Intelligent Chess

The Scisys Intelligent Chess was a highly innovative product, in its day. It combined the chess display facilities of a system called Tolinka, with a fully functioning chess computer.

The chess game can be displayed on a television screen or followed on a chessboard. Input is by keypad and games can be stored and retrieved using the tape recorder, as a data recorder. Audio commentaries can be dubbed onto the stored games and there are other facilities for demonstration, such as flashing squares.

With the tape recorder and solid wooden chasis this is a heavy retro piece of kit. Display on modern televisions is less than perfect. For the best results an older television with manual horizontal hold and vertical adjustments would be better.

As well as the innovative combination of hardware, Intelligent Chess had new program features - takeback, replay, step and next best. Potentially excellent chess teaching aids when displayed on the TV.

The Intelligent Chess concept and program design were by Philidor Software (David Levy and Kevin O’Connell), and the inventor of Tolinka, Barry Savage, was responsible for the circuit design. Scisys manufactured the machine on behalf of Intelligent Games Ltd.

If you are interested  in Tolinka this Youtube video (link)  shows it displaying a chess game to the death in the Gambit episode of the late 1970s cult sci-fi series Blake’s 7 (starting around  21 minutes 30 seconds into the episode). It had been thought that at 22 minutes 34 seconds Tolinka itself made a brief appearance but it turns out that the ‘machine’ depicted is more likely the result of a set designer’s fertile imagination. Also I am not sure that Tolinka actually vaporised losers, but the game is displayed in Intelligent Chess-like fashion.

Tolinka was used by Victor Korchnoi whilst preparing with Michael Stean and Raymond Keene for the 1978 World Chess Championship match against Anatoly Karpov in Baguio City. Korchnoi supposedly named Tolinka, which is said to be the diminutive of Anatoly i.e. Little Anatoly. Recently Hein Velhuis has discovered a short video of Tolinka in use by Korchnoi’s team. The video is available at the bottom of this webpage.

Intelligent Chess 1 20x20
Intelligent Chess 2 20x20
Intelligent Chess 22 10x10


Tabletop - Keypad entry - TV and LED displays


6502 cpu  2MHz  8 bit



Opening Book

800 ply


8.8V  1.3A


42.9 x 24.7 x 8.3 cm

Intelligent Chess 10 20x21
Intelligent Chess 11 20x21
Intelligent Chess Prototype 1

This picture shows Frederic Friedel of Chessbase with a prototype of Intelligent Chess. You can watch a youtube video of Frederic talking (in German) about Intelligent Chess and how they got the first ideas for the Chessbase database from it. (link)

A nice piece of Intelligent Chess history. Many thanks to Peter Haupert for the link.

This short video shows Victor Korchnoi in preparation for his World Championship match with Antoly Karpov with  Tolinka being used to display the games.

free counters