Dedicated Chess Computers

Eldest: Prehistory

CyberChess from Cyber Enterprises
First edited | 04/03/2014 | by MMO
Last edited | 08/29/2015 |
Photos: MMO

Advertisements: CYBERCHESS original documents by Wayne Revox and MMO
References: Trademark Registration, CYBERCHESS Documentation from Cyber Enterprises, Magazine Review by Johnson CA in Creative Computer Magazine, 1984

Reference to cite: CYBERCHESS from CYBERCHESS Enterprises, April 2014,

Despite its name, it is not a computer...
Still... by the way of decision making algorithms, CyberChess allows to play some great chess games.
In September 1977, Dorothy Mikun filled a federal trademark registration for the CYBERCHESS (see
On the game itself, the name of Norbert K. Mikun is appearing as the owner of the copyright in 1977 with the mention Patent Pending.

CYBERCHESS Advertisement

Many thanks to Wayne Revox, Canada

CYBERCHESS from Cyber Enterprises - Pamphlet and instruction manual -



Since the advent of computer man has attempted, with varied degrees of success, to program electronic devices to play chess. Today's modern computers with their lightning calculating speeds and their vast solid state memories indeed do play chess.


Tournaments in which computers play computers are being held, and the best computer programs using the biggest and most powerful machines, are being pitted against each other. However, even with the advances of modern technology, contests between chess players and machines have proven man to be vastly superior.

The human brain possesses two miraculous attributes which set it apart from any machine, intuition and originality or creativity; no computing device no matter how sophisticated can boast of these capabilities.

The number of possible moves and counter moves in an average game of chess staggers the imagination. In an attempt to define this number the term googol has been created where a googol is a 1 followed by 100 zeros.

When a chess player ponders over a chessboard position, trying to decide on his next logical move, he does not consider each one of the googols of possible moves, countermoves and answers, he does not analyze exhaus­tively all possible chains of combinations as such task is beyond any man or machine.

The chess player draws on his recollection of proven principles of sound play and uses his intuition and creativity to intuitively discard all irrelevant and meaningless choices, concentrating his attention on only a handful of relevant and plausible moves, and from among these he selects his next play.

This instantaneous and intuitive narrowing down is not possible without intuition and creativity.


When a computer analyzes a chess position stored within its electronic memory, it is confronted with the same googols of possibles, and not having the ability of arriving at creative and intuitive solutions it must reach its decision by using the principles of sound play programmed into it, and comparing each and every possible move, countermove, and answer against those principles and against each other.

This task is so staggering that even the fastest and most powerful machine would require a memory larger than a city and it would take years to complete a game.

Thus a perfect chess playing machine is technologically not feasible at this time; and although a machine capable of holding its own with the best humans is theoretically possible, it is highly impractical due to the space, energy and millions of dollars it would require to build.


Spurred on by the desire to create a small and portable chess playing machine within the economic reach of the average chess player, It was necessary to compromise the quality of the game by limiting the size of the electronic memories and the allowable time to analyze the game; thus randomly discarding the vast majority of move choices.


The fruits of these efforts have been a few small electronic chess playing machines which dot the market, and more undoubtedly will be designed and produced.

All such devices however suffer from common shortcomings; they are expensive, in the $100 to $200 price range; they either take an inordinate amount of time for each move or they are only capable of a ludicrously low level of play denying any challenge to all but the most inexperienced beginner.

The few computers capable of fairly decent play are large machines which utilize sophisticated mass storage devices and whose $100,000 plus price tag places them outside the affordability range of the average chess player.



In order to create a chess playing machine which is small, simple enough to make it affordable and yet capable of playing superb chess; it was necessary to adopt the computer's ability of following a preprogrammed path and at the same time preserve the human brain's ability of intuitive and creative reasoning.

Certain compromises were necessary, but they were made where they detract the least from the game's integrity.


By limiting the computing time and memory size of an electronic machine the number of choices presented to the computer and requiring its analysis has not diminished, only its ability to reply has deteriorated.


CYBERCHESS   limits the actual number of moves presented to it by you the player thus limiting the number of required answers.

The moves discarded by a computer when it runs out of time and memory space, are discarded randomly, without consideration to their soundness and plausibility.

