Hearken to me fellow chess nerds! I call all those who find entertainment in a good chess puzzle. While not a master in any way, shape, or form; I enjoy a chess puzzle and Crazy Zebra LLC has provided me a simple way to do so.
Put simply, Chess Quest is a collection of chess puzzles arranged by difficulty level. For those who don’t already know, chess puzzles are a pre-arranged chess board with an identified solution. The idea of a chess puzzle is to improve the endgame, helping a player to find checkmate more easily.
There are six levels of difficulty for players of differing ability levels. Novices will want to start with the “basic” level puzzles before moving on to more challenging puzzles. More advanced players may start on an advanced level or jump from level to level to get more variety.
If you get stuck there is a “hint” button which will prompt you with the next step. I personally would like to see a hint that would tell you what you are looking to do (such as checking the opponent) before telling you the piece to move.
Unlike many of the chess puzzles I have previously tried my hand at, with Chess Quest the objective varies with puzzles. Most of the time you will be seeking Checkmate, but sometimes you will be trying for a draw (important when you’re in a tight spot), or simply a winning position.
A helpful feature in Chess Quest is the variation tree. The app will of course respond with the best move in any situation, but there are other possibilities. After you have solved the puzzle you can go back and see other possibilities and find your way to the solution through each variation. This allows you to find out how your moves trap the opponent to an inevitable finish.
In my experience, I have learned as much about chess from my failures as my successes. All those who still remember the humiliation of a fool’s mate know to never let it happen again. Therefore, it bothers me somewhat that there was no opportunity to truly fail in Chess Quest. If you select the wrong piece the square flashes red and you cannot move it; likewise if you try to move the correct piece to the wrong square. I would like to see the catastrophic results of a bad move, so that I can learn why I should never make that move again.
For the beginning to advanced chess player this is a great source of puzzles that will keep you thinking for some time. However, beginning chess players will need additional help in understanding the game. This app won’t help with opening strategies, special moves like “en passant”, or learning chess terms.