Any decent Chessgames for the Nintendo DS

peterk1

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I have a couple of business trips coming up in the new year and, God, I hate traveling for work.
I've been trying to talk myself into getting a Nintendo DS to keep me company and lessen the pain, but won't buy it if I can't get a decent chess game for it.

I know about the Chessmaster and fritz ones, but it seems that neither of them have a practice board mode where you can make and take back moves easily while playing both sides. This is pretty much essential if you want to use it while reading along with a chess book.

A few reviewers have mentioned that each of the Chessmaster opponents use the exact same opening moves always and that's pretty much a deal breaker for me too.

Am I missing any decent ones that are out? There's one called Schach from Germany that I've read good reviews about but it's impossible to find anywhere. Does anyone here have and enjoy the Chessmaster/Fritz ones?
 

Scott Tortorice

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Actually, from what I've read, you might be better off forgetting the DS and getting a smartphone instead. There have been a flurry of chess apps for both the iPhone and the Android as of late. Even better, from what I read you can actually play some live chess against opponents with a smartphone (e.g., Chess.com has an Android app).

Here's some for the Android:

http://www.brighthub.com/mobile/google-android/articles/100165.aspx

And some for the iPhone:

http://menoob.com/iphone/5-best-chess-apps-for-the-iphone/
 

kcdusk

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I use Chessmaster and have no complaints. You can play human v human, and the option to take back a move is just clicking the "back" button, so i dont see that as a problem.

But, you'd need a PC/laptop. I was going to mention the chess phone + app idea as well. Most people (not me!) seem to have iphones or similar, and playing against a live opponant (timed) or move by post games (getting notified when its your move) would work great i'd think.
 

peterk1

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Hi kcdusk,
That's the wrong version of Chessmaster you're talking about. The PC one is great (I think i was one of the people on here who talked you into getting it?), but they always hobble the game terribly when they make versions for miniature game machines.

Hey Scott,
Yes, you're right...but I don't really need/want the phone part, and paying a monthly fee on the thing to play chess would stink royally. Live opponents would not be so great because I would use this on the bus while commuting and need to abandon the game when I get to work. A computer opponent wouldn't get as offended when I shut down in mid-game.
 

kcdusk

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I would use this on the bus while commuting and need to abandon the game when I get to work.
What about a $10 magnetic set, and challenge the person next to you? You'd become known as the "Chess shark"?
 

peterk1

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I don't know what things are like down under, but here I have a feeling I'd have to find a new bus-route if I started challenging strangers to chess games at 8 in the morning.
 

Scott Tortorice

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I don't know what things are like down under, but here I have a feeling I'd have to find a new bus-route if I started challenging strangers to chess games at 8 in the morning.
:D I can see the news story now: "Man arrested on bus for hustling chess."

Yeah, that is the problem with DS programs: they really aren't as good as the full program.

What about an old-fashioned handheld chess computer? They've been getting cheaper and cheaper because of the smartphone competition:

http://www.wholesalechess.com/shop/chess_computers/handheld_chess_computers

I like the Saitek Mephisto Maestro. :cool:
 

Scott Tortorice

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Another satisfied customer. :)

Be sure to let us know what you think of it. I have an old Saitek chess travel computer and really liked it. Saitek makes good stuff.
 

peterk1

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Will do. I'm sure it'll be just what the doctor ordered. I ended up just getting the Mephisto.

As well as using it on the bus on the way to work, I have also just made the momentous decision that I will use it at work during especially boring meetings. I think I can get away with it because it looks a lot like a PDA or cellphone.

BTW...I've set Saturday afternoon aside for a test of the chess.com live tournament system. I think I can handle the 30/10 time control even though that's a bit faster than I would like. Feel like joining in? I'll probably start at noon sharp.
 

peterk1

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Thanks to on-line tracking, I know that my Mephisto is, apparently, currently in a huge pile of Christmas crap at the customs office about 20 minutes from me. Grrrrr.
I thought we had a free trade agreement! Isn't there some sort of exemption for chess stuff? Or for MY stuff???

Will have it on Monday...too late, alas, for perhaps what will be the most boring work meeting of the year.
 

Scott Tortorice

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Sorry to hear that. Maybe if you went to the customs office and made sad eyes at the workers inside they might expedite things?

View attachment 34906
I can has Mephisto?

That's the way it always seems to work with me too with the ill-timed delays. The once in a blue moon that I really can't wait to get my hands on a package, some sort of holiday rolls into town and shuts down the postal service and I wind up waiting 2x as long for it. I should really check the calendar more often when ordering stuff. :D

As for that $1000 rosewood set...we can dream. :yummy: Still, even if I had the money, I think I'd rather buy a new $1000 PC and play chess on it instead. :D
 

peterk1

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Haha. Not those cheezburger cats again!