The moves discarded from your consideration by CYBERCHESS   are discarded by a human brain, the brain of a highly rates chess master, who has used his talent, intuition and creativity to preselect the most meaningful and plausible moves, for your level of play; and it is from among these moves that you make your next choice. Just as in a live game, the majority of the discarded moves would have been intuitively discarded by you anyway.

The compromise of not allowing you the whole range of all possible moves and variations is more than amply compensated by skillful chess analysis coupled with a method of presentation which faithfully preserves the challenge, thrill, penalty/reward characteristics and playing ability require­ments of a chess game.


CYBERCHESS   programs are carefully designed by a chess master; they are checked, verified and tested; and, when used with the CYBERCHESS   machine, they will require your concentration and judgment and will offer you the total submersion to the exclusion of everything else, experienced by chess players.

In an actual game of chess if your opponent is much stronger than you, you will lose very fast. If you set CYBERCHESS   to play at a much higher level than your own, your loss will be as imminent.

In a live game you would quickly defeat an opponent much weaker than you. You will defeat CYBERCHESS   as quickly if set to play at a level much below yours.

A chess game starts evenly before the first move, but soon changes to lost or won or fluctuates back and forth as each opponent makes moves consistent with his skills. Playing against CYBERCHESS   will recreate the above condition exactly.

Many a game has gone from lost to won or won to lost as a losing position elicited a higher level of concentration or a winning position invited careless play. The same holds rigorously true when playing CYBER-CHESS.

In a game against a live opponent you only win if you do not make any major blunders, play better than he and checkmate him before he mates you. Again the same holds true with CYBERCHESS  .

You cannot win a chess game by playing your moves at random. Selecting moves at random against CYBERCHESS   will also invariably end in your defeat.




CYBERCHESS   can be played at 8 levels and each higher level is more difficult than the preceding one.

At its lowest level CYBERCHESS   play can be compared to that of a beginner who knows the moves but does not formulate plans and who has been playing a very short time.

At its highest level CYBERCHESS   demands knowledge, coordination and precision worthy of a master.

It is impossible to establish an exact comparison between CYBERCHESS   levels and an established rating like that of the United States Chess Federa­tion (USCF) for instance; however, a very approximate parallel can be drawn and when done so, it becomes very useful in your initial determination of the level of play.

The following chart attempts to correlate CYBERCHESS   levels to USCF ratings.

It is only an approximation and it may vary not only from level to level but from game to game within the same level, as no two chess games or opponents are exactly alike.


Beginner Amateur                                    Below 1200

Intermediate Amateur                              1200-1350

Advanced Amateur                                  1350-1500

Top-Rated Amateur                                 1500-1650

Beginner Professional                              1600-1750

Intermediate Professional                         1750-1900

Advanced Professional                             1900-2050

Top-Rated Professional                            2050-2200

As you play CYBERCHESS,  you will soon find your proper level of play and the above guide will be unnecessary to locate your level.


CYBERCHESS   is inherently designed to improve your game not only by allowing you to play more often and anytime you wish, but by exhibiting certain characteristics which cause you to play better almost naturally and effortlessly.

As you play regularly against CYBERCHESS   you will soon notice that the present level of play becomes easier and you start winning games at levels which previously meant a certain loss. You will be pleasantly surprised as these enhanced abilities will begin to manifest themselves in actual live play.

You will start recognizing certain bad moves, be able to see deeper into a combination, you will instinctively select better moves and gain new familiarity with openings, defenses and lines of play.

This learning is a slow and almost unnoticeable process, however, it is there; and the following paragraphs will allow you to use the machine's inherent teaching features to the fullest.


CYBERCHESS   teaching process operates through 2 very strong principles: a continuous numerical indication of what is ahead, acting as a strong motivator to concentrate and analyze more carefully; and an instantaneous reinforcement through punishment/reward, acting as a powerful memory engraving tool.


As you play a game against CYBERCHESS  , each time you advance, you expose a positive number in the level window, which you add on the status dial. This number is an indication of the difficulties lying ahead in selecting the right move. The higher this number the harder it will be to find the correct move, and consequently you should make an extra effort to find it, as the penalties you may incur could swing the status dial deep into the losing side.

