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on August 25, 2004
I am curious to see what other people think about this piece of software, so please put your opinions forth!

I am a regular chess tournament player, and familiar with CM7000. Before reading my review, understand that it comes from a player who regular uses computers to analyze games for tactical errors, store/analyze games from book collections, and competes regularly in USCF tournaments at a 1600 level.

CM10th seems to have more streamlined graphics from prior versions, and a smoother overall feel. I've run into 1-2 hiccups when running CM with other programs, but it generally feels very stable.

The best part of CM 10th are the tutorials, hands down. Waitzkin's writing is perfect for both beginners and intermediate players, and the CM interface with its arrows and colored squares truly shines with him at the helm. Larry Christiansen's games are also excellent, but the great depth of his analysis is a bit harder to follow as he goes through the various lines in real time. It seems from other readers that CM9000 replicates most of these tutorials - if so, unfortunately the main reason for buying CM10th may not be sufficiently compelling. However, for those who haven't worked with these tutorials, they singlehandedly justify purchasing CM 10th - even with no other features, I could wholeheartedly recommend purchasing the software just for these lectures.

Another huge plus where CM10th excels is in the "play" department, which makes it most suitable for those who just want to play lots of games. CM's interface makes it a breeze to pick up and play rated opponents, which do get progressively more difficult as their rating climbs. I have not played enough games to truly assess the player strength relative to tournament ELO, but suffice to say that the computer still completely fails in replication of human play - CM 1500 rated opponents will hang pieces by putting them right in front of your pawn with no compensation whatsoever - not even an 800 USCF player would play such ridiculous moves! The engine will promptly rev up and play 5-7 dazzling positional moves in a row to generate a crushing attack while down an entire piece (verified by Fritz to be GM-strength moves!) only to repeat the hanging of pawns and pieces just when you think you should resign. Fritz's friend/sparring mode, although really dry (it's not that exciting to beat Fritz 7 in -1 pawn mode versus CM's colored personalities), plays incredibly humanistic chess in comparison.

As a serious chess player familiar with Fritz and computer analysis, I have some major concerns that inhibit me from recommending CM10th as my main tool/engine.

Big problems:

- The disc is required EVERY time you boot the game. Not even a 14-day recharge period like CM7000 - you need it each and every time. Laptop users take the biggest hit here, as the wear and tear on the drive and battery drain is pretty significant.

- The menu interface is still just ugly and really inefficient. Instead of using "normal" WinXP menus, CM goes with its custom colors/fonts/pulldown screens. Even more importantly, shrinking game status windows doesn't scale the font, so opening more than 2 game status windows gets REALLY cluttered. In contrast, Fritz's windows are super-streamlined, and you can make the font as tiny as you want - I routinely have 5 panels open in Fritz with a huge 2D board, whereas doing the same on CM is absolutely impossible. (To compensate, CM does have a Ctrl-tab to toggle hide all windows)

- No keyboard customization. This is HUGE for serious players who want full control of game analysis. The lack of arrow key navigation in game playback (you have to use control keys) is painful, and the most basic functions require multiple mouse clicks. Contrast to Fritz, where you can customize nearly every function to a key, so you can spend all your time on the chess and none of the time on the interface.

-Replaying analysis in CM10th is still as painful as it was in prior versions. While CM provides excellent auto-annotation, it's still too difficult to play back the variations (hit play, and the computer starts autoplaying the moves while you struggle to keep up...) Fritz's method of embedding variations right into the game score so you can play right through them at your own pace and then get back to the main game instantly is vastly easier. As an example, I will analyze an online game in Fritz for blunders by running analysis on it, and then all of the "recommended lines" it comes up with for my mistakes are embedded as variations in the game. I can then play through them rapidly, and see the actual engine's score evaluation to see how badly I blundered. This is all possible in CM, but is still really clunky.

-As stated in prior reviews, online play is still virtually nonexistent, although the online teaching tools are quite promising (although nobody's using them yet.)

Conclusion:

-CM is worth every penny if you haven't seen the Waitzkin tutorials yet. Reconsider if you've done them already in prior versions.

-This game will appeal to new/beginning players who don't spend much time analyzing games and like to just play lots of different personalities.

-The Fritz interface is much more streamlined and efficient in nearly all aspects of the game, making it easily the better tool for tournament players or anyone who spends significant time on analysis of games.

-The personalities still play really strange chess (what's up with the ludicrous sacrifices?!), and I seriously question their ELO calibers relative to human USCF ratings - yesterday I easily defeated 1700,1800,1900, and drew a 2000 rated CM opponent while I run into serious problems against A class players in UCSF tournaments. At least from where I'm from, I would estimate the CM ratings as inflated by at least 200 points relative to the tournament players here.

-Online play is still nonexistent.

Would love to hear from all users - I especially anticipate that some CM "experts" will have creative solutions to some of the major problems I ran into, and I'd love to see how they've solved them.

