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Now that the holidays are near, it may be a good idea to have a look at pocket chess computers. After all, you never know what the weather will be like.

But even in the sun, it can be quite pleasant to play a nice little game of chess.

The first pocket chess computers that I bought were not very strong. If you wanted to play any kind of game with them, you often had to wait for minutes before a move appeared. And even then, the moves produced could be rather weak.

One such weak computer was Novag's Topaz:

Another was the Kasparov Pocket Plus:

The main advantages of these two machines were that they were cheap and easy to carry along. Fifteen years ago, there were hardly any strong pocket chess computers available.

Since a year or so, there's been a pocket chess computer on the market named Saitek Cosmic. It looks like a palmtop, including a touch-pen, which serves as a kind of mouse.

If we want to know how strong this slick little machine is, it may be a good idea to see how it performs against another midget that I often use for rating puposes, the Zire palmtop with the Chess Tiger program.

So I organized a few games between the two machines.

After the two computers had played two games against each other, it was clear that Cosmic did not stand much chance against the combination of Zire and Tiger.

Let's have a look at the two games:

Chess Tiger - Saitek Cosmic

The second game (below) was actually lost after 9... Bb5, when Cosmic could not help losing a bishop.

Saitek Cosmic - Chess Tiger

If you go for small size and high rating, the Zire with Tiger is the right choice. A second point in Zire's favour is that its chessmen on the screen are better discernible than those of Cosmic. And last but not least: the Zire is an all purpose handheld computer that can be connected to a pc.

The main advantage of Cosmic is that it is lower in price.

And another thing: I once dropped the Cosmic computer in the street. Most other computers would have stopped functioning. But as you can see above, Cosmic still works fine - for a weak computer.

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