On this day in 1996 (just barely posted under the wire) IBM's 'Deep Blue' became the first computer to beat a reigning world champion at a game of chess, beating international grandmaster Garry Kasparov in Philadelphia. So I thought a quick Chessmaster post was in order.
I was introduced to the franchise on my trusty Commodore 64 with Chessmaster 2000 and I rather enjoyed playing that game.
More often I would play my brothers instead as I preferred the element of human competition and the associated joy and agony of victory and defeat, but still I did enjoy playing the computer too.
Over the years I tried a few other computer chess games but didn't care for any of them. I'm not talking about games like Battle Chess or Archon - but just standard games of chess. With a game like chess you wouldn't think that there would be that much of a difference between different franchises, but for me all the ones I tried paled in comparison to Chessmaster. But I moved on to other games, other systems, etc. and my love affair with Chessmaster faded into the past.
Then about 3 or 4 years ago I sold some old paperbacks to a Half-Price Books and I noticed a boxed copy of Chessmaster 10th Edition on the shelf for $6.95. I hadn't played any computer chess in years but I had about $7 in store credit so I bought it. And it is now on my list of PC favorites. It is one of those rare games that I almost never play, but do love, and can pick up and play a game pretty much any time without it ever really getting old. And although the incremental improvements between successive versions of Chessmaster may be minor, I hadn't really played one in about 15 years so the improvement over the last one I saw was HUGE.
It had all kinds of beautiful fully animated boards you could use, online play, customizable opponent personalities, chess academy, just tons of different features. And one pretty cool item they included with the 10th edition was a pair of the old-fashioned red and blue 3D glasses that you could wear and switch the screen to 3D mode so you could play in amazing 3D! The effect was pretty cool too. Although admittedly I did tire of wearing them fairly quickly and resorted to my standard 3D eyeballs. Still, I did appreciate their effort to include a feelie with the game to set themself apart from other games a little. After all chess is not exactly that exciting of a draw to the masses so anything to spice it up a little. I can't remember the last time someone asked me if I preordered the new Chessmaster or saw a Chessmaster cardboard promotional display at Gamestop.
They've made a few more since my 10th edition (released in 2004) but my recommendation if you have any interest at all in chess is to grab a copy of the 10th edition which can be had for dirt cheap since it is a few versions old at this point and you will basically be covered for computer chess for the next decade or so. And if you don't know chess but want to learn the chess tutorial features of the game are excellent. It might not be as sexy as most games out there, but with essentially infinite replay value, Chessmaster 10th edition makes it onto my "desert island" list of games.
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