- 10.6. Chess
Mac OS X comes with only one game, but it's a beauty (Figure 10-2). Chess is a
traditional chess game played on a gorgeously rendered board with a set of realistic 3-D
pieces. You can rotate the board in space, as described in Figure 10-2.
The program is actually a 20-year-old Unix-based chess program, GNU Chess, that
Apple packaged up in a new wrapper.
10.6.1. Playing a Game of Chess
When you launch Chess, you're presented with a fresh, new game that's set up in Human
vs. Computer mode—meaning that you (the Human, with the light-colored pieces) get to
play against the Computer (your Mac, on the dark side). Drag the chess piece of your
choice into position on the board, and the game is afoot.
If you choose Game New Game, however, you're offered a pop-up menu with
choices like Human vs. Computer, Human vs. Human, and so on. If you switch the pop-
up menu to Computer vs. Human, you and your Mac trade places; the Mac takes the
white side of the board and opens the game with the first move, and you play the black
Tip: The same New Game dialog box also offers a pop-up menu called Variant, which
offers three other chess-like games: Crazyhouse, Suicide, and Losers. The Chess help
screens (choose Help Chess Help, click "Starting a new chess game") explain these
Figure 10-2. You don't have to be terribly exact about grabbing the chess pieces
when it's time to make your move. Just click anywhere within a piece's current
square to drag it into a new position on the board (shown here in its Marble
incarnation). And how did this chess board get rotated like this? Because you can
grab a corner of the board and rotate it in3-Dspace. Cool!
- On some night when the video store is closed and you're desperate for entertainment, you
might also want to try the Computer vs. Computer option, which pits your Mac against
itself. Pour yourself a beer, open a bag of chips, and settle in to watch until someone—
either the Mac or the Mac—gains victory.
10.6.2. Chess Prefs
Choose Chess Preferences to find some useful controls like these:
• Style. Apple has gone nuts with the computer-generated materials options in this
program. (Is it a coincidence that Steve Jobs is also the CEO of Pixar, the
computer animation company?)
In any case, you can choose all kinds of wacky materials for the look of your game
board—Wood, Metal, Marble, or Grass (?)—and for your playing pieces (Wood,
Metal, Marble, or Fur).
• Computer Plays. Use this slider to determine how frustrated you want to get when
trying to win at Chess. The farther you drag the slider toward the Stronger side,
the more calculations the computer runs before making its next move—and, thus,
the harder it gets for you to outthink it. At the Faster setting, Chess won't spend
more than 5 seconds ruminating over possible moves. Drag the slider all the way
to the right, however, and the program may analyzeeach move for as long as 10
fun-filled hours. This hardest setting, of course, makes it all but impossible to win
a game (which may stretch on for a week or more anyway).
Choosing the Faster setting makes it only mildly impossible.
• Speech. The two checkboxes here let you play Chess using the Mac's built-in
voice-recognition features, telling your chess pieces where to go instead of
dragging them, and listening to the Mac tell you which moves it's making. Section
184.108.40.206 has the details.
Tip: If your Chess-playing skills are less than optimal, the Moves menu will become your
fast friend. The three commands tucked away there undo your last move (great for
recovering from a blunder), suggest a move when you don't have a clue what to do next,
and display your opponent's previous move (in case you failed to notice what the
computer just did).
10.6.3. Studying Your Games
- You can choose Game Save Game to save any game in progress, so you can resume
To analyze the moves making up a game, use the Game Log command, which displays
the history of your game, move by move. A typical move would be recorded as "Nb8—
c6," meaning the knight on the b8 square moved to the c6 square. Equipped with a Chess
list document, you could recreate an entire game, move by move.
Tip: If you open this window before you begin a new game, you can see the game log fill
in the moves as they happen.