I posted a query to this list, asking if anyone has had experience with this
chess computer, then listed info from the web site. I received the computer
last night, and here are my initial findings. I'll list the info from the site
again, with my comments after each one:
This luxury state-of-the-art chess computer will give you the feeling of being
The cabinet, and dark squares are walnut, and the white squares are maple.
The chess pieces are boxwood.
The Novag Citrine MODEL #1032 chess computer has the most recent state of the
art technology using a H8/300H RISC Processor.
A comment: On low skill levels, this computer plays an excellent game, and the
processor is very quick at coming up with surprising moves.
It has been specifically designed for the truly elite chess player.
The Novag Citrine is the most powerful, quickest thinking, highest rated, and
most elegant chess computer available in the world.
Comment: It is a very impressive looking chess board. It has a very nice
finish to the squares, and the Staunton pieces are just a touch smaller than
the chess set you got if you took the beginner's chess course from Hadley. The
bishops aren't as conically shaped as I would like, although they are distinct,
and it is a personal preference.
. Estimated rating of 2330 Elo
Comment: Well, after a bit of play, I now know what that indicates. It will
beat the snot out of you! Heh heh heh.
. 81 LED's - four in each corner of the squares on the chessboard
Comment: You can feel these LEDs, so you know where the squares are, and a
light probe will detect them. More on this in a bit.
. Wood chess board
. Chessboard chassis, and dark squares are walnut, and the white squares are
. Chess pieces are boxwood
Comment: This is a nice chess set to leave sitting on a coffee table for
display. When a friend came over and saw it on my desk, he said, "Wow! That's
a beautiful set! Really looks nice and classy!
. Chess board size is 11 3/4 inches x 11 3/4 inches
. Hand carved wooden chess pieces with 2.5" King
. The King measures 2 1/2 inches tall
. RISC Processor H8/300H
. Program Size 56K Byte ROM (Read-Only-Memory)
. RAM: 3K Byte RAM (Random-Access- Memory)
. System Clock Speed 20 MHz
. Power Consumption 450 mW max.
Comment: This computer does not operate on batteries, so you could not play
chess while traveling. Nor is it noisy enough to be heard in a car, bus, or
plane. It is for home use only, unfortunately.
. Opening Book appr. 24,000 halfmoves
Comment: It does have a very wide selection of book openings that it selects
at random, based on your first move if you are playing White, or it will select
one at random if it is playing White. It's first move is not always the same.
. Separate detachable LCD screen has a six character alphanumeric display with
a chess clock, shows moves and a full range of game information, also allows
insight into the computer's thinking process and verifies positions
. Separate detachable LCD screen chassis measures 3 1/2 inches x 2 1/4 inches,
and the screen measures 1 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch
Comment: The computer works the same whether this LCD unit is plugged in or
not, so I play without it. But it does have a very clear and sharp display
according to what the friend said about it.
. PC interface cable (included) allows the game to be followed on a computer
. Save and print games or connect to www.playwitharena.com which will allow you
to play UCI programs and convert games to pgn.
Comment: This is a serial port cable, not a USB. All of the information on
the LCD display will show up on the computer screen, along with a board layout
so that other people can see the game in progress if you have a big screen. I
haven't tried playing other chess engines through this machine, and I'm not
really into that sort of thing, so don't know how often I will be using this
capability of the machine.
. Files for download:
1. Novag Chess Computer to PC Protocol with Microsoft Hyoerterninal program.
2. Citrine PC communication Protocol
3. Citrine to PC with Arena
4. Citrine play a third-party chess engine on the Citrine via Arena.
. Auto-sensing of moves on sensory board detects the location of chess pieces
Comments: The way it works is this: There is a magnet in the base of each
chess piece that will attract a switch that is positioned under each of the
board's squares. Pick up a piece, and the switch is released. Place a piece
on a square, and the switch is lifted. This is how the computer keeps track of
the board position. However, the magnets are not strong enough to hold the
pieces in place if you are scoping out your move on the board. I solved this
by placing strip magnet material with adhesive backing, cut to the size of the
squares, on each square of the board. It was easy to center them using the 4
LEDs in each corner of the squares as a guide. The men now stick to these
strip magnets, and the switches are still able to be activated or deactivated
by placing or removing pieces on the board as the game progresses. Playing
against this machine is just like playing over-the-board chess as far as piece
movement is concerned.
