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Face and hands of the Chessmaster [1]

a series of chess programs developed and released by Ubisoft. It is the best-selling chess franchise in history, with more than five million units sold as of 2002 [2] . Due to its sophisticated GUI, graphics and animations, adjustable playing strength and countless features, Chessmaster is dedicated to the mass market, and due to the strong engine with configurable "personalities", integrated database support, annotated games, and chess lessons and tutorials, also interesting for advanced users.

Chessmaster XI, released in 2007, is the most recent version [3]. Dedicated for chess beginners and casual chess fans, Chessmaster Challenge differs from Chessmaster 10th Edition in its simplified interface, and scaled-down tutorials. It’s a non-retail product available for trial and purchase through download only [4] [5].


CM 2100 & CM 4000


Chessmaster 2100 Chessmaster 4000

Chessmaster 10th


Chessmaster 10th Edition Demo [7]

Chessmaster Challenge

Chessmaster challenge 3 rm.jpg

Chessmaster Challenge 2D Graphics Board [8]

Chessmaster XI


Chessmaster XI - House of Staunton chess sets, 3D Graphics Board [9]

Chess Engines

MyChess II

Chessmaster was first released as Chessmaster 2000 in 1986 by Software Toolworks, Inc., a software and computer game publisher located in Los Angeles [10], co-developed by its founder Walt Bilofsky [11] and Michael E. Duffy [12], with a chess engine by David Kittinger, loosely based on MyChess II published by the same vendor since 1984 [13] . CM 2000 was released for various 8- and 16-bit home computer platforms based on 6502, Z80, 68000 and 8086 processors, such as Amiga, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Macintosh, and DOS PCs. The PC version was a rewrite in C based on the 6502 assembly version [14], which also went into Novag's dedicated Constellation some years before, as mentioned by Larry Kaufman in the USOCCC 1986 tournament report [15]:

Novag's programmer Dave Kittinger also was the programmer of the three PC software entries under the name "Chessmaster". As they employ a version of the rather dated "Constellation" program they were not expected to be competitive with the dedicated units, except for "Chessmaster 2000 Apple" which employed extensive technology to run at high speed. 

Sargon 3

After a deal with Fidelity Electronics in 1988, Software Toolworks continued the Chessmaster series for Apple computers with a Sargon III based program by Kathe and Dan Spracklen, market as Fidelity Chessmaster 2100 [16]. PC versions of CM 2100 were based on a Kittinger program [17].

Chessmaster 3000

The Chessmaster 3000 was released in 1991 for MS-DOS and Windows 3.x PCs, as well for Apple Macintosh, based on a Kittinger program as confirmed by John Merlino [18] [19] [20], and mentioned in CCR 5.1 [21]:

Kittinger's first program for personal computers was incorporated into the popular program Chessmaster 2000 developed by Software Toolworks. Kittinger's program was then modified and used in some of the versions of Chessmaster 2100 and Chessmaster 3000. 

Fernando Villegas recalled Michael E. Duffy and Andrew Iverson working on the engine [22], which does not necessarily imply they had an own one developed from scratch, but interfacing the Kittinger engine to the GUI.

The King

With the release of Chessmaster 4000 Turbo in 1993, The King by Johan de Koning became the CM engine until the present, with annual, biennial and triennial releases for major Windows versions until Chessmaster XI in 2007, incorporating the The King 3.50 with a parallel search able to support multiple processors. The King Version 3.12 has become a WinBoard engine within the ChessMaster 8000 and newer versions [23] . Some versions were also made available for Mac OS computers, and the Xbox Live Arcade [24].



  • 1986: Chessmaster 2000 - engine based on MyChess II by David Kittinger
  • 1989: Fidelity Chessmaster 2100 - engine based on Sargon III by Kathe and Dan Spracklen
  • 1991: Chessmaster 3000 - Kittinger program
  • 1993: Chessmaster 4000 Turbo - The King by Johan de Koning
  • 1995: Chessmaster 4000 - The King 2.0
  • 1996: Chessmaster 5000 - The King 2.x
  • 1997: Chessmaster 5500 - The King 2.55
  • 1998: Chessmaster 6000 - The King 2.6D or 2.61
  • 1999: Chessmaster 7000 - The King 3.x
  • 2000: Chessmaster 8000 - The King 3.12a, 3.12c, 3.12d
  • 2002: Chessmaster 9000 - The King 3.23
  • 2004: Chessmaster 10th - The King 3.33
  • 2007: Chessmaster XI - The King 3.50

Endgame Tablebases

Chessmaster 9000 and later versions support their own compact 3-5-man Endgame Tablebases designed by Johan de Koning, which can be generated with the Final Endgame Generator (FEG) via the Windows Command Prompt [26]. Tablebase researcher Marc Bourzutschky further created some theoretically important six piece EGTBs in 2003 [27].


Software Toolworks was founded in 1980 by Walt Bilofsky, who was one of three programmers who designed and created the Chessmaster in the mid 80s [28]. In 1994, Software Toolworks, Inc. was merged to Mindscape [29] [30] in conjunction with the acquirement by Pearson PLC [31] with Michael E. Duffy [32] and David Grenewetzki [33] involved, in 1998 sold to The Learning Company, in the same year bought by Mattel and renamed to Mattel Interactive. In 2000, The Gores Group carves out the re-renamed Learning Company from Mattel, and the Game Studios of The Learning Company was sold to Ubi Soft - all employees were given the opportunity to become employees of their most well-known studio, Red Storm Entertainment [34].

Associated People





Chess Tutorials

Project Lead & Misc Programming

Selected Games

Aegon 1995

Aegon 1995, round 5, David Bronstein - Chessmaster 4000 [37]

[Event "Aegon 1995"]
[Site "The Hague NED"]
[Date "1995.05.02"]
[Round "5"]
[White "David Bronstein"]
[Black "Chessmaster 4000"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nf3 e5 6.axb4 Bxb4 7.c3 Bd6 8.Na3 Nc6
9.Bc4 Qe4+ 10.Be2 Qg6 11.Nc4 Bc7 12.d4 exd4 13.cxd4 Be6 14.Ne3 Nge7 15.O-O Rd8
16.Ba3 Bb6 17.Qa4 O-O 18.Ne5 Qf6 19.Nxc6 bxc6 20.Bc5 Bxc5 21.dxc5 Rd2 22.Bf3
Rfd8 23.Qxa7 Nf5 24.Nxf5 Bxf5 25.Qc7 Qd4 26.Ra7 Rf8 27.Qxc6 Bd3 28.Rfa1 Qxf2+
29.Kh1 Bf5 30.Qc7 Bg4 31.Qg3 Bxf3 32.Qxf2 Rxf2 33.gxf3 Rxf3 34.c6 Rc3 35.c7 h5
36.Rd1 Rc2 37.Rd8 g5 38.Rxf8+ Kxf8 39.Ra8+ Ke7 40.c8=Q 1-0

View this game on

Match vs GM Larry Christiansen

In September 2002, Larry Christiansen played a 4 games match versus Chessmaster 9000 on ICC [38]
Larry Christiansen lost the 3rd game where he sacrificed a rook to get a strong attack. 55...Rh5! would have been probably winning!
Chessmaster 9000 won the match 2.5-1.5.
The 4 games on

The 3rd game.

[Event "ICC 2 120 u"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2002.09.29"]
[Round "3"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Chessmaster (Computer)"]
[Black "Larry Mark Christiansen"]
[ECO "A28"]

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Ne5 9.e3 d6 
10.Be2 Ng6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.O-O O-O 13.Qc2 Re8 14.Rfd1 Nf8 15.Bd3 Ne6 16.Nb3 Rb8 17.a4 Qe7 
18.a5 Bd7 19.a6 b6 20.Nd4 Nc5 21.Nb5 Bxb5 22.cxb5 Qf6 23.Bc4 Re5 24.Bd5 Rbe8 25.Rd4 Ne6 
26.Rd2 g6 27.Ra4 Kg7 28.Rd1 Re7 29.Rb4 g5 30.Bc6 Qg6 31.Qb2 f5 32.Qb1 Qf6 33.Bd5 f4 34.e4 
Nf8 35.f3 h5 36.Qc2 Ng6 37.Qa2 Kh6 38.Qd2 Rg7 39.Qd4 g4 40.fxg4 Nh4 41.Rb2 Rxg4 42.Kh1 Ng6 
43.Rf2 Qe7 44.Qd2 Reg5 45.Ra1 h4 46.c4 Qe5 47.Rc1 Kg7 48.Bc6 Qe7 49.Rcf1 Re5 50.Qc3 Kh6 
51.Bd5 Reg5 52.Qb3 Qe5 53.Rd1 Rg3 54.hxg3 hxg3 55.Ra2 Rg4 56.Kg1 Qh5 57.Kf1 f3 58.Ke1 f2+ 
59.Kd2 Rh4 60.Qe3+ Kg7 61.Rf1 Qe5 62.Kc2 Rh2 63.Qf3 Qf4 64.e5 Qxf3 65.Bxf3 Nxe5 66.Bd5 Rh5
67.Ra3 Rg5 68.Kd2 Ng6 69.Re3 Ne5 70.Ke2 Kf6 71.Rh1 Ng6 72.Rh7 1-0

View this game on
Youtube video for this game with comments from GM Larry Christiansen himself

See also


Forum Posts


1995 ...

