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The Best of iOS Chess

Finding a decent chess app can be about as painful as pulling teeth. Even in the highly curated world of Apple’s App Store, the prevalence of junk chess apps is impossible to ignore. Most, if not all of these programs do not have enough reviews to earn a star rating in the store, so it is difficult for the average browser to pick a chess program that is suitable for their needs. To help my readers in finding the best iOS chess programs out there, I have compiled a list of the top five chess apps that I use on a daily basis for playing, studying, and following chess games around the world.

Name: Chess
Developer: Chess.com
Price: Free (w/in-app purchases)
App Store Rating: ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟
Download Size: 22.3MB (Download)

Chess is the official app for Chess.com, which is one of the largest chess social networks and gaming sites in the world. It includes access to live chess in a variety of formats including bullet, blitz, and standard with a multitude of different time controls. The Chess.com correspondence chess system is also accessible through the app as well as the Tactics Trainer and hundreds of Grandmaster video lessons.

The Chess.com app is very easy to use and although it may not be as polished as some of the other apps out there, it is definitely one of the more functional programs. Having a Chess.com premium membership unlocks the app’s full potential by allowing unlimited tactical problems and access to unlimited videos.


Name: Chess24
Developer: Chess24.com
Price: Free (w/in-app purchases)
App Store Rating: Unrated
Download Size: 40.6MB (Download)

The official app for Chess24 is very similar in functionality to that of the Chess.com app. It integrates nicely with the Chess24 system and provides access to live games including blitz and standard. It has an eloquent interface and the site is well known for broadcasting some of the largest chess events in the world. The app provides the user, with or without an account, access to many of these events in realtime.

As with the Chess.com app, Chess24 contains premium features that are only available for site members. However, the basic functions of the app remain intact with or without a membership. This app is great for people looking to diversify their online chess playing field.


Name: Chessbase Online
Developer: Chessbase.com
Price: $4.99
App Store Rating: ♟ ♟ ♙ ♙ ♙
Download Size: 34.5MB (Download)

This is the official app from Chessbase, the makers of the popular database software and the Fritz engine. I wish that I had rave reviews to give about this application, but aside from its ability to import and view PGN files, this app leaves me craving more. The Chessbase Online app touts itself as an online database viewer and it does have some great functionality and an ability to open PGN files from other iOS programs, but its design and overall usability feels clunky.

The only thing I use Chessbase Online for is to view PGN files because, even with its clunky user interface, it is still the best PGN file viewer I have found so far. Email me if anyone finds a better PGN solution for iOS than the Chessbase app and it will most likely earn this spot on the list.


Name: Chess Score Pad
Developer: ChessScorePad.com
Price: $6.99
App Store Rating: ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♙
Download Size: 3.1MB (Download)

I recently wrote an article on this site about the importance of finding the proper notation tool. Some people prefer written notation while others (myself included) prefer electronic scoresheets. In that article, I reviewed the PlyCounter, but also mentioned some additional mobile options for chess notation. I did not mention Chess Score Pad simply because was not awarded certification from the USCF. However, this application is perfect for annotating friendly chess games. There is also a Tournament Edition of this application that is a little more expensive and includes some extra features such as the requirement for the application to be run in Airplane mode.


Name: Shredder for iOS
Developer: ShredderChess.com
Price: $3.99
App Store Rating: ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♙
Download Size: 23MB (Download)

The final entry on this list is one of the strongest chess engines that you can get for the iOS platform. The official Shredder chess app has been tearing up players on iPhone and iPad for years now and although its user interface has not been updated in quite some time, it remains an attractive program for one-on-one iOS chess play. I especially enjoy the complete functionality that the app offers, which includes the ability to email complete PGN databases for inclusion in my Chessbase system and analysis in other programs. In addition to these functions, Shredder also includes basic engine analysis options to help a player improve his or her game.


This list is definitely not all-inclusive as some may have noticed that I ignored the Internet Chess Club, but certainly have no harsh feelings about their app. The most important thing to consider when searching on iOS or Android for a chess app is to understand what you are looking for. If you want an app that allows realtime play with others in a competitive or learning environment, then Chess.com, Chess24, PlayChess, ICC, and others will certainly quench your thirst. If you want a database system, the best options are still on desktop computers, but Chessbase Online and other apps are in hot pursuit.