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Check mate

Enjoy this basic take on the classic game of chess.

It's no surprise that with the advent of computer games, enduring classics like chess would make the leap to the virtual world. The Internet is jam-packed with different versions of chess, from the elaborate to the austere. ChessBin Free Chess falls somewhere in the middle; it's a fairly basic take on chess, but it has several useful features that make it a bit more versatile than the hands-on version.

The program's interface is plain and easy to navigate, consisting of a green and white chessboard and a handful of menus across the top. Users can play as either black or white, or they can just watch the computer play itself. There is a bit of a wait when it's time for the computer to take its turn, and this gets longer as you increase the game's difficulty level, but it's not nearly as long as you might wait while playing a human opponent. Those who are new to chess--or are just a little rusty--will appreciate the fact that when you click on a piece, possible moves are highlighted on the board. In addition to letting users play through regular games of chess, the program also has a feature that lets users practice their end-of-game moves, with scenarios including knight and bishop versus king, rook versus king, and pawn versus king. And if you're taking a chess break at work but don't want your boss to see what you're up to, the game's I'm at Work feature quickly turns the interface almost completely transparent. There's no Help file, and some of the program's features can take a bit of work to figure out. But overall, we found ChessBin Free Chess to be a fun and easy-to-use take on this popular game.

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