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Review: Chess Quest

Review: Chess Quest—$2.99 Chess Quest
Genre: Games
Released: January 24, 2009
Developer/Distributor: Crazy Zebra, LLC
Version 1.2 tested on a 16GB iPhone 3GS running OS 3.1

Chess Quest is not a regular chess game or chess engine, but rather a chess puzzler that features 1200 chess puzzles that you must solve. It’s good for people who are looking to improve their strategic analysis of chess puzzles.

However, unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to this app. First, it doesn’t allow you to make any moves besides the approved ones to complete the puzzle, because the application only knows its rigid moves and lacks a chess engine to play against you. Because of this, people who have bought either Cassia Chess Pro (which comes with it’s own set of 75 puzzles taken from master games; $7.99; direct iTunes link) or Chess Genius (which allows you to load PGN files, so you could effectively load a set of PGN puzzles from elsewhere; $9.99 direct iTunes link) may not find much value in this application. Both of those applications have their own engines, so you are free to make mistakes when attempting to solve puzzles and you can step backwards and try again. This allows for better learning than the rigid puzzle approach adopted by Chess Quest.

Additionally, I’ve discovered a few downright problems with Chess Quest. First, after you’ve completed a puzzle and moved on to the next, you cannot go back to previous solved puzzles unless you go to the preferences and disable the “Skip Solved” setting. This is by no means clear and for a while I thought that there was no way to review previous puzzles.

Secondly, a few of the 1200 puzzles are just plain wrong. I’ve encountered two so far that tell me that I’ve solved the puzzle, even though no checkmate was achieved and I can see multiple moves that can be taken by the other player to effectively recoup the game. For example, if you look at the gallery attached to this review, you will see the first and final positions of Game #24 which the application tells me is a “White to move and win” puzzle, and only lets me make one move, which doesn’t put the black King in check or stalemate, and Chess Quest proclaims the puzzle solved so that I can do no more.

Despite these flaws, Chess Quest is still helpful in training you to be a better chess player, and I’ve enjoyed all the puzzles that I’ve completed so far that have actually been correct and unflawed. However, I cannot really recommend this app considering that it does have at least 2 of the 24 puzzles I’ve played so far with incorrect solutions. If it keeps that 1 in 12 ratio, that means that rather than 1200 puzzles for $2.99, you’re only really getting 1100 puzzles and 100 duds.

Review Rating: Boo.

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