Wednesday, September 07, 2005

OS X Chess.app -- is it easier in Tiger than Panther -- or does it learn?

OS X includes a pretty darned impressive chess game game. The marble skin in Tiger gives the clearest pieces.

I'm no chess player, and my 8 yo is even worse, so we play it in 'fastest' (dumbest mode). Only it seems to behave differently in Tiger and Panther.

On my G3 iBook running Panther it tends to beat us fairly handily -- even in 'fastest' mode and even when we cheat and 'take back' dumb moves. On my far more powerful G5 iMac, however, I can beat it fairly easily in that mode.

So what's the story?

Does it learn? (God, I hope not.) Is there a bug in the 10.3.9 version so it behaves as though it were in mid-range smarts? Did Apple dumb it down for Tiger (thank you)? I'm curious.

Update 9/14/05: I'm convinced there are a few bugs. I think in 10.3.9 the prefs don't always work -- sometimes Chess.app works at its default setting despite what the gui shows. In 10.4.2 Chess.app at its lowest setting is very beatable (it looks one move ahead, so it will quickly trade a pawn for a queen). On the other hand in 10.4.2 we saved a game with a bishop that couldn't be moved. He was stuck!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I've been having the same experience as you are with Tiger chess. I miss the old, unbeatable, Panther chess. And, yes, there seem to be some bugs in the Tiger version. (I have trouble coaxing the machine to make a move, at times. Clicking on the strength pref slider, either stronger or weaker, forces the move but...)

This is just about the only discussion of Tiger chess I can find via google. It's weird that they changed the program without any documentation.

At first, I thought it was learning but after playing a dozen games or so, I'm pretty sure it's not.

Anyway, please do post again if you learn more.

John said...

The Tiger chess is better for kids, they can learn some basic strategies and win a few games -- at the lowest setting. I don't get to play these days, so I've not experimented further. We've run into bugs too. If you undo too many moves (cheating, sure) things can get pretty messed up.

There are a lot of things in OS X that aren't really documented, much documenting the updates.

It is a nice freebie though. Thanks for the comment.