What is the beginner's starter pack you would recommend for any chess enthusiast?

I am not asking for any specific product just the general software category.

For example I think everyone should have a:

chess engine,

a graphical chess board (preferably one that supports XBoard and UCI protocol),

and a chess database (like SCID).

Anything, I am missing here?

3 Answers 3


Interactive tutorials, for example presenting a game with commentary and periodically asking you to provide input, e.g. what you think is the best move, how to exploit a mistake etc.

Passive tutorials where you just look at the screen. Youtube is best placed for this.

Set up a position and play against the computer is great for setting up endgames and taking resigned positions from master games and playing them against the engine. After all, the hardest thing to do in chess is to win a won game.

Online arena for playing against real opponents under various time controls.

Mini games such as knight's tour, pawn wars etc. to practice key skills such as visualisation and endgame technique.

  • Thank you for the list, I might have taken some time to discover all the tools myself. Too mush software variety is some times a bad thing. Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 14:11

I think a tactics trainer is definitely great to have. While there are many available online, having an offline tactics trainer is useful when I'm on the go.

  • Basically, one that gives you puzzles to solve? Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 17:50
  • 1
    An older version of CT-ART helped me go from ~1200 to ~1800 a couple years ago. I haven't tried the latest version yet, however: chessok.com/shop/…
    – txizzle
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 19:09
  • I would prefer free and open source software. I can not buy that, might find a crack though. ;) Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 14:07

In addition to the software listed, I would add the web site http://www.chessgames.com/ -- It has a setup that lends itself quite well to teaching you the things you'd learn from software:

  • Game collections with a game viewer.
  • Ability to comment on and read others' comments on games.
  • A "guess the move" page to train on selecting the next move in some great historical chess games.

FULL DISCLOSURE - the site is "freemium" so although many features are free, you can if you choose sign up for their paid membership. I paid for it, but whether you do is up to you.

Good luck.

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