I know that some of you out there have been wondering which engine to buy, and doing a ton of research on interfaces and the like. Did you know that you can get engines with comparable strength for free, though? You can, and have been able to for a long, long time. Of course, purchasing Fritz with your favorite engine installed is going to give the serious player/study-addict a few more options, but for analyzing your own games, you don’t have to spend a dime.
Stockfish is a giant in the computer engine world, and it’s absolutely free! In fact, it delivers a healthy beat-down to most of the commercial engines out there. Simply download the engine, which is an .exe file, and then install it into a free interface such as Arena, which has a plethora of features and settings. Arena is hands-down the coolest chess interface you can get for free, if you ask me.
Another great and very strong engine is Houdini. They have gone commercial now, but Houdini 1.5 is still available for free download. It is another engine that has the ability to consistently hand it to the big boys. Both of these free engines are rated well into the 3,000 Elo range, and so most humans on earth have no fear of beating them; if you need a great free engine to study with, I highly recommend one of the two listed in this blog post.
Go about halfway down the page, and you’ll see the download link for 1.5 in blue, just above the UNICEF banner.
If you have the $60 to spend on a copy of Fritz or something, go for it; they really do have a ton of features that the free interfaces do not. But, if you just want to analyze your own games or GM games with a high-quality, no-messing-around chess engine, either Houdini or Stockfish will work wonderfully. You can spend the savings on chess books, or a nice tournament set. Or the wife. Whichever will keep you alive longer.