This is the last of currently available low cost chess playing software for Palm OS Handhelds.The program on the contrary to other low cost software,is updated regularly and frequently that I am unable to follow the updates.The support of the program is very efficient and users ( I myself as a paid registered user) get quick service which is really customer minded . The program originates from a Freeware Chess program , named "Free Chess".This program was based on "GNUCHESS" a chess program and engine which will easily be remembered by those of you having long time interest wth chess playing programs.Messrs. 995 soft has taken the GPL license of " FREECHESS" and curing innumerable bugs have brought the program to current level.I was informed by Mr.Phillipe Piernot ,The CEO of 995 Soft , that their main interest is to add new features to the forthcoming versions of the program, therefore a team of programmers is working very hard to enable this.
The program size is 84.5 Kb and the opening library consists of 6500 opening moves.The menu offers several possibilities and also sub divisions of the menu provide extensions and additional features.
The first step of the menu starts with New Game which has several possibilities.Selecting the color of the players,who is White and who is Black.If Autoplay or using the palm as an intelligent Board ,playing chess between two Human Players.The board does not permit illegal moves and avoids the violation of Chess Rules.You may prove this by simply Moving the Rook then the King while Castling. The program will not react and the right of Castling on that wing will not be possible.However If you move the King Two Squares supposing Castling Kings side then the Rook will be moved automatically by the program.Here You can switch on and off the sound adjust the levels of play. There are 10 levels of play starting from instant move 0 Sec. till 4-8 Minutes per move.
Other adjustments are aggresiveness which can be fixed from a calm play to a very aggresive, attacking style of play for the program.
Final adjustment is Randomness,which is a very important feature for chess playing programs and also other intelligent games.A program without such feature will always repeat the same game and no variations will be possible and the same game will be repeated again and again.The Random Move Generator will play different moves or one of the possible moves each time thus the game will lead to other paths and every game will be different, otherwise the repetition of the same game can not be avoided.
The second line of the menu is Edit Board ,which is Position Setup.Here You may replay a game you have played previously or a game from any source.You may clear the board add or remove pieces etc.After Editing ends the program can be used to analyse the position or positions.
The last choice of this column is called "Options" which are identical with possibilites mentioned in" New Game "command.
The second column of the menu consists of "Undo" enabling take back moves.If given enough thinking time the program gives "Hints" (move suggestions).Finally "Switch Sides" and "Reverse" are two other possibilities .The final Column is a very short tutorial about the use of the program and which ends with Info about the Version of the program.
The program has no "Digital Clock" to show the time used but a method is being used which solves the the missing feature to a certain extent if not completely.On the right hand side of the screen at the bottom a small rectangular box is visible which is used instead of the clock and depending upon the thinking time/level the square is filled with slices and when totally full reaching the end of the thinking time the move is made.This is suitable to the prefixed time according to the level selected.
The last move made is visible at te bottom lefthand corner of the screen but not all the moves.This is from programs point of view.But when autoplay is switched on then the last move played depending upon either of White or Black will be reflected.When the turn comes to a certain side Black or White then a piece of the side to move will be in a dotted red square (For Color Screens) showing who's turn it is.Another missing feature is the PGN recognition.
As mentioned earlier 9.95 Chess has an opening book which consists of 6500 moves.The program when playing Black against White ,gives the following replies:
to 1.e4 Black Plays in majority 1..c5 or 1..e5 and frequently 1..c6 , 1..e6 and 1..Nf6
to 1.d4 Black Plays in majority 1..Nf6 or 1..d5 and frequently 1..f5 , 1..e6 and 1..d6
to 1.c4 Black Plays in majority 1..Nf6 or 1..e5 and frequently 1..f5 , 1,e6 and 1.d6
to 1.Nf3 Black Plays in majority 1..d5 ,1..Nf6 and 1..g6 and frequently 1..d6 ,1..f5 and 1..e6
to 1.b3 Black Plays in Majority 1..e5, 1..e6 , 1..d5 ,1..d6 and frequently 1..Nc6 and 1..Nf6 and very very seldom 1..Na6
The program playing with White pieces opens the game with any of the four moves 1.e4 ,1.d4, 1.c4 and 1.Nf3. On one occasion the program played 1.d3 and replying 1..Nf6 the reply of the Program was 2.Bg5 and several moves later Castling Long O-O-O a very fighting setup was reached.The aggressivness and Randomness plays a very important part in the progress of the game and also the possibility of moves to reach a favorable position.
THE MIDDLE GAME:
The programs playing style is very aggressive and attacking however this can be adjusted as explained above.The calculations are fast and depending upon the thinking level the depth can be varied and the program will calculate more ply ( half moves) moves which can easily be remarked by the user.The tactical capablities of the program is also astonishing.The setup below will give an idea:
White : Pawns on a4 ,c5 ,h6
Rook on c4
King on e1
Black : Pawns on a5,f3,f7,g6,h7
: Bishop on e4
: Knight on h8
. King on d5
White to move on level 5 (1-2 Min thinking time)
1.R x B . I believe this is a strong move which leads White to victory.If 2.K x R the White's march to Queening square can not be prevented. If 2. K x c4 then 3.Re8 captures the Black Knight and loosing two pieces ,Black loses the game also.White's R x B deserves ( !! ) This is my personal opinion .... But as I was using the Autoplay Mode The program neither Captured the pawn on c5 nor the Rook on c4 and played 1..g5 trying to free the Knight which has the possibility of reaching the Queening square of White's c5 Pawn.The game went on 2.Rg4 f6 ,3.Rg3 Ng6 4.Rxf Nf4 , 5.Rc3 Kc6 , 6.Rb3 Kxc 7.Rb7 Kd6 8.Rxh Ng7 and the game is lost for Black. The same position was given to Fritz 8, Hiarcs 8,Chess Tiger 15 running on a Pentium IV , 1.6 Ghz and 256 Mb Ram .The solution was the same but the reply was faster. Till now reviewed Palm OS Compatible chess software provided a setup mode was available were unable to find the move 1.R x B which is the key move of the position .
In the endgame the program can checkmate with :
K + Q sole King
K + R sole King
K + B + B sole King (not at lower playing levels )
K + B + N The program did checkmate at 1 - 2 Minutes Level in autoplay mode meaning that , knew the principle . Checkmate is only possible when correctly played at a corner having the same color with the Bishop but In the Human vs Computer Mode The program could not checkmate and the game was drawn.
The program gives a "Mate Warning " as soon as mate by the opponent can not be prevented.The moves thenafter are made very fast reaching the checkmate position.
The program knows Kings opposition and successfully gets a passed pawn to get a Queen
to win the game.For the sake of clarification I am repeating the setup below :
White : King on a1 ,White pawns on f5 , g5 , h5
Black : King on c1 ,Black pawns on f7 , g7 , h7
White to move finds the winning move to get a passed pawn 1.g6 even at lower levels , Replacing the squares of both Kings, White King on c1 and Black King on a1 . The result is the same 1.g6 winning the game after Queening.Pawn promotion enables to a Queen only.
I hope that coming versions will enable the promotion to other figures also which is necessary for critical positions to avoid stalamate. I was informed that a newer version will follow soon.Let's wait and see.
Screeshots of 995 Chess both Palm OS and Pocket PC Versions: