The Novag Super VIP itself is not at all rare. As the strongest available portable of its day (Elo 1684) it sold in good numbers, and often pops up on Ebay. What are rare are a couple of the Super System accessories which were produced to go with the Novag ‘Super’ series of chess computers, the Super Forte, Super Expert, Super VIP etc.
It was a time when manufacturers were feeling the need to respond to the advance of PC chess by providing connectivity options. However Novag took the principle further than any of the other chess computer manufacturers. The bottom photo gives a diagram of the whole Super System. At its heart is a Distributor Box which was released in 1989 soon after the Super Expert, Super Forte and Super VIP went on sale. The chess computers themselves were provided with interface sockets and in the Super VIP’s case key combinations to interact with the PC. See the red key labels in the photo below.
The Distributor, together with a PC serial cable, must have sold in modest but sufficient numbers for Novag to see it’s Super System plan through to the bitter end. The other accessories, the boards and TV interface, followed as planned over the next two years.
They were not well received. As far as I can tell Eric Hallsworth ignored them completely in ‘Selective Search’. Computer Chess Reports (1991 Vol.2 No.2) had only these damning words -”Novag’s Super System (Tournament board, sensor board, TV interface - all which can connect to several of their units) is extremely disappointing. Don’t buy a Novag if that’s the reason you chose their unit. Buy Novags because they’re good machines as stand alones - the expansions are virtually useless.”
Of the accessories produced the Touch Sensory Board you see on this webpage probably made the least sense in terms of cost relative to usefulness. It was released at roughly the same time as the Novag Super Nova which in one machine had the same board and a stronger program than the Super VIP for around the same price as the Touch Sensory Board alone. Setting it up involves several wires as the Super VIP and Sensor Board both require Novag 8210 power supplies and both have to be connected to the Distributor Box. The Board is pleasant to use but a bit tricky to set up. Bizarrely you have to consult the Super VIP screen to see its moves before transferring them to the Board. Of the various Super System options the wooden Auto Sensory boards make much more sense.
All of which goes to explain why the Touch Sensory Chess Board is a rarely seen accessory, and therefore this combination with a Novag Super VIP is a rarity. For good measure I have added the classy and responsive Universal Electronic Chess Board and also a rarely seen TV interface to the pictures below.