The Micro User

Colossus Chess 4

Author: Steve Brook
Publisher: CDS
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in The Micro User 5.01

According to CDS Software, Colossus 4 Chess is "the best chess playing program for home computers". Having spent all night locked in mental combat with it, I am inclined to agree.

The disc version checks which BBC Micro you are using. Anything other than a standard model Bresults in a 64k program being loaded.

This version allows you to play back any ofthe 34 chess games stored as data files. The majority were played between a micro, mini, or mainframe computer, and a human opponent. This review, however, is based on the 32k version.

Colossus Chess 4

To give you some idea of the program's playing strength, the instruction booklet contains a list of results obtained when Colossus took on the best of the rest. Of the 21 programs challenged only six managed to avoid a 16-0 whitewash. The best of the contenders won only five games.

The game is played on a 2D, Mode 4 board which occupies two thirds of the screen. The rest of the display is devoted to the clocks and algebraic notation ofthe previous move.

You move pieces using the cursor keys or by entering algebraic notation. The 64k version allows ajoystick to be used.

Colossus Chess 4

The program recognises a drawn game by three-fold repetition of position, the 50 move rule, or if neither side has adequate pieces to mate the other. It also acknowledges checkmate, stalemate, and time-up - the latter only used in certain playing modes.

Colossus offers a choice of six playing modes, most differing only in the way that the time clock isused. In Equality mode the time taken for the computer to make a move will echo that of your own.

The last two modes are concerned with problem solving. Infinite mode is intended to be used with "find the best move in this position" problems and will run for days if necessary. The second type is designed to tackle chess mating problems and will solve normal mates, self mates, and help mates, for up to seven moves ahead.

Colossus will allow you to step back through the game and try a different line of attack, or even play itself - the list of features is too long to mention.

If you have ever wished for an all-singing, all-dancing chess program that could play a decent game, look no further.

Steve Brook

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