Mini or Compact devices have always attracted the attention of the consumer.Mini Radios ,
Mp3, Players Cameras , Motorbikes and the current fashion ,Handies.Who knows what in the future.There is also another popular Group of Mini devices the Palm Handheld Computers.
The currently popular Palm OS and Pocket PC compatibles have forced the softwarehouses and the programmers to reply such demand.For the time being the number of Chess software for the Palm OS and Pocket PC are not as many as Standad PC compatibles and the playing strength of todays top programs at GM level can not be matched.However in the near future the game quality of such software will surely be increasing and fulfill the needs of Chesscomputer Fans. No Doubt.
On these pages I will be reviewing Palm OS compatible Chess Playing Programs.I will try to be as neutral as possible in my reviews and will refrain suggesting or recommending programs in order to avoid misunderstanding.My aim is to give just information.The decision will always belong to the consumer or to those of you interested in the Program.
PALMAROV CHESS ( Ver. 1.0 )
Palmarov Chess is one of the low cost chess playing programs for the Palm OS.Neither the link nor the e-mail address reflected on the HANDANGO site works therefore no detailed background information could be obtained.The program can be purchased and can be
downloaded from the a.m. site.The program size is 70Kb and runs on color devices also but the program is not fully colored . The board can be resized and time and played moves and the number of played moves are also visible. The Board view is 2D and no 3D Board is available.If the game played is in lines of the opening book of Palmarov the word "Book" is reflected on the screen.The moment the course of the game is out of the book then the wording "Thinking" is reflected. There are various levels of Play starting from "Trainer", "Game In"and "Move In" divided into various thinking times,from instant till 4 Minutes per move.The Program Plays as White and as Black however as Black There is no Reverse Board Facility.The Black Pieces are seen from White's point of view.Game Setup, Copy Game and "Import PGN" is possible.Auto Play is also possible (Palm vs. Palm)The Board can also be used a chess board to play against a friend using the board as a normal chessboard . Taking Back a single move or all moves is possible .The same game can be replayed again.
As Black to White's 1.e4 the program Playing Black replies 1...c6 or 1...c5 or 1...e6 randomly.To 1.d4 the program replies 1..Nf6 or 1..d5 and 2.c4 is replied by 2..e5 Albin's Counter Gambit .The reply after 2.c4 may also be followed by 2...e6.Another possibility is 1.Nf3 which is replied by 1..Nf6 by Black .
The Program Playing White opens with 1.e4 , 1.d4 , 1.c4 1.Nf3 and seldom 1.g3 and 1.b3
MIDDLE GAME :
During the Middle Game due a bug or possibly more than one bug ,following irregularities were experienced.
a) With Black Pieces "Castling" was made although the Black King was in check. (Repeated in more than one game) The same again experienced even at 4 Minutes thinking time per move level .
b) During a phase of a game the four mid squares of the board were totally whitened no Black Squares and the figures on these squares were not visible on the "Large Screen" mode whereas switching to "Small Screen" everything was normal.
c)In another game a "Black Knight" turned to be a White Knight.The "Take Back All" command was used to restart and replay the game to cure the error ,but normal board setup had a white Knight reflected on "f 8 " Square among the Black pieces,Instead of a Black Knight on same square.
As the Rules of The Game of Chess were violated several times, I stopped reviewing the program.Unfortunately I got no reply from Handango regarding the bug and if a new version is expected, curing the problems experienced......
Those of you familiar with chess playing software will surely remember Chess System Tal and Chess System Tal II named after one of the most famous players of the History of Chess known for his attacking style of play.Both programs were introduced by Oxford Softworks programmed by Chris Whittington.The company was later purchased by Purplesoft and since the beginning of 2002 Cascata took over Purplesoft.Beginning of 2003 Cascata and Zingmagic decided to cooperate
closely after the motto" Together We Are Strong " Cascata is currently the Publisher of Zingmagic
products except PC.
