Today I will do a review of one of the strongest free chess programs available for android smartphones: Droid Fish. This program does not have any fancy things like a high texture wooden board or special sounds effects like those of Chess Free. However, what DroidFish does and does really well is playing chess. The application is powered by a very powerful Stock Fish engine, which is a derivative of a commercially available all-famous Rybka. It is hard to precisely estimate the playing strength of Droid Fish, but I can certainly say that it’s way stronger than a Master’s.
When you open up a game it’s ready to play. The only things you need to specify are the playing strength of the engine, color and time. A neat thing about engine’s strength that it’s very flexible and adjustable with the increments of 0.1 % , from 0 to 100%. The options menu is pretty extensive and has variety of adjustments. For example it is possible to show the computer thinking lines, setup thinking time, enable time increment added after each move, display book hints, adjust pieces and squares’ colors and font sizes, etc. A very important function that was not available on Chess Free is the ability to save played games into pgn files and even include comments for the moves. It is also possible to load previously saved game, review and annotate it.
DroidFish has a build in opening book, which should be enough under most playing situations. However, if needed the app can use external opening book, which can be stored in the phones internal memory as well as on a SD card. Another useful feature of DroidFish is ability to setup a position and to give a computer analysis for it. Therefore, this app can be used as a portable analysis tool, similarly to a Pocket Fritz. The app supports various playing modes, you can play against a computer, you can play against a friend or you can watch two computers fight for the title of the strongest one.
Here are some screenshots of the Droidfish app: starting screen, options and middle of the game position. To start a new game you need to click the ‘M’ button, I had difficulties figuring that one out, looking in the menus didn’t yield much results.
I have played against DroidFish on the 51% of its strength and have posted the game below. The official website claims that DroidFish can search more than 15 ply deep on 1GHz CPU. I was running it on the dual CPU phone so we can expect the search depth to be even greater.
- Very strong Stockfish Chess Engine with well adjustable playing strength
- Ability to load/save/annotate “pgn” games
- Support of external opening books
- Position analysis mode
- Overall versatility of colors and themes
- Book hints during play
- Comprehensive ‘settings’ menu
- Simple looking interface
- Multiple engine support (limited)
- Being Free
- Ambiguous menus are sometimes hard to navigate
- Chess board looks a little bit small on my 4” screen
- Cannot set separate time controls for two players
- No support for move delay
- No strengths to ELO correlation
More screenshots are shown below:
DroidFish is a really good free chess app, probably one of the best currently available on Android Market. It is a really good choice for all sorts of chess players, from beginners to professionals. However, I feel that DroidFish falls somewhere in between ’professional’ and ‘for fun’ app. For fun app this program lacks high quality graphics, attractive sounds and a goofy engine. For a professional product it lacks things like online chess database access, threat search, multiple engine analysis, several variation parallel analysis, automatic annotation and chessbase format support as offered in Pocket Fritz.
Once again DroidFish is a really good entry level pro chess app and I recommend it to anyone who wants a free, strong chess rival with analysis and pgn support capabilities in your pocket.
Engine Performance: 8.5
Overall 8– Great App!
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