbase light.

01/04/10  Do we have a new number 1? Chessbase have just released a Deep Fritz 12 Demo, the first Fritz demo for 10 years. So far the only notable limitations I've come across are with the Fritz 12 engine, rather than the interface... but there's nothing stopping you using a UCI engine! Investigations continue! It's a 200Mb download. Chessology is as program that gives colourful feedback about potential moves, making it a useful tutor.

09/03/10  It may only be on version 0.1, but Haundrix Chess looks and sounds fantastic, is fun to play against, and navigation is a breeze. I recommend that you download it right now and give it a game! The latest version of one of the most unique engines, Deep Junior 11.1, is available for free for the first time as a demo. It appears to be limited to a 16 ply search depth, so you're in with a chance ;-)

29/01/10  There's an excellent new FICS interface to try out called Raptor .97a. Engine news: the latest release of Doch is known as Komodo 1.0. There are also a couple of new versions of Ippolit/Robbolito supporting multiPV, Ivanhoe and Firebird. Toga II 2.0SE added to the engine section.

31/12/09  HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010! The open-source engine Stockfish 1.6 continues its very impressive race to the top! There is talk on the forums of it challenging Rybka 3! Take a look at a new program called Lucas Chess 2.02, in which you get some help to overcome your computer opponent. For something a little older, Psion Chess from 1985 is interesting. Robbolito added to the engines section. To date, this site has had 207,806 visitors. Update 6/1/2010: SCID 4.1 released. Doch 1.3.2 released. Nelson Hernandez has made an excellent video interview with Vasik Rajlich, in which he talks about Rybka 4 and the future of computer chess.

15/12/09  Another strong new engine is Doch 1.2. A good place to follow the London Chess Classic (and other tournaments) is on ChessOK's broadcast page. The games are updated live and include Rybka's evaluation for the current positions. For the record, there's much talk in the chess forums of Robbolito, the latest version of Ippolit. It is undoubtably very strong, but it seems likely that it has used other engines' code without permission.

13/11/09  There's a bright new Spark 0.3 in the engine world. Chess Giants 1.3 is a copy of Vista's Chess Titans with some improvements. I'm not going to even mention Ippolit!

09/10/09  I'm very pleased to see Chess Hero 2 with a much improved interface - this is one of my favourite chess programs! :) SCID 4 has been released: the jump in the version number due to an improved database format. A new version of the top open-source engine, Stockfish 1.5.1, has been released. There's a new playing mode in the Shredder Classic 4 Demo, in which the engine's rating is automatically adjusted to match yours; in analysis mode, keep hold of a piece while moving it to different squares and the computer evaluation will appear on the chessboard; and there are also some cool pop-up boards when you place the mouse over a move in the notation, analysis or evaluation profile! Also notable is the release of HIARCS 1.0 freeware, which will hopefully be the first of many. The quality HIARCS 12.1 Opening Book for Fritz/Chessbase is also available, and makes a good opening reference. The latest ChessZone Magazine has, as always, entertaining games with instructive analysis.

19/08/2009  Happy Birthday to me! This site is 5 years (and a week) old today! The first new version of ChessPad for many years has been released.

31/07/2009  Chessbase Light 2009 updates the 2007 version with Chessbase 10 features, the most notable being 'Show next move' for the Openings book, the most commonly played lines in the Reference tab, and the ability to create a good/bad games set. One fantastic, and very probably unintentional, addition to the new light version is the online database search, giving you fast access to an up-to-date, 4.9 million game database and opening book!! (This may have been removed now...please post to the guestbook if you can use the online search!) The download is not so light, at nearly 100MB, but who's complaining, as one of the best free chess downloads just got even better!

20/07/2009  Stockfish 1.4 released and probably on its way up the rating lists! Tarrasch, a new GUI with an emphasis on usability, has been released. Neurosis-3d and Pawn 1.76 added to Playing software. ChessX 0.6 released. A couple of other pgn readers worth a look are ChessTool PGN and Penguin v2.

