Chess Champion Mark V
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The Chess Champion Mark V shot to fame when it won the World Microcomputer Chess Championship (Commercial Class) at Travemunde, West Germany held on 21st - 27th September 1981. It was up against a Fidelity Champion Sensory Chess Challenger, a Novag Savant and a Great Game Machine with Grunfeld / Morphy / Capablanca modules. It scored 8.5 / 12 although it lost 1.5 / 2.5 to the Fidelity. This is the crucial win by Mark V over the Fidelity (link) in the last round.

The strength of play assumed from this win allied to a striking design and many new features made it a must have machine for the chess computer enthusiast. Amongst the great and the good who had a Mark V were former Prime Minister James Callaghan, World Snooker Champion Steve Davis, delicious TV presenter Anna Ford, and actor Anthony Valentine (Colditz, Callan).

The Mark V was regarded as cutting edge technology at a comparatively reasonable price. The cost was 280, compared with a GGM + Morphy at 295 and a Fidelity Champion Sensory at 330.

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In May 1981 a pre-production Mark V had competed at the Chess Programs World Tournament in Paris. There it came second to Mephisto Experimental X (Mephisto II) scoring 5/7 after losing from a piece up against that rival in the fifth round. The Mark V also drew with two Morphy versions.

In September just before Travemunde a pre-production machine was entered in the European Microcomputer Chess Championship in London. This event was held at the Personal Computer World show at The Barbican and I went along to have a look. I remember being fascinated watching Martin Bryant’s White Knight in action and in particular the displayed evaluations, move sequences etc. Something I had never seen before. Anyway Mark V finished 9th of 12 in a very strong competition. The winner was Richard Lang’s Cyrus, from Dave Wilson and Mike Johnson’s Advance 2.0 and Kaare Danielsen’s Logichess.

Mark V’s greatest strength was in solving chess problems. On 16th December 1981 it caused a sensation by beating the British Problem Solving Champion, grandmaster Dr. John Nunn in solving six problems. Nunn beat Mark V on only one problem. On the hardest problem Nunn was unable to find a solution, but Mark V not only found the composer’s solution but two ‘cooks’. A fine achievement for 1981.
 

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The photographs (above and below) are of a prototype which was used in the development of the Mark V, and for demonstrations and tournaments in the pre-production phase. For the full story and pictures click on this (link).

Protoype SciSys Chess Champion Mark V

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Chess Champion Mark V Prototype 4.1
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Above and to the left is the German version.

The key descriptions and LCD chessboard move and information announcements are all in the German language.

Type

Tabletop - LCD chessboard, keypad and cursor

Processor

6502 cpu   2 MHz   8 bit

Memory

32KB ROM   16K RAM

Opening Book

3700 ply

Power

7V   1200mA   5 pin DIN plug

Dimensions

34.2 x 25.5 x 4.5 cm

Chessboard

7.5 x 7.5 cm

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Opening up the Chess Champion Mark V reveals it to be more complex than other chess computers of this era. The modular design, LCD chessboard and extensive keypad options all contribute to the complexity.

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