5+ best software to analyze chess games [2021 Guide]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • If you want to improve the quality of your game, then you definitely need the best software to analyze chess games.
  • You will need a solution to explain the chess moves and provide human-like opponents.
  • Regardless of your training level, you should learn how to assess the board situation and create a proper strategy.
What are the best chess analysis software

Computer chess enables you to play games autonomously, without human guidance, making it easier to practice with human-like opponents.

Chess engines were innovated not just for assessment, but also for competitions, being ideal to provide insights through research on human cognition.

They can defeat even the best of human chess players in normal conditions, but still, there remains some gray area of doubt as to whether a computer can understand chess or not.

A chess engine is the algorithm part of the chess analysis software, program, or machine, but its user interface is a separate part, which the chess engine plugs into as a replaceable module.

Most commercial chess programs run on PC-type hardware, but there are also those running on other hardware like phones, which are still stronger than any human players.

The best chess engines will analyze the chess variant positions, and make decisions based on the best moves, by deciding which is the next one, without interacting with the user directly.

How to choose the best chess analyzing software?

To help you make an easier choice, we’ve gathered chess tools based on the level of difficulty. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert, we’ve found the right tool for the perfect chess match.

If you’re also set on a budget, there are some free chess analyzing tools on our list.

Check the features of the software

The purpose of software that analyzes PC chess games is to explain the chess moves clearly, so you can understand why a specific move is the best in a certain situation.

Game explanation is the key to understanding chess

Make sure it has a friendly interface because that will make it easier to focus on the study and play and not on its configuration.

However, if you’re accustomed to chess engines, they could offer some advantages and are usually free. We’ll also explain how to load them in a GUI so that shouldn’t be a problem.

You would also want to look for a tool with a rich analysis database and a reliable sparring partner and trainer.

Of course, after training, you can check the best cross-platform chess apps to play chess on any device and exercise what you have learned.

➡ Useful tip for beginners

If you are a beginner in the mysteries of chess, go for software that comes with training videos or comprehensive explanations.

Game commentary from a chess champion

A tool that lets you play and analyze your games with a pro or that offers natural language commentaries could make the difference when it comes to the game’s result.

With that being said, let’s check out our top picks for the best software to analyze chess games and make an informed choice.

What is the best software to analyze chess games on PC?

Decode Chess

DecodeChess is the go-to solution for ambitious chess players all around the world who are interested in mastering the art of chess.

The rise of chess AI engines is in its full days of glory and if you use them intelligently, you will greatly benefit from what this type of software has to offer.

DecodeChess is the only chess software that auto-explains chess moves in rich, intuitive language, unlike regular chess engines.

You basically get all the cool features of a strong chess engine (Stockfish), enhanced with chess explanations of an AI chess master.

Some of the most fascinating features include game maps and stats, human-like opponents for a natural chess-playing experience, and personalized feedback on games.

How to find the best move

In the screenshot above you can see that the app not only gives you valuable suggestions but also analyzes the problem and the outcome for the solution at hand.

Understanding the reasoning behind chess moves can contribute to your better understanding of chess, especially when it’s combined with a post-game chess review.

You can further invest your chess study time into a detailed analysis of the current situation in the game. DecodeChess provides a rich tab system that covers all major areas of interest in chess.

Piece roles on the board

For example, you will be able to see at all times a detailed review of each of the pieces on the board and their roles. You will be able to see exactly how they affect the outcome of a move.

These leading-edge features turn DecodeChess into the innovative training software that players easily end up relying on.

The only requirement is the will of sharpening strategic thinking and polishing chess skills as soon as possible.

DecodeChess

DecodeChess

Get your skills to the next level with the most sophisticated online chess analysis tool.

Free trialVisit website

Shredder Classic

Shredder Classic is not simply a chess game, it is an entire learning hub. This software is created by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen, 18 times World Computer Chess Champion.

Thus, you will have a tremendous advantage over your opponents – you’ll play and analyze your games with a pro.

If you are a beginner, you can adjust the program’s level to yours. Shredder will adapt to your playing skills and will let you advance.

Its personal assistant will help you during the matches, offering suggestions on how to improve your chess skills.

When you click on the magnifying glass icon on the tools bar, the system will start analyzing the board and provide you with the best move based on the position of all the pieces.

Position preview

On the bottom, you will see the possible development of the game and the level of depth that the system has reached. If you hover over any of the movements from the list, you will see a preview of the position.

The app features more than 1000 chess puzzles, including openings and endgames that will build on your already existing knowledge.

The software interface is a bit outdated, and the information is very synthetic so you will need a little bit of adjustment to get to use it efficiently.

Edit your position easily

You also have a convenient method of editing a position to study other games that you come across on the Internet or from another chess document, perhaps, one of your previous games.