17/06/2009  ChessZone does an interesting monthly magazine of 10 annotated games in Chessbase and pdf format. DiagTransfer 3.0.1 added to Miscellaneous software. Chessmaster 3000 added to playing software. Kvetka 3.2 released. There is an excellent new French site devoted to computer chess called Les Diodes du Roi. It has an impressive list of free software that I shall have to study further...!

04/05/2009  A promotional version of Peshk@, the new ChessOK interface for its training courses, has been made available on the Rybka Forum. Interestingly (and I'm not sure how long this will last), the software includes Rybka 2.3.2a, which is some 30 Elo points stronger than Rybka 2.2n2, and so, for now at least, is the strongest free chess engine! Stockfish 1.3.1 , an engine based on Glaurung, has also been released.

11/04/2009  SCID 3.7.2 has some bugfixes and improvements, including a better FICS interface and some beautiful new blindfold pieces. UCI engine, Bright 0.4a , released. Hotbabe Chess added to Playing software.

05/03/2009  SCID 3.7.1 released, with a much improved new interface. "Learn Chess Or Call Me An Idiot", an electronic book for beginners, added to Training software. All versions of Rybka prior to 2.3 are now freely available, including the winfinder engines. I updated the website design (I'm still learning!), introducing new sections for GUIs, Training and Miscellaneous.

26/01/2009 Take a look at Chess Hero, a simple and enjoyable new piece of training software! SCID 3.7 beta 3 has major improvements to the interface, making it look a much more viable alternative to the commercial programs. Free Chess 1.2 added to playing software.

29/12/2008 Happy New Year 2009! This site has seen 135,670 visitors so far. WJChess 3d, Infinity Chess Beta, GreenChess, and CraftyChess added to playing software. Glaurung 2.2 has been released. And finally Arena makes it to version 2.0!! Thanks to the guestbook posters for their suggestions and comments!

18/11/2008 A strong new version of many people's favourite chess engine, Thinker 5.3b, is available. Still no analysis display or UCI support, but it's great to watch in an engine match! If you like flashy interfaces for playing online, have a look at ChessCube.

14/10/2008 There's a sexy-looking new interface for playing on the internet and UCI engines called Infinity Chess (beta). As it's clearly "inspired" by Playchess / Fritz, you'd better download it (138Mb!) before Chessbase assert their copyright! You can use it to follow the World Championship match between Anand and Kramnik which begins today.

16/09/2008 As I use Babaschess about 95% of the time I play chess online, I thought it was about time it went back into my Pick of the Best!  Pragmatichess and GChess added to Playing software.

06/08/2008 It's Rybka 3 release day!! To begin the celebrations an Aquarium demo has been made available, which I download as I write this... Followed by Rybka 2.2, which is now the strongest free engine, and rated some elo points above all non-Rybka commercial engines!

19/07/2008 Computer Chess forums are currently buzzing with the impending release of the long-awaited Rybka 3 and Aquarium, not to mention Chessbase 10. But there's more great news: Vas has just announced that Rybka 2.2 will be available for free !!! The competition must be weeping...

14/07/2008 Scid 3.6.24 packs in yet more features, the latest of which include a new fast tree mode and timeseal support for the FICS interface. So it's about time it had a spell at the top of my Pick of the Best! When Pascal and the other developers run out of chess-related ideas, perhaps they can teach the program how to make a nice cup of tea... ;-) Compochess 2.5 added to the database section.

28/06/2008 Kvetka 2.0, our favourite tiny pgn reader, has seen strong development and now includes english menus. Homer and Queen added to the Engines section.

05/06/2008 For beginners, or those of us who just want a chance to beat the computer once in a while, take a look at Delfi GUI and its 2.5d chess set! The demo version is meant to simulate a 1000 ELO player, but you have to be very careful... Or you could try the Nagaskaki GUI, which has a range of personalities from strong to hopeless! Glaurung 2.1 has been released.

08/05/2008 SMIRF FullChess GUI added to playing software. Added Thinker, Alaric and Bright to the Engines section. Added Chess Informant Expert Lite to Pick of the Best - and then removed it again!

12/04/2008 Kvetka added to database software. Link for Fritz 5.32 updated.

17/03/2008 Mayura Chess Board 2.1 released with many changes, including UCI and some PGN support. However, don't throw out your last version if you like things small and simple, as the new version has a different, slightly more complex, feel!

