The cornerstone of the Chessmaster series has always been its emphasis on teaching beginners how to play and on showing intermediate and advanced players how they can improve their games - and this tradition continues in the 8000 edition. In the classroom mode, beginners will find that Chessmaster 7000's three broad tutorials have been enhanced with new timed drills such as "move to safety" and "pin the piece," and endgame exercises for both beginners and advanced players. Intermediate players will appreciate the inclusion of solutions to the "rating exam" questions, which help give a pretty good idea of where they'd rank in real-life play. Advanced players also have an option to try to predict the moves of famous players in historic games. The massive game database has been updated and expanded, and, of course, the opening book is as robust as ever.
International Master Josh Waitzkin, who was the host in Chessmaster 7000, is back once again, and he narrates a series of his most memorable games (which were also featured in the 7000 version). The major improvement in the "Josh" section of the classroom mode is a thorough endgame course, in which you can learn strategies for finishing off opponents when both sides have bishops of the same (or opposite) color, rook and pawn endings, bishops against knights, and so on. This can be extremely educational, and Waitzkin's smooth and engaging delivery makes it a real pleasure to use. However, it would have been nice if the "playback" interface for the voice-annotated games were a bit more flexible. Sometimes, Waitzkin talks quite a bit about the strategic possibilities that a given move can yield - but as it stands, you can "rewind" the commentary only back an entire move, rather than to a specific point in the commentary.