Overtom's weblog

A LOW-PRICED PALM COMPUTER  (2 january 2004)

On the old site of the CSVN (Computer Chess Association of the Netherlands; the site does not exist any more) I read that you could buy a palm-computer (Zire) for no more than 99 euros. This computer could be used as an inexpensive pocket chess-computer, for instance in combination with the 20-dollar chess program Tiger.

Being a chess-computer junkie, I could not very well restrain myself, and through the Internet I ordered this Zire. In about a week or so, a van halted before my address and delivered a slick white little handheld machine that bore the Persian name Zire.

The Tiger program was quickly downloaded, but performed poorly until a credit card completed the transaction. But a message I received suggested that I'll have to pay more than the advertised twenty dollars because Tiger had not mentioned the fact that you also have to pay VAT. 

This was, however, not as bad as some two years ago, when I had to pay almost twice the advertised price for an Excalibur chess-computer because Excalibur chose not to mention freight, tax and clearing expenses.

You can imagine I immediately wanted to test how strong my latest acquisition was. A good way to find this out is by organizing a competition with other chess programs.

The first program that I allowed it to play against was Queen, written bij Dutch programming guru Leen Ammeraal and freely available on the Internet ( http://home.wxs.nl/~ammeraal/english.html). Mr Ammeraal does not write commercial chess programs. But still his program turned out to be superior to the Tiger program. Both games were easily won by Queen (see first two games below).

Then I tried another chess program Epoc, which is available for free for Psion handheld computers. Although Psion made really wonderful handheld computers, the firm did not survive the rat race: Psion computers are no longer found in the shops.

It must be said: the Psion program offered brave resistance. The first game (no. 3) ended in a draw. I stopped the second game (no. 4) after 71 moves, when Tiger had all the trumps and Psion hadn't any chances left to even make a draw.

The last game between Tiger and Epoc (which is actually the name of Psion's operating system) was a quick victory for Tiger. For moralists: this game may be interpreted as another warning to beware the poisoned pawn on b2.

Finally the actual games:

1. Tiger - Queen

2. Queen - Tiger

3. Epoc - Tiger

4. Tiger - Epoc

5. Tiger - Epoc

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