04/03/2008 Nothing much happening re: chess releases - another Toga, yet another Arena beta! So how about PC Mag's review of the best free (non-chess) software :)

03/02/2008 Bobby Fischer 1943-2008 - Thanks for the games! Iceland will always have my esteem for giving him citizenship and a home. Pascal Georges' latest versions of SCID have seen considerable development and improvements. ChessOK have two more web applets - broadcasts and a huge opening book. There's a very good chess diagram composer on the jinchess website.

01/01/2008 HAPPY NEW YEAR! This site has now seen 78,760 visitors - a big thanks to you all! Here's looking forward to another year of outstanding free chess software!

21/11/2007 Added Chess Informant Expert Lite to database software. Added Chess Theatre and the FICS Jin Applet to internet software. Take a look at Jan van Reek's site for some very interesting databases of annotated games. ChessOK have 3 new web applets on their site: using your web browser, you can play a game against Rybka, try some tactical puzzles, or view best lines from the 6-man endgame tablebases. There are a couple of minor changes in the new Shredder Classic 3.

22/10/2007 Added EG Chess to playing software. I have a new guestbook - (the entries from the old one are archived here) - if you know of a better free guestbook provider with minimal ads, please let me know.

23/08/2007 A new version of Toga II 1.3.1 has made 2nd place on the CCRL rating list, above all engines except the commercial Rybka. Congratulations to Thomas Gaksch and Co. for this fantastic result!

28/07/2007 The strong commercial engine, Fruit, has been made freeware! Downloads include a new version 2.3, some beta versions, and the last commercial release, 2.2.1, which topped the rating lists in 2005. Thanks and the best of luck to programmer Fabien Letouzey.

11/07/2007 Take a look at the latest alpha release of ChessX, a promising new chess database program. I'm sure the developers would welcome any feedback! It seems that the new UCI engine Strelka was nothing more than a Rybka clone.

22/05/2007 ChessBase Light 2007 knocks off Arena from Pick of the Best. Seems it's perfectly usable for large databases as well as small ones - download it before Chessbase change their mind!!

09/05/2007 MAJOR NEWS! Chessbase Light enters the twenty-first century! Chessbase have finally released, after more than 10 years, a new version called ChessBase Light 2007: I hope to be updating the Pick of the Best List after I've tried it out - watch this space!! Added instructions on how to use Rebel with FreeDOS and Virtual PC 2007. Added Mayura Chess Board to Playing section, and removed Chess Genius demo.

25/04/2007 Jos? added to the Playing Software. It was tempting to add it to Pick of the Best just to include a screenshot ! Added a Survey (see above) - let's hear from you!

07/04/2007 There's a quality one million game database on Ed Schroeder's new site - combine it with the Week in Chess and you'll have an excellent reference database! Arena 1.99 beta 4 released. And there's another updated version of SCID in competition with ChessDB, with some interesting new features: you'll have to decide which version you prefer!

11/02/2007 Ed Schroeder, Rebel / Pro Deo programmer, has started a new computer-chess site, Home of the Dutch Rebel, which aims, among other things, to preserve old chess software.  Available for free download for the first time are many of the DOS rebels - so don't delay, try them out!

13/01/2007 Chess Position Trainer added to Database Software. Babaschess 4.0 released. ChessDB knocks off Playchess from Pick of the Best.

01/01/2007 HAPPY NEW YEAR! Well, Rybka dominated the discussions in 2006; who knows what surprises are in store this year? Let's hope there are some good new free chess programs! The SCID project continues as ChessDB.  If you're looking for a big free database, why not try ICOFY Base? So far this site has had 34,775 visitors - a big thank you to you all!

07/12/2006 The World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik, was defeated 4-2 in a match with Deep Fritz 10. In game 2, Kramnik rather unfortunately allowed a mate in 1 - you, too, can play like a world champion!! ;-) - but was beaten fairly and squarely in game 6.

19/11/2006 A new version of my favourite engine, Pro Deo 1.2, released: Ed Schroeder says this is to be the last update :(  And a new beta of the smart-looking Universal Chess Interface, Arena, released. It's now possible to play online at Chess Assistant Club (also known as ChessOK) using a flash interface in your web browser: try it here.