2000 ...





2005 ...

2010 ...

2015 ...

CM11 Settings and Testing


External Links

CM 2000

CM 2100

CM 3000

CM 4000

The Chessmaster 4000 Turbo - Credits - allgame

CM 5000

CM 5500

CM 6000

Chessmaster 6000 (1999) Macintosh credits - MobyGames

CM 7000

Chessmaster 7000 (1999) Windows credits - MobyGames

CM 8000

CM 9000

Chessmaster 9000 (2002) Windows credits - MobyGames

CM 10th Edition

CM Challenge



  1. Will Hare (1919 – 1997), VC&G | The Chessmaster Died in 1997 by Benj Edwards, August 27, 2012
  2. Chessmaster from Wikipedia
  3. Ubisoft - Chessmaster XI
  4. Ubisoft - Chessmaster Challenge
  5. Chessmaster Challenge Game - Download and Play Free Version!
  6. Septober - Computerschach by Herbert Marquardt
  7. Chessmaster 10th Edition Demo : Ubi Soft Entertainment Software : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
  8. Chessmaster Challenge Game - Download and Play Free Version!
  9. PC-Screenshots | Chessmaster XI: The Art of Learning | Ubisoft
  10. The Software Toolworks Home Page
  11. Walt's Home Page - Software Publisher
  12. The Chessmaster 2000 - MobyGames
  13. MYCHESS for DOS (1984) - MobyGames
  14. Re: Hello all by Dave Kittinger, CCC, April 25, 2012
  15. Larry Kaufman (1986). 2nd U.S. Open Computer Chess Championship. Computer Chess Reports 1986, Fall/Winter Edition
  16. Reply by Mark Manyen in Fidelity Chessmaster 2100 from The Spacious Mind
  17. Re: Hello all by Dave Kittinger, CCC, April 25, 2012
  18. Re: Historical Chessmaster ? by John Merlino, CCC, April 24, 2005
  19. Re: Historical Chessmaster ? by John Merlino, CCC, April 24, 2005
  20. Re: Hello all by Dave Kittinger, CCC, April 25, 2012
  21. The Editor (1994). David Kittinger, Professional Biography. Computer Chess Reports, Vol. 5, No. 1, p. 21
  22. Re: David K: did you write CM3000 code? Great discussion here by Fernando Villegas, CCC, April 25, 2012
  23. What can Winboard do? by Aaron Tay, March 01, 2002, hosted by Ron Murawski
  24. Chessmaster LIVE for Xbox 360 (2008) - MobyGames
  25. Chessmaster (+engine) version history by Vincent Lejeune, CCC, August 28, 2013
  26. An Introduction to FEG and Endgame Databases
  27. De Koenig's endgame databases by Emil Vlasák
  28. Walt's Home Page - Software Publisher
  29. Software Toolworks (Mindscape) is there, and *yes* they do care! by Joe Stella, rgc, December 24, 1994
  30. Net Contact List of Chessmaster by Carlos Justiniano, rgc, April 06, 1995
  31. Mindscape from Wikipedia mentions: Mindscape sold to Pearson PLC for $503 million in 1994
  32. Michael E. Duffy mentions sale of The Software Toolworks to Pearson PLC for $462 million, April 1994, Michael E. Duffy & Associates
  33. David Grenewetzki mentions $462 million sale of The Software Toolworks to Pearson PLC, Mai 1993, David Grenewetzki - LinkedIn
  34. Software Toolworks to Ubi Soft (OT) by John Merlino, CCC, March 20, 2001
  35. The Art of Learning Project
  36. CM5000 We welcome input! by Carlos Justiniano, rgc, December 29, 1994
  37. David Bronstein vs Chessmaster from
  38. 8 TWIC] #415. 17) Larry Christiansen vs. Chessmaster 9000 Match.
  39. Re: Which is the best personality CM XI ? (in elo strength) by Graham Banks, CCC, January 07, 2014

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