Just select the piece from the right and set it on the board in the desired position with your mouse. There are also Clear Board and Start position buttons available that will save you some work.

You can discover more of these features by downloading and trying the Shredder Classic chess game for free from the link below.

Shredder Classic

Shredder Classic

Get the Shredder Classic learning hub and develop your game strategy skills further.

Free trialVisit website

Arena

Arena is a free graphical user interface for chess that helps you analyze and play games, plus test chess engines.

It can run on Windows or Linux and is compatible with Winboard protocol I, II, and UCI protocol I and II, as well as Chess960, the DGTelectronic chessboard, and DGT clocks, plus so much more.

Its features an easy-to-use interface that you can adjust according to personal preferences, 250 chess engines whose strengths vary from very strong or easy to beat (but some are adjustable).

The app offers support for free and publicly available protocols, detailed analysis of the thought process of the chess engines, unique tournament features like how the engines compete against each other.

11,586 available plays to study

By far the most interesting learning feature is the huge database of famous gameplays that includes no less than 11,586 plays.

All you need to do is select the one you’re interested in and hit the Load Button from the lower-left corner of the window.

Once you have opened the game, you will see all the moves as they originally were made and if you click on any of the moves you will be brought to the exact position in the gameplay.

Click the move to get to the desired position

With Arena, you can play online games against people globally, and analyze games automatically. Moreover, if you want to take a look at the game offline, you can print it out on paper.

It comes with EPD support for easy analysis of position databases, and PGN support for the game, so you can see the databases clearly.

Other features are multilingual support (19 languages) for the GUI in Windows, and you also get to see opening games, use opening books, an analysis board, and much more.

Get Arena

Fritz

This is a German chess program published by ChessBase, which comes with a multiprocessor engine, an improved program interface, and a database with over 2 million games.

Fritz opens the door to the world of new chess-based web tools, so there are plenty of features that you can enjoy.

For instance, you will have unlimited access to a comprehensive database with on-demand training videos about every aspect of the game, recorded shows, and interviews among others.

The is a live database with 8 million games, plus you can access your server games collection at the click of a mouse. However, the famous game’s analysis feature is not free and you will have to set up a Premium account.

A chess master explains the play in a video

There are a few training options to test and improve your tactical skills at any time with more than 34,000 training tasks to use.

For instance, you can play a game with a virtual average player and use hints and solutions in the process.

So, you can play normally and get stuck, you will get a suggestion on what would be the best piece to play or the complete move.

The Hint and Solution buttons are at hand

You also have access to an analysis database with more than 200 million positions plus much more.

If you’re looking for a training partner, check out the Friend mode that will help you assess your playing strength, the time you use and point out mistakes you can improve on.

And, of course, as you develop your game and get better, you can play chess with thousands of players all over the world and raise your level in the process.

Get Fritz

Stockfish

This is a strong open-source chess engine that is offered for free and is available for both desktop and mobile platforms.

Stockfish has consistently ranked number one or near the top of most chess engine rating lists and is one of the strongest open-source engines worldwide.

The program comes from the Glaurung, an open-source chess engine released first in 2004, and four years later, Costalba took over and renamed it Stockfish.

This name came because it was produced in Norway and cooked in Italy – Costalba is Italian, and Romstad (creator of Glaurung) is Norwegian.

You can load the Stockfish engine in a UCI compatible GUI like Arena, which is present in our list, above. To include it, click the Engines option from the top and select Install New Engine from the list.

Installing the Stockfish engine

Then select the executable file you downloaded from the engine and you’re good to go. It’s worth installing it because Stockfish is powerful and much stronger than the best human chess grandmasters.

It uses up to 512 CPU cores in multiprocessor systems, with a maximal transposition table size of 1 terabyte.

The main features include an alpha-beta search, bitboards, great search depth because of more aggressive pruning and late move reductions, and support for Chess960, plus much more.

Fast action crunching for possible moves

After you load the Stockfish 14 engine, you will notice an important improvement in the speed of the analysis and processing of the possible moves.

Unlike most chess engines, it is open source (GPL License), so you can read the code, modify it, contribute back and use it in your own projects.

You can also run it anywhere, including the Windows operating system and on your smart devices, so you can get world-class chess analysis wherever you are.

Get Stockfish

Houdini 6

This is a UCI chess engine influenced by open-source engines. The Houdini 6 version is the second top-rated chess engine on major chess engine ratings, coming only one spot behind Stockfish.

Its playing style has been compared to that of the Romantic Era of chess that had an attacking and sacrificial style.

Houdini has no graphical UI, so you need a chess GUI to run the engine, but its version 6 uses calibrated evaluations in which engine scores correlate directly with the win expectancy of the specific position.

To install the engine, just start a chess GUI and the developers recommend Arena, like we also used on Stockfish.

