Fritz 13 Chess Engine Announced

I received an email from the USCF the other day, announcing Fritz 13, and that you could preorder it now for delivery in mid October 2011.

Fritz 13 Chess Engine Chessbase

I have been a Fritz user since the late 1990s with Fritz 5.32.  While there have been a lot of improvements in the Chessbase product since that time, with fewer major updates, a lot of the updates to Fritz have been somewhat underwhelming.  Some of the features appear to have almost no changes during that time.

Here are some features that I would like to see added to Fritz 13, along with some tips and tricks for dealing with the current versions of the software.

  • It would be nice if the software somehow notified you when an update was available, like most modern software does these days.  I have found that running the updates is often critical.  If you find that your software is doing things like crashing, or freezing, running the updates will often fix this.  The only way to know if there is an update available in Fritz 12, is to manually run the “Check for Updates” feature.
  • Make sure that you have the DVD ready after you do update the software.  Otherwise the software will no longer work.  The Fritz software used to be REALLY annoying about constantly wanting to check for the CD/DVD, and is not as annoying as it used to be, but is still sometimes a pain to deal with.
  • I have not found a way to update the software if you are behind a firewall, which is sort of annoying.  A lot of software will allow you to enter proxy information, if they require a connection to the internet for updates.  It would be nice if this was fixed in Fritz 13.
  • A lot of previous versions of Fritz seemed to focus on adding new 3-D boards.  These look cool on packages, but in reality I think most chess players just end up using the 2-D board 99% of the time. 
  • Be careful when using the cleanup names function on your database.  I have seen names get really butchered.  In theory it is a good idea, but I have seen it mess up players names, ratings and do more harm than good.  Make sure you have a backup of your database before you run this.  This is mostly a chessbase feature, not Fritz, but can be really annoying.
  • The Training feature could use some enhancements and bug fixes.  For example if there is more than one way to deliver a checkmate, it might pick one of them as the “correct” answer, but if you choose the second way to deliver mate, it will tell you that is incorrect.
  • I have also found examples where the training answer will not be the best move given by the same engine.
  • I have also seen examples where the best move might be available for multiple moves, and the engine will give it as a puzzle in a variation over and over again.  It should only give this as an option once in a game.
  • I would like it if the “publish games” feature was similar to the one that Chessbase actually uses on their own website.  In this article for example.  The “point and click” interface that Fritz and Chessbase currently allow a user to use is much worse.  In the software world we call this “Eating your own dog food”, where they should be using their own software.  The “Publish Games” feature doesn’t seem to have changed in Fritz in 10+ years.
  • The Archive Game feature is VERY confusing to people.  It would be nice if they had some other way for people to send games to each other.  Could you imagine if Microsoft Word required people to “Archive” a bunch of files together, before you could email a document to another person?  Why does Chessbase make this so difficult?  Just save everything everytime as an Archive file.  This is absurd.  Even people who have used Chessbase products for years can’t figure this out! 

New Fritz 13 Features

Some of the new features do sound cool.  Here are the descriptions from the marketing:


Join the community! “Let’s Check” is a revolutionary new feature of Fritz 13 that will change the chess world*. With it Fritz 13 users can join a world-wide community that will put together a giant knowledge base for chess. Whenever you analyse a position to any meaningful depth with your chess engine Fritz 13 will, if you allow it, send the main line and evaluation to a central server, to be shared by all participating users. Soon you will be able to find deep analysis to almost every position you look at – instantly, pre-generated by the finest engines in the world, running on the most powerful machines around. Gone are the days where you would have to wait for your computer to reach substantial depth in order to make sure you are not falling into a trap. You will even be able to see the analysis of different chess engines and compare their results – all without a second of wait time.

“Discover” a position! It does not matter whether you are a beginner, a club player or a Super-GM. If you use a powerful engine to analyse a hitherto unknown position with the Let’s Check function switched on, you will be automatically registered as the “discoverer” of that position.

“Conquer” chess positions! Let’s Check keeps updating the evaluations to any given position with newer, deeper analysis as this becomes available. Using powerful machines and the latest engines allows you to “conquer” positions, with your name attached to the newest, deepest analysis. You can also add comments to your analysis, which other users will see when they encounter the position.

Even if you are not a great openings expert you can become one using Let’s Check. The entire body of modern openings theory is built into the system, and Let’s Check provides you instantly with the latest statistics of any position in the opening: how often did it occur, which moves were played, with what success. The openings book (LiveBook) is updated on a weekly basis and will show you which variations are currently topical and how good they are. It will also reveal which lines are being analysed and debated in the international community, and with what conclusions.

Using Let’s Check while watching top games live on the Playchess server becomes an experience in itself. Not only do you have the latest openings and statistics at your disposal, you can also see the results of the most powerful computers and engines that are logged into the server – total information on any computer, in the blink of an eye.

I really like the idea of lot of having a collaborative style approach to the chess engines.  This might encourage people to leave their computers running overnight to help “solve” a position.  I will be curious to see how this will work!

It might also be cool if you could get certain positions that other people needed help with.  Basically volunteering your computer to help do analysis with computer cycles that you would not be using otherwise.  For example, perhaps your computer could help solve a 7 piece endgame with a King and 2 bishops and a Rook against a King and 2 Rooks, while you are sleeping at night.

I will probably end up purchasing the new Fritz 13, and will post a review once I do.  I am not hopeful that any of my “Wish List” will be resolved, but I think that the new features do sound cool, and I enjoy using the Chessbase products for my website, newsletters and products, and like to stay on the “Bleeding Edge” :-)



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