This was one of the first games brought over to the Apple //e using the ADTPro software. It took about twenty minutes to transfer via audio cables, as I hadn’t yet purchased the Super Serial Card to make my life easier.
Let me be upfront here – the computer is hard as nails. I’m sure there’s many professional and even amateur chess players that could fight their way through this, but I’m not one of them. To this day, I’ve lost every match to the computer.
I’m not a terrible chess player either, but I won’t ever claim to be a very good one. The Shredder chess app on the iPad is a little more forgiving with what I would call a ‘scaling’ artificial intelligence, that dumbs itself down for my puny human brain.
Colossus is, however, entertaining. Despite not having won a game, playing against the computer is just enough of a challenge to remain engaging. I have the feeling that with a decent amount of practice, I would be able to at least force the computer into a draw, if not an outright checkmate. It seems like it’s on the horizon, which is why I keep coming back to playing it.
And apart from Shredder on the iPad, I haven’t found an equivalent chess computer program that I enjoy. I’m sure there’s plenty of options on the PC, including versing real opponents. But as I’ve mentioned many times already on this blog, there’s something deeply satisfying about the Apple //e and its software.
It’s one of the only examples I could find from the Apple //e chess program library where direct manipulation of the chess pieces was possible. That is to say, you need not look at anything else in this program besides the GUI. Simply move the crosshairs over the chess piece using the keyboard, move it, place it down, and that’s it.
As soon as you insert the disk into the drive, it loads up a match. Instant chess satisfaction.
That being said, there’s an extensive amount of information that can be brought up with the space bar. While the Apple //e does not have a real time clock available (normally), Colossus Chess does a halfway decent job of estimating the time elapsed.
It’s also fascinating to watch the computer’s mind tick over while it’s analysing its next move. Looking at the ‘Current line’ and ‘Positions’ fields gives you a sense of futility. An impressive amount of work has gone into this program to make it one of the leading chess playing machines of its day, and it will be interesting to try and match it against other machine opponents in the future.
By far, this is one of my favourite applications on the Apple //e thus far. While I didn’t play this growing up, it gives me a level of interaction with the //e that many other games do not. In every respect this is the classic versus match, pitting human and machine together.
At it’s core, Colossus Chess 4.0 is a no-nonsense chess playing computer program that should definitely be a part of any //e software collection.
Thank you M. Bryant!