Computer Chess – Playing Chess on the Computer

Computer chess has been around for many decades; but it’s only recently that we have been able to download computer chess software and play online chess games. Many of today’s computer chess software allow you to play free computer chess.

The idea of manufacturing a machine to play chess against human player’s dates back to the 18th century but it wasn’t really possible to develop serious computer chess games before the development of digital computing.

There were automaton-based trials such as El Ajedrecista in 1912, bit it proved too complex and limited to be used for playing complete games of chess. Nothing exciting happened further in the mechanical chess research field until the advent of the digital PC in the fifties. Since then, chess fans and IT engineers have built, with varying degrees of seriousness and success, computer chess machines and computer chess software.

There was a period in the seventies and eighties when it was unclear whether any computer chess software would ever be able to beat top human chess players. This was of course long before online chess games were available or before people could download computer chess.

In 1968, David Levy, the current chess champion, made a bet that no computer chess games would be able to beat him within a decade. He won this bet ten years later by beating Chess 4.7, the best chess computer at the time. It was around 20 years after his initial bet that the ‘Deep Thought’ computer defeated Levy in an exhibition match.

Deep Thought, however, did not remain victorious for long as the then reigning world champion Garry Kasparov trashed it with 2 sterling wins in 1989. Kasparov beat all computer chess games up until 1996, when he played against IBM's Deep Blue. This chess game was also the very first time a current world champion had lost a chess game to a computer using normal time controls.

Kasparov lost against an updated version of Deep Blue in a return match in 1997. Kasparov claimed that IBM lied and used a human player to boost the strategic strength of the computer chess software. While this was not an official world championship, this match led some to believe that the strongest player in the world was a computer. Deep Blue was dismantled after the match and has not played since. However, similar "Man versus Machine" matches continue to be played.

Many people now started to play computer chess games on their PCs. Computer chess software enabled people to play chess at work or to play chess at home when they did not have a readily available chess partner. Commercial computer chess games and computer chess software was already highly sophisticated in the late nineties.

Early in the year 2000s commercially available computer chess software programs such as Junior and Fritz were able to draw matches against former world champion Garry Kasparov and the "classical" world champion Vladimir Kramnik.

You don’t have to be a chess champion to play against a computer anymore. Anyone can play online chess games and free computer chess online. You can download chess software directly to your computer or you can play the no download online version. Novice chess players can now improve their skills by playing computer chess games at home before challenging that serious chess-playing friend of theirs.