Good luck to all you budding chessmasters!

hhnngg
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on September 5, 2004
This game refused to start on my pc. It stated that I had a CD\DVD emulation software on my pc and it had to be removed. Ubisoft copy protection is to blame. It looks for any clone software such as CloneCD, Alcohol 120%, Daemon Tools, etc., that use CD\DVD emulation. If it finds any it will not start the program even though you have the original Ubisoft cd in the drive. What they are doing is telling you what you can and cannot have on your own computer. After I found this out, I brought my Chessmaster 10 back to Best Buy. The computer tech geek there was so upset when I explained and showed him why there was a problem that he gave me a full refund despite a store policy of no refunds on open software. He said he had some of this same clone software on his own pc. As for me, Ubisoft has lost a customer. Never again will I buy their software.
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on August 19, 2004
The achilles heal of the Chessmaster series has always been it's frustrating, buggy, and overall unusable online component. 7000 and 9000 had barely-there online play that was plagued with disconnects and timeouts. As a result, they never developed much of a play community, and even if you COULD log on you rarely found anyone in the lobby to play against.

When I heard Chessmaster was getting a facelift for the 10th edition, I was hoping this issue would finally get addressed. Well, it hasn't. In fact it's gotten worse: I've had the program for a week and a half and I haven't been able to play a single game online. All my other online games, including other chess programs like Fritz, work just fine. We were told there would be a patch, and there was, but it failed to fix the problems. Now, supposedly, there will be another at some point in the future.

And to make matters worse, the thing Chessmaster always did RIGHT - create a stable and user-friendly digital atmosphere in which to play and study chess - has been bungled by the new design team. The functional 2-D sets, preferred by serious players because they're easier to analyze, have been all but eliminated in favor of flashy 3-D animated ones that look like Disney-fied versions of the old Battle Chess DOS app. The analysis and database features aren't as deep as previous versions. And the whole design is weighed down by cheap, pointless gimmicks - there's a "stereo 3D mode" and the program comes packed with a set of red/blue 3D glasses. Why does a chess program need that? It doesn't.

The program looks nice (assuming your system is near state-of-the-art; be warned that this program uses a TON of processor power) and the Josh Waitzkin tutorials - long a hight point - have been expanded. Those additions are welcome. But if Chessmaster wants to stay competitive against Fritz, which offers great, easy online play along with their terrific chess program, or even against Yahoo, which offers fairly good online chess for free - they REALLY need to get their act together. There's no excuse "for the world's most popular chess program" to have such a lousy online component.
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on August 12, 2004
I would love to be able to buy this game. But the pain outweighs the benefits. First they put such powerful copy protection on this, that many or most CD-RW/DVD-RW drives will NOT work to install or play the game from.

This is because they have DISABLED them. Well, gosh, thanks a lot! My laptop ONLY COMES with a CDRW drive! PLUS, even if I could install the game, I have to have the game CD in the drive at all times. Which means it will be spinning my CD all the time, sucking down my battery in far less than an hour.

Thanks guys.

So I want to buy this so I can play it while I'm out and about, waiting for meetings or just at the park....and I can't. AND even if I COULD, the CD will have to be up and spinning?

This is unacceptable! Tell me, how many laptops come with only straight CD or JUST strait DVD drives now? I don't know of any.

I say tell them to KEEP thier stupid program. This company doesn't own every single good chess programmer in the world. There are plenty of other companies that make good products. Buy one from any of them.

If you can't play the game you purchased where and whenever you want--Then Tell Chessmaster to shove thier product. They are not serving you. So don't serve THEM.
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on November 27, 2004
If you buy this game legally you will be treated like a pirate. UbiSoft has no respect for their customers. You must play the game with CD1 in the CD player even though it installed everything onto the hard drive during installation. The purpose for this I guess is to annoy customers. Why don't they check that you are using a legal CD at install time and let it go at that? No - you need the original CD every time you play. What happens if the original CD gets scratched or lost? I guess you're out of luck. Like I'd ever buy this game again.

And UbiSoft also prevents you from making backup copies of the CDs - in direct violation of US Copyright law which allows the customer to make backup copies for safekeeping.

To top it off - if UbiSoft discovers that you even have installed certain programs such as CloneCD or Alcohol 120 - it won't run even if you have the original CD in the drive! Can you imagine if Microsoft wouldn't run MS Word or Excel if they detected that you had installed Word Perfect or Open Office? Even if you had paid for a legal copy of the software? And it won't run even if the banned software is turned off and is not being used!

What a way to treat customers. Buy the software legally and then lose your rights as protected under US Copyright law, and be told what else you may install on your own computer! Even if you are not using the other software - just it's presence is a no-no in UbiSoft's eyes.

Any software pirate will get a cracked version of this program off the Net and play it happily. Its only the law abiding customers who are being screwed.

UbiSoft should take a look at the backlash that TurboTax had last year when they went to copy protection. Turbo Tax is abandoning copy protection from now on.

