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4.1 out of 5 stars18
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 22 March 2008
I've played chess for many years and have ChessMaster and Fritz on the PC, but this version on the Nintendo is the most fun! What I really like about playing it on the DS is that you can play anywhere, e.g. sit back and relax on the sofa while playing.

The interface on CM is polished and the board and pieces are surprisingly easy on the eye for such a small board. You can create multiple profiles if several people are using the same game; Josh keeps track of your results and training progress.

In classic chess you can play against different characters, from weak opponents to ChessMaster himself (the strongest opponent - his chess rating is 1850 Elo, 160 ECF). There is also an option to play against a friend on another DS (the game can be downloaded onto the other DS). In multi-player mode you can play: Classic Chess, Progressive Chess (increasing number of moves each turn), Dark Chess (opponents pieces are invisible until they capture), Extinction Chess, Losing Chess (lose all your pieces first to win), Los Alamos Chess (6x6 board with no bishops).

This version of ChessMaster has something special added - ChessMaster: The Art of Learning. This is a set of mini-games presented by Josh Waitzkin. These mini-games are intended for training purposes but they just happen to be very addictive and lots of fun too. So, if you're licking your wounds after being defeated in a chess game, you can try some of the following training mini-games instead:-

'Shoot the Fruit'
Fork multiple fruits on a chess board with various pieces; get extra bonuses for multiple sets of fruit. This is my favourite, it's a gem.

'Minefield Chess'
Use your chess pieces to locate and defuse all the hidden mines.

'Masterpiece'
Move your chess pieces in the right order to reveal the picture.

'Chain Reaction'
Move a chess piece so that three pieces of the same kind are connected by their movement paths.

'Breaking the Lines'
Move your knight and capture all the pawns. Beware! Your knight may also be captured!

'Pawn Charge'
Advance your pawns to the other side of the board without them being captured.

Highly recommended if you like chess and want some fun on your DS.
0Comment69 of 69 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 December 2008
If you want to play chess on the go, then this is a pretty good option. In fact, as far as I know there's only one other chess game on the DS. However if your expecting the all-singing, all-castling Chessmaster then do be aware of significant differences...

This version does NOT have:

1 - Customisable boards/colours - this would have been so simple... The mini games have lovely looking boards and sets!
2 - White-to-move-mate-in-two puzzles... Why on Earth not? This is a significant omission! The other puzzles and games are great though, especially the oddly compulsive 'Fork the Fruit' game.
3 - Library of opening moves or historical games

It DOES have:

1 - Simple tutorials for the beginner, covering the board, pieces, moves, forks, pins etc.
2 - A bunch of puzzles and chess variants. Some are very addictive indeed. Especially the one with the knights and pawns.
3 - The ability to set up a position
4 - Rated games
5 - Multiplayer, including 'normal' chess rules, Progressive chess, Dark Chess (where your opponent's pieces are invisible), Extinction (where you have to capture all the other guy's pieces) and Los Alamos (played on a 6x6 board with ni bishops and six pawns each)

It works beautifully with the stylus, and the DS is almost made for portable chess games in this regard. However the interface is awful!

You are limited to a stark white interface, which simply looks careless, rushed and cheap. The profile screens which contain your scores are simple text on a white background, for example, and not even formatted properly.

The menu screens are cumbersome, with one large icon taking up huge amounts of screen real-estate and shortcuts to the others represented by little dots. Why not just have all the icons a reasonable size and onscreen at the same time?

The inability to change the board colour scheme is just pure laziness, especially as the puzzles contain graphics of fruit etc. Some of the mini games contain rather beatiful boards - why can't we play actual chess on them?

Poor old Josh looks rather hungover as well. His likeable, yet rather unkempt figure dominates the upper screen during tutorials, almost making you feel bad for disturbing him when he'd clearly rather be in bed with some Alka Seltzer.

There are no books of openings, which is simply silly, and the lack of standard 'Mate in Two' puzzles is unforgivable in my book. Being arrays of data they'd've been a better use of limited memory than the large animated Josh.

The game plays fine for the beginner to average player. I can't speak for real chessmasters though, since I'm a fair way from being that advanced!

Apparently Fritz is coming out on the DS at some point, but for the time being this'll do. A shame really, as there are some real missed opportunities here thanks to some awkward design and content decisions. The Chessmaster games on the PC are awesome repositories of chess lore, but this somehow feels a little 'dumbed down' in comparison, and is obviously aimed at a slightly different user base. It plays well though, in its own strange fashion (rated games seem to suddenly improve their playing regardless of the personality you're playing against), and in the absence of any other option it almost becomes a DS 'must have' by default. Almost.

I just wished they'd finished the damned thing prior to release.
0Comment24 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 January 2009
Just purchased, although not from Amazon, as they had it out of stock. I am an experienced player and my main concern was that the built in chess opponent would provide a decent enough challenger for me. I was not disappointed. If you choose the classic chess option and then the highest rated opponent, you get a formidable opponent chess algorithm. I have yet to beat it, although only played a handful of games. You can choose lower level opponents to match your skill level and improve your 'rated' level, and move up through the challenger levels.

