Fritz 18 - Review

Fritz.

A commercial program developed by ChessBase for over 30 years. A companion and training partner for chess players and computer chess enthusiasts across generations.


Fritz is a program sold around the world, considered by many to be the best in its class - a benchmark for other competitive products.


Fritz has written beautiful pages in the history of computer chess. In 1995 he became the Computer World Champion by winning against a prototype of the famous Deep Blue chess computer. At the beginning of this century he played with the strongest grandmasters and got good results against World Champions like Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kraminik and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.


Those were fascinating times for computer chess, when talented programmers through their chess programs were discovering more and more possibilities of programs in this software field.

Source: ChessBase

In late 2021, Fritz 18 (F18 for short) was released, while an update called Fritz 18 Neuronal was released on March 31, 2022.


This latest version of Fritz 18 Neuronal will be reviewed.



First, let's take a look at some of the data in the table below.

Table of Fritz 18 specifications.

Dear reader, you may be wondering reading this specification:

  • Why ChessBase has not released Fritz for other platforms such as Macs or computers running Linux ?

  • Why there is no Fritz for mobile devices ?

After all, ChessBase as a company has been producing and selling software for over 30 years !


These are the kinds of questions Fritz supporters have repeatedly asked ChessBase after articles on their website.

Unfortunately, until today we have not lived to see the answer and the release of Fritz for the above-mentioned platforms.


This is all the more puzzling because, for example:


Contemporary Mac computers using Apple Silicon processors (ARM architecture) are very efficient, working noiselessly and using much less power than other competing solutions.

And they cost reasonable money, such as the Mac Mini with the Apple M1 processor. On top of that, working under the macOS, considered by many to be the best operating system.


Undoubtedly, chess is becoming more prevalent - with an emphasis on online play and software. It is worth knowing that customers leave many times more money in the Apple App Store and other sources than in the Windows store. What I wonder about is the business strategy of ChessBase, which is, after all, one of the largest developers of chess software. Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Slack, Oracle, Valve and others most notably companies make software for the Linux and Mac. I would like to see ChessBase join this esteemed group one day.


Well... hopefully that will change in the future and we will eventually get Fritz and other ChessBase software for Linux and Mac. Although earlier we will probably live to see full-fledged ChessBase web apps than their versions for other operating systems ;)


For those interested, here's a link to an article on how to use Windows system and Windows applications comfortably on a Mac.



In the meantime, let's revisit the Fritz 18 Neuronal and see...

  • Does the Fritz 18 Neuronal engine provide significant competition to today's most powerful chess engines ?

  • Will the functions related to the analysis and use of chess engines meet the expectations of a sophisticated user ?

  • Does the Fritz 18 offer the best and most useful training features ?

  • Are the database functions sufficient to handle games and chess bases efficiently ?

  • Does F18 offer useful web integrations / online apps ?


I will try to answer these and other questions in this review.


Let's start :)


Like the reviews of other chess programs on this blog, this one is divided into several topic segments. This is to make it easier for readers to possibly compare different programs.


When you run F18, you are greeted by a window with program functions divided into thematic sections:

  • FRITZ

  • PLAYCHESS

  • ONLINE APPS



At the very top more to the right you can see the login status of your ChessBase account. If you see your login name then you are logged in.



PLAYCHESS


PlayChess is one of the components of the ChessBase ecosystem.

By purchasing F18 you also receive Premium access to the PlayChess server for a period of 6 months.


In this article I described the PlayChess server and its capabilities available with Premium access.


Let me quote a few words from the mentioned article:

"

Play Chess is not only a place to play chess over the Internet, it is also an excellent center for many services provided by ChessBase, such as broadcasts of events, game streams, participation in simulations, access to chess games databases and various types of training.

"


When I want to play chess online, I like it when I can chat with a player or many players I know. And sometimes I can chat with the tournament referee, exchange opinions, ask about something - just chat in a human way.

That is why I have been playing online for many years on the PlayChess server.


PlayChess is a very good server for playing chess online.

Having Fritz 18, it would be a pity not to try PlayChess, even more so having Premium access for 6 months.



ONLINE APPS


Fritz 18, like other ChessBase programs, offers access to web applications dedicated to specific purposes.

The best way to use them is to have Premium access - such as Fritz 18 offers.








Video Portal - Enhance your chess with Video lectures.


This is a place dedicated to chess training.


More than 5000 videos in which tutors discuss each phase of chess with examples: openings, middle game, endgame.


Videos are added on a regular basis.

The hosts are well-known Masters, Grandmasters and coaches such as Andrew Martin, Daniel King, Lawrence Trent, Svitlana Demchenko, Karsten Müller, Herman Grooten, Robert Ris and others.


In addition to the videos - courses, we can also watch videos on variety chess topics:






Looking for a video that talks about a specific opening or position ?

Nothing easier, use search engine!


After setting the position and clicking the Search Position button...


..., You get the results:


Another example, much more popular opening -> much more videos :)

And results:


Video Portal is the right area to get expert knowledge on every subject related to chess.

Everything in one place, easily accessible and with a handy search engine.








Openings - Learn new openings.


This is a place dedicated to chess training.


We have a huge book of openings (Live Book), which is updated continuously on ChessBase server.


After selecting an opening, a notation window is opened, in which we see the variations.


We also have at our disposal a chess engine, which can be helpful in searching for e.g. novelties by oneself.


In the image below, the opening Spanish - Open Variation is considered.


By using the Drill or Guess Variation functions, you can actively learn chess openings.

Below is an example of how to use the Guess Variation feature.


Openings is a very useful tool which, thanks to constant updates, will always keep you up-to-date with the latest chess openings and allow you to explore undiscovered interesting lines.

A useful addition is a chess engine with which we can quickly determine if a particular variation is worth our attention.








Tactics - Excercise your tactical skills


This is a place dedicated to chess training.



I love tactical chess puzzles :)


Here they are given in a superb way. We have Solve Tactics at our disposal, which is a calm and unhurried solving of puzzles. Just in time to stimulate "grey cells".


Example 1.


Example 2.1


Example 2.2


We can try the Tactics Sprint, which is solving puzzles on time.


Or we can cheer on chess players competing against each other in Fight against another player.




And if we feel like or are in the mood for a direct duel, we can try direct competition with another chess player...




Fight against another player is a very exciting experience, which increases the desire for further competition and whets the appetite for solving more chess puzzles.


For those craving the competitive spirit, leaderboards of the best are available.









Live Database.


Access to a database of chess games. Of course, like other ChessBase web applications, Live Database is as the name suggests – updated live.



I was very pleased that there is a dark mode available in addition to the standard light mode.


We can use the Live Database in many languages. Below an image with languages to choose from (this is not all, the list is longer).


Using Live Database is trivially easy.


We have a search engine at our disposal. We can simply type the name of the chess player.

In this example, after typing the name: Duda, we get a list of this chess player's chess games.


We can use a more advanced search engine, where we can get more precise search results after entering different criteria.


The Live Database presents a chess opening tree, which is particularly useful for analyzing the initial phases of games.


Each chess game from this database can be downloaded as a . PGN file.


Live Database also has a chess engine that can support us during analysis of games and chess positions. It is nice that we have at our disposal the analysis of one...

... or more lines.


Live Database is a very cool tool for quick chess database exploration.

The clear and transparent interface, the ease of use and the always up-to-date database make the use of this database pleasant and useful.