DGT BlueTooth boards range
As Rudolf Klamert is pointing out in the CSS forum in this thread the range of the wireless connection depends on the class of the PC/Laptop BlueTooth connection as the board already has the highest possible class (Class 1).
|Class||Maximum Power||Operating Range|
|Class 1||100mW (20dBm)||100 meters|
|Class 2||2.5mW (4dBm)||10 meters|
|Class 3||1mW (0dBm)||1 meter|
If you are intersted in more details please take a look ath the other news items regarding the DGT boards on this page or contact DGT.
DGT Bluetooth boards
As Hans Pees from DGT informed me the DGT Bluetooth boards are now again available. The wireless capability has been increased and all technical issues have been solved. The main reason of the delay of this new version is that the previous antenna supplier has stopped trading and a new parts supplier had to be found. The new antenna requiered a change in the board hardware which led to a temporarly stop of production. All this issues have been solved and the boards are in production once again. Tests have shown that the new boards fullfil all the DGT stringent quality criteria. If you are intersted in more details please take a look ath the other news items regarding the DGT boards on this page or contact DGT.
The Regency Chess Company
The Regency Chess Company was formed in 2008 by Julian Deverell and Darren Whiteman with a clear mission to create the best online shopping experience for people buying chess products. They have specilalised in very high quality chessmen and a vast range of boards. The company continues to expand and more and more chess related articles will be available in the comming months and years. The pieces and boards are mainly manufactured in India, Poland, Spain and USA and the owners are committed to offering the best products and make frequent trips abroad to see their suppliers.
You can visit the onlineshop and also the gallery
The company is situated in Bath (U.K.) and is yet just an onlineshop. However in the future there might be a real shop in the wonderful city of Bath. The piece sets are just great as you can see here in some examples. For more please visit the gallery and the onlineshop of the company. For each piece set and board the optimal board respectivly piece set size/weight recommendation is given. A good combination would be the Old English Elite chess set in ebony and boxwood with a 3,75 inch king hight in combination with a 23 inch maple/red sandalwood board. Ebony looks extremly well on red squares. Shipping prices to mainland Europe for a chessboard and a piece set is about 18-20€. The boards may be polished with Briwax for instance. Chess pieces should not be treated with anything ! When buying a chess board and a set of chess pieces it's vitally important to get the sizing correct. For more info please take a look here.
If you order a chess set and something happens to one of your pieces you will be able to order spares. Also in the future you be will able to order pieces enabled for use with several chess computers like Mephisto Exclusive, Mephisto Munich, Saitek Galileo, Saitek Leonardo, Saitek Renaissance, Novag Citrine, Novag Universal Board. This will make it possible to use high quality chess sets with your computers. The chess sets names are given by Julian and Darren and they describe very well the true character of the sets.
The following woods are used for making the boards and pieces: Beamwood, Birch, Beech, Boxwood, Bud Rosewood, Ebonised Boxwood, Ebony, Mahogany, Maple, Red Sandalwood, Redwood, Rosewood, Sheesham, Whitewood. In the future more exotic woods will be used for creating the boards and pieces so keep an eye on the page. A detailed description of the woods can be found here.
Many thanks to Julian and Darren for their patience in answering some questions regarding their shop and products as well as for the allowance to use some screenshots from their page.
Undocumented Citrine command
Ross Boyd, author of Trace has discovered an undocumented command in the PC to Citrine protocol. The command is J and it forces the Citrine to think on a move, which can be handy when you're in Arena. Just set Arena to analyse mode. Send U ON to the Novag to put the Citrine in Referee only mode. Then send J whenever you want it to think. In the meantime Rybka (or the even more powerful TRACE) can be analysing the move at the same time so you can compare. Hope this helps someone. Many thanks to Ross Boyd for this !
As the Schacomputer.info site is down I have asked asked Achim Pietig to allow us to offer you the OSA4Arena adapter from our page. As stated before the adapter may be used to connect to SciSys boards: Leonardo, Galileo, Renaissance from Arena.
The instructions how to build your own cable can be found here and the software can be downloaded here.
DGT driver/firmware updates
New drivers for the DGT board are available at the DGT page.The new driver has version 1.49. Also a new firmware (v 1.06) for the DGT bluetooth board is available. This firmware upgrade is available at the above location and should fix a problem related to piece identification.
