takes on Colossus in clash of the giants
DATELINE: a morning in May. In the post: a letter
from Clive Bailey of Beyond Software, taking us to task
for proclaiming (in our May issue) that Colossus
Chess (version 2.0) from CDS was 'probably' the
most powerful chess program on the 64. Nonsense, says
Clive. Beyond's Mychess 2 is FAR better.
being quite so easily persuaded, we decide to stage
a grand playoff between the two contenders. Well, fairly
RULES. Two games on a reasonably fast advanced level
(1 move per minute on average) and two on a very low
level (1 move per 7 seconds). Each program is to take
a turn at being black and white at each level.
PRELUDE. Loading up the two programs, the differences
in presentation are very obvious. The Mychess
3D view is something of a gimmick, being a lot harder
to use than the 2D view. However, the program is generous
enough to suggest moves for its opponent. Colossus,
on the other hand, offers alternative input modes, (keys
or cursor) and, more importantly, a much clearer insight
into its thought processes, including a continually
updated report on who it thinks has the stronger position
and by how much. Hmmmm . . . The key thing of course
is the play itself.
1. We decided to play the high level games first
and let Mychess II take the advantage of the
white pieces for the first game. The game is a long
and boring one, in which pieces are systematically exchanged
without either side gaining an advantage. Play ends
in a draw, Mychess seeming happy to move its
king backwards and forwards and Colossus failing
to press home the advantage of a superior pawn position.
2. The second advanced game is far more interesting,
with Colossus taking white. It quickly evolves
into an exciting and complex position, with both programs
posing numerous threats. Mychess appears poised
to go a full piece up with a neat pawn fork, but Colossus
has an ace up its sleeve! It manages to pin and then
capture Mychess's queen. Having secured this
massive advantage, victory is only a matter of time.
Interesting: Colossus winning one and a half
points to half a point on the high level. How will Mychess
II cope with the low levels: would it avenge this
humiliating defeat or be soundly beaten again?
3. The first low-level game puts Colossus
on white and, after the opening, it instantly attacks.
Mychess defends well and counter attacks. After
several pieces exchanged, Mychess moves in and
rocks Colossus with a swift and decisive checkmate!
Perhaps the honour of Mychess will be redeemed
4. Although Colossus has the black pieces
in the final game, it again attacks soon after the opening
and again Mychess fights back, tearing Colossus
wide open at the back. Mychess advances his queen
deep into the Colossus ranks, and takes a knight,
rook and several pawns. Then the coup. It lines the
rook up to checkmate the king, trapped behind three
pawns, Colossus having completely failed to spot
this most obvious of moves!
VERDICT. Mychess II certainly appears by
far the stronger program on lower (faster-playing) levels,
winning here by a 2-0 margin. But for a higher-level
game, Colossus appears distinctly superior. Sorry,
Clive . . .