Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Learn to Play Chess with Fritz & Chester 2: Chess in the Black Castle

Learn to Play Chess with Fritz & Chester 2: Chess in the Black Castle

Spring 2005 Software
Ages: 8 & Up
Publisher: Viva Media
Price: $29.99
Platform: Windows
Not your ordinary chess-tutoring software, the second volume of Fritz & Chesster picks up where the original, revolutionary title left off in introducing basic chess rules and principles within a context of a fun and imaginative animated chess adventure story.

This time, the story is nasty selfish King Black, who wants to be the only chess master in the land, kidnaps the brilliant chess coach Chesster the Chesshire Rat. And it's up to King White's boy Fritz and his young cousin Bianca to rescue Chesster from the Black Castle. Along the way, they engage in 21 arcade-style mini games that teach and reinforce chess concepts and strategies--from pinning and delivering check to openings and chess notations that translate directly to the chess board.

One such fun activity requires players to split a piece of pie to feed two pigs; but it's actually teaching the double attack on a diagonal ploy. A spooky ghost pieces game reinforces memory of chess-board positions. And the cannon-man exercise practices long-range attacking. One of King Black's chess machines, the "Set-check-o-matic" machine, requires players to click on all pieces that can put the opponent in check on their next move.

Keep in mind that the first Fritz & Chesster--released in 2003 and, phenomenally (for a chess title) was ranked second highest-selling software title on for a while--was a wonderful and innovative initiation for beginners. With the same high-quality graphics and new, higher-aiming set of mini-games, this Fritz & Chesster 2 is best suited for players who already know the ground rules and want to advance their games.

Don Oldenburg   ©2005 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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