Computerized Chess in the 1970s


Does anyone remember playing computerized chess in the 1970s?  I had a device with a plastic surface on which you had to press down the plastic pieces very hard to alert the 'brain' to the fact that you had moved.  The machine would then respond, but because it favored bringing its knights out too aggressively at the beginning, you could easily push them back with your pawns, getting them to jump around useless and wasting tempi.  It was also a sucker for back-rank checks, so if you just crept up along the outermost files you could get his king scrambling madly to avoid your queen or rooks, sacrificing one piece after the other just to get out of there.  Not really a good chess program, but in those days it was remarkable to have something other than a human be able to interact with you with a modicum of intellect.


My first computer was a Fidelity Chess Challenger from the early 80's (I believe). Then on to the Radio Shack 2150L . Don't laugh but I got a game published in the April Chess Life in '97 playing on it happy.png . 


One of these Ronbo?


That is it . Of course back then I hadn't heard of en passant so I thought it was defective lol !


When I was about 11 and new to chess, I lost a rook en-passant. My opponent, unhappy that I was about to beat him for the first time, assured me that there was some funny move that allowed him to sweep his pawn sideways across the board and take my rook. 


Yeah, I had one of those Chess Challengers.  God, they were terrible!  But yeah, at the time it seemed amazing that the thing could play at all.  And I remember my astonishment once when it declared a mate in 3 (yeah okay, I guess it wasn't that terrible). grin.png

I've long lost track of the thing...but I did manage to keep the pieces (they make a nice little set). happy.png


Remember the Chess Challenger, played it once or twice at another club. The first computer I played regularly against (early 80s) was a model called Morphy, if memory serves me right. It had a board with the Cavalier model pieces, and an electronic display showing the moves (and various types of messages). Seem to remember that you had to key in your own moves on a key pad, which of course often led to entry and/or reading errors on the player's part, meaning that the display nearly always said 'Illegal move' when you thought you were winning material or about to give mate! Not entirely easy to reconstruct the correct position ...



My Fidelity Mach III Master still works, although it dates back only to the late 80's.


So does mine (at least, the last time I tried it). happy.png