White Knight Mk 12 (BBC Soft) Review | A&B Computing - Everygamegoing

A&B Computing

White Knight Mk 12
By BBCSoft/BBC Publications
BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 2.07

White Knight has been around for some while and is established as the strongest chess playing program available for the BBC Micro. The Mk 12 version is an update claimed to have considerably stronger playing power than the Mk 11 with which I was already familiar.

A number of other facilities have been added including the ability to change pen and ink colours on the Mode 4 screen, save positions to tape and the option not to have White Knight's analysis displayed on screen which can give the human opponent unfair help. The program can also be used to analyse problem positions and supervise games between human players.

The playing strength of the Mk 12 is estimated at 1850+ ELO (156+ BCF) and it will provide good practice for strong club players (about my standard though I don't play regularly nowadays) without the need to engage very slow playing time. In a test game, I gave it a minute per move and had a very satisfying battle over an evening in which White Knight defended very accurately against a sacrificial attack in the early middle game, though it eventually succumbed in the endgame - the weakest part of any chess program it would seem. (In fairness I ought to admit that the Mk 11 has beaten me on a number of occasions.)

I also played it in a couple of games against my dedicated chess micro, Sensory Chess Challenger 9, which itself boasts an award-winning program. White Knight won the first game easily and lost the second with an endgame blunder having earlier outplayed SC9. I was particularly impressed in the latter game by the positional play of White Knight which exploited, in textbook style, advantages in space and mobility resulting from a pawn grab by SC9 in the opening.

An unfortunate limitation in White Knight from the point of view of playing practice is that it knows no opening theory, and as mentioned cannot maintain as high a standard of play in the endgame as in the middle game. Nevertheless, the author has worked wonders within the limits of a small microcomputer and this must be one of the best buys available for this machine.

Jonathan Evans

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