1980 Computer Chess Tournament

by | May 22, 2017

If this is the first time you have read one of my posts about old computer chess tournaments I recommend that you read 1979 Computer Chess Tournament to find out more if what I am doing. So here is the 1980 Computer Chess Tournament. I have changed somethings on how I doing the tournament. For example, this tournament is no longer a double round robin event. For this tournament I have decided to use the swiss Dubov, and I gave all the opponents a rating, which will be used for the pairing. This will also be used to rate the players to enter the next tournament. If a players rating is above average, they will be entered in the next tournament. That being said I also brought in some players from the 1979 tournament. So with that lets meet the players.

Meet the Players

Apple 2+ – Microchess 2

The Apple ][+ was an 8Bit computer that was released in 1979 and features the following. CPU: MOS 6502 1MHz | Memory: RAM 48kB, 12kB ROM improved from  4kB expandable to 48kB, 12kB ROM in the Apple 2  Screen: 8 colors at 280 x 192, 4-bit color at 40 x 48 improved from 6 colors at 280×192, 4-bit color at 40×48 in the Apple 2 Data path: 8-bit | I/O Ports: Composite monitor, Internal Slots (8), Tape recorder In/Out jacks | Keyboard: Full-stroke keyboard | Built In Media: None | OS: DOS 3.2.1 and DOS 3.3 | Built In Language: AppleSoft Basic (Microsoft F.P. version). Microchess was developed by Peter R. Jennings originally for the MOS KIM-1. It was the first software package that sold 50,000 copies. Microchess later went on to the TRS-80. Apple ][, Commodore PET, and the Atari 400/800.

Apple 2+ – Sargon

Sargon was introduced at the 1978 West Coast Computer faire, and written by Dan and Kathleen Spracklen, where it won the first computer chess tournament held strictly for microcomputers. It returns to this tournament after placing 4th out 5 in the 1979 Computer Chess Tournament.


Apple 2+ – Sargon 2

Sargon 2 was created later that year with great improvements, its claim to fame was when it beat Awit, a chess program running on a $6,000,000 Amdahl Computer. It returns to this tournament after coming in 2nd in the 1979 Computer Chess Tournament.

Atari 2600 – Video Chess

In 1977 Nolan Bushnell’s Atari released the 2600, one of the first home video game consoles. It featured the following. CPU: MOS 6507 1.19 MHz | ROM: 4k max | RAM: 128 bytes, in VLSI | Graphic Modes: 160 x 260 (horz.) at 60.00 Hz | Sprites: 32 | Colors: 256 (static) | Sound Processor: Two Channel Square or Noise (TIA) | I/O Ports: Two controller connectors, Power in, RF TV output | Controllers: 2 joysticks with one fire button each | Media: Cartridges. Video Chess was created in 1979 by Robert A. Whitehead and Larry Wagner.

Atari 400 – Computer Chess

The 8Bit computer was released in 1979 and featured the following. CPU: MOS 6502 1.79MHz | Co-Processors: ANTIC (Scrolling, Sprites, Video), CTIA / GTIA (Color, Sprites, Collisions), POKEY (Timers, Sound, Keyboard, Serial I/O), PIA 6810 (I/O including controller ports) | RAM: 8K or 16K (newer models) | ROM: 10K | Display: 24 x 40 text, 320 x 192 monochrome, 160 x 96 with 128 colors | Expansions: 2 internal expansion slots, 1 cartridge slot under front cover and a daisy-chainable expansion bus | Ports: 4 controller ports | Keyboard: QWERTY membrane keyboard with 61 keys, 4 function keys (Reset, Option, Select, Start) | TV video output | Storage: external 5.25″ floppy drive, cassette recorder | OS: Atari OS. Computer Chess is a cartridge chess program for Atari 8-bit home computers by Larry Wagner (Game AI, with the help of Julio Kaplan [1]) and Bob Whitehead, initially the development version or prototype of Video Chess, released for the Atari 2600 in 1978 [2]. In 1979 a revised version of the program was released by Atari as Computer Chess, adapted for the Atari 400/800. A joystick was used to move the pieces.

