Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Chess Simulation
Standalone Release(s) : 1983: CHESS, Micro Power, £7.95
Compilation Release(s) : 1987: PRES GAMES DISC 3, PRES, £9.95
1988: MICRO POWER MAGIC, Micro Power, £7.95
Stated compatibility : Electron
Actual compatibility : Electron. Electron version plays fast on BBC.
Supplier : MICRO POWER, 8/8A Regent Street, Chapel Allerton, LEEDS
LS7 4PE. Tel: 01532 683186.
Disc compatibility : ADFS 1D00, CDFS 1D00, DFS 1D00
When the program has loaded the screen will clear and the following 9 options will appear.
Analyse Blitz Continue Display Load Play Quit Replay Save
Any of these options can be selected by pressing the initial letter of the option required. You can also select whether you require Player Versus Player, Player Versus Computer or Computer Versus Computer by entering 0, 1 or 2.
You are first asked if you wish to recall a position; only type 'Y' if a position is already set up for analysis. If you type 'N', the board is displayed and each square is now 'blinked' in turn. You can insert a piece at the current square by entering the initial of that piece (use 'N' for Knight), the colour (b or w) and a number 0 or 1 to indicate that the piece has not been moved previously. Press the space bar if you wish the space to be empty. The 'DELETE' key moves the cursor back.
When the board is set up as required, press the '.' key. You can save this position and store it on tape if required (see the section headed SAVE). Now select your colour, the level of play and the side to move first.
In this option you are allowed a fixed time limit to make your move, otherwise you forfeit your go. The limit can be set at 10, 20 or 30 seconds by replying 1, 2 or 3 to the question 'Level?'.
Used to continue a game after it has been reloaded from tape.
Allows you to modify the display colours. Enter a logical colour (0-7) for each of the following: 'black' pieces, 'black' squares, 'white' squares, 'white' pieces. An invalid entry returns the display colours to their default values.
Load a game position from cassette.
First select your colour and the level of play (0-9). On even levels, the computer uses a shortened move list and randomises its selection. On odd levels, it uses the full move list and selects the best move from this list. The response times vary but the following times give you some indication of what you can expect:
Level 1 - 10 secs; Level 3 - 1 min; Level 5 - 5 mins; Level 7 - 30 mins; Level 9 - 2 hours.
Now the chess board will be displayed. Clock displays at opposing ends of the board indicate the time taken so far by that player. Enter your move by typing the co-ordinates of the piece you want to move followed by those of the square you want to move it to.
For example, to make the opening move 'Pawn to King 4' (P-K4) enter e2-e4; there is no need to enter the hyphen - this will be inserted automatically. The computer will reject all illegal moves. If you make a bad move, wait until the computer has replied, then press 'DELETE'. This will return the board to the position before the 'mistake', then you can try again. You can also resign by pressing the 'ESCAPE' key; this will return you to the options menu.
To castle; move the King to the necessary square and the rook will move automatically, providing that you are in a position where castling is legal. For example, a white queen's side castle is entered as e1-c1.
To capture en passent, move your pawn to the appropriate square and your opponent's pawn will be taken, if en passent capture is legal.
Thus, to capture a black pawn on e5 with a white pawn on f5 enter e5-e4. If your pawn reaches the 8th rank you can promote it to the piece of your choice by entering b, n, r or a.
Returns you to BASIC. To play CHESS again, type OLD 'RETURN' followed by RUN 'RETURN'.
Re-runs the moves played in the previous game. Press the space bar to advance to the next move. Each move is listed to the left of the display. On reaching the end, the program returns to the options menu; by selecting ANALYSE you can choose your colour and level, and continue the game where it was terminated.
Allows you to save a game onto cassette with a filename of 10 characters or less.
Instructions' Source : CHESS (Micro Power) Inner Inlay
Review (Electron User)
The sheer size of the task is astonishing - how does one put a game as complex as chess into a micro? How MICRO POWER managed to do so as well as this is truly remarkable. It is a version I found totally absorbing, and one which I would certainly recommend.
On loading, which was straightforward and presented no difficulty, a menu of options is presented. Each option is most carefully explained on the cassette inlay, and they enable one to set the parameters for any chosen game. The colours of the pieces and/or the board are easily changed to any combination, so invisible chess becomes possible - and very difficult!
The most obvious choice from the menu is Play, but even then various other decisions have to be made. It is possible to play against the Electron, to have the computer play itself, or to use the micro simply as a medium through which two human opponents do battle.
There are several skill levels, although one obviously has to trade power against speed of response. Average times are given for various levels, with the ninth grade taking about three hours per move. At my standard of chess that would rival watching the proverbial paint dry.
At lower levels the computer still plays a decent game. It inclines to be orthodox in style, although it enjoys forays with the Queen. One very helpful feature is the chance to retract a bad move. In fact, by clever use of the built-in facilities, it is even possible to swap sides mid-game.
It is also possible to set up any required board layout to allow analysis of various ideas. I found these powerful options to be a most useful aid with my 10-year-old chess club members at school.
My favourite choice of play was Blitz Chess, in which one is given only a limited time to make a move. This time can be set as low as 10 seconds, which certainly stimulates the adrenaline. If no move is made in time, the computer claims another go. Here the computer has a great advantage, being troubled with neither fatigue or panic, nor by the telephone ringing.
Obviously any such complex program is almost certain to include the odd bug, and this is no exception. When playing Blitz Chess, as explained before, the turn reverts to the computer if no move is made within the time allowed. In one case I was in check but made no move within the limit. The computer promptly took my king and told me I was still in check!
In another game, with the micro playing itself, play reached a state where the board alternated between two positions. This continued for over a quarter of an hour, with the same yoyo moves, until I put an end to the pieces' misery.
However, with these few minor problems put to one side, all the features of chess are faithfully reproduced in this version, including castling and en-passant. Illegal moves are disallowed, as well as a very occasional legal move, and the whole gives the feeling of a well-designed program.
It offers good value at the price, and its range caters from beginner to advanced club player - and probably beyond.
Phil Tayler, ELECTRON USER 1. 6