Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 77 / OCTOBER 1986 / PAGE 66

Paul Whitehead Teaches Chess

Larry Krengel

Requirements: Apple II-series computer with 64K minimum; Commodore 64; IBM PC/PCjr and compatibles. A disk drive is also required.

Paul Whitehead was a better chess player than the average high school student. So good, in fact, that before he completed his teenage years he had won a number of chess titles, including the Masters Division of the American Chess Championship. Now, the young chess master has concocted a computer chess tutorial which includes a program that teaches the fine points of the age-old game of chess, as well as a chess program for you to play against.

Paul Whitehead Teaches Chess is two programs contained on several disks—for example, a four-disk set in the Apple version and a three-disk set for Commodore. The main instructional program provides tutoring for what Whitehead terms "absolute beginner to middle-level" players. (By the way, his middle level is well above my high level.) The second program, called The Coffeehouse Chess Monster, is a chess opponent program.

The tutorials are divided into 11 groups. A poster-size road map gives the user an overview. The tutorials covering the rules include topics such as How the Pieces Move and How the Pieces Capture, progressing to Checkmate and Stalemate Is Better Than Losing.

When you're ready to move on from the basics, other tutorials come under such headings as Opening Principles, Tactics, and Strategy. The last of these three—Strategy—includes 167 separate screens.

Despite the large size of the tutorial, you're never stuck within the program. I really appreciated the fact that I wasn't trapped in any long runs of sequenced screens. I could duck out any time I wanted and move to any other screen I requested.

I've been playing chess for over 30 years, but I never heard of Grob's Attack or a Pirc Defense. Paul has, and he includes it in his instruction. Do you know what Giuoco Piano is, or how to handle a desperate knight? Whitehead will fill you in.

If you must sacrifice a piece, you'll find five good ways to do it. When you think you know your stuff, try one of the quizzes contained in the program.

At any time, with any board on the screen, you can invite the Coffeehouse Chess Monster to play out the board. You can choose which side you want to play. In fact, you can even ask the Monster to play both sides while you watch. The chess program has nine levels of play, and uses the standard algebraic notation system—as does the tutorial program.

Before I finish, I really must mention the documentation—all four pages of it. That's right—a total of four small pages of instructions. The program is just that simple to use.

If you want to sharpen your chess game, your money will be well invested in Paul Whitehead Teaches Chess.

Paul Whitehead Teaches Chess
1240 Sanchez St.
San Francisco, CA 94114