Overtom's weblog

LEGENDARY TWINS  (22 october 2006)

Producing chess computers is an expensive undertaking.

The software, housing, hardware and chessmen all require investment of large sums of money. Is it any wonder that manufacturers re-use the models they have made ( click)?

It was in the early 1990s that manufacturer CXG (aka Sphinx, or Newcrest Technology) gave up the struggle and closed its factory. One of the last models they made was the Legend :

CXG Legend

The Legend was a computer that would beat about 95% of chess players, so wouldn't it be a shame to just throw it into the trashcan. It's no surprise that this program later turned up under names as Krypton Regency and Excalibur Legend II (and one or two other models).

Excalibur Legend II

The heart of the CXG Legend was formed by an H8 processor, which ran at a speed of 10 MHz. If, however, we believe the text on the box of the Excalibur computer, the Legend II would be twice as fast: 20 MHz. That would definitely result in a stronger program.

The best way to find out if Excalibur Legend II is really so much stronger than the original CXG Legend is probably by organizing a mini-match between the two machines -- which I did.

The two machines played seven games in all. The games suggested that the two computers used the same opening libraries: quite a large number of moves were played from their libraries and at exactly the same point in the game they started making their own moves.

 Seven games playedwon: lost:drawn:
CXG Legend 223
Excalibur Legend II2 23

These results do not confirm the suggestion that the Excalibur machine would be twice as fast as the original CGX Legend.

An explanation for this claim could lie in the fact that the H8 peripherals run at twice the speed of the processor itself. So I assume the 20 MHz mentioned by Excalibur is not the processor speed.

As the two contestants were in fact the same program, the games did not consist of a clash of different ideas and were consequently somewhat uneventful.

Still, there were two games that I found of interest. Quite accidentally, both were won by the CXG computer.

CXG Legend - Excalibur Legend II

As you can see, both games are won by attacks on the king's position. Such games are usually rather spectacular to behold.

Excalibur Legend II - CXG Legend

Yesterday, I got hold of a third Legend clone, the Krypton Regency. This is what it looks like:

Krypton Regency

Unfortunately, it came too late to take part in the competition. Maybe something for a later weblog ...

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