If you do not currently have a master-strength chess computer or chess-playing software, I strongly recommend that you get one. Such computers often have spectacular tactical abilities. From experience I have found that they are excellent training tools and will help you win more games. A weakness commonly found is a lack of understanding by computers of positions where tactics has little to do with the correct evaluation of a position. But on the whole they will do you a great deal of good. Some merchants make a distinction between chess computers and chess-playing computer software. I do not see any real difference other than the exact form of the chess computer.

There are some chess computers that play at less than master level. I do not recommend them for those trying to win a championship. There are some players who may find them satisfactory for their purposes. I have read conflicting information concerning the playing strength of Novag Star Opal. The figures I get range from 1700 to 2200. The highest figure still falls well short of what I recommend. I don’t recommend it if you want a grandmaster-strength computer.

There have been serious supply problems surrounding the Mephisto and Saitek Chess Computers. This is completely beyond my control. It is also beyond the control of the product shippers. If you want one of their computers and can get it, great. But if you find it to be out of stock on the day you attempted purchase I hope you will understand.

The first chess computer that will be shown below is a master-level chess computer called Millennium Chess Computer – Chess Genius. It is recommended by former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. The information I saw showed an ELO rating of 2795 which is lower than some other computers but still establishes it as a strong master. An ELO rating is thought to be up to 200 points higher than a USCF rating.

Below that you will see chess-playing software such as Houdini 5, Deep Shredder 12, ChessBase 14, and Chess Assistant 16 PRO. Still farther down you will see an assortment of stand-alone chess computers. It used to be that all chess computers were independent machines designed specifically to analyze chess positions or play chess. There are still some around.


Millennium Chess Genius Computer

The item shown above is Millennium Chess Computer – Chess Genius, endorsed by former world champion Anatoly Karpov. Reviews on this computer are very limited. There is also a very similar-looking product which has a lower price tag, and not quite as much playing strength. This item is called Millennium Europe Chess Master II. One piece of information I have gives its maximum playing strength as ELO 2100 which is about Class A (1800-1999 USCF rating equivalent). I would like to caution however that getting reliable information on playing strength is not as easy as I would like.

For further information about this computer and other Millennium Chess Computers please click on the link below:



$129: GARAGE SALE ITEM: Millennium Chess Computer – Chess Genius



Shown in this section is chess-playing software that you download into a PC. It serves the same purpose as a stand-alone chess computer except it is used on a computer that is commonly used for many other purposes. For further information about an item please click on the image or the blue text under the image.

Rybka 4 World Champion Chess Software

Deep Rybka 4 World Champion Chess Software

Fritz 15 Chess Software

Deep Shredder 12 Chess Play Software (DVD)

Houdini 5 Standard

Chess Assistant 16 PRO with Houdini PRO (DVD)

ChessBase 14 Starter Package

Roman’s Lab #18, Blitz as a Tool to Better Chess, Secrets in Beating Chess Computer Programs (DVD)


Stand-Alone Chess Computers

Items shown below represent only part of the available items. Please scroll to the link below the images for further information.

Excalibur Grand Master chess computer Radio Shack Master 60-2217 NOVAG COMPUTERS
Excalibur Grandmaster 747 Radio Shack Super Nintendo 1680L Saitek Advanced Travel Chess Computer

Please click on the following link for further information:



The first item shown above is Excalibur GrandMaster. Customer opinions of this machine are mixed. Some were highly impressed with its playing strength and think they got a good deal. But there were also complaints that it has no AC Adapter, it’s workmanship is substandard, and the vinyl playing surface is substandard. There are complaints that is unsuitable for inexperienced players. There are also complaints that the pieces don’t stay properly positioned on the squares. The price is high. You might be paying over $400. It’s maximum playing strength is estimated to be about 2200, just barely master strength.

The next item shown above is Radio Shack Master 60-2217. The price varies between different shippers and whether it is new or used. Typically you will pay close to $100 at the minimum. This computer was endorsed by former World Champion Garry Kasparov. There are problems finding customer reviews on this product so it is difficult to judge its merits.

The third item shown above is Novag Citrine Chess Computer. It has an estimated USCF rating of 2350. That would put it very much into master territory. This computer has a high price tag. You could be paying over $1000 for one. Apart from the high cost, most buyers thought they got a good deal. But there was at least one complaint about the hardware.

Customer reviews on Novag Star Opal are generally favorable. However this computer is not in the ballpark of Magnus Carlsen or anything like that in terms of playing strength. For this reason I do not recommend it for those trying to win a championship. It may be satisfactory for some players who are satisfied with less playing strength in a chess computer.



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