Pawn is a basic chess game designed for beginners. It's nothing fancy, but that's exactly the point; it lets users hone their chess skills in a simple, easy-to-navigate environment.
The interface is clean, with a wood grain chess board and traditional, easy-to-recognize chess pieces. Gameplay is as easy as dragging and dropping the pieces into the appropriate spots. The program helpfully outlines the opponent's last move in yellow so that novice players can keep up with the action. The built-in Help file adequately explains the program's features, but does not provide any information on how chess is played; true beginners will need to look elsewhere to find the rules. While many chess games allow users to fuss around with different styles of boards and pieces, Pawn sticks to the basics, with a few extra features throw in specifically for beginners. Users can move the action backward and forward to analyze their and their opponent's strategy. The computer's error level can also be adjusted so that the game's difficulty is gradually increased as the player improves. We haven't played chess in years and appreciated being able to set the program to an enjoyably challenging level; we didn't win, but we were evenly matched against the computer.
Pawn is free with no limitations. The program comes as a ZIP file and does install a desktop icon without asking, but it uninstalls cleanly. We recommend this program for beginning and intermediate chess players, or anyone looking for a functional, no-frills chess game.