Today we will talk about one of the most popular and possibly one of the best chess apps there is (according to other reviews): Shredder.
We will explore the IPad/IPhone version of Shredder.
A very similar version is also available for android devices. Let’s take a closer look at this app [includes a video review].
Shredder is a very user friendly app. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will be a very ‘chess friendly’ if you set it on a maximum strength level (which is, by the way, 2600). It will probably kill you. But, the overall look and feel with graphics is very impressive. All control buttons are placed in the right places, everything is smooth and high quality looking.
Check out the video review of Shredder prepared by Robin Crowley for TheChessWorld.com:
It is a great feature, to have a fully functional game database on your device. For example, it has 250k games on e4 and 207k games on d4. Of course, it’s not a ChessBase database with almost 5 million games, but it’s pretty good for an app.
Another useful feature is the 6 pieces endgame tables. You can setup any position with 6 pieces or less and it will instantly solve it, showing the game outcome with the best play. Something like this.
The only negative aspect of Shredder’s databases is that they are not actually stored on your device and cannot be used without an active internet connection.
Shredder app has an infinite analysis mode, which means that it will use all its brains (or processors) to think about the position you have entered and come up with the best possible plan of actions. It can analyze for an infinite period of time, which in case of an IPad, means until the battery dies.
This is a little question mark (‘?‘) button which eventually asks Shredder for help when you have a bad position. Shredder will suggest an optimal move. Some may disagree, but it’s not a good idea to even have that button available for the player, since he will always have a temptation to press it when under pressure. In real over the board chess game, there is no magic button to press and save the day.
This is actually something useful. I’m a big fan of tactics problems and its ability to improve one’s game. When I see software developers insert them in apps, they automatically get a + in my eyes.
Anyways, Shredder’s puzzle section is pretty sophisticated. The positions are taken from the actual games . Shredder makes the first move and your job is to refute it, meaning to find the best possible continuation. Shredder times you and the faster you come up with a correct move, the more points you will receive.
I like to customize the things I use. In Shredder, you can select different chessboard colors and styles, choose various chess pieces and so on. Some of the pieces look pretty abstract and stupid. I’ve always wondered who would ever use them? But there are classical chess pieces available as well and they look pretty neat.
It is also possible to play blindfold chess with no pieces visible on the board. That’s a nice app feature, right there! Previously I have recommended playing blindfold chess to improve yourvisualization skills by using either a special software or a chess playing environment like ChessMaster. Now you can use Shredder to play blindfold chess.
You can change Shredder’s playing strength from 850 ELO (beginner) to 2600 ELO (Grandmaster) in increments of 1 point. You can also change a playing style of the engine to spice up the game. The possible styles are: Normal, Solid, Passive, Aggressive, Active, Random. If you want to practice with different types of opponents I recommend setting it to ‘Random’.
This is a useful feature if you want to save your own games for future analysis (actually Shredder saves all the game you play anyway) or load recent Grandmaster games to look over yourself.
Shredder looks and works pretty well, without any noticeable lag or freezing. The controls, even though not perfectly placed, are pretty intuitive and relatively easy to find. Some options such as coach and hint are pretty useless.
Features like game database with an opening book and the endgame tables are definitely a good thing to have on a chess app. However, since they’re not stored on your device, an active internet connection is a must if you want to use them. It may spoil all the fun if you don’t have one. Also, I want to mention the chess puzzles and the blindfold chess options as attractive additional features.
Overall I will rank Shredder app 7/10. Recommended.
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