Classic Game Reivew: How About A Nice Game of Chess?

Here’s a version of Odesta’s Chess 7.0 program for Commodore 64 owners. It’s easily the best chess-playing program for the C64 and it does so much more than a typical chess program that it needs a new category. I call it a chess companion – like a good friend who is always willing to do what appeals to you. Want to go back a few moves เกมน่าเล่น  and replay? No problem. Got you in deep trouble and want to trade sides? Sure. Want some advice on what to do next? This program will be as unbiased as can be.

If you’d like to play a friend instead, the program will act as a referee and inform you if any rules are broken. What really sets this program apart; however, are the features designed to help you learn. There is the Advice command mentioned above. There is a full-blown tutorial, and there are also many subtler things. The tutorial, for instance, can be entered at any point during the game for review. Then, you have the Inward and Outward commands. INWARD shows you all of the pieces which can move to (attack) a given square. OUTWARD shows you all of the legal moves for a given piece. And, the command Flip shows you what the game looks like from the other side of the board.

Finally, the ten levels of play are aimed at the beginning player. The highest, level 9, is roughly equivalent to level 4 in Sargon II- about five to six minutes response time. Admittedly, some will miss the higher levels that take four to six hours to find a move, but the average beginner has no use (or patience!) for these. Much better to have nine different levels with response times from less than a second up to a couple of minutes. The longer the computer can “think” about its move, the better it plays. All these levels give a steady progression of opponents who play at just the right strength.

You have no excuse not to learn the game with this package on your shelf. There is a complete on-screen tutorial that covers how the pieces move and the rules of the game. It has a whole chapter on each of the three major phases of the game: opening, middle game, and endgame. The tutorial is well-done. Besides text, it uses “movies” where you watch a demonstration and practice sessions where you get to try what you’ve just learned. There is also help in the 96-page program manual and a short booklet by noted chess author Fred. About the only thing missing is a library of famous games to study.

If I had to find fault with this program, I’d criticize the graphics. On my three monitors it was difficult, but never impossible, to see a black piece on a black square. Perhaps a little colour would help, as the screen is entirely black and white. It is also unfortunate, but inevitable, that such a large program will take about six minutes to load. Once loaded, response is very good. As a final note, POWER PLAY magazine (the Commodore “house organ”) reports in the June/July issue that Commodore has acquired the rights to this program and will market it as the first of a new line of strategy games.

 

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