Chess software can help you improve your chess skills. However, with so many programs on the market today, it is hard to choose which ones to use. In this article, I will recommend some of the best for chess improvement and also how they can be used to enhance your skills.

Playing chess

Playing Programs

Playing against the computer is very helpful. With a good chess playing programs you have the following:

  • A partner who never tires
  • A master-level player who can point out mistakes
  • A place to store your games

With these benefits in mind, I can happily recommend Fritz from Chessbase. Besides being one of the most powerful computer playing programs in the world, Fritz has an attractive and user-friendly interface. The most current version, Fritz 13, has a large database so you can search for games played by the world's greatest players of the present and past. Fritz 13 also includes 10 hours of video from former World Champion (and perhaps the greatest player ever) Garry Kasparov. 

With Fritz, here are some of the ways you can improve:

  • Play practice games and study them (read my article on improving your chess for some tips on how to best do this)
  • Compare your game openings to similar games played by masters
  • Set up specific positions and play them over with Fritz

Finding the right playing program when you can't find a human partner is the foundation of your chess software library. For playing and analyzing your games, Fritz is the best!

Fritz 13 screenshot
Credit: screenshot
Fritz 13 - Chess Playing and Analysis Program in stock and shipping!
Amazon Price: $69.99 $44.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 29, 2014)

Database Programs

Once you've played your games, a key to improving your chess is recording and studying them. For this, database programs are very useful. With these programs, you can do the following:

  • Store and organize your games
  • Compare your games to similar games you have played
  • Compare your games to those played by other players
  • Annotate (add comments) to your games
  • Analyze your games using included chess engines (or other engines you have purchased, such as Fritz 13)

The best chess datasbase program on the market is Chessbase. Chessbase was developed in conjuction with grandmasters who needed a more efficient way to analyze their games and organize them. It's made by Chessbase, the same company that made Fritz 13, with a similar attractive user-interface. The current version, Chessbase 12, includes a player encyclopedia with over 30,000 pictures!

With Chessbase, I would recommend the following way to improve:

  • Store and analyze your games
  • Create positions from your mistakes and review them regularly
  • Compare your games to master games to improve your opening play
  • Choose a master player you like and study his or her games
Chessbase 12
Credit: Screenshot
ChessBase 12 Mega Pack
Amazon Price: $253.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 29, 2014)

Chess Drills

For beginning and intermediate players, doing chess tactics drills and puzzles is one of the best ways to improve. Books are a great way to do this, and my article on chess improvement has several recommendations. However, chess software provides an excellent alternative because you can move the pieces like you were in a game, increasing the speed of learning.

The best software for the study of chess tactics is CT-ART 4.0. This program is different than the other programs listed, because it provides a systematic study of over 1,000 positions. These positions cover very common tactics that you will see in your games often. By training them repeatedly with CT-ART, you will recognize these quickly in your games.

With CT-ART, I would simply suggest you spend 15-20 minutes a day doing the drills. In no time, you will see great improvement in your tactical recognition.

CT-ART 4.0 Chess Tactics Training Software
Amazon Price: $18.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 29, 2014)

There are many other programs out there, but these three I believe form a great foundation for improving your chess skills. I have found great benefit and much joy from playing Fritz, annotating my games with Chessbase, and studying tactics with CT-ART. Chess is a hard game to master, but using these programs can make the process enjoyable.

Best of luck to you in your chess journey!