In the past additional chess sets (Reykjavik II ebonized/rosewood and Professional set ebonized/rosewood respectivly) were available from the House of Staunton homepage
Many thanks to them for allowing us to use those pics. If someone knows about the sizes/weights of those pieces please inform us.
The boards are available in the following versions: rosewood/maple; walnut/maple; wenge/maple USB or Serial boards with or without numerals and characters. The board size is 54 cm * 54 cm * 2 cm (tournament size). Field size 5,4 cm
The Bluetooth board is available in the rosewood version only
|K||37 g / 36 g||95 mm||36 mm|
|Q||33 g / 34 g||82 mm||35 mm|
|R||23 g / 24 g||53 mm||31 mm|
|B||21 g / 22 g||73 mm||33 mm|
|N||22 g / 24 g||62 mm||33 mm|
|P||13 g / 13 g||44 mm||27 mm|
|Classic (maple/black stained)|
|K||35 g / 35 g||95 mm||41 mm|
|Q||32 g / 32 g||78 mm||38 mm|
|R||24 g / 24 g||52 mm||33 mm|
|B||22 g / 22 g||69 mm||35 mm|
|N||27 g / 27 g||64 mm||35 mm|
|P||15 g / 15 g||48 mm||29 mm|
|K||40 g / 44 g||98 mm||42 mm|
|Q||35 g / 39 g||81 mm||38 mm|
|R||28 g / 29 g||57 mm||36 mm|
|B||22 g / 23 g||73 mm||36 mm|
|N||30 g / 34 g||67 mm||35 mm|
|P||16 g / 17 g||52 mm||29 mm|
|Design (maple/black stained)|
|K||36 g / 36 g||94 mm||35 mm|
|Q||34 g / 34 g||84 mm||35 mm|
|R||21 g / 21 g||47 mm||28 mm|
|B||17 g / 17 g||73 mm||29 mm|
|N||21 g / 21 g||62 mm||29 mm|
|P||9 g / 9 g||41 mm||22 mm|
|Venus (maple/black stained)|
|K||40g / 40 g||96 mm||39 mm|
|Q||40 g / 40 g||85 mm||39 mm|
|R||28 g / 28 g||58 mm||34 mm|
|B||28 g / 28 g||75 mm||34 mm|
|N||30 g / 30 g||64 mm||34 mm|
|P||16 g / 16 g||55 mm||31 mm|
The DGT board can be connected to Arena. Please support us. Mention us when ordering.
A new very interesting project has been announced in a thread at the Schachcomputer.info forum. An overview of the Mysticum project can be found at the wikipages of the Schachcomputer-Info page. The author of the project is Guido Marquardt . The board maybe connected to Arena through a BlueTooth adapter.
The info at the page is in German !
In the past we have already provided some information about Strelka and Belka in our forum. Now as new engines like Ippolit, Igorrit, Robbolito, IvanHoe and Firebird have been released we interviewed Victor Zakharov from Convekta again. First of all I would like to thank him for taking the time to grant us this interview. I will also include the old interview (from question 8 on) which was available in our forum as I got several mails asking me to do so.
1) Did you know about the releasse of what people call new Rybka clones: Ippolit, Igorrit, Robbolito, IvanHoe Firebird ?
Yes, it is not a problem to know about this issue especially considering that most discussions are on a Russian language forum.
2) Are you already or are you going to do anything about it ?
This is too heavy problem. Anti-piracy efforts is major problem specially in Russia. Only big companies may allow to fight with this.
3) Is this the end of Rybka/Convekta/Aquarium ?
This reduces sales, but not dramatically.
4) This time most of the people involved in those "projects", except Norman Schmidt (Firebird guy) don't use their real name, why in the world would someone with such an engine not use his real name when releasing such a great engine ?
The answer is evident due (5).
5) Have they really reversed engineered Rybka ?
There is no doubt about reversed engineering. Even without knowledge about source code you may find a lot of common things in behaviour of Ippolit-based engines and Rybka3. There are some differences, but they are not so critical. In common you will receive the same results if you will analyze with Rybka3 and Ippolit based engines.
