Chess games on Dos

My dad started to teach me how to play chess when I was a little boy of about 5 as far as I can remember. I’ve been playing ever since, and consider myself to be an above average player. My father is a much better player, and studies and practises the game on a regular basis. Consequently we had a few chess programs on our computer, there are three that we made use of on a regular basis, Battle Chess, Sargon 4, and Cyrus chess.

Cyrus chess

Cyrus Chess

Cyrus Chess

Cyrus chess was created by Intelligent chess software in 1985.  There are many options and setting that allow you to set the level of play, and the engine seems to be reasonably strong. The 3d graphics for the chess board are quite pleasing and make it easy to identify the pieces on the board. The program keeps a record of your game that you can print out or save for later analysis. The user interface is not so nice to use as it does not seem to support the mouse, and the menu system is a little counter intuitive at times. Still this is a good chess engine that will give you a reasonable challenge, it’s just not for novices. You can play the game multiplayer via hot seat, but there isn’t a lot of point as a real chess board is much nicer.

Battle chess

Battle Chess Title Screen

Battle Chess Title Screen

Made by Interplay and first released in 1988, Battle chess is the first of its kind. The version I have is for DOS and uses EGA graphics to display the playing area and are very pleasing to the eye, especially considering the era of the graphics. The pieces in the game are animated and engage in combat to destroy each other when one piece takes another in the normal game of chess. All of these animations are amusing, and some have reference to popular movies such as monty python and the holy grail. The chess AI is not as strong as other programs, which makes this program suitable for novice players who don’t have a lot of experience playing. There is no facility to record your games, but there is multi-player over modem or hot seat play which is nice, and lets you have fun smiting your friends. I found the chess AI adequate for my needs, but it would not suite someone who is training for competition or is already a very good player. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a bit of fun, or anyone who is a casual chess player.

Sargon 4

Sargon 4 Title Screen

Sargon 4 Title Screen

Sargon 4 was made by Spinnaker software back in 1989 and is descended from other chess programs of the same name that were on multiple platforms. This program has many features that can be helpful in becoming a better chess player. It is by far the favourite program that my Dad uses when he is trying to prepare himself for a competition. The engine has quite a history of being quite strong in its previous incarnations on other platforms, and this version for DOS does not disappoint. It has a full opening book that it uses to decide the early phases of the game, it tells you what opening you’re using and what variant which makes study easier if you need to look up whats happening in a book at a later time. The interface is mouse driven and is usable by someone who isn’t a computer genius. You adjust the computers difficulty by adjusting the amount of time that the computer has to think. This means on modern systems you can be playing against a very strong player if you’re not careful! I recommend using Dosbox to play this game as you can use the cycles count to also help adjust the difficulty of the computer opponent. You can print out board positions and game listings for later analysis which is good if you want to study the game you’ve played. I recommend this program for better players who want to improve their game or just want a decent opponent.

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6 Responses to “Chess games on Dos”

  1. May 27, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    whoa! your dad still uses sargon 4 from 1989?? i admire the tenacity, but has your dad ever heard of the term “upgrades”? lol

    • May 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

      Over the years he has tried newer software, but he never really seemed to like many of them. He had Chessmaster 2000 (or was it 3000) but he didn’t use that program much compared to Sargon 4. I’m not entirely sure why. It could be that Sargon 4 has a relatively simple interface compared to others around. The age of it is starting to make things more difficult for him now as getting it to work on modern systems isn’t as easy as it used to be. Of course that’s where I come in. I’ve had to set up dosbox for him to be able to play it on his modern hardware.

      • May 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm

        Yeah, dosbox is pretty handy. I installed it the other day on an old P4 3.2GHz machine and ran a 2 game match @ 40moves in 30min between fritz 3 (16mb hash!) and gnuchess 5.02 and was surprised to see fritz win 2-0. Of course, it’s not a conclusive, but it’s still fun to see a little old 16-bit program like fritz 3 from the mid 90’s slap up a big ol’ 32-bit program like gnuchess 5.

        Btw, go checkout my little chess software collection at mediafire.com/?rb60vkh93rb5s .. you might find something there for your dad 🙂

      • May 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

        Looks interesting, I might have to check those out and see if he’d like any of those.

  2. May 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Enjoy 🙂

    btw, cool blog!

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