27/10/2006 Shredderchess Online has updated its opening database and endgame interface, and you can now play a game against shredder in your web browser.

29/08/2006 Keep an eye on this promising new site, Superchessengine.com, for engine fans!

01/08/2006 The Internet Chess Club (R.I.P.) no longer allows guests to do much, so I've removed the ICC interface, Blitzin.  Spike 1.2 has shown a big jump in strength to put it at the same level as the top commercial engines: congratulations to Spike authors, Ralf Sch?fer and Volker B?hm.

18/07/2006 Rybka 2.1 demo UCI engine released, limited to 1 second a move.

08/07/2006 Spike 1.2 Turin released, and now supporting multi-pv mode.

25/06/2006 Redesigned and moved website! Let me know what you think!

01/06/2006 Junior was the surprise winner of the World Computer Chess Championship 2006 in Turin, half a point ahead of Shredder and Rybka, while the private engine Ikarus won the blitz.

17/05/2006 Did you know that you can access advanced game analysis modes in Chess Assistant 7 Light by going to the Engines menu and using "Analysed marked positions"? This brings up a dialog box with several analysis modes, such as search for blunders. There are some extra piece sets, an opening encyclopedia, and useful articles at ChessAssistance.com.

15/05/2006 Shredder Classic 2 is available for download. There are just a couple of changes to the interface over version 1.3, including a better-looking piece set.

12/05/2006 The open source UCI engine TogaII 1.2 is available, and judging from the beta results has even surpassed the commercial version of its parent Fruit, not to mention the likes of Fritz, Shredder and Hiarcs! At around the same strength as Rybka 1.0 beta, but with the added possibility of displaying multiple variations, it takes the no.1 position on my top 3 UCI engine list.

09/05/2006 Congratulations to The Week in Chess, which has just reached its 600th edition. The Archives go back to edition 211.

02/04/2006 Chesslib has made a free 3.7 million game database available for download in four (rather large) parts. You can use Fritz to combine the games into a .cbh file. (Did you know that you can open large databases (including .cbh files) in Chess Assistant Light by right clicking on the file and using open with CALight!)

09/03/2006 If you want to get the most from your endgame tablebases, give Wilhelm a look. A new version of the top UCI engine, Spike has been released. Computer Chess Club has a shiny new forum!

10/02/2006 Or why not try Rybka under the latest beta of the free UCI interface, Arena? This latest version (1.99beta2) is looking pretty good!

08/02/2006 Rybka 1.0 beta is available for free download. This is not just the strongest free chess engine, but, apart from later beta versions, the strongest chess engine full stop! The engine can be downloaded from the WBEC Ridderkerk site: go to the News Page, and look under today's date. It's a UCI (Universal Chess Interface) engine, so I'd recommend using it with either Shredder Classic or Chess Assistant Light.

05/02/2006 The popular email correspondence chess software Ectool has just been made freeware.

12/01/2006 Vasik Rajlich has announced on Computer-Chess Club that there will be a free version of Rybka, probably one of the beta versions.

01/01/2006 HAPPY NEW YEAR! A big thank-you to all my visitors (especially those that signed my guestbook)! These are fascinating times! Rybka has topped the rating lists, and won the Paderborn CC tournament ahead of Shredder, Fruit and Zappa. I hope you got a copy while you had the chance. If not, don't worry, as there are plenty of other top programs for free. Keep watching for the latest news!

05/12/2005 Rybka 1.0 beta, soon to be released as a commercial engine, is available for free until midnight tonight. If it's the 5th of December, download it while you have a chance! You'll definitely be hearing more about this one!

30/11/2005 Thought I might mention the new online databases at Shredderchess. Using a java interface, you can get statistics from a huge opening book, or check out your endgame position using more than a terrabyte of tablebases!

25/11/2005 The 2nd Man Machine tournament, Bilbao 2005, ended with another victory for the computers. Hydra, Junior 3; Fritz 2; Kasimdzhanov, Ponomariov 1.5; Khalifman 1. Here are the games: bilbao05.pgn.

