Chess Equipment

Note from Mike Williams: I personally have bought from each of these websites and have been satisfied with the quality of my purchases, service, and delivery.

Software: Databases, Interfaces, and Analysis Tools

  • ChessBase - The standard by which all other chess database software is measured. Expensive, but some say it's worth it.
  • Arena - A free chess GUI. Includes starter database of 11,000 grandmaster games from 2001-2004.
  • Scid vs. PC - A free chess database and GUI.
  • Tarrasch Chess GUI - A free chess GUI.

Software: Chess Engines

These require a compatible GUI with the appropriate interface (UCI is the modern standard, although some engines follow older WinBoard protocol). After you find a GUI you like, download and install these separately.

  • Stockfish (version 6, free and open source. Strongest free engine.)
  • Houdini (version 1.5 is free; version 4 for purchase)
  • Rybka (version 2.3.2a is free; version 4 for purchase)
  • Komodo (versions 6 and below are free; version 9.2 for purchase)
  • Crafty (version 23.4, free)

See list of world computer chess engine ratings at this link: CCRL 40/40

Where to play chess online

  • Play for free. Upgrading to a paid annual membership unlocks premium content.
  • FICS - Free Internet Chess Server. Still going strong after 20+ years.
  • - Play for free. Site affiliated with ChessBase.
  • ICS - Internet Chess Server (paid membership required)

Endgame Tablebases

Endgames with 6 or fewer pieces have been completely solved by computers. Recently all 7-piece endgames were also solved. Even with the small number of pieces, the number of possible positions is enormous.

  • Online Nalimov Tablebase - Input your position with 6 pieces or fewer and it will show the evaluation under perfect play from both sides.
  • Gaviota Tablebases - (download) A massive collection of files (over 6.7 GB) with every possible permutation of 3-, 4-, and 5-piece endgames pre-solved. Supported in ChessBase and Arena.
  • Online Lomonosov 7-man Tablebase - (requires registration)