Chess Deluxe for iOS & OS X: Beginners Only

Chess Deluxe for both OS X and iOS have been recently released. (OS X on August 14.) It’s a simple chess program without many features and is designed for casual players and beginners. Cast in that light, it does the job.

If you’re looking for a serious chess app, like the kind I’ve reviewed before, this isn’t it. The developer explained it this way, “I aimed the app towards the average everyday player and just being able to play a friendly game of chess against friends or others.”

The assertion, “average… player,” may be a little optimistic, as I’ll show in a bit. But for starters, I want to take a look at what it can do:

  • Three levels, Easy, Medium and Hard
  • Play against other players on OS X or iOS (OS X 10.8 required)
  • Unlimited undo (take back moves)
  • Legal moves displayed
  • Basic Timer, but not a chess clock. You’re allotted 10 minutes.
  • OS X Full screen mode

Here’s what Chess Deluxe doesn’t have:

  • No opening book
  • No customization of the board or pieces
  • No log of the game. That means no saving of the game.
  • Difficulty not calibrated to Elo system
  • No hints or analysis
  • No editing of the position

Playing Chess Deluxe

I played a sample game against Chess Deluxe on my Core i7 iMac. I set the difficulty to Medium. The first thing the chess engine did was a beginner maneuver: the black King was marched out. I thought to myself, ”This is going to be fun.”

Chess Deluxe 1

The black King starts his fatal journey.

And then, to both my horror and delight, the black King was brought out further. A mad, drunken escapade that marks the weakest of chess engines. Note how the previous development blocked his black Bishop, so the King couldn’t castle on that side.

CD-2In just a half dozen moves, the black King has run amok.

A few moves later, it was mate.


In the process of playing, I noticed that the color of the squares and the lighting up of legal squares to move to conflict. So you only easily see legal moves to the white squares. That needs to be fixed.

I’m far from an expert player, so I would guess that the Medium setting had to be an Elo score of 800-1000. But even then, I’ve seen other chess apps just play slowly and poorly without being in a big hurry to expose the King.  In any case, if this is your playing range, or you’re a Class B player and you enjoy beating up on a computer, this app could be a lot of fun.

System Requirements:

OS X: 10.7 Lion, 10.8 for Game Center play, 64-bit processor.

iOS: iOS 5 or later, any iPod touch, iPhone or iPad.

Buying Advice

If you’re an outright beginner and just want a simple app to practice with and only want to spend $3, then it’ll do nicely. It can also be used in Game Center for casual play against others. But if any of the items on the missing features list concerns you, or you’re Class C or greater, then the investment in a much more capable, featured chess app, like tChess on iOS or Sigma Chess on OS X, is called for.

Chess Deluxe gets a Solid rating, 3/5, because it doesn’t make big claims. It does just what it’s designed to do: a playful activity for beginners.

Previously Reviewed

tChess Pro is a Great Chess App for iPad

Stockfish Chess for iOS is Powerful and Free

Shredder Chess for iPad: Very Good, But Lacks UI Refinement

Mastersoft Chess for iOS: Passable

Product: Chess Deluxe for iOS or OS X

Company: Nicholas Cooke

List Price: US$2.99 (OS X), $1.99 (iOS)



Simple, beginner level chess app for one or two players (Game Center). Shows legal moves, infinite undo, three leves of play.


Missing lots of features expected in basic chass app.