Today we live in a age of “Super Computers”, quad core machines, water cooled, turbo charged, rocket powered and running at speeds that no one would have dreamed of twenty-seven years ago when Commodore Business Machines first launched their Commodore 64 an 8 Bit 1.022 MHz (NTSC) machine or 0.985 MHz (PAL). The C64 programmers had to struggle to fit code for the program as well as graphics and sound into 64 KB of RAM and still leave enough memory space for processing. The size of a chess program for the Commodore 64 was typically about 20 - 30 KB in size. Today’s PC chess programs have no size or speed limitations at all.
Playing a game of chess where the C64 program receives sufficient time think 5 halves moves ahead (5 ply) can take an average of 10 minutes per move and would take 16 hours and 40 minutes to play a game of 100 moves. This would be more than 32 hours if both players were C64 machines. In comparison an outdated Pentium 4, AMD Athlon or Turion 1.8 GHz machine chess engine plays these 100 moves in 30 seconds if limited to 5 ply thinking time. That is at least 2000 times faster then a 1982 C64 and XX thousand times faster if a modern high end machine is used.
Modern top chess programs exceed 3000 ELO are only useful nowadays for evaluating positions. No one can beat them, not even top Grandmasters or World Champions. Gone are the days where a world’s top Grandmaster would take on a challenge against a chess computer program.
Dedicated computers dominated the chess computer scene between 1980 and 1990 and Home Computer Software was often seen as inferior in strength compared to the more expensive dedicated machines that were available at that time. But this opinion may be misleading since the better dedicated chess computers all ran at higher cpu’s than their Home Computer opponents.
So how good was the chess software available for a Commodore 64? The COMMODORE OPEN CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP 2009 aim’s to find out just how good chess was when played at 1 MHz as well as find out how the different Commodore 64 Software matched up against Dedicated Chess Computers.
The COMMODORE OPEN CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP is played at 30 seconds per move or 60 moves in 30 minutes. Commodore 64 software at this level thinks 3 half moves ahead (ply) most of the time with some exceptions in endgames or simple positions where the Commodore 64 software may reach 4 or even 5 ply.