I like this one....pawn captures black queen?

http://cheezburger.com/mamagwyn/lolz/View/1283534080

As for that $1000 rosewood set...we can dream. :yummy: Still, even if I had the money, I think I'd rather buy a new $1000 PC and play chess on it instead. :D
I think my opponents should chip in and help me out with that nice USB board, since it's going to improve their game experience immensely as well. :)

Oh well, I guess I'll just throw that thing into my pile of stuff I like but I'll never buy along with the Porsche 911 convertible (which has been languishing in there for decades).

Chess.com live tourny tomorrow! Yay! I'm psyched and fresh off 2 grand victories against CM.
(Well, not so grand really, he/she/it made those obligatory "throw a piece to make our rating lower" type of moves midway through the game that I pounced on).
 

Scott Tortorice

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Haha. Not those cheezburger cats again!

I like this one....pawn captures black queen?
:D That mouse has no idea what's coming its way. :dead:

Here's another:

View attachment 34907

:)

I think my opponents should chip in and help me out with that nice USB board, since it's going to improve their game experience immensely as well.
Okay, but only if we all get equal time with the board. :D I call Fridays!

Chess.com live tourny tomorrow! Yay! I'm psyched and fresh off 2 grand victories against CM.
I have yet to find time to try a live tourney. But, then again, I have yet to find time to play any live chess. :laugh: Thank the Lord for CC!
 

peterk1

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Like that one.
Just read the manual for the Mephisto. Quite impressive. It will actually track the openings which give you trouble and it will drill you on those until you "get it". If you play a long game it gives you a rating for that game. Seems to have a "you have a good move on the board right now, so treat this position as a puzzle" indicator.

Just saw this thing for the first time. Worth getting for the novelty factor alone?!? A frikkin' robot! Yeah baby!

http://www.1st-chess-sets.com/productview/productcode/Novag-2Robot-Chess-Computer
 

peterk1

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Mephisto has arrived safe and sound. Thanks to on-line tracking, I learned that even though it was very close to my location as late as last Friday, it apparently snuck back onto the plane and flew to New Jersey for the weekend before some alert UPS employee sent it back my way again. Yes, it actually crossed the border twice. I bet UPS dispatchers are all great chess-players. I can't understand most of the moves they make.

Beautiful looking gadget. You just want to hold it forever and not even bother turning it on. It came with a little slip of paper on the inside warning that the product contained a magnet and to please not eat the magnet. Warning was translated into about 50 languages and covered both sides of the slip. I guess someone in the US who has a lawyer ate the magnet a little while ago. I was tempted to give the magnet a small lick but refrained.

It beat me over dinner tonight in a quick game. Next up tonight, very soon, will be the "play a few moves lying on the sofa before taking a nap" test and the "continue the game in the bathtub" test. We hope to start the all important "bus test" tomorrow morning. Thankfully I already learned how to turn off the incessant high pitched beeping that it emits constantly to say, "I just moved", "it's your move", "Hurry up, it's your move" and "I'm whooping your butt you pathetic human" which no doubt would get me beaten to a pulp very quickly in the aggressive Montreal morning rush hour.
 
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peterk1

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After further testing, my conclusion is that this thing rocks! I've been playing it all night long without noticing how much time I've been wasting.
Just played a nice game on the hardest "fun" mode (there's 60 of them). It was fairly easy, but took 72 moves and came down to an endgame which was interesting...the engine is good at putting itself into stalemate positions at the end which is great. I've seen some that aren't.

My favorite features so far:
Automove = OFF - You know how computers make their move and start your clock automatically? And if you were away from the computer or not paying attention you might miss what it did and then you're looking at the board trying to figure out what just happened? Well here, you can turn that feature off. The computer will tell you what it's move is and YOU move the computer's piece and only then does your clock start. That's a great feature in a handheld. I might, for instance, be getting off the bus and getting into the subway, or dealing with a stewardess, (or talking with my boss at work :) ) while the computer is thinking and comes up with its move.

Coach mode - You can activate one of 3 coaches (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and it will pop in and give you advice during the game. Just the possibility of receiving comments in-game is very compelling and keeps you playing (and smiling). I'm not so sure about the quality of the advice yet, but still big thumbs up from me. During my opening, I castled kingside and then on the next move shuffled my rook over to cover a central pawn and it told me "be careful about moving the same piece twice when there are other undeveloped pieces in the opening". He was right, I could have developed my last bishop instead. Midway through the game I got a message saying, "He is giving you a big, big chance!!!" This was awesome. I studied that position for a couple of minutes looking for something exceptional. I think I ended up not doing exactly what the coach wanted me to and it worked out well, but just getting a prompt like that was fun. And in the endgame, after one of my moves, I received a message saying "It looks like maybe you overlooked the possibility of XXX". I still made a good move there and won the game shortly thereafter, but I have the feeling it may have seen a quicker mate at that point.

