This is indeed something we have never seen before: a chess program topping Amazon's best-selling children's software list. In America. The US distributors Viva Media were caught by surprise. CEO Carlo Voelker: "We had a faint suspicion that this might happen sometime, but we assumed it would be around Christmas." But it happened in the pre-Christmas sales in November.
Amazon bestseller list for children's software is upgraded hourly. If you view the list you may find Nancy Drew ahead of Fritz & Chesster. The two most popular programs are running neck-and-neck on this prestigeous list.
Fritz & Chesster is selling very vigorously and producing thousands of new chess players all over the country. The software is aimed at children, but is is quite likely that a lot of parents are joining in to learn the game with their offspring.
Fritz & Chesster, developed by the German publishers Terzio, in collaboration with ChessBase, does not teach chess in the usual way. Instead it teaches children who have never played chess before in their lives the basic rules in a Sesame Street like environment. There are cartoons and stories for the children to follow, and then there are tasks for them to solve interactively.
Each piece and each rule is explained in a subgame, which you can play against the computer. Many of them are far away from the actual game of chess, but at the same time they give the children full insight into the sometimes daunting rules of the game.
For instance the first lesson comes when they see two sumo wrestlers fighting in a ring. The wrestlers are too fat to approach each other directly, so they always stay at least one square apart. They move around the board blocking each other off. The chess kids try to occupy chairs before their opponent, and while playing this game the program explains how they can use "opposition" to outwit the opponent. At the end of this lesson the children have learnt everything they need to know about the king move, including the concept of opposition.
Earlier this year Fritz & Chesster won the Parent's Guide to Chidren's Media award for best computer software 2003. A sequel to the program has just been announced.
Fritz 8 Deluxe released
Viva Media has also just announced the release of a new package: Fritz 8 Deluxe. It contains the same powerful engine that tied Garry Kasparov in the televised 2003 New York match. It also has the full Chess Media System developed by ChessBase and used for a unique type of chess training. On the CD are teasers from Garry Kasparov's DVD chess training series.
Fritz Deluxe also has six brand-new highly detailed zoom, tilt and rotate TRUE 3D chessboards, including the remarkable "Spanish Room," a one of a kind chess environment.
- Fritz 8 Deluxe release by Viva Media (Yahoo News)
Here's a list of stories on Fritz & Chesster
Award for Fritz & Chesster
25.03.2004 Our children's CD-ROM title has won the 2004 Parents' Choice Gold Award. The reviewers found Learn to Play Chess with Fritz & Chesster "wonderfully unexpected, charming, simply animated, and cleverly designed." It is number 35 on Amazon's top selling software list and has received almost exclusively five-star reviews.
you should get it for the kids?!
03.12.2003 After testing hundreds of new titles this year, USA Today came up with their "Best Picks for the Holidays" in the category of children's "edutainment" titles (software combines entertainment and learning). Among the eight titles we find Fritz and Chesster, our very successful children's chess tutor. Here's the full USAT list.
of the year, five stars for Fritz
18.09.2003 Game Industry News has reviewed our program Fritz 8. Their conclusion: "Fritz earns 5 GiN Gems for being one of the most entertaining, informative and easy to use chess games on the market today." And Parenting Magazine has chosen Fritz & Chesster as a winner of the magazine’s prestigious “Software of the Year” awards. More...
to play chess with Four Fat Chicks
24.08.2003 The name of the site is, well, interesting. Four Fat Chicks does reviews of adventure games and software that goes beyond the mass destruction of humans or aliens. This week it's Fritz and Chesster, which they call "one of the more remarkable and commendable edutainment titles" they've seen. Here's their charming review.
wolf in sheep's clothing?
10.07.2003 "Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster is a bit like a wolverine in that it's cute and furry on the outside, but has some real teeth once you get involved with it," writes GiN, the Game industry News service. The note that most children won't even realize they are learning how to play chess. You can buy the program here...
02.07.2003 "Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster is a tad slow-moving at times, but its system is quite effective and the story very charming," says this software review, which gives the program an A. You can get your kids a copy of Fritz and Chesster here.
'toon fun a cool combination
25.06.2003 "In a world of violent video games there must be a place for children and their parents to interact and actually learn something," says this Washington Times review. Fritz and Chesster will "turn junior into a grandmaster before mom and dad can say Svetozar Gligoric."
more rave reviews
19.06.2003 After USA Today gave it a resounding five stars (of five), now Cablevision's Power to Learn reviewer Diane S. Kendall calls Fritz and Chesster "one of the best of its kind I've seen in years". And Discovery.com gives it 9.2 out of 10 and a 5½ star rating. "Making the game of chess child's play is not entirely easy, but this new game succeeds admirably".
is child's play
11.06.2003 That's what USA Today thinks, after looking at our children's chess teaching software Fritz and Chesster. "This software has an amazing amount of depth and is presented in a progressive manner," writes USA Today reviewer Jinny Gudmundsen, who gives the package five stars (out of five). Here's the report.
raining awards and prizes!
04.06.2003 Our top programs are doing pretty well out there in the media scene. Europe's biggest computer magazine gave Fritz 8 the top place for board game software (Shredder 7 came in second), and the Bologna Children's Book Fair gave Fritz & Chesster the top children's media prize. More...
moms and Chesster
20.05.2003 "The US is going to become the world's powerhouse of chess, I can guarantee that," writes star journalist Rudy Chelminski (Smithsonian, Wired, Life, et al.). "How? Why? Because of the soccer moms and Chesster." After some experiences with our program Fritz and Chesster Rudy is convinced that the next Morphys, Fischers and Polgars are at their computer screens right now. More...
and Chesster get an A
01.05.2003 Of course we are proud when ChessBase super-programs like Fritz and Junior bash Kramnik and Kasparov. And we're proud that just about every GM in the world uses ChessBase every day, as do thousands of other chess fans. But we're REALLY happy with our new Fritz and Chesster program that teaches chess to kids. And so was a Houston Chronicle writer, as you will see here.
revolution in chess learning|
02.04.2003 It is possibly the most important piece of software created by ChessBase. Like none of the other products – Fritz, Junior, Shredder, or even ChessBase itself – Fritz and Chesster is one that can recruit new players to the game. We predict that tens of thousands of children will take up chess because they had access to this program. Here's a description of the ultimate chess teaching tool for children.