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Dedicated Electronic Chess Computer Sets

Updated on October 21, 2016

Why Buy an Electronic Chess Computer?

Electronic chess computers like the models pictured on the right are pretty much obsolete. Many chess players don't want to shed a hundred bucks for a decent chess game that'll be enough of a challenge for them to want to continue playing, especially if there are free programs that anyone can simply install on their PC.

Stockfish 7, for example, is a chess engine that is much stronger then any human being, yet it's a free engine. Not to mention all the multiplayer chess sites like Chess.com. Sites like these offer thousands of people to play against. So, why buy an electronic computer chess set?

Obviously, there is still a considerable demand out there for these now vintaged computer chess sets. The first and probably foremost reason is because they have now become a collector's item. It sort of similar to when they stopped making Twinkies, suddenly everyone wanted a box! Now, electronic computer chess games are non-perishable items, and if taken care of properly, these things will last and last.

Update - There is now a brand new dedicated chess computer, called the Millennium Chess Computer. See below for more details.

Even if these electronic chess sets weren't a collector's item, I believe there would still be people buying one or two off of Ebay. You see, there is something about playing chess on a computer that just isn't real. What I mean is that it lacks the physical element.

I for one, can't seem to play my strongest if I don't have a physical board with real chess pieces. It doesn't matter if the screen displays the pieces three-dimensionally, it can't truly replace the real thing. If you're like me, join the club. You're one of the many people who'd see the benefit in a dedicated electronic chess computer (i.e. a computer that is designed for one purpose, play chess).

Millennium Chess Genius PRO

ELO - 2200

Opening Books

- Classic London Book = 57,000 Positions

- Modern Book = 100,000 Positions

Processor Speed - 120 MHz

Note - Internal engine is Richard Lang's Chess Genius

The Millennium Chess Genius PRO is a chess computer that plays top level chess (approximately 2200 ELO). It has 2 opening books, with a combined total of 150,000 positions.

The internal software used is Richard Lang's Chess Genius, an engine that beat world grandmaster Gary Kasparov and achieved an elo rating of 2795 on a "slow" 100 MHz PC. This 10 time computer chess champion engine will exercise anyone's skills, regardless of their rating!

About the Layout of this Page

I’ve strived to organize this to be easy to make sense of. However, I have a lot of this to cover and inevitably, it might become a little confusing at times. There are four main sections on this page, each covering a major brand in the electronic computer chess industry. You can either scroll through each section of brands one by one, or you can click one of the links below and you’ll be taken to the beginning of that section.

Each section has a short description about the brand, and then the following subsection after that will be a list of the chess models that are worth buying from that particular brand. Until recently, I've had links to various chess computers available on Ebay. Unfortunately, these Ebay links have been discontinued sitewide, to avoid looking overly promotional. I'm sorry about this inconvenience, but it's out of my control. There are still models available on Ebay, and you can still use this page as a guide.

Please note that I will not be talking about the rare models that pop up now and then that collectors buy for a grand or more, because that isn’t the goal of this webpage. This page is for those of you who want to buy an electronic chess computer set to actually play on and learn from. Enjoy!

Novag

(1978-2014)

Novag Logo
Novag Logo

Novag (1978-2014)

Novag was a great electronic chess computer manufacturer which closed their doors as recently as 2014. Novag first began in 1978, under the helm of Peter Auge and Erich Winkler. Due to difficulties in coming along with one another, Winkler left to form his own company, SciSys, which would turn out to be a major competitor for Novag.

Novag’s first computer was the Chess Champion MK 1, which I encourage you to find more details at the link I’ve provided. It is quite intriguing how far computers have come 36 years! The MK 1 is a collector’s item which will very likely never be on ebay!

