The Checker Maven

CheckerBoard 1.64: All We Can Say Is "Wow"!

Martin Fierz recently released a new, major upgrade to his CheckerBoard interface, and it's a gem.

This new release features improvements in appearance, options, and analysis. If you haven't yet upgraded, you should do so at once: visit Martin's blog for a download link and installation instructions.

Now, this new gem does have a couple of rough edges related to installation. We didn't succeed with an in situ upgrade, and ended up doing a new installation to a new directory, necessitating copying our databases from the old directory to the new. Not a big deal, but you might save yourself some frustration and just go with a new install.

You also need to be certain that your engines (e.g., KingsRow) are compatible with this latest release, and that they are placed in the new 'engines' subdirectory. Ed Gilbert has released KingsRow 1.15q, fully compatible with CheckerBoard 1.64; there is a link on Martin's site. Be sure to upgrade!

But believe us when we say that these minor extra troubles are worth it.

The new CheckerBoard gives you a choice of languages: English, Spanish, German, and Italian are currently available (though surprisingly, not French). There is also a choice of board and piece images (developed and contributed by Ron Carney). No longer must you bear with the flat circles of previous versions; now you have a choice of an elegant 'official' set or a stunning metal and marble set (the old circle set is still there if you really can't bear to part with it). Click here for screenshots; to preserve detail these are rather large and we've put them on a separate page.

Game database (PDN) options are improved, and there is now the possibility of analyzing a complete multi-game PDN file in one single "batch" run. (Depending on your computer and the size of the file, this could occupy your machine for hours or days!)

There have been some meaningful technical improvements; at least subjectively, it seems that the large endgame databases load faster, and information provided by the program as to what it's doing is now more complete and useful. The overall "feel" of the program is snappy and quite pleasant.

There is also a sound option that we haven't been able to make work as yet, though we assume this provides audio feedback for piece moves.

In this release, Martin has done a fine job of balancing utilitarian features, performance improvements, and aesthetics, without going down the insidious path of bloatware and useless chrome. CheckerBoard is easily overall the finest interface available today, with a superb choice of world-class playing engines to support it. Upgrade now if you have an older version; or if you haven't yet discovered CheckerBoard, there's no time like the present.

01/28/06 - Category: Programs - Printer friendly version
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