It wasn’t always like that, I’ll be the first to agree. The ChessBase news page had its reruns and the movements of live events could be followed, but on a phone it was often a bit of a tedious process. Mind you, the competition wasn’t really any better for my taste, so I just attributed it to growing pains.
I recently returned to the gym and started doing stints on the treadmill, but since my best time to do this is around lunchtime (Brazilian local time), it means the Candidates games are in full swing. Play chess in a gym? Am I crazy? No, I’m an unabashed chess aficionado, and while I’m banging on that machine for the next 30 minutes, I’d like to check the games. Frankly, I hadn’t really noticed how much progress had been made on mobile, and I was really impressed: it’s an absolute joy to use now.
Let’s face it, it starts with the board. If I have trouble seeing the board or it hasn’t been resized to maximize my smaller screen size, it’s labeled a failure in my book. When opening the news page article with the live games, the replayer fulfills this basic need to perfection. It fits edge to edge on my screen using the classic and very pleasing ChessBase stand.
One concern I had, and one that persisted in the past, was the translation of the impressive web replayer to a mobile experience. If you open the replayer in a desktop browser, you will be presented with a dizzying array of options.
You have the board, good size, with loads of choices to save the game, add rules, consult resources and more. Even on a desktop it’s fairly compact, so how on earth is this going to work in a mobile browser? Zoom in and out? No, the answer is that the developers designed it to limit the choices to the essentials, allowing you to switch between information windows with simple swipes without ever sacrificing your view of the board.
The first thing you see is the single, screen-wide panel just above the board. This panel shows a variety of information depending on your choice. You will see a pair of blue arrows on each side indicating the swipe direction. To change the view, swipe that panel left or right.
List of games
In the rightmost pane, you can see the list of games currently displayed with the players, and the evaluation or the result depending on whether the games are still running or not. Just tap the game you want to watch.
Then if you swipe to the right, you will see the notation of the chosen game. While some sites also show notation, this goes a lot deeper.
First of all, you can see that all the deep computer analysis is done automatically. But let’s say you want to try out your own moves. Well, just like viewing the game in ChessBase, you can add new moves and try out as many rules as you want to see how they look on the board. They are all organized automatically.
If you want to see what an engine thinks about this, swipe it right one more time. Alternatively, you can tap the engine button below the board at the bottom left.
Each of these will take you to the engine panel where it will summon the engine. Here you can add multiPV meaning it will show not only the best line it sees but also the second best.
Again, if you want to analyze another move, just play it on the board and the engine will immediately start analyzing it for you.
Finally, you have the Live Book. Displays moves from the same Live Book that users of the Fritz interface have come to expect, although it may be somewhat limited to non-Premium subscribers.
Settings and options
There is a hidden hero here that can easily go unnoticed. At the top left of the information is a set of hamburger bars. Tapping it opens a range of other options such as the board, piece style, multiple sharing options, including an image of just the board, and even the option to open a PGN game file to view in the repetition.
Ultimately, it’s not unreasonable to say that the web replayer used in articles and live broadcasts is the best of its kind, striking a nice balance between intelligent design, ease of use and functionality. If there’s an event running and you want to watch it or replay it, you can’t go wrong with the ChessBase replayer