Installing the Houdini engine

Installing the engine in Arena is simple: click on the Engines option from the toolbar on top and select Install New Engine, then use the executable file you got from Houdini (select the 32-bit or the 64-bit version according to your system).

This tool’s advantage against other top chess engines lies in its handling of piece mobility, which makes it the reason why it favors aggressive play to win the game.

The state-of-the-art chess engine for Windows combines outstanding positional evaluation with the most sophisticated search algorithm.

And once you have loaded the engine, you will see a difference in the attitude and the aggressiveness of the virtual player you are confronting with.

Houdini analyzing almost 1.5 billion moves

Houdini, the name, was given because of the positional style of the engine, its tenacity in hard positions, and the ability to defend and escape, sometimes by the narrowest margins.

It’s a chess engine recommended for the advanced chess players and its effectiveness also depends on the computer power you’re supplying.

We’re mostly referring to the computing power of your processor because that’s the one that is busy working on calculating the possible moves.

Get Houdini

SCID

SCID stands for Shane’s Chess Information Database and is an open-source app useful in Windows for viewing and maintaining a huge database of chess games.

This powerful chess analysis software provides features comparable to popular commercial chess software.

Its outstanding functions include interfacing with XBoard engines like Crafty and GNU chess, and UCI engines like Fruit, Rybka, and Stockfish.

You can play against human opponents or PC opponents, plus its database features include a Move Tree with statistics, general searches for endings, positions or players, and player info and photos.

Comprehensive training mode

As you can see from our screenshot above, the tool has a dedicated training mode within the Play tab that will help you improve your skills in all aspects of the game.

The interface is not so friendly and you will first have a few problems adjusting if you’re used to a more commercial and straightforward approach.

After you complete the lessons and training, you can also go through a Serious game from the play option, starting with a known opening.

Game start

You can select the engine and configure it, choose the opening, the book with indications, and the time mode.

SCID has a database of 1.4 million games, and it is fast because it stores chess games in its own compact database format but also supports portable game notation.

This tool is an open app to view, edit and manage collections of chess games, and is a multi-platform software that can run on Windows and other operating systems.

It’s a more advanced tool dedicated to seasoned players who don’t mind spending some time understanding the treats of this software.

Get SCID

Interesting facts about chess

Chess can be traced back to more than 1500 years ago so it has an amazing history behind it. No one knows where exactly it originated but the earliest findings trace it back to India.

However, the first tournaments started in the second half of the 19th Century. And we have prepared a couple of other interesting facts about chess:

Best tips on how improve your chess play

If you want to play on your own, without human guidance, then computer chess games help you get better by practicing continuously.

However, there are some basic understanding facts that you should consider if you want to obtain impressive results, regardless of the practice methods.

Analyze the position

Half of the battle is to correctly assess the situation. Count the pieces, look at the overall action and protected squares on the board.

You might have taken a knight for a pawn and you’re clearly in advantage but if the position of your opponent is better, you could lose your gain quickly in the following moves.

How well is your king protected? Also, check if there any of your pieces are in danger to be taken at this move or after the next move. These and many other answers to those questions give you the full picture of the board situation.

Of course, practice assessing board situations and play with as many players as possible. We have a list including the best websites to play online chess and gain experience.

Make a plan

A lot of players don’t have a strategy from the start and the planning is only short-term. It’s OK to concentrate on reacting to the other player’s moves but you also need to have a plan.

If you analyze the board correctly, you should be able to understand if you need to attack or defend.

For instance, if you have an advantage of more than a medium piece, you could be more open to trading and getting closer to the end-game to take advantage of your extra pieces.

IM Larry Evans further explains the basics of planning your chess game:

Look for weaknesses

And we’re not talking only about your weaknesses but also your opponent’s. Once you identify a weakness, make a plan to concentrate your attack.

If the other player notices your intention, you can lose the element of surprise. Try to draw his or her attention from your focal point by using a decoy or a sacrifice.

Chess is a war strategy game and you should never forget that aspect. That’s why most war strategies will apply on the board, on the scale at hand, of course.

You should also follow an old saying in chess: A bad plan is better than no plan at all. And if it was truly a bad plan, you can use any of the software from our list to review the game and see where it went wrong.

If you’re still looking for dedicated software you should also check out our selection of the best free chess apps for Windows 10 and make a pick.

For other suggestions or questions on this topic, let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • One of our favorites are DecodeChess and Shredder Classic but there are many other good ones. Once you’ve learned you can go and play on the best online chess websites.

  • You might not be able to do it on your own, except if you’re a professional player or a grandmaster. We suggest checking our list of the best software to analyze chess games and picking one of the solutions we recommended.

  • Not likely, AlphaZero has already beaten one of the best chess engines (Stockfish). But you can start improving your game with the best chess training software from our list. Who knows, right?

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