Great Mate Chess Game

Take One Chess Puzzles with the Great Mate Master!

If you are looking for a hardcore chess match, then move on, this game is not for you. The Great Mate Master is not about the match, it is about the end game. Yes folks, one of the most difficult scenarios in chess when two masters collide: making a proper checkmate.

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What most casual chess players may not realize is that performing a proper checkmate is not something that once just chances upon, it is something planned and carefully executed -forcing the other player to move and retreat exactly the way you want them to. This means being able to not only predict your enemy's moves, but also being able to narrow their options as well.

According to the developers, this game has tens of thousands of possible end game scenarios ranging from the typical to the slightly bizarre (there are some stages that feature setups that are virtually impossible to achieve in the real game (such as having an entire army of bishops instead of just two). So the question is, is it fun?

Love Chess First

To appreciate this game, the player must have an appreciation for chess. So this means that if it is your first time to play the game, you will not appreciate the mini-games. Instead, you should first play the regular match mode which pits you up against a novice AI; this makes it an easy and fun learning experience as the AI is prone to making plenty of mistakes (but it does try to play properly). That being said, beginners will still want to play something that provide more of a lesson-like approach than a sloppy match. Playing against a more solid opponent is often a better teacher than this game (though beginners should expect to lose a lot).

Anyway, the real charm of this game, as we mentioned, is in the end game setups that you must solve. There you will be presented with a board that already has piece in play, your turn is up next and you must perform a checkmate within a certain number of moves. Most of the puzzles will require you to perform the check in a single move alone, so you better think first before you decide on what to do. It may seem a like a basic concept, but it is actually pretty hard to do once you get past the intermediate level challenges.

Playing With End Games

As we mentioned, performing a proper checkmate against a skilled opponent is not as easy as one may think. This is because of the fact that chess has plenty of rules that would allow an opponent that is in a severe disadvantage to still achieve a draw despite being in an obvious losing predicament. Your target could either achieve 21 moves for a stalemate or be placed into a pat situation, and either of which would result in a draw.

While the game does not teach you how to perform a proper setup to help you avoid such scenarios, it does tease you a bit with piece combinations that hide some rather clever solutions. This makes the concept of "checkmate in one/two moves" all the more sensible. The less moves you use to trap your target, the more likely you are to win.

The difficulty of the various challenges depend on your selection -at the main menu of the game, you are given the choice of several difficultly levels to set the game's pace to your preference. That being said, you should be aware of your own limitations. Players who are new to the game and are still trying to understand the rule would be recommended to try the lowest setting. Those who play competitively or on a high end professional level will want the more insane difficulty challenges to even be encouraged to give some effort.

Aside from the typical end game challenge, the game also throws in a few silly scenarios where you will find yourself using or facing an enemy setup that is pretty much impossible to achieve -this involves anything having an excess of queens and rooks to having all the pieces in the most intriguing patterns. While this does not relate directly to an actual chess match, the break from the usual streak of hardcore puzzles is a welcome addition.

Practical Practice

The best part about Great Mate Master is that you can keep coming back to old puzzles in order to get the hang of them. End game strategies may vary, but there are plenty of situations where a single concept is applicable -and being able to practice the moves over and over again will help you recognize situations where you may be able to achieve a successful checkmate during a match.

The other side of this is that the more you play the game, the more you will recognize situations wherein you may be at a situational disadvantage -even if you currently have better pieces in play. There are many puzzles where you may only have a king and a few pawns -and the opponent has stronger pieces such as rooks and knights. Trying to find the kinks and weaknesses in a board like that will also help you stop from being on the receiving end of the end game strategies.

What you cannot practice here is planning moves three steps ahead of time, after all, you often have to make the checkmate in a single move. Still, before you engage the puzzle, you a perfectly free to study the setup of the table, and try to figure out how such a set up would occur in an actual game.

Simplified Designs

The game does a great job of keeping you focused on the puzzle at hand -as opposed to marveling at how well crafted the pieces are. For the most part, the user interface and the board are Spartan in term of aesthetics -highly functional, efficient, and easy on the eyes. That being said, do not expect any fancy graphics, 3D rendered objects, or even animations.

If you have read chess books, chances are, you would be very familiar with the graphics used in the game. The grid is an ever familiar tinge of beige and green, and the piece icons follow that of a traditional chess guide. This means you play in a top view perspective of the board, which many intermediate and advanced players will appreciate -beginners would be on a learning curve, but that should be fine since as a beginner, you would want to learn anyway.

The user interface follow much of the green color theme used by the board -which may seem a bit too tame, but it is relaxing on the eyes so we can forgive that. What we do love is the fact that the user interface is very responsive, has distinctive and easy to follow controls, and best of all, it is full of many little details that fans of the game would appreciate. On the main menu alone, there is a small quote box that randomizes each time you enter the page. These little sayings are quotes from great chess masters like Fischer, Kasparov, Lasker and more. And if you want to read more quotes, there is a small control deck that allows you to browse through the various quotes.

The Verdict

Chess is never an easy game to play, and it is a much harder game genre to penetrate. With literally hundreds of other chess games out there, Great Mate Master manages to provide something unique and fun to players. While those looking for a solid match will want to look elsewhere, the puzzle mode is infinitely fun and quite the training tool for those who want to perfect their game. It has well made graphics, a good control system and enough content to keep even veteran chess players interested for a long period of time (you will always want to keep coming back to the puzzles as practice after all). In that regard, Great Mate Master definitely gets a solid one up over all competition. We give this game a passed pawn's 93/100.

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