Atari 400 – Master Chess

Master Chess, a chess program for Amstrad CPC by Amsoft / Mikro-Gen, released in 1984, written in Z80 machine code apparently based on ZX Spectrum Chess written by Anthony Adam. A program with the same name was further published in 1987 by Mastertronic for Amstrad CPC and various Z80 as well as 6502 based home computers, such as Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, MSX and ZX Spectrum [1].

Atari 800 – Master Chess

The Atari 800 was basically and Atari 400 upgraded. it came with 8k base RAM, but upgradable to 48k, and updated the keyboard to a proper keyboard, compared to the membrane keyboard used in the 400.

Commodore PET – Microchess 2

The Commodore PET is a 8Bit computer that was released in 1977. The emulator that I use is based on the 4000 series. The PET 4000 series is equipped with the MOS 6502 running at 1 MHz and had 8, 16 or 32kb of RAM and 20kb ROM. Video was the MOS 6545 12″ monochrome monitor, with 40X80 or 80X25 character display.

Exidy Sorcerer – Sargon

The Exidy Sourcer was an 8Bit computer was released in 1978, and features the following. CPU: Zilog Z80 A 2.106 MHz. | RAM: 8 KB, later 16KB (up to 48 KB) | VRAM: 2 KB | ROM: 8 KB | Text Modes: 64 chars. x 30 lines | Graphic Modes: 128 programmable graphics characters | Colors: Monochrome | Sound: By connecting a speaker to pins 1 and 4 of the parallel port. | I/O Ports: Expansion Bus (S100), Parallel Interface, Video out, Serial Interface, Tape recorder EAR & MIC (300 / 1200 bauds) | Keyboard: Full-stroke keyboard, 79 keys with numeric keypad | OS: CP/M (needs the extender chassis with disk drive) | Built In Language: BASIC interpreter ROM cartridge | Peripherals: Floppy drive unit, S-100 bus expansion box, Intelligent tape recorder, Micromation’s Doubler disk drive controller

PTC SOL-20 – 8080 Chess

The SOL-20 was released in 1976. It ran with an Intel 8080 at 2 MHz. It had 1kb RAM expanable to 64kb. The display was 64X16 text. Expansion was done by five S-100 bus. It had serial, parallel, and cassette for ports. An external cassette was used for storage, with an optional floppy drive. 8080 Chess, a chess program by Robert Arnstein for S-100 bus microcomputers, consisted of the pins of the Intel 8080 run out onto the backplane. It was commercially marketed in the 70s by Processor Technology Corporation. The 8080 Chess manual is still available online. 8080 Chess was the first microcomputer to participate in an ACM North American Computer Chess Championship, the ACM 1977 [1]. It further played the Second West Coast Computer Faire Microcomputer Chess Tournament in March 1978 [2].

TI99/4 – Video Chess

The Texas Instruments TI-99/4 was released in 1979. This computer was equipt with a TI MS9900 running at 3 MHz, with 256bytes “scratchpad” RAM, and 16kb VDP (graphics RAM). Video Chess was written by David Levy.

TRS-80 Colour Computer – Microchess

The Radio Shack Colour Computer (TRS-80 CoCo) was released in 1980 and features the following features. CPU: Motorola 6809E 0.895 MHz (or 1.79 MHz) | RAM: 4 KB up to 64 KB | ROM: 8 KB | Text Modes: max : 16 x 32, min : 16 x 8 | Graphic Modes: Several graphic modes, max : 256 x 192 (with 2 colors) | Colors: 9 | Sound: 1 voice (6-bit DAC) | I/O Ports: Tape, RGB, Joystick (2), Monitor, Cartridge, Serial RS232 | Keyboard: QWERTY calculator type keyboard | OS: OS-9 Level 1. Microchess has already been discussed in this post.

TRS-80 Model 1 – Microchess

The TRS-80 was manufactured by the Tandy Corporation in 1977. It featured a Zilog Z80 @ 1.774 MHz and 4 ~ 48 KB of RAM.

TRS-80 Model 1 – Sargon

TRS-80 model 1 – Sargon 2