A&B Computing

By Micro Power
Acorn Electron

Published in A&B Computing 1.08

When micros were first thought of as possible chess opponents, the prospect of programming such a complicated and involved game even onto a mainframe, must have seemed daunting. Now Micro Power has packed into the Electron's modest 32K memory, a program which can realistically reproduce all the finer points of chess rules, but which can also play at a wide range of levels.

As usual, loading is child's play, and is followed by an options screen which can allow dozens of permutations. The default colours of the board are red and green, with black and white pieces, but any of the Electron's eight colours may be selected at will. Yes, anyone who fancies invisible chess can now try it! Actually, I found the default colours to be a well-chosen selection.

Perhaps the simplest option at this point is play, but even this has a number of levels. I found levels one to five to be fair competition for me, playing a straightforward, if rather orthodox, game. The great snag, of course, is that an increase in level means a large decrease in speed, and the higher levels would appear to be rather boring, with the micro making perhaps a dozen moves a day!! However, most of us would find the levels offered to be quite sufficient. There is also an option to play Blitz chess, with only a certain time allowed for reply. The adrenalin flows well then!

One extremely useful feature I found with school-children was the option to replay a previous game move by move, and to continue from any chosen position. By clever use of the facilities, it is therefore possible to take back a move and to make a better one instead. Perhaps the only option which I have seen on other chess games for other micros which might be missed is the option to ask for a suggested move - all the other features anyone might want are included. A good buy.

Dave Reeder

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