Note: The programs’ difficulty levels was judged by an out-of-practice 1600 USCF-rated player.
Medieval Chess Kings 2 for Blackberry
So I bought this to have a little chess to play while waiting to board flights (see MagMic’s website). This is not a very good screenshot; the actual game looks much crisper.
There are 6 difficulty levels named after various rulers, such as King Arthur or Mehmed II, each with their own chess set. It’s a nice touch. (For custom sets to be used, “Classic Chess Set” has to be set to “no”, which I did not find stated in the help file.)
I’ve tried up to the medium difficulties. So far, no contest. Other reviews said the highest difficulty takes a long time to move and was not appreciably stronger.
My biggest gripe is that the board does not flip when you are playing Black. This is an egregious, inexcusable, and stupid oversight.
There’s a functionality for network play, but I haven’t used it. Since I play on the BlackBerry for maybe 15 minutes at a time, it’s not very useful for me.
If you don’t care about playing from White’s point of view when you’re Black, it’s a decent program as long as you’re not expecting a challenge.
Continental Airlines’ Chess (I forget what the actual title is.)
Like many airlines, Continental is starting to put media centers in each seat, allowing for movies, TV programs and gaming. Of course, the first thing I tried is the chess game.
It’s a basic offering, with three levels of difficulty, a bit of appearance customization, and the ability to play someone else on the flight. I tried the medium difficulty first, and smashed it with no problems, going up a Rook by the early midgame. The only resistance was provided by the user interface: it’s touch-screen with no undo, so you have to be certain to touch the correct square. (I ended up giving back the Rook, but still won with no problems.)
The hard difficulty takes forever to make a move, and I was not able to get past the move 15 or so before the flight was over. The AI did play an adequate game (no glaring material losses and I actually had to think). It should be noted the AI does not have an opening book, so it starts thinking from move 1.
Continental’s chess program has value mainly for playing a fellow passenger. The hard setting will leave you twiddling your fingers waiting for it to move. Maybe if you’re rated 1200 or lower, the medium difficulty will play a reasonable game. Otherwise, you’re better off with your own travel chess computer.