Chess Engines and Databases
Only an utter moron would choose to play chess against the computer. It's dead boring and if you had not already acquired a taste for it through over the board play, you might even erroneously conclude that it is the game that is boring. There is second reason too; it's well nigh impossible to beat a modern computer at chess. A super GM might be able to beat another one in OTB play but that same player would struggle to beat a chess engine that plays at 2500 strength. That's because half the game is across outside the board. It's gamesmanship and psychological tactics. You can stifle a yawn or snigger at the computer to make it feel that it made a blunder.
Chess software has it's uses to too. Gone are the days when players swore by print copies of the ECO or the BCO (here in Sri Lanka, we never had them anyway). They have been replaced by openings databases. You no longer need to subscribe to the Šahovski Informator to keep your openings knowledge upto date. Nowadays you can download a pgn file from the The Week in Chess
The other useful purpose served by chess software is in Post Mortem analysis. You no longer have to go begging to a strong player to have a complicated game analyzed. Even then the analysis may not be perfect (unless your friend is a GM). On the other hand, a chess engine given sufficient time to ponder rarely makes any mistakes. So a Chess Engine plus an Openings database (sometimes you need a client software too) are essential tools for anyone who takes chess seriously. Well, I take chess very seriously but I haven't had an engine installed on my computer for nine years! That's because I retired from the game in 2000 however I started playing online at yahoo chess the day Bobby Fischer died (what a sad day that was). Many players on yahoo chess are said to use chess engines for cheating. So I switched to chess.com early this year and started playing seriously again about the middle of the year.
I have slowly begun to find my touch and my ratings are going up slowly in fits and starts. I have been using chess.com 's post mortem analysis engine to analyze my games but i've become fed up with it of late because the analysis is woefully inaccurate. I suspect the reason for this is because it analyzes hundreds if not thousands of games each day and thus allocates limited CPU for each game. The analysis is so bad, I have even see it miss mates, not once but twice. So the time has come to finally install an engine. While there are hundreds of engines for Windows, there are precious few for linux. I am planning to go through them and find something suitable tomorrow. So tune in again