Soviet Bloc - Rare

For many years Russian chess computers seemed strangely rare in Western Europe. You would have thought that the major chess playing nation on earth would have made at least a few chess computers which are well known to the wider world, despite the hardware and political limitations. Three chess computer models selling in reasonable numbers were produced in East Germany (DDR) with one eye towards export markets, but none from the former Soviet Union. The few known Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian models were for internal distribution, made in modest numbers relative to the chess playing population, and are comparatively weak at chess including the reverse engineered clones of popular Western models. However in the last year or two more evidence of models from the 1980s and 90s has emerged and no doubt there will be more to come.

As far as Russian chess computers are concerned there is the all-Russian Elektronika series - the IM-01, IM-01T and IM-05. There is also a version of the American Mattel (Elektronika IM-29 Chess Partner), the Master (probably a clone of the Fidelity Excellence and similar to both the Bulgarian SPS Partner and Latvian Playmate-2), a peg sensory portable (probably a clone of the Novag Piccolo), a chess computer advertised on the Russian Chess House website called the Debut-M which can also be seen in a thread of the HIARCS forum (link), and a cartridge based machine the Intellect - 02 which joined my collection from the outer reaches of Siberia.

Bulgaria was a major manufacturer of computers in the Soviet Bloc and there are two Bulgarian chess computers in my collection.
These are the SPS Partner and the Izot U30M 1042C.  SPS also collaborated with the Riga Radio Factory in Latvia to produce the Playmate-2 mentioned above.Then there is the Ukraine manufactured Mephisto Schachschule clone which I am calling the Mayak Computer Chess, although it is also known on Sergei Frolov’s website as the Chess Computer-1 (WK-1).

East Germany (German Democratic Republic) was the one place in the Soviet Bloc where chess computers were developed with export potential to the West in mind. The factory where they were produced at Erfurt, near Leipzig was known during this 1981-1988 period as VEB Mikroelektronik (Karl Marx) Erfurt. A description of the chess computers produced by VEB can be found on Schachcomputer.info (link).

Below are the Soviet Bloc chess computers which are in my collection. Most are rare, some extremely rare in Western Europe, but the GDR produced SC-2, ChessMaster and ChessMaster Diamond are not rare and can often be found on Ebay. As Schachcomputer.info includes a webpage with photos for each one of those machines I have included a link to those. There is now also a link to my webpage on the ultra-rare Chess-Master Table.

Russian
(1) Intellect - 02
(2) Elektronika IM-01
(3) Elektronika IM-01T
(4) Elektronika IM-05
(5) Elektronika IM-29

GDR
(1) SC-1
(2) SC-2
(3) ChessMaster
(4) ChessMaster Diamond
(5) Chess-Master Table

Bulgarian
(1) SPS Partner
(2) Izot U30M 1042C

Ukrainian
(1) Mayak Computer Chess

Latvian
(1) SPS/RRR Playmate-2

 

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