Fritz 16 - the very definition of fun

by Carl Portman
3/26/2018 – When is chess the most enjoyable? When you win! Carl Portman, author of the book Chess Behind Bars, reviews Fritz 16. "Playing against an engine is now once again the very definition of fun! A host of features, including "Assisted Analysis", which gives you discreet visual hints as you move, and emoticons, which show Fritz’s mood, are there to help you. Even with little knowledge of chess, you can enjoy many an exciting game, and more importantly, victory, against Fritz.

Fritz 16 - He just wants to play! Fritz 16 - He just wants to play!

Fritz 16 is looking forward to playing with you, and you're certain to have a great deal of fun with him too. Tense games and even well-fought victories await you with "Easy play" and "Assisted analysis" modes.

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This story originally appeared on carlsplanet.co.uk and is republished with kind permission

A review

Fritz 16 coverI was reading an old chess magazine from the 1980's and it gave a review of 'new' computer software quoting Garry Kasparov as saying that the development of software for chess is as important as the printed word. He was perceptive was Garry, and we virtually all use chess software these days and probably take it for granted. Fritz came into my life from version 8 (which I still have!) and I have always considered it to be an integral aspect of my chess life, studies and analysis as well as for fun, playing online etc. Those wizards at ChessBase have recently released Fritz 16 which retains all of the old favourites and functions but certainly contains a new look and feel to it. I have had a good play with this though I should say at the start that I have not tried every single function - just the ones I use most often. I give the official blurb at the end so you can understand how much more there is to enjoy. The bright banana yellow interface is certainly erm, bright and it stands out on my bookshelf, for sure.

Essentially, it is divided into three sections titled 'Fritz, Playchess and Online Apps' and it is very intuitive. It is just easier to go where you want to go which is a welcome time saver and a significant improvement on previous editions. The options are clearly set out and anyone can use this - even people new to using computer chess software. Just click on the buttons! With the Classic Menu, I particularly like the 'insert diagram' function - which puts an image straight into your annotations and helps with the visual picture of your game as you play through it. It is simple but effective. You can see this in the image below. Also, it takes just one click to play Blitz, that's my kinda chess. After a long day, it is great to unwind with Fritz and just let loose at Blitz or just watch others play online.

Main menu

All the important features are available from the main menu

The 'Easy Game' function I can describe in two words word — tremendous fun. Just as it should be. The new feature here for Fritz is the 'Assisted Analysis' which has emoticons giving hints and tips and evaluations as you go along. I thought this might be a bit of a gimmick until I tried it and I found myself using it more — competing against it as if it were a human being! I wanted to improve, I wanted to beat it - this was (and is) personal! The emoticon becomes a sort of chess partner and I am even tempted to give it a name other than the obvious Fritz. Chess players will have hours of fun using this function and I reckon kids particularly will absolutely love it. It is especially useful if you cannot get out, say to a chess club or tournament and you want to play some chess. Well, fire up the engine, get the coffee on and play chess in the comfort of your own home. It will play at your level so you won't get downhearted losing all the time. It will tell you your current players rating which is an incentive to improve as well.

notation opening book

I also want to know what openings are being played as quickly as possible when entering moves. I really like the 'Classify Opening' option in the analysis section. A window pops up and gives the details immediately. Very nice. It not only gives the opening but will sometimes add wording — as in the image here — such as 'Black avoids the Meran'.

Easy game

There are plenty of other new aspects and the functional buttons have icons in them so it is easier to find what you want (such as 3-minute blitz chess) and let us not forget that with Fritz you get 6 months access on a Premium Account basis to the world of ChessBase and Playchess.com which is my favourite chess playing site. This and the tabs on the initial startup which include many hours of free videos, Openings and tactics area, training, Database updates, chess news and so much more. It's all there. The wording for Fritz 16 this year is 'He just wants to play'. Well, there's no excuse. Get your copy now and make your move. The official blurb goes as follows.

