Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 7 / FEBRUARY 1989



by Greg Knauss

Maybe you don't want to take up chess because you've beard it's boring. 0r maybe you already play, but are tired of the long minutes you've spent waiting for your opponent's next move. Killer Chess pumps new life into an age old game with fast and furious play that keeps you on your toes.

The race is to the swift! KILLER.ARC is on your START disk. A color monitor is required.

Killer Chess incorporates most of the legal moves of the traditional game, with the usual demands of skill and strategy. But there's one big difference--in Killer Chess you don't take turns! With joystick in hand, each player works simultaneously to wipe out the opponent's pieces until either king is captured. It's a race against time where winning is determined not by how careful you are but how fast you are.

To run Killer Chess, copy the files KILLER.ARC and ARCX.TTP onto a blank, formatted disk. Un-ARC KILLER.ARC following the Disk Instructions elsewhere in this issue. Killer Chess will run in low or medium resolution. Double-click on KILLER.PRG to start the game. A few seconds later the title and game screen will appear. Two joysticks are required.

Playing Killer Chess

Press the spacebar to start the slaughter. With the joystick, move the square cursor to the piece you wish to move, then press the fire button to "grab" that piece. At the lower left of the screen, under the title, are two black boxes. When you grab a piece it appears in its respective Hold box until you finish the move. Now, move the piece to the desired square and press the fire button again. If it's a legal move, you'll hear a bell. If it's not a legal move, you'll hear a dull thud. (Because of the fast-paced nature of Killer Chess, moves like castling and taking pawns en passant cannot be done.) To quit the game, press the spacebar.

Once gameplay has begun, watch out and just keep moving as fast as you can. If your opponent hesitates, you can probably get in three or four moves before he or she can recover. Since gameplay is so quick in Killer Chess you can win the whole game using nothing but the queen. Of course, after a few games you'll find out there are many more ways to win. If you need help with basic chess moves, check your local library.

Killer Options

Killer Chess utilizes the first three Function keys to access features that make gameplay even more compelling.

Press F1 to change the board's traditional arrangement. This option gives you three alternate boards to choose from. Each time you press F1 you're given a different arrangement requiring a new strategy.

Press F2 to change Player One's pieces to a fantasy-adventure theme In this option, rooks become wizards and pawns become trolls. Press F3 to do the same for Player Two. The sets can be used interchangeably. To return to the Desktop, press the Escape key.

Hey! It Uses Joysticks!

The 8-bit version of Killer Chess was written in ACTION!, the programming language distributed by ICD. To translate the game to the ST, I used GFA BASIC, which I found wonderful to work with. The transition was nearly effortless for both me and the game.

Of course, all was not a bed of roses. It took me only two weeks of on-again off-again work to finish the program, except for one thing: I didn't know how to read the joysticks! There the game sat, unchanged for over five months because I couldn't read the darn joysticks. I heard rumors of "packets" and other confusing things, but I never found the code I needed.

killerchess.jpg In Killer Chess each
player works simul-
taneously to wipe
out the opponent's
pieces until either
king is captured. It's
a new twist on an
age-old game.

Then one day a member of my computer club handed me a public domain GFA BASIC game called Slalom Event. That game uses a joystick and it works! At last I found code that would work just as well in Killer Chess.

To use the joystick routine, I simply moved the section of code marked "joystick init routine" into the initialization code of the program. (I made one minor change in the routine that you can change back if you want: I put the joystick pointers into an array Joy(x). The code initially had them as Joy_0% and Joy_1%. If you keep them as an array, you'll have to DIM it at the beginning of your program.)

Then, anytime I needed a value for a joystick, I just typed Print PEEK(Joy(0)) or Print PEEK(Joy(1) ). Pushing the stick up returned a 1, down a 2, left a 4 and right an 8. I found that instructions for diagonal movement added two of the values together, and pushing the trigger added 128 to the value. I've tested the routine on a Mega 2 and found that it works with its new version of TOS.


I think ST users will enjoy Killer Chess as much as 8-bit users do. It's a fast-action game that keeps the players light on their feet. As far as I know, this is the first direct translation of a magazine game for the 8-bit over to the ST, but I hope it's not the last. There are some great games on the older machines that magazines like Antic have published in the past. They could be even better on the ST.

START first-timer Greg Knauss lives in Palos Verdes California and has been a frequent contributor to Antic.