As well Vas confirmed to me that Ippolit is based on Rybka3 with removing some evaluation functions, adding small number of own evaluation functions (especially in endgame) and code optimization. All this gives advantage for "new" engines at fast time controls. It doesn't give something for long analysis.
6) How can this be stopped in the future ?
Situation is very unpretty. Fortunatelly Vas achieved good progress last year in improving engine strength, so Rybka3 decoding will not kill the development and there are number of steps that may help in improving the situation with Rybka4 release. Unfortunatelly the users will not win from any of these decisions.
7) Is the new startegy of a rental Rybka an answer to this ?
Exactly. Vas invests large efforts in development and he can't allow the repetition of the current situation. So the probability of allowing only remote access to the latest development is very high. Question is not decided yet, but I doubt that latest Rybka will be available to the users in any form that will allow her decoding.
8) In the last month the engines Strelka and Belka were released and advertised. A few days later those engines were discovered to contain substantially code parts from Rybka 1.0. Are you going to take any legal steps against these persons to protect your customers and also your own income ?
Rybka is fully Vasik Rajlich property and only he can initialize legal steps.
9) The discussions whether this engines are not Rybka clones have reached other fora too. In his own forum the Rybka author is saying Strelka code is almost identical to Rybka code. Please tell us your view of the problem. Your customers might be interested in this issue.
Again this is fully in the domain of Vasik Rajlich. For my personal opinion discussions contain too much unhealthy personal criticism and less information, so it is hard to follow them. I can't add something more to these discussions. As all others I have no Rybka source code (and have no interest to research Strelka code for a while).
10) The same person Yuri Osipov Ivanovici (is he real ?) is stating in one of the above fora that you the Convekta company wanted to publish his engine but you got Vas veto. Is this a true statement ? He also is stating Rybka might contain substantial code parts from the Fruit chess engine, what is your opinion about this ? Is it possible to do something against these in our opinion defamatory statements ?
I consider that Yuri Osipov (Ivanovich) is his real name. He didn't hide it. However I can't state this with 100% assurance. For a long time Convekta developed Rybka GUI for mobile platforms (PocketPC and Nokia Smartphones). As Rybka engine was not ready yet and Convekta needed to have some income from this development we agreed with Vasik Rajlich to sell GUI with another engine for a while. I sent proposals to a few engine authors for making their engines mobile and to release with Convekta GUI. One of them was Yuri Osipov. He agreed to publish his engine. Knowing about possible legal problems with Strelka we asked Vasik for his opinion about this. The message was sent by Osipov first and then I duplicated Osipov's message as Vasik didn't receive it. The answer was no. So this quesion was not considered any more.
11) It seems that Mr. Osipov has disassemled the entire code of the Rybka 1.0. Even if this is not the current engine you are selling, the question we got by mail is what happens if he will do this with the newest version of the engine also ? Any legal steps to prevent this from happeneing ? How to protect Vas, your customers and your own income ?
Convekta has no rights for Rybka engine and source code and any steps can be started only by Vasik Rajlich. From a few messages that I received from Yrij Osipov I didn't see any intentions of him to continue decoding work. There is no doubt that publishing source code harmed commercial side of Rybka project. Some ideas can go to other engines. As well this precedent can inspire additional persons to repeat these steps. Hacking work can be done publicly (and in secret - I don't exclude the possibility that somebody did the same work with some of Rybka versions, but didn't announce this - proving of this is hard work). So reasonable time should be devoted to program protection and anti-hacking measures. As I know this work was in process of Rybka v. 2 development already. There is no 100% protection from hacking methods, but there are ways to make hacking work very hard.
We sent the same questions to ChessBase but got no answers. It seems they don't really care about their customers and are more busy making false accusations (see news item 189) towards paying customers.
Use CTG (ChessBase) books in Arena
Some of the Arena users asked me to post a news item on how to use CTG (ChessBase) opening books in Arena. What you need is the Aquarium Book Adapter (ABA) by ChessOK. On the Rybka page you can find some instructions on how to do so: here. More detailed instructions can be found in the Rybka forum in this thread. Download links can be found at the above locations. Now you can use your ChessBase books in a better GUI.