Classify opening

'When is chess the most enjoyable? When you win! When Fritz entered his first tournaments some 25 years ago, humans still had a real chance of taking the engine down. Only a few years down the line, Fritz was already beating grandmasters left, right and centre, but ever since his 4:2 victory over Kramnik in 2006, Fritz has been considered unbeatable. Who would want to play against him?

In the case of Fritz 16, however, playing against an engine is now once again the very definition of fun! A host of features, including 'Assisted Analysis', which gives you discreet visual hints as you move, and emoticons, which show Fritz's mood, are there to help you. Even with little knowledge of chess, you can enjoy many an exciting game, and more importantly, victory, against Fritz. If things don't work out, Fritz 16 shows you the combinations you might have missed directly after the game with the handy 'Tactical Analysis' function, or you can dive right into 'Easy Play' calculation training to hone your skills. The new multiprocessor engine was developed by Vas Rajlich ('Rybka') and is up there with the global elite.  

Stay mobile with Fritz 16: With a 6-month ChessBase Premium Account included, you're guaranteed full access to the world of ChessBase Web Apps (also for iPads, Android Tablets and Smartphones) on the move: 6,000 chess training videos, 60,000 tactical exercises, 8 million games in the Live database and, of course, the best online action on playchess.com. Fritz now also annotates and analyses as you play, immediately providing you with move-by-move summaries to replay after a game ends.

No other chess program offers you more, with the online manual alone spanning a whopping 457 pages! But you won't need it — Fritz 16 is intuitive and easy to use, and whether you want to play against the engine, analyse or enjoy some online blitz, Fritz 16 will open just the functions you need at the click of a mouse'.

To be fair I want to mention a couple of issues that bother me, one of which Chessbase could change and one that might be my own computer issue (although I use Fritz on three computers) so they cannot all be 'faulty'. Setting up coaching positions for juniors is not as good as doing it in ChessBase. Chessbase allows you to set up an 'illegal' position such as one with no kings. Fritz won't let you do that as far as I can see. Also, I continue to have issues around pawn promotion whereby despite unticking the box saying 'automatically promote to queen' it still wants to do this on my PC. It does so on two of my computers and I still don't understand why and I would love to sort it out. Even when I return to factory settings it does this and did so in Fritz 15. It's very odd. [Unfortunately, such training positions are not supported in Fritz because chess engines by nature require legal positions. As for the underpromotion issue, we cannot reproduce but will continue to investigate. Feedback is welcome and you can always contact support for specific questions. -Ed.] 

As far as this reviewer is concerned, however, Fritz is still as much fun and as useful as ever. Despite stiff competition, I remain loyal to Fritz as my trusty 'pal' when it comes to chess. It is phenomenal value for money in my opinion and you can have months — nay years of fun for less than the price of a pair of good shoes. The strap-line for the Fritz 16 product is 'He just wants to play'. Well so do we all, and there is simply no excuse. Grab your copy now, load it up, strap yourself into your chair and make your move. Travel forward with Fritz 16 — I am certain that you won't look back.

I rate this software as ***** Highly Recommended. A must-have addition to your chess life.


Fritz 16 - He just wants to play!

Fritz 16 is looking forward to playing with you, and you're certain to have a great deal of fun with him too. Tense games and even well-fought victories await you with "Easy play" and "Assisted analysis" modes.

More...


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Carl is a Director who has a background in logistics in the public sector. He has worked in warehousing, distribution, secretariat, change management, communications, project management, Data Protection and Human Resources both in the UK and Germany. Away from logistics he is the author of works on natural history and is a qualified chess coach. His proudest moment came when he represented the United Kingdom in the NATO Chess Championships in France in 2012. Carl’s motto is ‘Don’t complain about the dark, light a few candles’.
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garyklien garyklien 3/26/2018 08:51
i enjoy it very much. I have a hard time figuring out how to reset my level so it can learn me again though?
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