Stroud Chess is a free-to-play simulation title which requires only that you have an internet browser to play it on. Because it is always close at hand, it is great for those who wish to practice their tactics against an AI opponent. Are you an intermediate level player? Don't worry, this isn't just a beginner's game. Stroud Chess has three difficulty levels represented by different characters.
Start Slow and Easy
If you're looking to get your feet wet, then Cody is your best option. According to his description, he's also in the middle of learning the game, making this the game's easy difficulty. Just like you, the AI in this mode will be prone to mistakes. Just like in a real match, the game won't hold you by the hand. Winning will still be a challenge if you have no idea of the rules. The good news is that chess has remained pretty much the same way ever since so you can brush up on the rules and a few basic tactics then try it out in Stroud Chess. Also, clicking on a chess piece will display the squares it is able to move to -- perfect for those who are still trying to memorize which moves where.
The next difficulty is meant for those who are already familiar with the game and are looking to expand their tactical prowess. Picking Claire as an opponent gives you a balanced challenge. Although she still makes mistakes, she does tend to use complex setups. She will aggressively force you to sacrifice rooks towards a checkmate. She will also keep you from castling, making this your go-to mode if you want to be challenged.
The third and final character is Boris. Intended for masters, this AI will use every tactic in the book against you. Expect long matches and complex setups in this mode. Aside from being able to use advanced tactics to see how a master would counter them, you can also practice reading the AI's moves to see if you can recognize the tactics it is employing. The good thing about all this is that unlike a real life match, there's an undo button.
Made for the Web
Since this is a lightweight browser game, there aren't any fancy animations or gimmicks. What it does have, however, are handy options. You can choose whether you want to play using the black or white sets. If you've made a mistake, you can choose to undo your moves and you can save or resume a game so long as you don't clear your browser's cookies. The game keeps track of your moves and displays them on a list to the right of the window as well, which comes in useful when you want to review how well (or how badly) you did in a match.
Taking Chess Seriously
Although it doesn't have much in terms of bells and whistles, Stroud Chess is a great way to get familiarized with the classic game. Because it stays true to actual chess rules, it's simple to learn. It's also easy to navigate, with clear labels and neat layout. The save feature is a big bonus, giving players six available slots to make use of. Once a match is stored in a slot, the game is saved every move, ensuring that you always have an updated file right at your fingertips. We give it brownie points for its intuitive interface, clean look and for being free for anybody to play at any time. On the other hand, it would be nice to see custom options such as a timed mode or a demo mode for those who wish to observe two AI "masters" playing against each other.
Whether you're new to chess or are just looking for something to fill in a lazy afternoon, the Stroud Chess Game is a great free pick. Not only does it help you expand your tactical know-how, it's also readily available so long as you have an internet connection and a computer close at hand.