Learn Chess with Dr. Wolf is an iPhone and Android Games App, made by Chess.com. Today, it has gone through many interations by the developers - Chess.com, with the latest current version being 1.86 which was officially released on 2021-06-25. As a testament to the app's popularity or lack thereof, it has gathered a total of 9285 Reviews on the Apple App Store alone, with an average user rating of 4.8 out of a possible 5 stars.
While you play chess, he teaches, pointing out strategic ideas and helping with mistakes. There are also twenty five lessons, going in-depth into each concept with ample opportunities for guided practice. Dr. Wolf himself is friendly, gentle, and occasionally witty.
As you learn new chess skills and use them in your games, Dr. Wolf will introduce new concepts to master. Whenever you use a skill in game, Dr. Wolf acknowledges it and you earn points.
The best way to learn anything is with a coach. And now, the coaching style of learning chess is finally available in an app. Give it a try!
Dr. Wolf will coach you for free for 3 games of chess so that you can appreciate his style of in-game teaching.
Then, to continue learning, you may subscribe to Coaching. With Coaching, Dr. Wolf teaches while you play chess, pointing out good moves and bad — both yours and his — and the reasoning behind them. At times, he'll gently suggest you reconsider a move, or ask a question at a critical moment. Plus, you get unlimited hints, unlimited undos, and unlimited access to our Lesson Library, with twenty five lessons in Dr. Wolf's unique style.
Whether or not you choose to subscribe, Dr. Wolf will always play chess with you. He'd never say no to a good game of chess.
** TERMS & DETAILS **
Payment will be charged to your iTunes account at confirmation of purchase.
Subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24 hours before the end of the current period.
Account will be charged the same amount for renewal within 24 hours prior to the end of the current period.
You can manage your subscription and turn off auto-renewal by going to your Account Settings after purchase.
Any unused portion of a Free Trial, if offered, is forfeited when you buy a subscription.
* Prices may vary by location.
Project/Example-Based-Learning at its peak
I rarely write reviews but I honestly thank this app so much. I’d propose that there’s at least one psychologist in the developer team. I’d wanted to learn chess for a long time but the potential barrier were pretty tough. But this step-by-step break-down and humanistic encouragements (and even humor!) made learning exponentially faster and I finally found the feeling how learning a brain-demanding skill could be addictive. It’s like you had a real coach who watches over you and patiently points out where you needs to improve - the antidote to solitude and fear of humiliation, two of the greatest enemies of learning. The instruction style that this app uses is indeed the study-proved and tried-and-true best way to lead a student forward. I’ve been trying to search for apps that teach other intellectual skills with a similar style but have been in vain so far. I really wish there could be more apps of this sort. Well worth the money.
Bad reviews come from Freeloaders
Before getting this app, I only knew how the pieces moved. That’s it. I went through all the lessons for beginners and then played a game against the AI set at “strong beginner”. I was able to defeat it, albeit with my coach every once in a while nudging me in the right direction and the ability to take back some bad moves here and there. The amount I learned is astonishing. I signed up for the $4.99/month which is just peanuts considering you get a “coach” that actually teaches you and sets up many exercises and problems when covering lessons. Much like a math or music tutor would do. If you do yearly instead of monthly you’ll get it for less than three bucks a month. This is such a no-brainer. I took the free trial and saw the value right away. Not surprisingly, the bad reviews for this magnificent app come from people who want everything for free. That’s their main beef: “Waa waaaa it’s pay for play, waaa waaa”. How are they surprised that they have to pay for quality goods and services? Do these people go to a car dealership, enjoy their free test drive, and then complain that they have to pay if they actually want the car? Anyway, the AI coaching here is nice. A patient and understanding experienced dude at your service 24/7. Exceptional for beginners.
Five stars with a caveat!
Overall this is the best app I’ve found to learn chess. The balance of constructive criticism to congratulation is encouraging and it keeps you wanting to learn more. My only complaint is that sometimes the hint button that shows you the best place to move makes no sense and there’s no explanation for why that move was suggested. One time it advised me to basically forfeit my last rook and my queen and then its next move was checkmate. Unless it was some greater lesson on listening to your own instincts, I can’t figure out why that was helpful! I would also love a button that shows pieces captured.