Each time you select and verify a move, you expose a reward or penalty which is an indication of how good or bad the move is:

A rating of +1 or 0 means you have chosen well; the move is very good although not the right one.

A rating of -1 is not bad, but it is not the best move. You cannot lose a game by constantly choosing - 1 rated moves.

A rating of - 2 or higher indicates bad moves, and the higher the negative number the worse the move. These are the losing moves.

A move rated X is a disastrous move, you will not forget it easily as it ends the game abruptly. It is not very likely that you will hit X moves unless you are not concentrating, playing at random or playing extremely above your level.

CYBERCHESS   can help to develop some positive insights into the game.
However, it does that through repetitive play through all levels of difficulty and requires a thorough exploration of the reasons for not selecting the bad moves. 
The approach used in CYBERCHESS   keeps the concentration level up and forces you to study the score to a greater degree than you would have in just reviewing the game on your own with the cryptic notation generally supplied as comments by most chess analysts and editors. 


CYBERCHESS from Cyber Enterprises - Instruction manual

The CYBERCHESS  machine can be set to one of four levels:

- BEG (Beginner),

- INT (Intermediate),

- ADV (Advanced),

- TOP (Top-Rated),

while CYBERCHESS  game programs come in 2 classes: PRO (Professional), and AMT (Amateur).

Therefore you have the following 8 distinct levels of play at your disposal:

1.      Beginner Amateur

2.      Intermediate Amateur

3.      Advanced Amateur

4.      Top-Rated Amateur

5.      Beginner Professional

6.      Intermediate Professional

7.      Advanced Professional

8.      Top-Rated Professional

The standard program pack included with this set contains 4 complete games, 2 professional and 2 amateur.

Additional program packs of 4 games each, of either amateur or professional class, can be obtained from CYBER Enterprises.

A program index describing all available programs and their features, a handy order form and a pre-addressed envelope are enclosed for your convenience.

Each new program pack contains an updated index as new programs are being added continuously.


Part I of this manual is devoted to acquainting you with CYBERCHESS  and its use.

It is very important that you read the following instructions prior to attempting to play, as a good understanding of the procedures will result in many hours of error free chess.

In Part II, the idea behind CYBERCHESS  is explored; its strengths and weaknesses are analyzed, and the principles used to improve your game and compare your strength to that of CYBERCHESS  are explained.


The CYBERCHESS  machine and Its parts are shown on the opposite page. This section will familiarize you with these parts and their names. You should locate on your machine each part as you read its description.

CURSOR: The cursor is the large moving part with the name CURSOR on its handle. It also has the words LEVEL, SELECT, VERIFY and other captions printed on its face. You can move the cursor by grasping the cursor handle with your fingers and sliding it up and down. Try it.

SLIDERS: The 6 narrow stubs protruding from under the cursor's face are called the sliders. Each slider can move independently to an up or down position. To move a slider down place your thumb on the cursor handle and gently push the slider, using your middle finger, under the upper edge of the cursor face.

To move a slider up place your middle finger on the cursor handle and gently slide the slider, with your thumb, under the lower edge of the cursor face.

Try moving the sliders up and down without moving the cursor itself.

Note that the sliders are designed to expose a slit in the cursor when they are either up or down, but not both slits at once.

SELECT WINDOW: The long and narrow horizontal slit in the cursor, exposed when a slider is down, is called the select window, the word SELECT and 6 arrows point upwards to it.

VERIFY WINDOW: The verify window is the long and narrow horizontal slit in the cursor, exposed when a slider is up. The word VERIFY and 6 arrows point downward to it.

LEVEL WINDOW: The long and narrow vertical opening on the left side of the machine and exactly under the word LEVEL is called the level window. Note that the cursor's face covers part of the level window and a small arrow points to each level of play.

LEVEL SELECTOR: The long and narrow rectangular part (inside the level window) with 1/4 cut out is called the level selector. The level selector may be inserted in the level window in any one of 4 positions so that only 1/4 of the window is open. By exposing the quarter of the level window pointed at by the little arrow on the cursor face, one of 4 levels of play: BEG, INT, ADV, or TOP may be selected. Try it.