Common Novag Computers

(click column header to sort results)
Name  
Elo*  
Open Book**  
Speed (Mhz)  
Year  
2Robot
1800
145
8
2008
Aquamarine
1750
none
8
1996
Carnelian
1900
8500
8
2004
Carnelian II
1900
8500
8
2005
Citrine
2330
24000
20
2006
Obsidian
2320
8900
20
2005
Star Opal
1575
1100
8
1994
Star Opal II
1880
8500
8
1997
Star Sapphire
2383
36000
26.6
1994
Star Sapphire II
2500
123000
32
1997
Star Sapphire II (screen)
2500
123000
25
2003
Star Beryl
1750
0
8
2003
Star Diamond
2383
36000
26.6
1994
Star Ruby
2210
12000
20
1993
Star Ruby (screen)
2330
8000
20
2004
Topaz
1000
1300
8
1990
Topaz II
1000
1300
8
?
Tourmaline
1400
0
8
1990
Tourmaline Plus
1400
0
8
1998
Tourquoise
2294
8900
26.6
1998
* common rating system in chess (the higher the better) **Opening book positions in its memory

Saitek

1979/1986-2007?

Saitek Logo
Saitek Logo

Saitek really began it’s roots all the way back in 1979, when SciSys was created. For 7 years afterwards, all of electronic chess games had their main name, SciSys, as the brand. Than in 1986, they created a subsidiary company, Saitek, to focus solely on the chess computer, and ever since, they used the Saitek brand to market their products.

Both SciSys and Novag sold some of their first computers under their respective names. It wasn’t until 1980 that SciSys sold their own entirely separate model, and the was the Chess Partner 2000. You can see that by now chess computers had their own board to play on, and moves were enter by a sensory board, which is found in almost all the most recent table top chess computers.

Saitek is technically still running, but they don't make chess computer anymore. They actually make flight simulators now. However, the last chess computer they've created was the Mephisto Explorer Pro, which was a 2007 model, and probably the most stylish of any Electronic Chess Computer ever made!

For those of you who are wondering what Mephisto is, it's also a chess computer company, one that Saitek bought back in 1994. So, if you see a chess computer model that says "mephisto by saitek" it very likely is a model that came out on or after this year.


Common Saitek Chess Computers

(click column header to sort results)
Name  
ELO*  
Open Book**  
Speed  
Year  
Advanced Talking Chess
n/a
16000
8
1996
Advanced Travel Chess
2019
6000
10
2003
Alchemist
994
16
4.2
1998
Alchemist Plus
800
100
4.2
2000
Aragon
n/a
16
4.2
1998
Aria
881
n/a
4
1998
Aurora
n/a
100
4.2
1998
Barracuda
1900
6000
10
1998
Bravo
1900
6000
10
2000
Bullet
1975
100
4
1998
Capella
1897
6000
10
1998
Centurion
2019
6000
10
1998
Chess Challenger
2019
6000
10
2004
Coach Partner
1239
0
1.7
1995
Concord
2050
n/a
4
1995
Cosmos
1980
6000
10
1998
Cougar
2050
6000
16
1998
Expert Travel
1980
6000
10
2004
Express
n/a
0
4
1996
GK2000
1897
2000
10
1897
GK2100
1979
6000
10
1993
Maestro
1750
n/a
?
2004
Junior Chess
1400
 
 
 
Master
2076
50000
20
2004
Explorer
1880
6000
16
2005
Explorer Pro
2050
6000
16
2007
Prisma
1735
17000
10
1990
Portable Talking Coach
n/a
100
4
1997
Simultano Version C
1806
100000
5
1988
Talking Coach
n/a
n/a
1.7
1998
Talking Chess Trainer
850
16
4.2
1998
Team Mate
1450
5000
8
1988

Excalibur

Excalibur Logo
Excalibur Logo

To understand the beginning and history of Excalibur, I must first tell you about Fidelity. Fidelity, which was founded in 1959, is credited for building the first dedicate chess computer, the Fidelity Chess Challenger 1, in the year 1977. It had many successes since then, however, in the year 1992, Fidelity closed their doors.

