Two chess computers were exhibited at the All-Russian Exhibition Centre in Moscow in 1983 and 1984. These were Intellect-01 and Intellect-02. Intellect-01 played only chess and probably got no further than the prototype stage. Intellect-02 was built to play a number of board games, including chess, using program cartridges similar to an early video games console.
The First Soviet Computer-Chess Championship took place in Ulan-Ude in June 1988. A program called Intellect was entered by a Y.Kubinov. The program was said to be written in assembly, performed an alpha-beta search of 20 positions per second, running on a ‘special’ processor at 2 MHz. Intellect got two draws from five games and finished last of six. Following these Championships the Soviet Computer-Chess Federation was set up to support computer chess and chess programming, to organize computer chess tournaments and to establish a cooperative for producing chess computers.
Intellect-02 was perhaps the first result of setting up this ‘cooperative’. It was made and released that year (1988). A dedicated chess computer/games machine intended for mass production, based on the KR580VM80A processor, a Soviet Intel 8080 clone. I am now told that 8000 were made between 1988 and 1991. I have no idea how many cartridges were produced. The Intellect-02 has serial number 4288 and the chess cartridge serial number 4315 both being dated November 1988. The chess cartridges were sold in a box with an instruction manual but no chess pieces.
The Intellect-02 now appears to be rather rare within Russia and exceptionally rare elsewhere. Some of the Russian developed Elektronikas and a number of Eastern Block clones of Western chess computers appear more often in collections and on Ebay.
With this background I had hoped for the Intellect-02 to be a weak but interesting chess opponent. However this is where the big letdown arrived. The 1988 Intellect-02 chess cartridge is an exact clone of the Fidelity Chess Challenger 3 (CC3). In every test game I have played against the CC3 and Intellect-02 they have played exactly the same moves when set on the same level. The four chess control buttons BB (EN - Enter), CT (CL - Clear/Change Level), BN (DM - Double Move) and Cb (RE - Reset) perform exactly the same functions as they do on the CC3. The Intellect-02 is usually 10-20% slower to respond. Thanks to a quirk of the Intellect-02 manual I now know that both machines will accept castling whether you input the king move or the rook move first.
Final point, judged by the game from the First Soviet Computer-Chess Championship, between Algir and Intellect it is unlikely that that Intellect program is the same one used in the Intellect-02 chess cartridge.