CHESS ( Ver. 2.00F)
By CASCATA GAMES
Herewith I would like to thank Mr.Neil Wooding Managing Director of Cascata and Mr.John Holloway CTO of ZingMagic for the complimentary copy of chess in German Language for PALM OS compatibles to be reviewed on this page.
The Program is 238 Kb and colored with excellent graphics and is introduced in three languages being English French and German.The program in the current form is being revised and bugs fixed.The Menue of the program offers a variety of possibilities .The Graphics are both in
2D and 3D . The 2D graphics are in 3 different sizes ,Big,Medium and Small.There is another board view which reflects the course of the game ,also giving the information related to the names of players ,used time, unfortunately the notation of the made moves are not numbered.
The program has 8 levels of play named after fictitious names which can be modified according to your wish.The levels are 1.Beginner 2.Newcomer 3.Amateur 4.Advanced 5.Expert 6.Profi and two others named Human 1 and Human 2 .
By setup a position mode you may setup positions from your own or other games to analyse
a chess position.The program does not recognize PGN Format .The Program has a "Permanent
Brain " which calculates during the oponents thinking time.This function may be switched on or off whenever desired.Beaming of data with another Palm handheld is also possible.
Other commands are take back ,take back all,then replay move or moves till you return the original position again. Move Now , Show Last Move, Permitted Moves and Hint Commands are also available.Speed of animations can be adjusted also the type of Chess Notation,Long and short Algebraic and even The Digital Notation ,used in Correspondence Chess .Playing Black you may make use of Reverse Board function and follow the game easily from Back's point of view.
A PDF Format Users Manual also explaining the The Rules of Chess can be downloaded from
THE OPENING :
The Program playing with Black pieces against White's 1.e4 will reply , 1..Nf6 (but not Alekhines' Defense ) or 1..e5 and very seldom 1..c6 , 1..c5 or 1..d6 .To White's 1.d4 the reply is 1..d5 ,1..Nf6 or 1..Nc6 .White playing 1.b3 the reply of Black will be 1..Nc6 ,1..Nf6 or 1..e5.
Finally to 1.c4 Black replies mainly 1..Nf6 then 1..f5 , 1..e6 or 1..g6 .
If you are playing with Black Pieces against White The Program will open mostly 1.Nc3
then 1.Nf3 and very seldom 1.d4. Assume the Opening book of the program is too small .
If you are willing to play book openings ,opening training, you have to use the "Game Setup"
mode and continue from the position or a specific variation.
THE MIDDLE GAME:
During the middle game the program plays solid chess. No blunders or weaknesses were experienced.As mentioned earlier Chess Engine of the Program can not be compared with the Engines of PC Programs, therefore none of the similar programs reach the playing strength of Commercial PC Compatible Chess Software.
THE END GAME :
During the endgame the program can mate with following material :
King + Rook mating sole King
King + Queen mating sole King
King +Bishop + Bishop mating sole King
A Pawn promotes to a Queen only and not to any other Piece
OPPOSITION AND PASSED PAWN :
The program recognizes King opposition but there is a weakness in the endame in getting a passed pawn .
Example : In the following setup during the endgame .White to move
White : Pawns on f5 , g5 , h5 King on c1
Black : Pawns on f7 , g7 , h7 King on a1
Instead of playing 1.g6 where plack may capture either 1.. fxg can be followed by 2.h6 2..gxh is followed by 3.f6 reaching the 8th rank to Promote .
or 1.g6 followed by 1..hxg , 2.f6 and 2..gxf loses against h6 enabling a passed pawn .
The program in this setup although wins the endgame choses a rather long way and keeping the opposition not leaving the the "C " File until reaching close to the Black Pawns and secures win by capturing the opponents pawns.
Replacing the squares of the Kings and setting the Black King on c1 and the White King on a1 and White to move loses a won game ,as the same strategy of getting a passed pawn is not practiced and the White King is erroneously trying to get close to his pawns ,although this is not the road to victory.