ChessBase accusing customers
Dear readers of the Arena page, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that one of the ChessBase sysops, namely Harvey Williamson is falsley accsuing me (a ChessBase customer) to have used the XXXXXXXX-Engine on the ChessBase server. As you all know I don't have the ChessBase software installed and didn't used the server in the past two years. You can read the original accusation here. He really wants to do this based on IP, you have to know that I have a dynamic IP and I live in a region where approximatly 2 Mio people have the same provider as I do. As an update he is now saying that I don't have a serial number, which is of course a lie as you can see.
You should all know this before using their server. You might be able to read all about your online times in some fora ! This is how they "manage" your privacy.
Mephisto Glasgow/MM IV/MM V/Mephisto Rebel5 under Arena
Fans of dedicated chess computers will be delighted to know that it is now possible to use the following "engines" as Winboard engines within the Arena interface:
All you need is the MESS program and the corresponding ROMs of the mentioned chess programs. The latest version of the program 1.34b without the ROMs is available here. More information about this topic can be found in this German forum: Schachcomputer.info. The intersting part of the thread concerning the Winboard part and describing the parameters starts at page 35. The author of this emulator is Ralf Schaefer so a big thanks to him.
This will emulate the original modules, with the original timecontrol at original speed. It will take a while until it responds. If your GUI sends the first move too fast it will maybe not work. Under Arena be patient, it should work. The MM IV emulation responds a little bit faster Chose a original timecontrol like 40moves in 120 minutes or 10seconds/move
Open the Arena Debug Window to see some details:
589.343-->1:level 40 120 0
589.343-->1:level 40 120 0
Here you can see the emulator switches to level 6 (40moves/2h)
You can find manuals of the modules here. This are the original timecontrols of the MM IV, I think they are the same for the MM V. You have to chose one of this timecontrols, 180s/moves will for example not work though it is the same as 40m/120min.
Level 1 - 5s/move
2 - 10s/move
3 - 20s/move
4 - 1min/move
5 - 2min/move
6 - 40m/120min
7 - 6min/move
8 - 12min/move
If you want to run the modules as fast as they can go on your hardware and with a (not original) timemanagement for all timecontrols remove the commandline option "-nommunlimited" There are also some wb2uci files included. I had some problems with them so better try to use the Winboard variant. If you want to try the UCI versions don't forget to edit the wb2uci.eng. Maybe you wnt to remove the mmlog option there, the logfile becomes quite big after a while.
Many thanks to Alexander Schmidt for making this available, the original can be read here.
OSA2UCI for Arena update
A new version of the OSA2UCI adapter by Achim Pietig is available from the Schachcomputer.info forum. The program has been enhanced:
The adapter may be used to connect to SciSys boards: Leonardo, Galileo, Renaissance from Arena. Additional informations can be found here. Many thanks to Achim for the update. The adapter can be downloaded at the above location
Citrine goes solar
This is an article about how to get your Novag Citrine running with a solar adapter. The article has been written by Oliver.
The famous Novag Citrine can now be used with solar batteries. This article will show you in detail the steps taken and the technical characteristics of the project enabling the Novag Citrine to run with solar batteries.
- two battery solar (16 € * 2) and < 200 gr. (very portable)
As users of the Novag Citrine board know, this machine is unable to connect to batteries but needs a power supply. Using solar batteries you gain:
Usualy this is what will happen:
1 - Test on actual consumption and readings Novag transformer.
2 - Components accessories for connecting to the computer.
3 - Concluding remarks and predicted battery life, taking as reference NiMH rechargeable batteries tables(no memory effect)
- Annex: More Photos and Videos.
1 - In this photo we can see that the original Citrine transformer delivers 9V and 300 mA. Well this is not quite true.
In reality it is confusing and can harm your computer over time. Why do we say this ?
A. Actually reading in vacuum, without charge, is 15.6 Volts a genuine savagery,
(actually this is a pretty bad transformer, without stabilization), where engineers were questioned Novag of "that allow +15 Volts, they said that it is a vacuum reading at no charge ...) But then we discovered the second half lie ... tells the processor to deliver 9 Volts to 300 mA, (if manual Citrine said about 50 mA max, why used a 300mA transformer ?)... but it appears that the NOVAG CITRINE only consumes 20 ~ 26 mA at maximum load), so the processor does not have the voltage drop that "the engineers say" leads to proper operation. In fact, checking with a "voltmeter" operational, "AUTOPLAY" SOUND ON, the input voltage is +14 V. Another authentic savagery.
