The Database Room provides all the data you could ever want to know on thousands of chess games, as well as a way to query this data. The last room, Chessmaster Live, connects you to GameRanger for Internet matches or allows you to play over a LAN. It is unfortunate that Mac and Windows Chessmaster 9000 players cannot play against each other, but this is because of the online networks used for both versions of the game.
Since I fall squarely into the novice category, I quietly walked over to the Classroom section, possibly the best way to learn more about chess. The Classroom is broken into four sections, with tutorials, drills, quizzes, exams, puzzles and more. Instructions are led by big names in pro chess: Josh Waitzkin, Bruce Pandolfini, and Larry Evens.
The voice-overs from the instructors and the speech while playing the game are a real high point in the overall experience. It sounds much better than even "Victoria," the best voice Mac OS X's own speech has to offer.
When it comes to actually playing the game, you also have a number of tools to help, even giving you a nudge if needed. The Mentor Lines window suggests a series of moves for you, a Visual Thinking window allows you to see potential moves, and a Blunder Alert will let you know if your last move was not so good. It even provides alternatives for you. Also available is a Chess Coach window, a Game Analysis tool, and my personal favorite: an undo move option.
When not playing against a human opponent, you will be up against varying degrees of terrific AI. Also available are a bevy of personalities, over 150, including grand masters. This makes for limitless replay against all types of players.
Thanks to Feral Interactive, the most feature-packed chess game is available for the Mac. Chessmaster 9000 is the only choice for chess fans who not only want to play, but learn more about one of the oldest games in the world.
Chessmaster 9000 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PC.