Free Chess Software

I’m a rather parsimonious fellow, and I make no exception for chess software. My investments so far have been modest: 20 bucks on Chessmaster 10th edition, money well-spent thanks to the lectures by Josh Waitzkin. Other than that, I’ve been using AquariumDemo (free) for making my gifs and annotating my games, and BabasChess (free, Crafty included) for computer eval and playing on FICS. AquariumDemo has also been my “database” software. I haven’t really gauged its database capacities yet, but I think it’s time to start working with databases in earnest, and to that end I’ve started looking into SCID. SCID offers all the functions I’ll likely ever need database-wise, is deliciously customizable, also optically (something that’s dear to my heart), includes the Toga engine (ELO 2600), and is absolutely free. What’s more, the excellent Katar has two excellent SCID workshop vids up at his new place, and I also found two large free pgn databases with a ton of ELO2000+ games, the Million Base 1.74 and the ICOfY Base. Plenty good stuff, for no cost whatsoever. If you have any other recommendations for free chess software, sharing is much appreciated!

Update: Following Tanc’s recommendation of the Chess Position Trainer, I came across this article on about how to practise your opening repertoire with SCID and CPT. Haven’t read it in detail, but certainly will later tonight.


18 Responses to Free Chess Software

  1. tommyg says:

    The above is a great free GUI made especially for Crafty. It is great to play against as you can EASILY adjust the playing levels. It looks good and is really easy to work with. I haven’t dealt with it for analysis but I use Shredder for that anyway. But I have been very happy with the Crafty Chess for playing against.

    A REALLY strong free engine is:

    I would love to play a game on FICS someday this summer when my teaching obligations simmer down.

  2. chunkyrook says:

    I never play against engines, but thanks a lot for the suggestions. FICS: Cool! I’m available and quite flexible.

  3. […] more from the original source: Free Chess Software « The Chunky Rook Posted in Games, Software Tags: aquarium, babas, crafty, fics, Games, gifs, playing-on-fics […]

  4. I’m an advocate of Chess Position Trainer.

    Absolutely free! :)

    If you need to memorise your opening repertoire or use it for tactical training or your endgame technique, it can’t be beat. No need to pay money for stuff like Chess Openings Wizard.

  5. chunkyrook says:

    Thanks, Tanc! Although right now the website seems to be down :(
    Update: Ah, website’s up again. I actually remember this now! I worked with CPT for a couple of days, but abandonded it because it messed with my computer quite a bit (it got extremely slow after a while). Downloaded it again now on my new computer, and it seems to have problems with Windows 7.

    • hey chunkyrook,

      are you referring to the problem with the installation? is is because it requires a specific version of .NET framework to get past the install?

      with a bit of “trickery”, you can disable this. there is a MS application call ORCA.MSI – this application/hack allows you to circumvent this install.

      This tool was created by MS and is only present in their SDK – alternatively, you can download the whole SDK together with other tools from

      and instructions here:

      Use orca to open the file then looking at the list, remove the entries:

      DIRCA_CheckFx and VSDCA_VsdLaunchConditions

      it should now work without prompts for .NET install.

      • chunkyrook says:

        Thanks again, tanc! No, I wasn’t talking about the installation problem… on my old computer, it just got unbearably slow after a while of analysing. And in Windows 7, there are some hiccups with graphics and floating windows (it seems to create new windows with weird graphic bits in them).

        • I’ve never used CPT for analysing…. :)

          But what it does really well is training based on the flash-card concept! Something that neither Chessbase nor Aquarium provides and something which you have to shell out $$$ for if you want Chess Openings Wizard.

          Export all your opening repertoire into PGN format then have CPT suck them in. Start training immediately. No mess, no fuss. :)

          I guarantee that within 1 hour of CPT, you know your repertoire inside out including those seldom played variations.

  6. Signalman says:

    I use CPT, and think it is great. Never had any graphics problems ( as you describe ). Occasionally the delete icon ends the program, but the menu commands work fine( also mentioned in the FAQ). I use it in XP at the moment. A new version is in development.

    As for a database, I use Chess Assistant(CA). Much cheaper than chessbase and has more than everything I could want. I tried CDB for some time, but it was pretty slow ( although it did work ).

    I think SCID was the app that had that spat between original and spin-off developers a few years ago. That also put me off it.

    I have to admit that I love ‘free stuff’, but at least CA and Aquarium generally seem responsive to users requests, so I am sticking with those. CA has the fantastic classifiers and also a great implementation of Chess Query Language (CQL ) both of which are a huge help when searching or (in reference to classifiers ) organising chess data.

    As for games..see here ( for regular free PGN upates. Also TWIC has a weekly update of games in various formats. Both are excellent.

  7. Signalman says:

    Meant to add…

    So many good free chess engines…Ruffian is strong, as are the many versions of Fruit (allegedly the basis for Rybka) , plus Aransan is also a great engine with a GUI too. Arena is a fantastic free interface, with lots of good options. Lastly, CraftySE is s good version of crafty that has a built in time delay, so you feel as if you are playing a real person, as it doesn’t respond instantly !

    Endgame tablebases (3-, 4- and 5-) are also free, or can be generated if you have the processor power and patience. The larger ones are also available, but take up shedloads of room. Since you can access them manually at places like via a FEN-paste, I don’t think its that serious not to have them locally. I installed the 3- and 4- but they take up 30MB+. The 5-man start getting bigger, so I didn’t download them.

    I wonder now, why I bought Chess Assistnat ?! but hey, I paid and enjoy it, so why worry. Older versions ( ie 8 or 9 ) are considerably cheaper and have much the same functionality as later ones. If you see an offer for CA9 ( or even 8 ), its well worth it. The free version is also good, but I can’t remember what size db it can handle !

  8. prashant says:

    try free winboard+rybka 2.2.3. rybka is the best free engine .

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