With the hardware of today commercial chess programs are very very strong, but you can get licked for free! Some are strong, some are weak. Today there are quite a few programs with no interface of their own – they rely on the use of an interface like WinBoard. The programs below just serve as an appetizer.
Freeware by Frank Schneider. Windows
A strong program (former Gromit)! Anaconda can use endgame tablebases, and you can edit the evaluation functions if you want to experiment. It is possible to play Fischer-chess (random initial position).
Download from: http://hobblefrank.homepage.t-online.de/AnacondaChess/index.htm
Freeware by Jon Dart. Arasan is a Windows-program available in two versions: 16 and 32 bit. Size of the zip-file is about 1 MB. For those interested in programming, the sourcecode is available (C++). Minimum hardware: 386 processor and 4 MB RAM.
Freeware for Windows/Linux by Don Cross.
Cannot compete with the stronger programs, but nowadays who can? Besides beeing free it requires little diskspace. You can also download the source code in C++.
Freeware by Robert Hyatt, who made Cray Blitz (World Champ 1983-89). Some claim Crafty to be the strongest freeware program of today, and new versions seem to come in a steady flow. There’s a version for DOS and a version for LINUX, and the DOS-version should run nicely under Windows 3.* and 95 (where an addition makes it possible to run in 32 bit). The playing strength improves significantly by the use of opening books and tablebases for endgame.
Program and extras can be downloaded from: ftp://ftp.cis.uab.edu/pub/hyatt
It is strongly recommended to start by downloading the readme-file, because all the different possible additions take up several MB space. At http://au.geocities.com/cafelattegames/chess/ you can get help on how ro set up Winboard as an interface for Crafty.
Freeware. Windows 3.*/95.
“Gnu” is a scientific project, a programming language, a cult, a… Search the www (e.g. newsgroups) for info.
Pitt Chess Archives
A weaker version (appetizer) of the commercial program, but not bad at all.
http://www.rebel.nl/edsoft.htm (676 KB)
Freeware by Tim Mann. WinBoard (or XBoard for Unix) is a graphical user interface for chess. You can use it as a PGN-viewer or to play chess on the Internet (e.g. at Internet Chess Club). Many freeware chess programs use WinBoard as their graphical interface.
Download WinBoard from Tim Mann’s Chess Pages (2.1 mb).
Freeware by Eric de Mund
Eric has made some pretty pixmaps for WinBoard/XBoard. Eric’s page.
Freeware by Martin Blume. Windows.
Arena is a graphical user interface for chess programs (engines) and has become quite popular. Arena is compatible to various protocols and has an extensive homepage with support, forums and more. The Arena Homepage.
Freeware by Stefan Immich. A simple Java interface for playing on a chess server. You need the (free) Java runtime environment 1.2 or newer from SUN Microsystems. Download Schachmatt from http://www.3d-engine.de/schachmatt.zip (521 kb). Select “Use folder names” when you unzip.