Chess Quest is an excellent learning tool for virtually any Chess player, from those who merely have a basic grasp of how the game works, to advanced players. Chess Quest’s design is dead simple.
Choose a difficulty level and instantly start looking for a way to win (or sometimes tie) a game that’s already well underway. The goal here is to understand some basic strategic concepts in chess, e.g., sometimes you have to sacrifice pieces in order to win the game.
There are six levels of difficulty, the highest of which are meant for chess masters and the lowest level ideal for those needing to learn that it doesn’t matter if you lose your queen if you checkmate the king.
According to the developer, the App features a total of 1,200 puzzles prepared by Leonid Yudasin, a well-known grandmaster.
It should be noted this app does not feature any teaching tools or strategic explanations of the concepts behind the game. It is simply hundreds upon hundreds of chess puzzles that require you to start thinking many moves ahead in order to win or tie a game.
It works well – tap a piece and then tap where you want to move it. When it’s the correct move, the app let’s you do it. When it isn’t, it stops you or warns you. To truly learn, you’re forced to sit there and stare at the screen while thinking several moves ahead. When you’re done, move onto the next puzzle. During testing, I didn’t put a dent in the number of puzzles available to solve.
I’m left wanting more. I want a tutor that helps me along and teaches me the concepts involved. I want to learn how to open games too, not just close them out.
While the interface works as it is supposed to, it is also very plain.
It’s hard to hold it against the developer when the app is fun, works exactly as advertised and helps so much in learning the strategy of the game.
I contacted the developer with some questions I had about Chess Quest. In the iTunes description there’s mention that the “solution tree contains all meaningful variations for both sides.” I wanted to know exactly what that meant. Vladimir Gramagin from Crazy Zebra explains it means the puzzles include all the relevant moves to a game for both sides. Especially at the higher levels, the game can be many moves from over, so the app allows you to make the right move, as well as “some non optimal moves. . . which look very good, and which are, indeed, not. . .”
He also mentioned that two of the 1,200 puzzles had mistakes which have been fixed. In one case, “we missed a possible perpetual defense, and for the second one of the users found a solution shorter by one move,” Gramagin said.
Chess Quest doesn’t replace a good chess book, teacher or trainer. Instead, it is simply an excellent way of practicing. If you enjoy puzzles and you enjoy Chess, you can’t go wrong buying it. If you’re still wondering, download the free Chess Quest Lite and try it out.