Ever since I stumbled on Fritz 12 for $20 in Office Max several years ago it has been my GUI of choice because I absolutely love it. I never used the Fritz engine; I always used free ones. The only exceptions were I did purchase Houdini 2...a mistake because it wasn't that much better that Houdini 1.5...I also purchased Komodo 8. While K8 is a little different than the free Stockfish 6, it was another case where I could have saved my money. Also, I purchased ChessOK Aquarium 2012 because I wanted to use the IdeA analysis function, but the program sits unused on my laptop. I tried to like it, I really did, but it just never measured up to good, old Fritz.
I am not a person who needs the latest gadgets like Blu-Ray and cell phones. When it comes to phones, all I want to do is to be able to make an occasional phone call...I don't need the capability to take pictures, text or set off guided missiles in Nevada with my phone. But, I decided to treat myself and buy a Cadillac. No, not the car, but the Cadillac of chess programs...I purchased Chessbase 13 – Starter Edition.
ChessBase offers packages from starter to Mega and Premium. Not being a GM or playing correspondence chess at that level, I didn't feel the need to purchase more than the basic version which does everything I need it to. The Starter Package comes with Big Database 2014 and access to ChessBase's online database (over 6.4 million games). It also has access to the “Let’s Check” and “Engine Cloud” which requires a Playchess.com membership which I don't have and don't want, but there is also a guest access. Also included is something else I'm not interested in...a six month subscription to ChessBase Magazine...a whole 3 issues.
Cloud Computing allows you to analyze positions with the help of the best computers available, if one is so inclined; I'm not, but it's available. I do like the ability to find examples of similar endgames, pawn structures and maneuvers with similar structures or similar moves though. I never use clouds, not even for my personal stuff...backing important files up to a CD is all I need, but if one is so inclined, the cloud storage is good. At least if you are a professional player. In his book, Shirov commented that once his laptop was stolen and he lost all the games he annotated for the book of his best games and had to start over. A couple of years ago my laptop hard drive crashed and fortunately everything important was backed up on a CD, so I can see the value of cloud storage.
Why buy this program? People buy new stuff like cars, phones and computers all the time. So, availing yourself of the latest in openings, training for endgames and middlegames, game analysis, accessing millions of games, GM coaching and paying online are all valid reasons for making the purchase. While on the subject of having access to millions of games, GM William Lombardy once made a snide remark to a lowly, rating challenged non-GM. When the guy said he had a database with a million games, Lombardy asked how many of those games he had actually played over as if to suggest it was a waste of time and money. The old codger missed the point entirely. Before computers, in our quest to improve, we had access to only a relatively few examples of how to play our favorite openings, typical middlegame positions and endings. Now with the click of a button we can locate hundreds of examples and make the learning process quicker and easier. It beats searching through your books “by hand” trying to find similar positions. That was something we had to do in the old pre-computer days with our postal games and it was the reason why I subscribed to every chess magazine I could. Anyway, not caring for Aquarium and after having used the Fritz 12 GUI for years plus having made my own databases and opening books for years, it was time to upgrade and let someone else do all the work. And so far, there has been no buyer's regret.