TWO CHESS PROGRAMS COMPARED: XCHESS AND PSION CHESS
By Richard Karsmakers and Frank Lemmen
Originally published in ST NEWS Volume 1 Issue 6, launched on
November 15th 1986.
We already told you we had plans to review "XChess" in this issue
of ST NEWS. Well, we now present to you not only "XChess", but
another very nice - if not very much better - chess program called
"Psion Chess". In this article, we will try to compare these two
programs as objective as possible, after which we will give our
opinion about either of the programs.
When we had a glance at this program at last September's
usergathering in Utrecht, the first impression was very good. The
advertisments also made the program look very impressive.
Recently, a friend of ours sent us his original of "XChess", for
us to review (Pharma Data Systems, the company that represents
XFun, wasn't interested in our offer to review the program - they
never answered our letter - so we had to ask the game from someone
else). The second and further impression were obviously not as
good as those of that usergathering and the advertisements! The
program isn't bad at all, and a nice piece of programming, but a
lot of options that we later found in "Psion Chess" turned out to
be distinctly missing from "XChess!". The program works on both
color-and monochrome monitors and starts up with a nice picture in
either mode. After that, the chess board is set up and the player
can start to play. A few option of "XChess": Invert Board (so you
can look at the board from the other side), Set up, Show Game,
Next Move, Print Screen, Game Strategics, Castling (this options
allows you to set the value of the king and more. This seems to be
the only more or less useful option that seems to be lacking from
"Psion Chess") and Time Editing (it is possible to stop the clock,
for example, so you can drink a cup of coffee or go to the loo).
The distribution network of "XChess" is very largely set-up (as
you will see in the upcoming data of the program). "XChess"
altogether is a very nice chess program, but only if you haven't
seen any other chess programs. Although the PD offering "Krabat"
is 'only' 2D, it's almost as good, and Psion's chess version os
better. But you will be able to read all about that furtheron...
Program by: Bert v/d Liet
User Interface by: Wouter Mulckhuyse
Graphic Design by: Karin van Bodegraven
Price (in Germany): DM 129,-
Distributor (Holland): Pharma Data Systems
Can also be bough at: XFun, P.O.Box 744, 4116 ZJ, Buren (GL),
The Netherlands, Tel. 03447-2362
Distributor (Germany): Computer Technik Kiekbusch GmbH
Am Seeufer 11+22, 5412 Ransbach
Distributor (Switzerl.): HILCU International
Badhausstr. 1, CH-3063 Iccigen
Distributor (Austria): Ueberreuter Media
Alserstr. 24, A-1091 Wien
Value for money: 6.5
Psion, together with Richard Lang, definately did a better job
than the people at XFun. "Psion Chess" leaves the player with a
much better overal impression, and is just a bit better than
"XChess". For example, "Psion Chess" offers extended help
functions, 2D/3D board options, hints-, take back- and change
sides-options and lots more. You can also select one of 50 Master
plays to replay, for which you then have options like Help, Start,
Automatic, Stop, Forward, Back and Exit. Features include an
option to enable/disable resign (to enable or disable to computer
from giving up if a seemingly hopeless position has occured),
Sound of/onn (I didn't hear any sound at all, but that might have
been because I was listening to Jean Michel Jarre's "Magnetic
Fields" on CD at the moment) and more. And you can also select to
hide or show the move record or hide/move the analysis. You can
not only play against a human opponent, but one can also play
against the ST, or let two STs play against eachother (that is,
with one computer of course).
"Psion Chess" is much better, even without nice graphics as front
page, etc. The man who sent us his original forgot to mention the
price, as well as the addresses from which it can be obtained. If
he reads this, we hope he will tell us all this after all. We have
already sent his original back.
Steven Thorne told me that Psion Chess has been included in their
software offerings recently. So if you contact them, you might get
to know more. Their telephone number is 020-380103, and their
address is Eerste Looiers Dwarsstraat 12, Amsterdam, The
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.