The surprise comes when connected to a battery, (Carefully NOVAG has reversed the polarity of their processors and machines, so that if you mistakenly use a transformer with standard operation, ie with the positive inside, as it must, always negative because usually associated with mass and mass-frame, then we can burn the machine. I repeat, very careful in this step. The warranty is voided, indeed, a shame?, because it will be no...
This was solved by creating two cables in domestic plan, so as to reverse the polarity, as well as protection diodes installed in several series, so if there is a short, the diodes act as a rustic fuse in any case, the main idea is to prevent reverse polarity, to allow this component, the current flow in one direction.
The other branch of the "mini" cable, is ready to connect to a laptop battery, which contains an internal 7.4-V and 2300 map by electronics for varying the output voltages from 5 V / 600 mA, 8.4 V . - 9 V. -12 V, and max 1200 map, as you will, what they're doing is increasing the voltage slightly at the expense of losing some of amperage. (ok, it´s good, but this battery is very expensive, I prefer two other battery, we shall soon see that in this review... The only advantage is that it has a great power, but it´s not solar... is more versatile... for use with other devices...
I think that a lot of chess computer can run ok with a type similar this battery, the most hungry chess computer need 0,5 Amps, and the modern battery can do that for several hours... "remenber that a simple and domestic NiMH of 2650 have a long curve of discarge, near 5 hours...
When testing the system, it is very surprised that the Novag Citrine only needs 25 mA, (20 ~ 26), or 0.025, which is very reasonable for any type of battery really does not matter that they were AAA batteries, AA, C or D that either has a good behavior and leads to more than 40 hours of computer chess use, says a Spanish that clearly the donkey when bigger is better, walk or not walk, the saying goes. ..
Actually I got to thinking if Novag had told us some truth, or surrender the power transformer or the voltage consumes neither indicated nor ... well ... A quote from Em. Lasker said, "Trust, but verify" in reference to the theory of chess openings ...
Then another thought comes into operation:
Passing through a store, I see that they have become fashionable portable solar batteries to recharge mobile (remember, these have also changed and the positive polarity is inside, just unlike Novag, you guess which is the intention of Novag to reverse the polarity ...)
These batteries are of various types, can deliver the silver model 1200 Amp, 5.5 Volts at 300 ~ 500 mA, which is more than enough to Citrine, the drawback of this model is that when the battery is damaged, we can pull the apparatus, is charged by solar and / or USB through a computer or via 220/5V current supplied to it. (Using sunlight takes about 25 hours to charge via USB cable and 3 to 5 hours), the downside is that the "connector" of this device has a special plug. (in the similar model 1800 Amp, have replaced this with a mini-usb, much more practical).
The other model, as you can see in the picture is very good, because it has rechargeable batteries that are recharged by sunlight or by USB cable, the advantage is that we can exchange the original batteries 2300 ma, and replaced by larger ones, without Further complicating matters, obviously the output power is reduced enough, they have 2300 mA at 1.2 V. Adding, 1.2 +1.2 = 2.4 to achieve 5.5 V. amperage is reduced by almost half ... let's say 1150, as are the final power is similar, with the advantage that we can swap the batteries and take over a game with them.
Experimentally, that the original batteries are still new, change these batteries energizer for a map of 2650, so the final output will be approximately 1,300 map to 5.4 V, the fundamental difference with the solar battery fixed battery, is that the latter despite being smaller and embedded design can deliver 300 to 500 amp, obviously for only up to 2 hours to recharge other devices and solar cell and rechargeable batteries interchangeable manual delivery based , delivery and sustained intensity of 150 to 300 mA.
List (in the original calculations was little offset, in fact consumption in the solar battery interchangeable with these batteries is higher for them, because they must raise the voltage of 3 V to 5 V approx., We see in the picture experimentally the actual readings of intensity in the Novag Citrine and in the battery internal too... (25 mA and 70 mA):
(~ 25 mA) and that it represents (~ 70 mA) in the accessory internal solar batteries, in that light, the duration of these batteries is less than the alternative of solar battery, only we have the illusion of change batteries, although considering the small solar cost "only" 16 €, we can hardly justify the investment of a rechargeable battery pack of 2650 mA for the component that already costs 26 € ... a matter of individual needs)
video loads in real solar battery power supply Citrine x 3 = 70 mA.