Great app for learning
Completed the week trial - then signed up. Love the art style and personality of Dr. Wolf, it really feels like I’m being coached. I also like how clean and simplified the UI is. Maybe in the future there’ll be voiceovers and dialogue will allow more interaction with Dr. Wolf. * One annoying thing I’ve noticed happening is a piece will duplicate itself after I hit redo then move. It’s happened quite frequently during lessons and tonight during a game. Even still, 5 stars..because this app completely changed how I view chess. Queen’s Gambit sparked interest but if it hadn’t been for Dr. Wolf I probably wouldn’t have dug deeper.
Helpful selection of Lessons, Unique Interface
This chess application provides the feeling of actually playing against a live opponent, who offers conversation; often helpful. There are a wide variety of lessons available. Probably could best be summarized as a friendly, helpful chess application. We have a suggestion to consider for future versions: When showing a suggested move (using the ? Option), briefly explain why the player should make this move. There are many levels available. All in all, highly recommended for the valuable tips and lessons.
Good for Basics - Buyer Beware
I really enjoyed this app at first. I think it has a great approach to teach a beginning chess player. Really like the format. However, eventually you hit a “pay wall” which can be frustrating. I was considering buying the additional content/access.... and then? I was playing Dr Wolf, and he castled to get out of check. You can’t do that. Clearly a glitch / bug, whatever. But I’m not going to pay to play against a computer opponent (and pay for “coaching” from “him”) if he sometimes is programmed to forget some basic rules. Not cool. Not paying. Deleting. To the programmer: check your logic to make sure Dr Wolf knows the castling rules and follows them. Update following developer response: I have increased my rating by 2 stars, as the developer responded quickly and kindly to show interest in investigating the bug. I really appreciate that as a user that they stand by their product. Unfortunately, I can’t help any further right now, as I can’t generate a screenshot from a game from some time ago. As I’d spent many hours playing Dr Wolf, I think this issue to be very rare indeed - if it were to happen in future I will of course try to be more helpful and save a screenshot (also a PGN). Thanks for reaching back - if it happens again I will supply better data to you via an email or something instead of an app review!
“Expert” level not expert enough.
Dr. Wolf at expert level is no more than a version of the advanced level that makes almost just as many mistakes, albeit less embarrassing ones. When I launch a legitimate attack on “expert” Dr. Wolf, he often makes ridiculous blunders that beckons checkmate in less than 5 moves, leaving me feeling snubbed by the end. There are obviously somewhat educational purposes to his sudden weaknesses, but a difficulty level named as it is should be a platform where highly advanced players can feel consistently challenged. I believe having a more formidable opponent that can still act as a guide through more complicated variations retains more educational value than an opponent who plays with enticing inaccuracy. The latter is, after all, not an ideal role model for the more perceptive amateurs. Also, the concept of “strong moves” are based on very short-sighted standards, evaluating my moves just in light of incidental guiding principles and not the overall strategy of the game. Not expert teaching, I guess. If the nature of the app’s chess advice would be more refined and flexible, this app would become more competitive. And if learning opportunities and consistency of computer strength could be reconciled in an exceptional way, this app would become my favorite for chess.
Wonderful teaching game, but...
This app is fantastic, but I feel I can’t give it 5 stars for two reasons. If a future update fixes these, then I’ll happily change my review. First, when asking for a hint on what to do, it doesn’t often say why we should move this piece there, and it isn’t always apparent (though he might explain why he moved a certain piece or congratulate you on finding an attacking or defensive position). The second is that the level difference between “Advanced” and “Expert” is astronomical. I can easily win against Dr. Wolf’s advanced-level games, but the expert level demolishes me every single time. I’m not suggesting to make the app easier; however, adding more levels after advanced and before expert would be a great addition. Being stuck at a level that I can beat over and over provides a steeper learning curve when the next one is near impossible for my skill level. I’m not sure if I’m the only one with this issue, but for my own personal benefit after buying the pro version (definitely recommend), I wish it had this feature. Note: I have not also tried out other teachers yet, was hoping to beat Dr. Wolf first.