That same year Shane Samole, the son of Fidelity's President and owner Sidney Samole, began Excalibur, which went on to become the largest chess computer manufacturer in the world. I am merely speculating, but I do believe the reason they were the largest is because they didn't really focus on creating the smartest chess computers, but merely the most affordable. The reason I believe this is because they've never created a computer with ELO rating above 2000, according to this site.

The last chess computer they came out with was the Excalibur LCD Chess Wizard Keychain which is a 2010 model.

Common Excalibur Electronic Chess Computers

(click column header to sort results)
Name  
ELO*  
Open Book**  
Speed  
Year  
Alexandra the Great
1653
32
10
2003
Chess Station
1380
Yes
5
2002
Deluxe Electronic Chess
1650
250
?
2005
Deluxe Talking Touch Chess
1611
32
10
2005
E-Chess & Checkers
1355
Yes
?
2003
E-Chess Express
n/a
12
40
2006
Einstein Chess Wizard
n/a
32
?
2008
Einstein E-MC2 Master
1750
250
?
2008
Einstein LCD Chess Master
1750
32
?
2008
Einstein Touch Chess
n/a
32
?
2008
Electronic Glass Chess
1750
20
2
1997
Grandmaster
1845
3000
12
1997
Igor
1845
Yes
12
1997
Ivan The Terrible
1845
Yes
10
1996
Ivan II The Conquerer
1900
Yes
10
2004
Karpov 2294
1940
13000
26.6
1997
King Arthur
1333
?
?
?
King Arthur Deluxe
1299
?
?
?
Kingmaster I
1092
?
?
?
Kingmaster II
1153
?
?
?
Kingmaster III
1365
250
5
2005
LCD Chess
1750
3000
5
2000
LCD Chess Wizard Keychain
1800
3000
5
2010
LCD Kingmaster 375V
1800
3000
5
2005
Legend II
1800
Yes
10
1993
Mentor
1800
8500
8
2000
Merlin
1600
0
?
1995
Mirage
1780
3000
10
1997
New York Times
1380
3000
5
2003
New York Times Deluxe
1500
3000
10
2007
Phantom Force
1650
3000
10
2007
Saber II
1650
0
4
1995
Saber III
1650
0
4
1996
Saber IV
1750
0
6
2006
Squire
1650
Yes
?
1997
Stilletto
1450
Yes
3.58
1993
Stilletto II
1600
Yes
4
1994
Stilletto III
1600
Yes
4
1996
Stilletto Deluxe
1450
Yes
3.58
1993
Stilletto II Deluxe
1500
Yes
4
1994
Talking E-Chess
1700
3000
?
2007
Talking LCD Chess
1800
3000
5
2005
The Excalibur
1650
0
?
1997

Radio Shack/Tandy

Radio Shack/Tandy Logo
Radio Shack/Tandy Logo

Radio Shack is probably the oldest business to ever sell chess computers. They started way back in 1921, and although I won't bore you with the history of the company, I want you to know that Tandy and Radio Shack are essentially the same company.Long story short, the two companies were run by the same family, (Tandy) and they were merged into one when Charles Tandy saw the potential growth in consumer electronics more favorable then a leather company and decided to move all other operations to Tandy Brands & Tandycrafts, and the Tandy Corporation became an electronics company. If you really want to know more, I point you to this page, where you can find much more details about the history of Radio Shack.

Most collectors don't consider them one of the main brands of chess computer manufacturers. Truly, there are only a few created by radio shack that are strong enough to compare with some of the others I've mentioned specifically, but I've decided to mention at least a few models from this brand, the main one is the 2250XL. See below for more details.

Radio Shack/Tandy Electronic Chess Computers

(click column header to sort results)
Name  
ELO*  
Open Book**  
Speed  
Year  
Champion 2150 B
1750
100000
3
1988
Champion 2150L
1750
17000
8
1992
Champion 2150XL
2014
20000
20
1996
Master 2200X
 
28000
10
1996
Master Chess Computer
 
6000
16
1998

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