Either gives more than enough power for Novag Citrine (actually if I know that only consumes 0.025 CITRINE, instead of 0.3 A Novag saying it needs the transformer hand, had done much modding before).
Now is the last part, as we have seen, the batteries only deliver 5.4 volts, however we know that Citrine need around 9 V. to operate, actually works perfectly with 8 V, but surprisingly, it works with 5.5 V, the LCD can hardly see, but the computer does not lose his memory and continues to operate in autoplay.
The solution is to connect the two batteries in series, as shown in the photo, it delivers 10.5 V, which in any case is much less than the 14 and 15 volts are delivered "incorrectly" and with obvious damage to the machine long term, even so, they have been inserted in series several diodes of 0.27 Volts, as fuses of 0.3 ~ 05 and constrained to reverse polarity. All that goes inside the cable and then isolated.
There are three mounting options, ranked from cheapest to the most powerful and light and heavy:
We see the videos / photos...
As a final note, we say that the Citrine in Standby-OFF (switch OFF), but feeding the memory, consumes the "ridiculous" figure of >0.001 mA, so you can imagine that there really is no drop Volts, at all engineers say voltage is produced and therefore CITRINE is connected to more than 15 V. being turned off when still connected to AC. (we recommend installing voltage reducers in the original transformer and / or never leave the machine connected to the current, although that with the switch is OFF, this is still receiving power,)
(in any case remember that the "extinct?" Novag can not connect any power transformer and different from their "horrible" original transformer ... this is done at your own risk and that I do not held responsible for what happens ... nothing for me... but you never know what can happen...)
Technical data and graphics on the battery life of both the classic AA, Alkaline, 2900 ma, as the rechargeable NiMH 1600 ~ 2450 ma, ma of 2650. (download the graphics are about and higher consumption, so there is greater risk of long term missing energy drops, but accused it in rechargeable batteries, although slightly)
Well, with this we come to the end of this article. We hope it will as info to the entire community of users and fans of chess computers.
Greetings to MECA and community for the wonderful site of SPANISH MUSEUM Computer Chess, and his page of forums, in which increasingly we see a lot of different activities and participation by the Hispanic community forum.
Review I original text in Spanish, solar Novag Citrine modding. There is also a Review II available. (where you can find out, that if this show is about Spanish and many other topics related to computers and chess in general)
We also wish to congratulate once again the ARENA CHESS GUI programmers.
to develop the driver to connect to a computer Novag Citrine, but apparently because other programs are coming out this function ... (+ info?)
PS: As Citrine power consumption is quite low, it is possible that "two simple solar panels (without extra battery) only through a circuit with a capacitor> 500 uF and stabilizer through a transistor circuit, get to keep running Novag Citrine with simple sunlight, artificial lighting or perhaps without requiring battery charging times, as the electronic circuit would be responsible to "stabilize" the voltage and amperage for short periods of lack of sufficient sunlight (clouds, movements, etc) and in any case keep the memory of the computer shipments for many minutes, maybe even hours, depending on the size of the capacitor ... but that would be another modding, we'll see ...
The end for now...
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading the article and it the intermediate steps as well the material needed (adapter cables, gearboxes ) were described clear enough to help you build your own solar Novag Citrine.
Greetings, and looking forward the next review !
The original article was written by Oliver about how to get your Citrine board running with solar batteries can be found here. This is the English version. Also a Spanish version of the article is available here. If you speak Spanish or trust the translator you should also take a look at the entire forum. Many thanks to Oliver for allowing us to use the pictures from his page.
Arena available for download from Computerbild
Arena is now available for download from the Computerbild homepage. The link to the Computerbild download is here.
ArenaSwiss by Eberhard Jiritschka has been updated. Please download and test version ArenaSwiss 0.2b.
The program can be downloaded here. Please send hints, bug reports, comments to : arenaswiss (a t) e j 6 4 . d e
A new program, ArenaSwiss by Eberhard Jiritschka has been released.