All in all, so far, I consider this little gadget a bargain and am confident it'll be a great companion.
 
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Scott Tortorice

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Mephisto has arrived safe and sound. Thanks to on-line tracking, I learned that even though it was very close to my location as late as last Friday, it apparently snuck back onto the plane and flew to New Jersey for the weekend before some alert UPS employee sent it back my way again. Yes, it actually crossed the border twice. I bet UPS dispatchers are all great chess-players. I can't understand most of the moves they make.

Beautiful looking gadget. You just want to hold it forever and not even bother turning it on. It came with a little slip of paper on the inside warning that the product contained a magnet and to please not eat the magnet. Warning was translated into about 50 languages and covered both sides of the slip. I guess someone in the US who has a lawyer ate the magnet a little while ago. I was tempted to give the magnet a small lick but refrained.

It beat me over dinner tonight in a quick game. Next up tonight, very soon, will be the "play a few moves lying on the sofa before taking a nap" test and the "continue the game in the bathtub" test. We hope to start the all important "bus test" tomorrow morning.
:D

Coach mode - You can activate one of 3 coaches (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and it will pop in and give you advice during the game. Just the possibility of receiving comments in-game is very compelling and keeps you playing (and smiling). I'm not so sure about the quality of the advice yet, but still big thumbs up from me. During my opening, I castled kingside and then on the next move shuffled my rook over to cover a central pawn and it told me "be careful about moving the same piece twice when there are other undeveloped pieces in the opening". He was right, I could have developed my last bishop instead. Midway through the game I got a message saying, "He is giving you a big, big chance!!!" This was awesome. I studied that position for a couple of minutes looking for something exceptional. I think I ended up not doing exactly what the coach wanted me to and it worked out well, but just getting a prompt like that was fun. And in the endgame, after one of my moves, I received a message saying "It looks like maybe you overlooked the possibility of XXX". I still made a good move there and won the game shortly thereafter, but I have the feeling it may have seen a quicker mate at that point.
That's pretty nifty! I didn't expect you would get CM-styled coaching. Very cool!

All in all, so far, I consider this little gadget a bargain and am confident it'll be a great companion.
Glad to hear it. After putting you on the path to buy this thing, I was afraid it would be some sort of bomb and then I would have to change my identity and relocate....
 

peterk1

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More test results to report. Last night right before going to bed, I decided to spring some "make my chess books interesting" tests on Mr Mephisto to take him by surprise. I have purchased several wonderful (going by their reviews; not my experience) chess books in the past year...

http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Chess-Strategies-ebook/dp/B004Y6AI30/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1324008583&sr=8-3

http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Chess-Openings-Everyman/dp/1857443497/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1324008583&sr=8-6

http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Chess-Endings-Everyman/dp/1857443489/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1324008583&sr=8-12

http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Chess-Queen-Alexandra-Kosteniuk/dp/0979148278/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324008639&sr=8-1

....and haven't been able to read them properly because I never have access to a chess board when I read books. You know this horrible habit publishers have of only having one board diagram per page? I used to try reading these books using an invisible board in my brain, but i think that just is really bad for your brain. It hurts and you always feel very stupid when you find you're not able to rewind and easily check out all the variations in the book in your head. I've tried to get something out of these books by just skipping over the examples, but that doesn't work to well, because they are 80% examples.

The Mephisto lets you set up positions very quickly and if you go into a two-human mode of play, it works really well as a portable practice board. It doesn't look like you can tell it whether one side has already castled or not, but apart from that it's perfect. Taking moves back and moving back and forth through the move list to look at variations is dirt simple and can be done either directly on the board (if you remember the last piece moved) or from the move list which you can call up.

The chess book test passed and with me horizontal which is very impressive.

The all important "bus test" also passed. Started a nice fast fun game on the bus in the morning on the way to work and delivered a mate while eating lunch at noon. It's amazing how much better a checkmate can make you feel at work when you're having a truly horrendous day at the office. Started a long tournament style game on the bus on the way home and I'm half way through that. When you play long "tournament level" games, the Mephisto will give you a rating just like Chessmaster does.

One small gripe is that the gadget can only keep one game in memory at a time. So if I decide to do a little bit of my chess book reading in a little while when I go to bed, I'll end up zapping the game I played in the bus on the way home. It's a little annoying, but I can live with it.

I'm finding that the chess coach is more hilarious than anything else. When it tells you that the computer may have made a mistake, it gives you a hint that says "His strategy may be weak!". I'm not sure why, but I've started imagining that my coach is a big menacing samurai with a drawn katana sword. The stuff he says just always sounds really aggressive and samurailike.
 
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