Challenge yourself with Chess Wizard

Chess geeks will love this feature-packed game.

We've never been very good at chess, but that doesn't mean we can't recognize a good chess game when we see it, and Chess Wizard definitely fits that description. Although the game's graphics are nothing to get excited about, serious chess players will love its huge variety of features.

The game's interface is plain, with menus and a toolbar across the top and a one-dimensional chessboard. Chess Wizard has 10 levels of difficulty, ranging from "peabrain" to "overwhelming," and you can select from a variety of handicaps. We set our level at "novice"--we do sort of know what we're doing--and the game began. The computer made short work of us, but novice level didn't seem unreasonably difficult for someone who knows chess a little better than we do. Chess fans who like to share their games can publish them with Chess Wizard, at least theoretically; the program crashed when we tried to publish ours.

Chess Wizard has tons of features, and there's plenty of online documentation to go with them, but we did feel like many aspects of Chess Wizard are inaccessible to people who aren't very familiar with chess, and with electronic versions of chess in particular. Much of the documentation is written on the assumption that you already know a lot about the topic at hand. The FAQs will tell you, for example, how the program parses openings, but not what parsing openings actually means. Still, for the serious chess geek, Chess Wizard is a great choice.

Chess Wizard installs a desktop icon without asking but uninstalls cleanly.

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