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Chessmaster 9000

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Entertainment
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Chess in the PC realm never features the most stunning of graphical realism. Most true chess fans believe that simple 2D boards make for the best setup for analyzation. However, to others Chess needs a makeover. Traditional gamers look for extreme 3D and beautiful interfaces. Chessmaster 9000 creates a happy medium for chess fanatics and hardcore gamers. The inclusion of 3D boards and pieces with full ability for rotation and zooming give a gamers edge to the otherwise casual game. A variety of 2D setups are also included, letting users customize everything from board type to pieces.

An electronic voice follows the play of the entire game, declaring the progression of moves, and there is a rather nice introductory video with a powerful score setting the scene for a remarkable venture into chess.


The Chessmaster series of games prides itself as the prime chess learning and computer-based playing tool. Its incarnations throughout the years has continuously improved on factors that one might assume computer-based chess has exceeded traditional means of learning and playing. Chessmaster 9000 builds upon the strong lineage of predecessors, taking positive aspects of other versions and throwing in a few handy surprises.

Always striving to bring the concepts and strategies of chess to beginners and intermediate players, Chessmaster 9000 is equipped with a humongous collection of lessons, tutorials, and strategy drills. Since Chessmaster 9000 is a growing game program, most lessons have been taken from previous versions of Chessmaster. These concepts are in no way outdated; in fact, they are included because they work. Furthermore, Chessmaster 9000 does offer some additions that are both insightful and contiguous to the games older tutorials. Such enhancements include an eight-part course consisting of nearly 20 annotated games assembled by international chess champion Josh Waitzkin. Waitzkin gives his own critique of the matches, helping to solidify the tactics Chessmaster 9000 teaches elsewhere in the program. Two new drills, 'Follow the Game' and 'Memorize the Positions' are aimed at memorization tactics and strategies. For new players, Chessmaster 9000 offers a 'blunder alert' to warn you of foolish decisions before you make a move.

What does Chessmaster 9000 offer to seasoned players? Chessmaster is positive that the new chess engine is more than satisfactory as a deemable opponent to even the most experienced players. Also featured is a downloadable 'endgame database generator' which creates a database of all possible outcomes for all positions toward the end of a game. Chessmaster 9000 also assists in the development of a 'rating'. Your rating is similar to national competition standards, as it develops positively or negatively depending on the outcomes of your games.

If the computer is not enough, and you still yearn for a match against real humans, Chessmaster 9000 reintroduces a feature that was not included in more recent versions. A dedicated online-server through Ubi.com lets you combat against other chess addicts anywhere in the world. Online play is nice, but hardly necessary, with the varied amounts of chess games available online already. However, if you are meticulous about your board setup, this does allow you to play in the Chessmaster orientation of your choice.


When considering a chess game, the difficulty of the engine depends solely on your independent skills and knowledge. For the most part, Chessmaster 9000 is a valuable opponent to the novice and intermediate player. Advanced players may find the lesser-ranked opponents trivial, but if the chess engine is as strong as Chessmaster 9000 declares, this should be a worthwhile contender even for the chess masters.

Game Mechanics:

There is a lot of information packed into Chessmaster 9000, so it may appear gaudy at first, but thanks to simple interactive menu design, all of Chessmaster's utilities and options sit at your fingertips. Different categories are divided into logical subdivisions with full customization of board appearance and coordinate notification setting allowed at any point. Nearly every command can be initiated through a simple mouse-based interface, and a full array of options, such as undo or hints, are available throughout matches.

For the newcomer to chess, Chessmaster 9000 is the ultimate choice as a learning tool and strategy builder. People who own previous versions of Chessmaster may not get much out of the upgrade, especially if you only play moderately. However, hard-core fans to the series could still get a lot out of the subtle new features Chessmaster 9000 makes available.

-==Boy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Kyle Prestenback

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/XP, Pentium II 450, 64MB RAM, DirectX 8.1, Video Card, 56K modem for internet play

Test System:

Windows ME, Pentium III 600, 64MB ram, s3 4MB video card, ethernet

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