Fritz and Chesster get an A

by ChessBase
5/1/2003 – 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.

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Houston Chronicle gives Fritz & Chesster an A

You might suspect our motives when we tell you how great our programs are, so we are always glad when we can provide reviews from the world outside of ChessBase. Below are a few excepts from this review of Fritz & Chesster in the Houston Chronicle newspaper. (Daily readership of 1.2 million.) We would include more, but we are blushing.

You can read all about this great new way for kids (and their parents) to have fun learning chess here in our online shop.

Software for chess keeps kids moving
by Anne Reeks

Sure, kids can splatter paint on the computer screen with wild abandon and without a bit of mess, but it's nowhere near the sensory delight of mucking around with the actual article. Ditto for putting together a puzzle, building with blocks and playing a board game -- though virtual versions of all four have their advantages (more materials, sophisticated techniques, built-in opponents).

It's another story when the activity in question is mainly intellectual. Here, savvy software can outshine reality. A case in point is Learn to Play Chess with Fritz & Chesster (Ages 4 and up, Viva Media, $30, Windows,, a brilliant tutorial with plenty of playful accoutrements.

Despite its fun feel, this is serious stuff. The game's "brain" is the famous Fritz chess engine, used by grandmasters to train for tournaments. Here, however, Fritz is depicted as a little animated boy -- a worrywart in Harry Potter spectacles who has to learn chess and learn it fast.

Children can practice one move in many different situations and variations. If they don't get it right, the software lets them know in a pleasant, British-accented voice and shows not only where they went wrong but why and how to do better next time. It also recognizes when they've got it down and are ready to move on.

Real life can't deliver that kind of instruction, unless you have an in-house chess aficionado with lots of spare time.

As kids work the circuit and do their reps, they advance from the lightweight room to the middleweight and finally the heavyweight, at which time they're ready to do battle with King Black. As in life, it takes time (and many sessions at the computer) to get in fighting shape. Fortunately, it's one of those "getting there is half the fun" experiences.

Learn to Play Chess comes with a one-year subscription to, where kids can find human opponents -- perhaps more worthy (or less taxing) than King Black. Grade: A.

Full Houston Chronicle article

Learning the opposition, Fritz & Chesster style


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