I will never buy any more UbiSoft software again until they get rid of this junk in their products. And its not like its even all that great anyway when you play it. The engine is not top of the line and as others have said - it frequently locks up and acts weird. Well worth copy protecting, right!
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on December 5, 2006
Go to the Ubisoft website and look for the latest ChessMaster patch.

After installing the v1.03 patch for ChessMaster 10th Edition, the game no longer requires the CD to run. It looks like the patch updates most of the game files, so the CD is no longer needed each time you play. Or maybe they loosened the CD verification requirements.

Of course, hang on to the CDs -- you might need them in the future.

After buying software, I always recommend that you look on the manufacturer's website, download and install the latest patches. In this case, the product is much easier to use after the patch.
0Comment|39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Rarely am I compelled to stop what I am doing and write a review about a product. However, this product is such garbage, that I felt that need.In fact, it should receive no stars.

First, the game can only be used with certain video cards, which is something I did not learn until after I received the product. Specifically, it can only be used with a GeForce 1/2/3/4/FX or an ATI 7500-9000 series graphics processor. Now keep in nind, I meet those specs anway.

Second, you need the 1st CD (of 3) to play the game. Although not normally a problem, if you have an ultraportable or tablet PC, forget about this product.

Third, the installation is over 540mb minimum install. Thats if you do not install anything but just the pure game files.

After installing, I rebooted my Dell 8300 (2gb Ram P4 3.0, 400gb hard drive, ATI Graphics card with 256mb RAM on board). I started the program, and it locked up my computer. Tried again, no luck. Rebooted and tried opening the program, it finally opened. However, all the graphics were off.

Long story short, this game should be taken off the market and the development team put out on the street.

ALL I WANT TO DO IS PLAY CHESS!!!!!! DO NOT BUY! SAVE YOURSELF THE AGGRAVATION!
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on April 13, 2005
I don't know what the heck the people are babbling about using chessmaster X with emulation software... If you have that problem goto Google and type in Chessmaster X + Crack, and download the cracked game.exe copy it to cmx directory and your done. I downloaded the hacked version to test it,(had to download the crack so I could play without the CD) and let me tell you, the thing rocks- much better then CM 9000, 8000 or 7000. The rated play feature that lets you play rated personalitys and rates your play is just OUTSTANDING. The way your giving the option to let the computer go back thru the game, after about a 10-15 minute review time(unlike Fritz 8's hour or so for a game review) it'll give you answers in simple english in what both sides did wrong and what to do to correct it. Also it has the first animated chess sets I've seen since Battle Chess back in the late 80's and early 90's. Watching a rook smash the queen is always a great sight. Also It's training modes that come by default are about the best I've ever seen on a piece of chess software- Normaly you get a chess program, and it'll walk you thru if you've never seen a piece before- but lessons on the other aspects of the game up into Advanced are lacking. Not so with CMX. I was so impressed with this software, that after I downloaded a fully functional copy, I drove 80 miles to buy it, my friends still wonder why I did that- its just to good to steal and put the guy who made it out of work- tempted to buy two copies!

As for system requirments the slowest machine I've ran it on is a Athlon 1.4, 1 gig, 32mb geforce 2 MX of memory and Windows XP. Can't play with the animated sets... But the next slowest- Athlon XP 2400, 512mb and a 32mb geforce 2 MX runs it just fine. and all intel solutions I've installed it on- p4 2.6 and Celeron 2.8 256 MB integrated video run it fine too.
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on September 26, 2004
The chess play of this game is fairly good, but I would not recommend it for several reasons.

1) The first thing is that, even though you perform a full install, the software requires the CD to be in the drive to run. If you only have one CD drive and you want to do something else while playing the game (such as listening to a music CD, etc), you can forget about it. The system requirements for this game should say that it needs its own, dedicated CD drive.

2) The computer takes ages to make a move, but never loses due to time. The more time you give it, the more it takes. When it does get low on time, however, the clock mysteriously stops. For example, if you set the time requirement to 30 minutes per game then the computer will take several minutes to make a move. Once the computer's time gets down to about 40 seconds or less, it will continue to take a long time to make a move, but its clock will not run. You, on the other hand, do not have this "infinite time" benefit and your clock will definitely run out on you, causing you to lose the game. Speaking of infinite time, if you do set the time constraints to this then you can forget about ever seeing the computer move; it simply will not.

3) This is the biggest issue for me, it is the "Can not initialize 3D engine" error. This happens regularly and can only be remedied by resetting your computer. Lets say you play a game and then close Chessmaster. Ninety-percent of the time you will get this error when you trying to open it again which will require you to reboot. If you switch between options in the game too often, this error will come up. For example, if you go the chess academy and then back to the training play, you'll likely get this error. The software seems to be "one shot only". After you play it, reboot your machine; after you go into one part of it, reboot before going into another, etc.

Do not waste your money on this piece of crap.
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on April 1, 2005
I paid good money for this game and I can't play it. Every time I try to play it I just get a black screen and no game. I tried installing and re-installing it with no luck. I am so upset I can't see straight. So now I have to go thru the hassle of sending the thing back. UBISOFT sucks!
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