. Super strong chess programs capable of beating over 99% of all chess players
Comment: I don't know about beating that percentage of players, but I do know
that it hasn't lost yet, and it was set to think about it's next move for 5
seconds at the level we have been using. This is one of the levels of casual
. 64 Levels for every type of player -
8 Tournament Levels: All moves are pre-set which have to be played within a
fixed time, i.e. 40 moves in 120 min.
8 Average Time Levels: Enter the average response time per move for the
8 Sudden Death Levels: If you or the computer exceed the specified time
control, the game will be declared lost.
8 Fixed Depth Levels: The computer will only compute up to the depth selected.
8 Analytical Levels: These levels provide deeper searches for more difficult
8 Novice Levels: 1 ply search with limited capture search.
8 Beginner Levels: 2 ply search with limited capture search.
8 Fixed Mate Levels: The computer will find the shortest mate up to the
. Solves problems up to Mate-in-8
. Mate Announcement up to Mate-in-8
. Depth search up to 18 half moves
Comment: As you can see, it has a very wide range of skill levels and types of
time controls. I did beat it on the first novice skill level, and could see a
marked difference between that one and the next novice level, so you certainly
can use this computer to sharpen your play by selecting the right skill level
for your ability.
. Setup mode allows you to enter a special sequence of moves, i.e. a particular
chess opening or moves you found in a chess book
I haven't tried this using a light probe as of yet, but plan to, mainly out of
. Switch sides with computer before or during a game
. Take back move function - take back up to 112 half moves
. Trace forward move function - use this function if you wish to trace your
moves forward again after having taken them back
Comment: This can be done using a light probe, and is not that hard to keep
track of as you take back or retrace moves.
. Force the computer to immediately make the best move it has found so far
Comment: You should let it think for at least 5 seconds to come up with a good
move. Using a timer, I allowed it to think for 30 seconds, and it played very
. 2 player mode will referee 2 human players
Comment: It was fun playing against another human, using the computer as a
referee. We made a few illegal moves, and it showed our errors. The timer
also ran out when we played a sudden death game set to give each of us 5
minutes to complete our game. I'm just not that fast of a player.
. Saves game in memory for future use
Comment: It will save a board position if you turn the power switch off but
leave the machine plugged in. It also saves the style of play you set, as well
as the skill level. However, if you unplug the machine, all is forgotten.
. Autoplay will make the computer play itself
Comment: I doubt if I will use this feature much, although it was fun to see
it play for both sides for a while on a high skill level, while we tried to
figure out what it's next move would be.
. Sound on/off
Comment: You can turn the beeps off for silent play, but, of course, as I am
blind, I rely on the beeps to play.
. Requires A/C adapter, included
. Includes Free 3 Year Classic Chess And Games .com Warranty
More comments on the men and board: To start a new game, just set the pieces
on their initial position, and the machine know that you are starting a new
game. You must use the pieces that came with the machine on the sensory board
in order for the computer to determine it's next move. Right out of the box, a
blind person cannot play this machine without difficulty, as the pieces will
move easily. The magnets I placed onto the board solved this problem, though,
as previously mentioned. Part of the reason they move so easily is that they
have felt bottoms. Overall though, once modified slightly, and with a light
probe handy just in case you run into problems, this machine is very usable by
a totally blind person, and I think I'm going to be using it for a long time in
the future. One more note on the men is that, at least for now, I have wrapped
a trash bag twisty around each Black piece for tactile identification.
You can get one from
Laughter is the best medicine, so look around, find a dose and take it to heart.
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