19/11/2005 It's time to say Toga! Based on the open source Fruit 2.1, Toga II has added a few improvements, and is also available in a MultiVariation version. This is undoubtably the stongest free chess engine at the moment, and is a must download!

08/11/2005 Chessbase's online client for the Playchess server added to internet software. Also rearranged the top 5 a little!

29/10/2005 Well, the strongest chess engine in the world (probably), Fruit 2.2, is now free!! Only for the 14 day trial though! Download from fruitchess.

20/09/2005 For those interested in Pocket PC and Palm chess, there's a definitive review of 60 (!) programs on Surak's website, including the best free programs.

08/09/2005 Chess Assistant have redisigned their website. It now includes news and an excellent java board on which to replay some analysed games. Some competition for chessbase.com at last!

02/09/2005 There's a new top-rated free UCI engine, Spike 1.0 Mainz, available for download. As well as being no. 3 on the on the CSS list and no.7 on the CEGT rating list. it's the 2005 Chess 960 (Fischer Random) World Champion! It can also be downloaded with Arena.

21/08/2005 The amateur engine Zappa 2 has won the World Computer Chess Championship 2005 in Reyjavik with an incredible score of 10.5/11 ahead of Junior and Shredder. Fruit took a worthy second with 8.5, followed by the commercial engines Shredder and Deep Sjeng with 7.5. I imagine Zappa 2 will be released commercially, while Zappa 1.0 is available for free.

11/07/2005 A fine new interface for the Chess Assistant Club added to internet software.

05/07/2005 Fruit 2.1 takes the second spot on both the CSS rating list, and the CEGT rating list, ahead of Fritz, Junior and Hiarcs among others. With such great results, it makes it to my top 5 downloads list! :), knocking off SCID.

21/06/2005 Fruit 2.1 released. Some engine matches have rated it as the top free uci engine, ahead of some commercial programs. You can download it here.

05/06/2005 New rating list added to useful sites, and the Shredder Classic Demo makes it to the top downloads list as it seems that if you uninstall and reinstall the program at the end of your 30 day demo, the trial period begins again! Don't tell anyone though!

01/04/2005 I've added a couple of piece sets for Chesspartner, taken from Fritz and Genius. Download here.

24/02/2005 Pro Deo 1.1 has been released and there's a new shredder classic demo. Also added a new link to a decent computer chess news site.

30/01/2005 A new link for old chess programs :).

13/01/2005 HAPPY NEW YEAR! Nothing much happening... Fruit 2.0 is the latest UCI engine to cause a stir... I'm still trying to find out where to download it!

24/11/2004 Slow Chess 2.94 added.

19/11/2004 I've changed the crappy default guestbook to a pretty good external one. Take a look.

18/11/2004 Der Bringer and a link to UCI engines added.

13/11/2004 Chesspad added.

02/11/2004 New section: 30 day demos with Shredder Classic and Chess Partner. They're worth a mention, I guess! And the Freewebs benner ads have finally arrived - Ah, well, hope it doesn't spoil the pages!

28/10/2004 Added a picture of someone I know. hmmm...

27/10/2004 Looks like the machines have finally got the edge over the top grandmasters, earlier this month in Bilbao.  Final scores in the man-machine tournament: Fritz, Hydra 3.5 Topalov, DeepJunior 1.5 Ponomariov, Karjakin 1.0 !! Here's the pgn file bilbao04.pgn. And 2 more links added.

30/09/2004 Another link on the Useful Links Page!

25/09/2004 New section: Internet Chess Software. MailChess added. And I demoted Rebel 12 DOS (though it's a great program if you haven't got Windows XP or a laptop!)

22/09/2004 BabasChess added. Arena knocked off the top 5!

20/09/2004 Pick of the Best added. When will I get my first visitor? :o(

11/09/2004 Fritz 6 Demo and Shredder 6 Paderborn added.

05/09/2004 Guestbook and more links added.

15/08/2004 Links added for Arena, Inemesis, Blitzin, Chessbase Light, SCID, Chess Assistant 7 Lite. Unofficial SSDF Top Ten added.

12/08/2004 Web site created. Links added for Pro Deo, Rebel 12, Fritz 5.32, and Chess Genius.