I have not tried the learning scenarios, but having had a good look through the entire options, this seems an ideal game for those who are both wanting to learn and improve, and experienced players like me who want the intellectual challenge of a good game of chess. And you can do it on the move, and wherever you want. Well done Nintendo!

Four stars and not five, because the graphics are basic, but they are satisfactory. You can see that the authors of the game have put the effort into the chess software 'brains', rather than the graphics, but that should be the case, in my opinion every time, as it's the quality of the chess algorithm that counts in a game like this, over the look. If the graphics could be improved in any future editions (e.g with board and piece options), I would give it 5 stars.

Recommended for all chess players.
0Comment4 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 April 2008
Coming from someone who has always found it very difficult find the "right" chess game in the past, I was hoping for the best when buying this. The problem for me has always been finding a suitable computer opponent- either they are laughable and easily beatable or grandmaster style impossible winning machines! Luckily this game gives you the option of a huge number of computer players with varying difficulties between the two extreemes, so this game has the potential to engage the best and the worst of you out there.

The game play itself is very simple- no gymicks at all - you can create a profile to make your way "up the ladder", starting low and gradually playing better and better computer opponents - or can ignor all that and just play one off "practice games" to your hearts content. Within these practice games you can undo moves, stop and review the game, and perform numerous other things that i expect most people will not use but some of you may find very useful.

Finally you can also play chess styles "mini games" that use the rules of chess in other settings - these are a throwaway extra if you like, mildly entertaining but nothing more. Another great feature is a decent chess tutorial for those of you who have bought this game but have no idea how to play! This tutorial, i imagine, would be a great way for kids to learn the basics as its laid out in a clear form and easy to follow.

In summary - a cracking game that can cater equally for the very talented and the very new to chess at the same time - great stuff.
11 comment32 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 October 2010
I ordered Chessmaster 11 mostly for my 5 year old who loves chess, but it has become a favorite for the whole family. The children even prefers it to the childres chess game they have.

In addition to ordinary chess - both rated and training games - there are a number of mini games that are quick and fun to play and at the same time let you practice chess skills.

Both the ordinary chess and the mini games are fun for adults. The mini games have become very popular with the children, both the 5 year old who loves chess, the 6 year old who is not really interested in chess and the 3 year old.
0Comment2 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
`Chessmaster' for the DS is a good, but pretty basic, chess game with the bonus of various additional features. With this you get a quick game mode, a rated chess game mode, mini games and chess puzzles. The mini games allow you to play non-chess games with the various chess pieces so that you get a greater understanding of the way they move and the various strengths and weaknesses of each piece. The puzzles provide an assortment of chess related problems (like avoid capture in one move or find the check on your opponent etc) and although these are ok for getting your chess tuned up, they are quite basic and not nearly as extensive as they could be. This game includes a chess tutorial which give the basics of the game, as well as looking at pins and forks. There are many rated opponents to play against, with their own individual profiles and styles of play, and as you progress through them your ELO rating improves. Josh Waitzkin, who walks you through the games and puzzles, gets very annoying after a while. With the stilted, robotic mouth movements and same phrases (well done, you're really improving!) repeated ad infinitum, it quickly becomes tedious and I'd like the option to have the words but turn him off! Overall, for an entry level chess game, that you can use on the go, this makes for a pretty good package. But once you reach a certain standard this game may infuriate and I recommend you move onto the PC version which has a more mature interface and better chess calculation.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 7 September 2009
Very good for children to learn chess and stretch their brain power rather than the endless mind numbing shoot-em-up games. Good features. Could do with better 3D graphics.
0Comment2 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 December 2009
Perhaps I'm spoilt by PC chess programs but I found the main chess game on offer frustratingly slow. It takes roughly 20 or 30 seconds per move on average. On all but the highest levels it usually gives me a piece or a couple of pawns in the opening for no apparent reason. It then plays at a strength far above what these blunders would suggest. A final gripe: it's easy to "drop" a piece or tap the wrong square, thus making a different move from the one intended. If the game is being "rated", one can't take the move back. This is very annoying. One can actually get back to the same position by aborting the game and playing the game again (if one has a good chess memory), as the program will play the identical moves in this case. But with its slow response time this can take 15 minutes. For these reasons both my small daughter and I find it too frustrating for playing chess. It is good enough to beat most people however, so if you're patient and not a strong player you may have a lot of fun playing Chessmaster 11.

The extra games are great fun and excellent for children.
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on 17 April 2009
Bought this for my dad who loves chess. He found it very easy to be all the other players except for the chessmaster. The game could have been improved in this respect as the intermediate levels aren't that challenging and there is a bit of a gap between them and the chessmaster.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 February 2009
I bought this product as a gift for an eight year old. This is a great tool for teaching chess and I found it very useful to brush on my game too.

Highly recommended.
11 comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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