ArenaSwiss is an utility to perform swiss round chess tournaments together with the Arena-GUI. Arena works as a frontend playing one by one game of the swiss tournament. Every round ArenaSwiss computes the next pairings based on the results (scores and fine scores), the white/black statistics and the pairing method. However ArenaSwiss does not use the official pairing procedure of the FIDE. Then ArenaSwiss writes a Arena tournament file for every game and calls the Arena GUI to play the game. After each game the results are read and after every round some result files are written. The program can be downloaded here. As the program is updated quite often you should take a look from time to time. Please send hints, bug reports, comments to : arenaswiss (a t) e j 6 4 . d e
Chess boards and pieces interview with Baron Turner
In the past we have already provided some information about wooden chess boards and pieces for some chess computers. As I got some questions via mail regarding those I thought it would be nice to make an interview so you know more if you are intersted in wooden chess boards and pieces in general. I think you will not regret reading the interview. Our interview partner is Baron Turner from Chess Baron. First of all I would like to thank him for taking the time to grant us this interview. Many thanks for allowing us to use screenshots from his page. Also many thanks to those who have sent me questions via mail regarding this topic.
1) How did you get started with your chess shop ?
I bought a splendid chess set whilst living in the US for a while, and I thought how nice it would be to have a similar operation. When I found that I was travelling as an IT consultant too much, that was the impetus I needed to get going. Now, my children remember who I am, and I’m enjoying seeing them grow up whilst running my own business.
2) Most of the chess pieces/boards you sell are coming from craftsmen, who are they and how do you contact them or do they contact you ?
We have our own craftsmen who make our sets to order. They are situated outside Europe – but the whole operation is managed from Europe. Sometimes the designs are pickup by other retailers and copied, but most of our designs are our own.
3) How do you choose pieces and boards? Do you make board/piece design also ?
We consider the designs proposed by our craftsmen and if we like them we ask for prototypes, then get sets produced. We also propose designs ourselves, but to be honest they’re much better at it than us.
4) Are there any "new" exciting items regarding the design and wood combinations ?
Yes, we have the Baggio and the Alexander – also a new camel bone design in Staunton, which is rare, they’re all luxury sets and have attracted some significant interest.
5) Do you also sell items to protect/repair the pieces/boards or can recommend any ?
We have many different cases for the pieces, and we have felt sleeves to protect the boards – they all come with the sets and/or boards. Furniture polish can be used to good effect to cleanse superficial marks on the surface, but more deep cleaning oils should be avoided because of the lacquered finish. But we like the battered look too – the boards age well and bashes, dents, and even dirt add to the appeal.
6) Can you tell us something about the ideal weight of chess pieces ?
A nice set of normal full height (4 inches King) should weigh 75g or more. The rest is according to personal preference. There are some very heavy pieces such as the King John which feel great. But any piece that falls over by a simple finger brushing past it is not ideal for a game and may easily disrupt the game dynamics.
7) Can you please tell us something about the ideal piece base diameter/square size ratio ?
The board should have at least 15% extra room, though some people prefer much more. But too much room makes the set look less attractive and unified.
8) Can you explain the terms "standard weighted", "double weighted", "triple weighted" and "balance" ?
Standard weighting is just the natural weight of the wood, with no added auxiliary weight. The weighting is often called ‘double’ or ‘triple’, but in reality there’s no accepted metric of what constitutes either. However, each piece is ‘suitably’ weighted – and all the luxury section of our inventory is triple weighted by any standard. ‘Balance’ is a measurement of the auxiliary added weight in comparison to the intrinsic weight of the wood material. In a good set it should be in the region of 17-20%.
9) Woods have different densities, does this mean that it is possible that white/black pieces have different weighting ?
This is true. The same weight is added to the piece for on-board stability, so the resulting weight varies according to the original intrinsic weight of the wood. In an ebony set, the difference is most obvious, and is a correct difference in weight.
10) Veneer or wood what to buy and why ?
Never veneer. Always wood, and the best wood for boards is rosewood. The more exotic woods than rosewood (such as bud rosewood and ebony) are not suited to board production, they become too brittle. Most retailers buy (and sell) veneer because it’s easier, cheaper and produces a more uniform finish. But they’re often made in countries where there is no integrity or pride in the finished article. An aged rosewood board is a wonderful product such as the B2009, whereas an aged veneered board just looks old and tatty.
