Windows - 1999
Description of Chessmaster 7000 Windows
Chessmaster 7000 is the latest incarnation of the best-selling Chessmaster series, which out-sells all the other chess programs combined. If you already own Chessmaster 6000, should you shell out the extra money for this version? That depends.
This program is definitely an enhancement over its predecessor, and its qualities definitely justify its top-ranking spot on the list of commercial chess programs.But note that for almost any specific chess feature, there is a better product on the market -but it is usually more expensive, so the buyer should decide what he really needs before he buys.
Since this program is really an update over Chessmaster 6000, the interested reader should consult my review of CM6000 for a comparison of the features that are common to both programs; this review will emphasize the new features. All the comments of my previous review of CM6000 still apply. Note that the chess-playing engine is the same as that of CM6000, so if strength of play is your only criteria and you already have CM6000, there is no reason to upgrade.
The interface will be immediately familiar to owners of previous versions, and the menu selections are almost the same. However the page setup is somewhat different: the user can now choose between seven rooms that deal with different needs, the Kids Room specifically designed for children, the Classroom for learning and training, the Games Room for playing, the Library for collections of games, the Tournament Room for tournament game playing, the Database Room for searching games, and the Chessmaster Live Room for playing online.
One of the better new features is the Kids' room. If you have children who are learning to play chess, you can use this room to isolate them from the more complex aspects of this game with a learning and playing interface that was designed especially for children. So if you are looking for a chess game for a child, you can't go wrong by buying this game.
Can you beat Bobby Fischer?
There are over 80 opponents of varying strengths and playing styles, and you can customize your own. Although this can be fun, and the game can play at Grandmaster strength, I have some doubts about the ability to program a computer to play like Fischer or Capablanca, although I am open to the possibility that the Chessmaster duffers play like true duffers.
The size of the database has been increased by almost a factor of two over CM6000, to 500,000 games, which is comparable to other top games like Fritz (see my review of Fritz5.32). So the question is how well does this database allow various database operations like searching for games from specific players, positions, specific openings and so on? The answer is pretty well, but not as well as Fritz, the other main chess-playing game with major database capabilities. I was unable to find the games between Kasparov and Deep Blue, although a review on another site claims that they are in the database.
You still can't force the game to play only specific moves from given openings, and the openings tree is a bit clunky to use; in addition, the opening database does not go deeply enough into many openings: for example my favorite Morra Gambit lines stop well before branching out into critical lines. Of course more mainline openings go a bit deeper, but those who want to use the program mostly for studying openings or analyzing games will be better off with Fritz, although Fritz does have a slightly more complicated interface.
A major feature still missing is the ability to analyze a game in real time as one scrolls through the moves; one has to analyze the whole game, which precludes moving up and down along possible lines to analyze them, something that Fritz and a few of the other specialized games do extremely well.
Learning and training
The learning and training tools in Chessmaster 7000 are exceptionally good and more than adequate, although I will admit that there are specialized programs that might be better -but I haven't tried them myself; the Josh Waitzkin (Searching for Bobby Fischer) tutorials are very well done, with voiceover comments. There are a few bugs here, such as the comments not exactly following the game, but nothing serious, and even experienced players can learn a lot by following the tutorials and lessons. Combined with the Kids' Room, these features put CM7000 on the top of the heap for learning chess.
One feature I particularly liked was the rating quiz; the computer asks you sets of questions on each aspect of the game like position play, opening tactics, endgames and so on, and you are rated on each facet of the game. When you are finished, you are given an overall rating that is probably more accurate than ratings calculated by playing against the computer, and it is a lot of fun to try to improve your rating.
The Bottom Line
So you need the additional features like the larger database and the Kids' Room. Some experts use chess programs only to analyze games, and they should abstain also in favor of programs like Fritz or Chessbase, if they have the money for the latter. Those who should consider buying this game are people who want to buy a chess program for a child, or those who want to update for an earlier version of Chessmaster, or owners of some chess products with fewer features.
All in all, Chessmaster 7000, although it is mostly an upgrade of CM6000, is a worthy successor to its predecessors, and will undoubtedly keep its place as the best-selling chess program. Some bugs have been reported on the chess forums, but I haven't observed any serious bugs myself, and most should be corrected.
Review By GamesDomain
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