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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Zaurus Linux games

Knights, by House Of Fish Designs, $10
Reviewed August 2002

Knights is one of the best chess games I could find on the Sharp Zaurus. Developed by Mark Westcott of House Of Fish Designs, Knights uses the Phalanx chess playing engine and supports all .pgn (Portable Game Notation) files.

If you are not familiar with the Phalanx engine, here is the Phalanx author’s book on Amazon. While the Phalanx is a young chess program, it has managed to become quite strong. You can also find some very good chess books on Amazon. While Phalanx engine is the default engine for Knights, the developer promises that more chess engines will be available for download in the future. The fact that you can download .pgn files and play it in Knights is a very nice feature for someone who is studying Master’s strategies.

Knights chess has 3 game modes: Solitaire Chess, vs. Computer and Computer vs. Computer. So you can play against another player in Solitaire game, or against computer, or watch the computer play. The games in the Computer vs. Computer mode are rather aggressive.

To benefit the beginners, Knights will show the potential moves when you click on a piece, and will highlight the pieces in Red if they are in danger. There is a time clock as well as a move tracker where you can see all the moves made by you and your opponents if you are not trained to remember them on your own. Knights also supports castling and en-passant and offers you options to call flag automatically, and check to always promote to queen. The game offers 5 difficulty levels and save/load game option.

To make the game more interesting, Knights currently comes with a 2D board and a 3D board. There are more board themes available for download from the developer’s site. Knights will work on the Zaurus SL5000, SL5500(G), and iPAQs running OPIE or Qtopia and takes up 1MB memory.

All in all, Knights is a great game for a beginner to intermediate player who wants to sharpen their skills and learn more moves. It has a big potential to become a more complete chess game when more chess engines are added. If you are a computer chess player and have a Linux PDA, Knights is a good choice for you.

Playing Hints and Tips

Read more chess books and keep playing practicing the Master’s moves.

 

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics The basic XBoard and XBoard 3D will get you started, though I experienced an image bug that will change the image of the pieces. The newly added board themes will jazz up the playing experience.
Sound N/A Other than the basic clicking sound when you make moves, there aren’t sound effects or music.
Fun Meter It’s strong enough chess engine for me. Downloading and playing .pgn files add depth to the game. We should look forward to more engines to come.
Addictivity Very decent game as your basic Linux PDA game. It has most of the bells and whistles you will need for your daily practice or occasional games.


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