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Board Game
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Unspecified custom loader

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Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

There are two ways of reviewing chess programs. The hardened player will settle for nothing less than a head on comparative test, with a line of Speccies overheating as they play each other.

That's one method. But the YS solution is to sit good old Gwyn down in front of the computer and see if he can last more than ten moves. This doesn't result in the definitive statement of strengths and weaknesses... but it does provide a subjective summing up from a mere chess mortal.

After last month's brace of board busters, Cyrus II looks rather plain. No natty 3D graphics here - just a standard plan. But is that a serious omission? Possibly not, because the squares fill the screen and the cursor movement system is simple to use. What is less satisfying is the bilious yellow and green colour scheme, which means that white pieces all but vanish on the primrose squares.

Variables can be changed via a second screen, which also contains a record of moves. Alterations are easy to make, using menus and single key commands. There's no problem changing levels, sides, turning the board through 180 degrees, taking back moves or requesting help. If you want you can also play both sides, or play a human opponent, or your Speccy can even play with itself. Setting up positions and problem solving, with mate in anything up to five moves, are also catered for.

As I said, I can't really comment on the grand master shattering potential of Cyrus, but for many people the fact that it plays a good game will be enough. It's also fun to take on... providing you can cope with its lemon and lime playing area. Yuk!