11) Sheesham/wenge/rosewood/maple/chidar/ebony/walnut - what is best (out of all woods used not just those I listed) ? What is out there ? What is "no/no" for a chess set/board ?
Any genuine wood is good for chess pieces. Of the woods listed above (in the question), the ones generally used for pieces are sheesham, chidar, ebony and rosewood. Occasionally board makers use wenge, maple, ebony or walnut, but in the vast majority of cases these woods are used as veneers, not solid (even ebony – it’s rare to have a board use so much ebony for solid boards – and when they are used the squares often split – it’s not good board material). Rosewood and sheesham are the best wood for boards, along with chidar for the white squares. For pieces: sheesham, rosewood, ebony, bud rosewood – in order of preference.
12) Bottomed with felt on entire surface ? I would like to see the wood is it possible ?
Chess players have varying preferences between leather bottoms and felt bottoms – so we generally have both variations across different sets. The idea is to allow a friction free transfer across the board. The better quality boards also have felt undersides with a significant border showing.
13) Can one order spare pieces as usually only spare queens come with the set ?
Yes – spare pieces are normally available. We try not to rob our other sets in stock, so they may have to be made specially – but it’s quite frequently been done, it’s always possible for good quality sets.
14) Any woods that are good for piece set but not a board and vice versa ?
Yes – Ebony and Bud Rosewood are good for piece designs but not boards, They don’t respond well to environmental changes in a large surface area.
15) Do you like chess sets like those by Jim Arnold or are they too extravagant ? Do you contact such people ?
Jim has some great designs, but these kind of sets are rarely commercially viable. The needed margin to be able to make a little profit has not been thought through – the resulting retail price has always been unreasonable when made by a hobbyist. We have tried with a number of people.
16) What would you like to tell the users of our site ?
I’d say Michael is doing a superb job of advancing chess interests and has managed to become pivotal in the Citrine being connected through to the web. I’d say use the site as much as possible and share in the growing success. If we can assist with Citrine pieces or other non-computer wood sets, we’d love to help. From here onwards - if anyone quotes this interview – they can have a 5% discount on any set of chess pieces from ChessBaron.co.uk.
17) How to get easily, physically to your shop ?
An easy one – only through the website ChessBaron – we are an internet company with warehouses that are not too comfortable. We do welcome occasional visitors to our trade counter, but we’re not set up for normal customer visits.
18) What is your favourite board/chess set/wood ?
A difficult question. I think I have to go for the X2019 Ultimate , it has an atmosphere I’ve never come across before. A second choice would be the Baggio. The B2009 board is simply perfect for a solid wood board that gets better with age and a little battering.
19) You also made a luxury set for the Novag Citrine board, if people ask you could you make them a Citrine set out of any set they chose ?
Yes – we can make any set, we’ve already done two others the X2005 and the X3001 are good variations for the Mephisto Munich or Saitek Renaissance which we’ve just completed. The X3001 is essentially the same as the existing luxury Citrine pieces but is in Bud Rosewood.
20) Do you play chess ?
I spend far too much time playing chess. I play several games a day, some online and some with friends. My 8 yr old daughter is just getting enthusiastic too.
As you can read in the Schachcomputer.info forum Achim Pietig has written an adapter which makes it possible to use the programs of the Scisys and Saitek boards with an OSA interface as engines within Arena. It can be downloaded at the above location. At the current stage the program does not support monitoring mode so it is not possible to play on the board and let Arena display the moves. This might happen at a later point. A more detailed info will be available at the Boards/Adapters section of the Arena page. Many thanks to Achim for making this adapter publicly available.
SMIRF a chess engine by Reinhard Scharnagl works under Arena using the Smirfoglot adapter by Harm G. Muller. The engine was downloadabel at Reinhard Scharnagls homepageand Smirfoglot at Harm G. Mullers homepage. You will need to install Smirfoglot as a Winboard engine and place it in the same directory as the SMIRF.DLL engine.
Also for those interested you can read an older interview with Reinhard about SMIRF and chess programming at the Exactachess page in English or German.
If you like projects like SMIRF/Arena please support us.