is a comprehensive chess game that offers a lot from beginners to experts of all
ages in the game of chess. This chess game is not a simple computer rendition of
a board game, but instead it offers tutorials, artificially intelligent opponents,
a personalized 3D environment, and even the chance to view famous historical games
and study their moves. The last Mac version of Chessmaster was Chessmaster 6000,
and after a gap of five years, Feral Interactive has brought the game back to the
Mac platform in its latest incarnation as Chessmaster 9000.
- Enjoy and learn from
more than 800 classic games, including the best of 2001 and 2002 Grand Master games.
- Study the best opening
moves and learn how to dominate the opponent sitting across from you.
- New and improved
chess engine that allows players to compete against more than 150 different opponents,
from beginner to Grandmaster level.
- New Psychology of
Competition chess course taught by International Master Josh Waitzkin.
- Play using a variety
of online, multiplayer options, including rated chess games and high-speed "blitz"
- Set up Tournaments
to see how you would fare against famous historic chess players, or pit them against
each other in a battle of wills.
- Improved graphics,
featuring more than 30 new chess sets and optional, true 3D gameplay.
- New random opponents
for greater replay value.
- Improve your game
with the new Blunder Alert feature that immediately notifies you of better moves
when you move your pieces into danger.
- Test your skills
with the new Endgame Quiz from five-time US Chess Champion Larry Evans .
- Jump right into a
game with the new 'Quickstart' play or turn up the action with "speed chess".
The following are requirements
specified in the Chessmaster 9000 manual:
|Mac OS 10.2
||Mac OS 10.3
|256 Mb RAM
||512 Mb RAM
|16 Mb VRAM
|1.3 Gb HD
||1.3 Gb HD
- iMac Intel 17"
- MAC OS 10.4.9
- 1.83 GHz Core Duo
- 1.5 Gb RAM
- 128 Mb VRAM (Radeon
- DVD-RW Drive
The installation of Chessmaster 9000 is a typical "drag and drop" routine.
Once the folder is placed on the hard drive, all the files are loaded. The game is
installed directly from a DVD, which is also needed for game play. There are two
language options, French and English, for the installation to the hard drive. There
is also a bonus 'Feral Extras' option that contains several other games made by Feral.
The bonus application lets you browse the games through an animated interactive menu
to view screenshots, trailers and load a demo version of each game to try it out.
After the installation, users with limited rights may need administrative support.
I have experienced this with my kids account. However, I was only required to provide
a password for the initial run.
Chessmaster 9000 Installation
To play the game, the DVD must first be inserted into the DVD drive before running
the game itself. This takes some getting used to when almost all the games or applications
I have do not require any discs to be in the drive. While selecting the Chessmaster
icon without the DVD installed will not allow any actual gameplay, there is a good
set of options where you may set the preferences for the game playing experience.
The game itself begins with an inspiring video introduction showing chess played
throughout time. Within the game itself, there are many choices on how to begin.
Before playing the game, you will want to check out the options. Among the options
are video settings and the ability to control the behavior of iTunes and iChat while
playing the game. The video settings were helpful when operating in a low resolution.
The effect of the video setting was most notable in the introduction movie.
iTunes and iChat Options
Once the game is started, a short movie begins showing two chess players playing
a game while they are transformed from ancient times to the modern day.
Once the short video
is complete, you are presented with the main Chestmaster 9000 menu, providing several
Chessmaster 9000 Main Menu
The first button (aka, "room") I tried was the Kid's Room. As a new user,
it is necessary to create a user name with an experience rating to get started. This
rating becomes important for the opponents the game chooses and the tutorials. The
Kid's Room is a pretty neat place to start for any age, but of course it is designed
Playing Chess in the Kid's Room
The "Game Room" is a typical place to go. Once in this room, there are
several ways to setup the game and atmosphere. Some of the options are the 3D vs.
2D view, the board, chess pieces, and opponent. There are a lot of options for choosing
game board and game pieces.
Chessmaster Game Room
Selecting Chess Pieces and Chess Board
There are a couple
of options for getting assistance for the new players. You can play through a chess
tutorial as well as receive in-game training if desired. If a player simply needs
advice every now and then, this is also available. The game appears to fit all ages.
The age groups that played this game on my computer ranged from 7 to 36. This is
possible because the game evaluates experience and age, and guides the player where
to begin. The player is not just guided by a menu, but the game actually interacts
with the player. There is a choice on how much interaction there is, but it is very
nice to see the graphical highlight of the moves and hear the voice telling the player
about the moves.
The gameplay varied depending on what opponent I chose to play against. Many players
are already installed with the game to include their ratings and a brief summary
of their strength and/or weakness. It is easy to pick the experience levels you
want to choose from and the icons for each opponent are actual photos of them. Even
the lowest levels of opponents are very easy to underestimate, so there appears to
be a constant challenge. Some moves will cause the opponent to pause longer; which
gives impression I am playing another person instead of a very quick computer. During
the game, the game disallows an illegal move, and the game appears to try and determine
if your illegal move needs explanation. In other words, when the game sees what
looks like a "silly" move, a voice will calmly and briefly explain the
chess piece limitation. By default, there are game timers, but the timers are also
easy to adjust to your preference.
The video and graphics are nice. At a lower resolution desktop, I noticed degradable
performance during gameplay. Thankfully, there are video options to help. This game
is loaded with other options as well, ranging from different games to play to different
ways to learn about chess. Despite the plethora of options, the menus and gameplay
settings are intuitive and easy to find. Thus, the learning curve for this game
is very low. For example, my young children had little trouble figuring out the
game operation and how to customize it (if they desired to do so).
As you may have guessed from the menu screen, there is the ability to play tournament
games. This can be against actual tournament players that have their statistics loaded
in the game. If you are really into the statistics, there is the ability to view
a database of all the moves completed in other recorded tournaments.
If you are a chess historian, this game has a neat feature for you. In the library,
there are classic games for review. What is unique about this is the fact that the
game can be replayed within Chessmaster, complete with graphics and move announcements.
I am sure this can be a great advantage to study strategy and moves of the great
players in history.
Classic Chess Tournaments
I had no normal technical difficulties, but there was a unique event that needed
support. I had an issue with the DVD in the beginning. The issue was resolved, and
although this was not Feral's fault, it did reveal delays in response. This is likely
influenced by the fact that Feral is based in the UK. The email support was not a
next-day response. However, the response time seemed adequate considering the time
What is unique about Chessmaster 9000 is the built-in tool to generate a test report
to send to Feral support when reporting a problem. I did look at this report and
noticed many details about what is installed in my desktop. If you do not like revealing
a lot of details about your Mac, you may not feel comfortable with this process.
9000 is a feature-rich computer chess game. Loaded with a great number of features
for game pieces and game boards, game types, video options, and ways to learn chess,
Chessmaster's interface is intuitive and still easy enough to use at any age. The
installation is simple and the menus are friendly. The technical support is decent,
but it could use a US office. For beginners, there are tutorials and several fun
virtual rooms. For the hardcore players, there are enough tough computer opponents
to make this game serve as a great tool for improving your game. Whether you have
an interest in learning and/or improving chess skills, or just enjoy playing a challenging
game of chess now and then, Chessmaster is a great game for Mac users of all ages
and playing abilities.
- Many options from
the skill levels to configuring the environment
- Well designed for
learning chess and challenging
- Appeals to a very
broad age range
- Intuitive and attractive
- Always requires the
CD (or DVD) to be present when playing
- Long distance technical
support for US customers
- Graphics instability
at lower resolutions
4 out of 5 Mice