Friday, January 25, 2013

ChessEnthusiast - Nook Chess App for a Dollar

    For $0.99 I recently downloaded this chess app for my Nook Color. The online blurb says it offers a choice of two strong chess engines combined with a feature-rich GUI. This highly configurable app gives you the freedom to edit the board, return to any past position by clicking on the notation, toggle between human vs human, computer vs human, computer vs computer. You can also adjust difficulty level, edit the board, enter analyze mode and see computer recommendations for moves and move notation is automatically recorded for your review. You can even export the notation. It is also supposed to be possible to install other engines, but I am not quite sure what the procedure for that is. The game may be saved and resumed later.
       After I purchased the app I read the reviews and found it got poor reviews. The biggest complaint was that the engine freezes and stops making moves. One review said it was “thinking” for twelve hours. Another reviewer said it caused his Nook to freeze up after 2 moves and after restarting it several times he decided to delete the app after 1 hour of trying to get it to work. Others had problems with en passant capturing. I had initial problems with it not working also, but I think that problem had something to do with the time setting which I can only describe as “weird” and, possibly, the engine selected. Time setting options are “Moves – number of moves between time controls” which are 10-20-30-40-50 and 60. “Time – maximum thinking time between time controls” with options of 1-2-3-5-10 and 15 minutes. There is also an “Increment” setting that allows you to add 0 to 5 seconds per move. Engines choices are : Shitoku+ and Cockatoo. I was not able to locate information on either one of them but the Cockatoo engine seems only slightly weaker that Houdini…makes me wonder.

In addition to changing the engine from “Shitoku+” to “Cockatoo” I changed the “Moves” setting to 20 moves and the “Time” setting to one minute and have had absolutely no problems other than the fact that at these settings I have yet to win a game! Well worth the dollar it costs provided you adjust the default settings.

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