Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Best iPhone Apps for Chess Players

The fusion of technology with a classic game like chess is impossible to avoid.  So for those of you out there who have decided to bring to the 21st century to your chess game I hope you will enjoy my research. In no particular order I present to you the best 10 chess apps for the iPhone as determined by me, because I am the pinnacle of authority on all things awesome.

Chess Genius - $9.99
No this is not my biography.  It's a pretty cool chess engine. Despite the fact that the icon looks like Super Mario Brothers Chess, this is actually quite an impressive program.  First and foremost it is a strong chess engine but the features that come along with it are nice. You can import PGN files from the Internet or email games you've played in PGN format.  There is no Internet or Bluetooth 2-player mode.

Shredder - $9.99
In doing my research about a dozen programs claimed to be the strongest chess engine on the iPhone.  I have good reason to believe Shredder has a reasonable claim to this fact over Joe's Plumbing Repair Guide and Chess Program.  Shredder has consistently performed among the elite in the world ranks of computer chess.  I have no reason to doubt it would not do the same on the iPhone.  Shredder also comes with 1,000 tactical puzzles built-in and two methods of moving your pieces, drag and drop or touch square. Also, if you purchase a copy of Shredder 11 for the Mac or PC, you receive a coupon to download Shredder for the iPhone free!

Glaurung Chess - FREE
It's a good chess engine and it's free. So what if the interface and chessboard is totally dookie brown?  It's free!  And please, don't come at me with "ohh but it's not as strong as Shredder."  Set Glaurung to it's hardest setting, beat it, then I will listen to your complaint about the strength of its engine.  I'll crane kick you in the face for whining to me but I will listen to your complaint before delivering said kick.  Did I mention it was free?

Chess Quest - $2.99
Despite this stupid looking zebra-thing for its mascot I dare you to find a collection of 1,200 tactical puzzles with interactive solutions and variations for $2.99.  Now you can study tactics anywhere; weddings, funerals, job interviews, it's all in the power of your hands to become a better tactician.

Chess Clock - $2.99
This thing does just about everything a $30.00 clock does.  I don't even take a clock to tournaments anymore.  This past weekend neither me nor my opponent had a clock.  After I berated him for 10 minutes for being totally irresponsible for not having a clock with him I whipped this sucker out and suggested we play with this one.  So I actually have a rated tournament game under my belt using this app.  It has both Bronstein and Fischer time increments as well as a pause slider and screen saver override.
Chess Database $4.99
A collection of 500,000 classical games!  Has a search function for player but does not allow you to search by opening or positional theme.  Nonetheless 500,000 classic games for $4.99 tough to beat.

RandomChess - $0.99
All this program does is shows you an array of how to set up a chess960 game with one click.  Some people hate it because they think they are downloading a chess engine that plays 960.  Not so.  Nonetheless I like it cause setting up a game of 960 with a 6-sided dice is annoying, and it runs a good chance of getting your butt kicked.

Chess DB - $3.99
The app allows you to import custom databases from the Internet and view the games.  It also comes with several ready-made databases like 'The best games of Alekhine', etc.  Only thing that sucks about this app is the chess board is really busy and really detracts from the overall enjoyment of the app.  Still this could be useful for keeping a collection of your own games too.

Chess with Friends - Free
What's really cool about this sucker is it has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth play.  So you have another friend with the same app you can sit right beside each other and play with this app.  OR.  You could sit beside one another and get out a REAL board and set of pieces and play, but I digress.  This also allows you to play correspondence chess with strange men online.  Don't even act like there's a chance you could play some chick online it flat won't happen.  The Internet is where men are men, women are men and children are FBI agents... bank on it. 

Handy Chess - $1.99
I really like this one.  Yeah its 2 bones for a chess app that let's you play humans online.  I know 'Chess with Friends' is free but the sparkling difference is this one actually plugs you into the FICS server where you can have an actual screenname and rating.  I am displeased they have not yet enabled the "talk trash to your opponent when he's losing feature", but if I keep emailing them everyday I'm sure they'll come around.

That's pretty much it.  If you disagree with one of these or think you have found a better app that I forgot to include you are simply flat wrong.


  1. I looks like you forgot the most beautiful and user friendly of them all, Deep Green, by Cocoa Stuff:

  2. I do like Deep Green. It and Hiarcs chess almost made the list but I didnt want it to be "engine-heavy". There are some nice utilities out there that needed to be mentioned.

  3. 99Games just came out with Chess Elite which supports correspondence Chess along with local play. Its the first Chess game on the App Store to support push notification. The game also has an Elo rating system to rate the relative skills of players. You can also choose your opponent based on Name, Elo rating, Max Wins, max Losses.
    Chat feature is being worked on and will be available in a future update.
    Do try out the game..I'm sure you'll find it a potential candidate for the list.


  4. For me, Shredder, Deep Green, & tChess Pro are the true "Kings" of iPhone chess. In short,

    Shredder - most well rounded chess app & an excellent UI

    Deep Green - gorgeous! All apps should look & sound this good

    tChess Pro - A sharp UI, innovative features & best integration of openings book for learners

    Just my five cents. ;-)

  5. In other news, I grabbed the ChessDB app the other day, and I think I've found a bug.. It crashes whenever I try to load my own game collection off the 'net. I'm thinking (guessing really) that the app doesn't play nice with annotated PGN or files that include variation lines.