Seven Circles Software List
This open-ended list of software aims to help people decide what software to use in the Seven Circles. It'd be great to hear additional suggestions for inclusion in the list or personal experiences with any of the software. Note, if you search around online you may be able to find better prices than those listed, which are simply manufacturer's suggested price. Also, if any of the links are broken, please let me know! Here's the list:
CT-ART 3.0 is what everyone knows about from MDLM's book. I have read criticisms of some of its move choices amongst the Knights (and besides, it is too hard for me), but it is the gold standard. It goes for $26. Chess Tactics for Beginners and Intermediate Players each has over 1000 puzzles arranged into five Stages. Each Stage contains increasingly more challenging themes (e.g., mate in 1) until Stage Five, when there are no themes given: you must just find the best move. Made by the same company as CT-Art, they have the same general setup, but unfortunately they differ from CT-Art in that they do not give you the the option of working through all the problems in order of difficulty with all the themes intermixed. They go for $26 each. Intensive course tactics and Intensive Tactics II each includes over three thousand problems from multiple databases. This review said that the programs are great, and this review is also quite glowing. This review also gives high marks, but is a little more critical. The software is $27. These programs look great, and I am surprised that no Knights have tried to climb these Mount Everests of tactical problems. TASC Chess Tutor (or TCT) is popular amongst the Knights, and lies somewhere between CTB and CT-Art in difficulty level. It includes over 2000 problems broken up into Five Steps, each of which contains lessons on about 15 subjects. Lessons start out very easy, covering subjects like algebraic notation for squares, but quickly become quite challenging (e.g., mating combinations involving multiple tactics). Each lesson presents helpful instructional text that teaches a basic concept. This instructional material is followed up with two to four problem sets (ten problems each) set up to blast the concept into your brain in practical terms. At the end of each Step is a test with about 80 questions in which the questions are not categorized by topic. If you get stuck, it will give you hints or the correct answer. It costs about $30. Personal Chess Trainer is becoming increasingly popular amongst the Knights. No surprise, as it is essentially built to implement the Circles for you: if you get a problem wrong you must repeat it right away, and a problem is not considered 'solved' until you have correctly solved it six times. Each subject is divided in Training Modules, which start at a simple level and then gradually reach more complex ones. The subject Tactics includes 6 modules with 51 units each for a total of 4,320 different exercises. There are 3 endgame modules with 51 units each for a total of over 1400 problems. Finally, there are 3 strategy modules with 51 units each for a total of around 700 problems. The official price is $80, but they often have a half-off sale at the site. I won't be surprised if this becomes the new Gold Standard for the Knights. Chess Mentor allows for four different options that range from absolute beginner level to advanced. Prices range from $15 (beginner package) to $330 (the full package that includes everything). The $75 Comprehensive Chess Course in particular looks like it might be circle-appropriate, as it includes over 1200 problems. 1001 Tactical Exercises, all in PGN format, are available for free download from Chessville. They are taken from Fred Reinfeld's book 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations. You can get the problems organized by theme or all together. The price is right!
[Last revised 05/27/06]