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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chess Assistant 16 Revisited

 
    No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't fall in love with it. I have three chess programs on my laptop: Fritz 12, Aquarium 12 and Chess Assistant 16. Back in March of 2016, I wrote that I had been toying around with my new Chess Assistant which I had purchased after giving the trial version a try. 
    Although I really like the appearance of the Aquarium interface, I didn't care much for the program itself. Not that there was anything really wrong with it, but the learning curve was pretty steep and it had a lot of features I never had any real need for. So, its icon sits beside Chess Assistant's on my desktop, but they never get clicked.
     After playing around with Chess Assistant for weeks I never grew to like the appearance of the board, but more importantly, I never really learned how to use all its features. For some reason I just found the most mundane tasks, such as saving a new game to convoluted to bother with. I mean, in Ftitz starting a new game is simple; so simple the Help Menu doesn't even list on how to do it.

So is saving and replacing a game:


With Chess Assistant things seem more complicated.


Here are the instructions:

You can enter a new game to either a new database or an existing one.
     Entering to a new base: When you create a new base (see Creating a New Base), the New game window appears, ready for entering the game. (If this window has not appeared, check the Open view to new base box in the Tools | Options | General window)
     Enter the game header as described in Entering a Game Header. Enter the moves as described in Entering Notation. To save the game, call the Edit | Save game command, or click on the clip0181 icon, or press [Ctrl] [S].
    Entering to an existing base: To enter a new game to an existing base, make sure that this base it open and not Read only. Further, there can be two possible scenarios. First: the base was just created and therefore doesn't contain any game. Second: if the base already contains games, switch to the View mode (those who prefer to enter new games in the List mode please read Entering in the List Mode).
    In both cases, call the Edit | Add new game | Standard command in the main menu, or press the [Ctrl] [N] key combination, or click on the clip0182 icon, and the New game window will appear.

     For some reason I've also had Chess Assistant just up and quit running. In fact, while preparing this review my laptop crashed and the screen went black. Chess Assistant had it hung up to the point that the only action I could take was to unplug the laptop and remove the battery then restart.
     From what I have read it is a bit buggy, probably due to all the extra features. Back in August, for example, people were having problems with the notation window being blank when running on Windows 10. They offered a patch to download that corrected the problem.
     One BIG advantage that Chess Assistant has over Fritz is customer service. Their customer service is simply the best. But I suppose it has to be good. Back when I installed CA16, I had a few problems and had to contact them and was very pleasantly at how quick they were to answer.
     I've been debating whether to simply delete if off the laptop. Fritz 12 came out in 2009, but it is simple to use, has a nice look and runs Stockfish and Komodo at the same time without any crashes. 
    You can pre-order Fritz 16 which is due to ship November 20th. The House of Staunton is offering it for $70. It has a “host of features:”

* Assisted Analysis - gives you discreet visual hints as you move, and emoticons, which show Fritz's mood.
* Fritz 16 shows you the combinations you might have missed directly after the game with the Tactical Analysis function, or you can use the Easy Play calculation training
* Fritz 16 uses the new multiprocessor engine was developed by star Vas Rajich. (Still not as strong as the free Stockfish)
* It comes with a 6-month ChessBase Premium Account which includes full access to ChessBase Web apps (also for IPads, Android Tablets and Smartphones), 6,000 chess training videos, 60,000 tactical exercises, 8 million games in the Live database and online action on Playchess.

     None of these are things I want, nor do any of the features since Fritz 12 was released appeal to me. The bottom line is that both Aquarium and Chess Assistant turned out to be a disappointment. I tried to make myself like them, I really did.

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