Could be better.
Game recommends moves, often correcting moves I’ve made, but without explanation of why my move was bad or why the suggested move is better. Last night it suggested a move which would have allowed my pawn to be promoted, only to be immediately captured by my opponent’s rook. I found a better move which put his king in check, forcing his rook to move to block, followed by a another check, forcing his rook far enough away to allow my pawn to be promoted and not captured. Overall, I enjoy the app and find it helpful. I am an ‘advanced beginner’ hoping to improve my skills. Again, explanations of recommended moves would be helpful, perhaps even having the computer play through several moves from your error to demonstrate why it is a blunder, then return the board to a point immediately prior to the blunder.
Good app with potential
I am a USCF class B player. I have been playing on the advanced level for roughly 20 games. What I notice is Dr. Wolf doesn’t necessarily play at an advanced level, but rather suggests advanced skills he hopes to cover in the game. That does not mean those opportunities will arise. Furthermore Dr. Wolf will suggest to you to take back a move that is either a mistake or he sees something better. In either instance I have had Dr. Wolf make outright blunders dropping material or giving his Queen away for nothing. As far as rating goes 1500 is average USCF and Dr. Wolf has me at 1055 when I am 1630 USCF. I have won all 20 games so I don’t understand why this is. This app has a lot of potential and I love the concept. I’d like to see these issues fixed.
Pretty Darn Good
It’s a very well designed app. One very frustrating thing that happens a lot - in the middle of a game, I might need to lock my screen or switch to another app. When I go back to the app, I get either get frozen on the main screen, or it’s not frozen, but still on the main screen instead of continuing where I left off. This seems to happen most consistently in the “review mistakes” training. Not sure if it’s a memory issue or what, like the memory is clearing when you leave the app, but it’s a little annoying. Not enough to stop using the app, and definitely not enough to keep me from recommending it to amateur chess enthusiasts!!
Only Worth it For Lessons, Not Actually Playing Chess
The app has great lessons, my chess game has already improved significantly with the free ones! Playing actual chess games against the AI is a different story however. I have yet to find an AI that doesn't cheat, or refuse to lose. I tried to win many games against the AI here, and only won once. One game I had a rook, a queen, a knight, and a bishop and the AI only had the king. I should've been able to win that one, right? Everytime I made a move with any of these that would put its king in check with it cornered the AI would call a draw. I took back the move and tried to win with many different moves and angles, and got the same results. I am, however, able to beat the AI of other chess apps with strategies from this one, when they don't cheat that is. Edit: (In response to developers response.) Ty for letting me know that, As a beginner I did not know that rule about chess. I probably just missed it. Some of the other chess apps out there don't always enforce that one as much. Maybe you could have Dr. Wolf explain that more often? I'll be sure to send in screenshots of anything that I have questions about.
Lacks some of the most basic features of a chess app
How do you make a chess app and not show what pieces have been captured or what piece was captured by the last move? It’s mind-blowing to me that a high school comp sci project would leave that out let alone an app that charge 5 bucks a month. There’s also no way to switch sides unless Dr Wolf is in the mood to. He played a move that seemed mind-bogglingly stupid so I wanted to switch sides and see his thoughts if I played the move I thought he should have taken. Can’t do it. Also, the tutorials are VERY limited. The concept here is great. I like the idea of having him create opportunities to teach you various concepts through play but the execution is terrible. I do like the art style of the app and newspaper chess board. But geez, what about the basics?
Just ok not much learned
I’ve been playing chess on and off for over 20 years. I wanted a program to help get better. This app has coaches and games that are either too difficult to win or too easy. The feedback is ok on better moves to make, but the review of mistakes at the end can be confusing because they suggest moves that might not make sense and leave you wondering why. Plus, it doesn’t go into more advanced games and how to really get tactical in the game. I learned a few things but overall I’m still basically at the same level as before. As a computer, it is pretty good at chess but I feel like I’m playing the same way without learning how to improve. I played almost 400 games to try. So I won’t continue the subscription because the app leaves me frustrated and disappointed with very little progress or improvement. I’m going to try something else.
This page was last edited on 2021-06-25.
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