A Computer Chess Game does exactly what it suggests...
You get to play games of Chess against a computer that relies on a database of moves and rules, which allows the software to determine an "appropriate move", for a given situation.
Three good examples of computer-base chess games include a Free option, a Conditional Free option, and Fritz 12:
We'll start with a look at WinBoard, as it's "Free to download" and works very well.
Created by Tim Mann, WinBoard is also available for Linux systems, under the name of XBoard, which can be found here.
As I knew it first as WinBoard, that's what I'll continue to refer to this Computer Chess Game ...
Anyway, it's a neat little game, with a 2D Chess Board layout.
The default game has a time limit of 5 minutes, though this can easily be changed from the "Options" section of the the drop-down menus.
When a piece is moved, a yellow border appears around the square the piece was and the square it ends up on.
Toward the top-left corner, just below White's Chess Clock, you can see the Algebraic Chess Notation for the piece that's just moved.
One thing I've noticed is, with a Computer Chess Game that has a Timer, because of the speed of the computer's processor, the Computer game makes its decision and move so fast, that it doesn't register on the Clock ...
Even after 3-4 moves by the Computer, its clock can remain with all its time intact, while your time may have depleted by, for example, 30-60 seconds, in that same period - I've experienced this with both WinBoard and Fritz 12.
The best thing to do is just accept this, as a quirk of computer-based games and focus on your own game and your own speed of decision making.
Overall, from a beginner's perspective, WinBoard is an exceptionally good Computer Chess Game, especially being "Free" ... This allows you to learn and play a bit, before deciding when it's time to move up to a more-accomplished Computer Chess Game, like Fritz 12.
"Sort Of Free / Sort Of Paid"
Chess Titans was the first, good Computer Chess Game I properly played with, as it happened to be pre-installed on my version of Windows Vista (Home Premium edition).
As a beginner, I found the highlighted squares helpful, as they showed Legal Moves (Blue); Special Moves (Purple); Available Captures (Light Red); Check and Checkmate (Dark Red).
There are no Time Controls - no Chess Clocks - with Chess Titans ... In some ways, this can be a good thing, as you can focus on your move options, without feeling pressurized by time constraints.
The obvious downside, to Chess Titans, is if you don't have Windows Vista, you'd need to get it* - which could set you back over $100 ...
Now, that's a LOT just to play Chess on your computer, especially when the far superior Fritz 12 costs between $50-$75, depending on where you shop.
* I'm aware it's available to download for Windows XP, however I've read that, because XP doesn't have the DirectX 9 -driven desktop environment, it won't be able to properly run Chess Titans - how true this is, I don't know.
"Hand Over Your Cash"
After playing Chess Titans for a while, Fritz 12 was the first, fully-featured Computer Chess Game I purchased ... Though, to call it a "game" somewhat undervalues the engineering that's gone into this program.
At the time, there were other choices on the market (e.g. "Chessmaster XI" and "Rybka 3"). Without buying them all, I wasn't really knowledgeable enough to have an opinion as which was "Best" ...
Searching through results from Google, I kept coming across recommendations to buy Fritz 12. Sure, Fritz 12 certainly looked good and the recommendations were positive, but they didn't really persuade me to get it.
The one person that swayed my decision was Chess legend "Garry Kasparov", who is quoted as saying he "Regularly analyzes with Fritz". You wouldn't expect someone of such stature to risk his credibility by putting his name to a dodgy product.
Also, if it's good enough for a high-ranking Chess professional, it'd certainly do for a leisure-time player like me.
Thrown into the mix, Fritz 12 comes loaded with a series of Beginner tutorials, plus samples of more-advanced tactics.
Admittedly, a lot of the Beginner's stuff you can find dotted about the Internet (and certainly, you can find most of what's covered on our website, here.
As for the "Samples", they're snippets of other Chess tutorial products by ChessBase, the same people who make Fritz 12.
Someone with a bit more experience (playing Chess) might see this as nothing of interest, or a cheeky marketing opportunity for ChessBase's gravy train. To some extent, that's kind of how it is - but, as a beginner, it was more beneficial exposure to tactics, and I found them lengthy-enough to be of interest.
Once Again, You Can Download The
Computer Chess Game - WinBoard, Here