REGISTER INDEX: The vertical strip to the right of the cursor, with the letters F, G, T, X, V, Y, Z, R and A vertically printed on it, is the register index, and it is used to set the register.



The register is the smaller moving part with the word REGISTER on its handle, it also has a small horizontal window in it called the register window.

You can move the register by grasping the register handle with your fingers and sliding it up and down.

To position the register at Z simply slide the register until the line on its handle is aligned with the small index mark next to the Z.

Try setting the register at X,Y. etc.



The status indicator is the round offset on the bottom right of the machine with a small hole in it and the word STATUS printed vertically next to the hole.

Note that it also has 2 ranges of numbers, one positive from +1 to + 8 and one negative from -1 to - 8.


STATUS DIAL: The status dial is a wheel with index marks on its outer edge. It is located under the status indicator so that only its edge is exposed. You can rotate the status dial by placing your finger against its edge and gently turning it either clockwise or counterclockwise. Try it.

The status wheel is used to add or subtract any number from 1 through 8.

To add 4 to the existing status for instance simply place your finger on the status dial next to + 4 and then rotate this line clockwise until it is aligned with the arrow on the status indicator.

To subtract a number simply align the line next to the negative number with the arrow.



The program card slot is the long narrow slit in the right edge of the machine.

It is used to load program cards into the machine.

At this point you should be familiar with ail the machine parts.

The following list will serve as a self check. If you do not recognize or cannot locate on your machine any of the items listed below, go back and re-read the section about that item.

Cursor                                    Register Index

Sliders                                    Register

Select Window                        Register Window

Verify Window                        Status Indicator

Level Window                         Status Dial

Level Selector                         Program Card Slot

As seen on the photos of my item, CYBERCHESS  includes a lot of programs in each category:
- 1..31 Amateur program pack;
- 1 Standard program pack;
- 1..49 Professional program pack.
The list of additional game packs to be used with the program (four games to the pack) groups the games according to difficulty (amateur or professional).

Learn Chess from the Masters
CYBERCHESS  takes some of the winning games of the greatest chess players and lets you play their pieces.

It uses a multiple choice format in which the Grand Master's move at each stage of play is included as one of six options.
Each of the moves has a point value associated with it.
When you select the correct move, you are credited with one point.
When you select any of the other moves, you may lose as few as O points (if the analyst considers that move equal to the Grand Master's) to as many as six points.
Some moves are considered so bad that recovery is impossible, and you lose immediately.

There is an instructional mode, in which there is no time limit imposed on your play and some notation is available for each of the wrong alternatives.
There are also two modes of tournament-timed play and two variations of speed play available.
For learning, the instructional mode is the one to use.

  requires that you use a chessboard and a set of chessmen.
To start, the first few moves are given, since they are standard openings. At this point, the board is displayed so that you can check the position of your pieces on your board.
After each tenth move, the board is displayed again.
You make the moves for one set (designated by CYBERCHESS ) and the opponent's response is given to you immediately.
Before you go on to the next move, you may select any of the alternatives for the analysis or comment. Of course, there is value in the analyses provided by CYBERCHESS .
Careful study of the position at each move can provide valuable insights into the game, if all levels of difficulty are explored.
The benefits to be gained by using CYBERCHESS  are realized by studying the moves the Grand Masters do not make and checking the program's analysis of those moves.
If you can learn to understand why a given move in a sequence is bad, you will improve your chess by reducing the number of bad moves you make.

If you do not know anything at all about chess, CYBERCHESS  will be of little or no value to you.
It will not teach you how each of the pieces moves or any of the principles of good position play or long range strategy. CYBERCHESS  assumes that you already know how to play.
At the beginning of each game, it presents a statement that is supposed to help to guide you through the moves. In fact, it tells you something of what happens in the game, but it does not tell you what the early rationale of the master was which determined the line of play he chose.
Good chess players generally confine their moves to traditional lines, paying attention to maintaining good position, until they find (or think they find) a weakness in their opponent's position.
They then put pressure on the weak spot until a major weakness develops.
In CYBERCHESS  each move is made and evaluated in terms of short term goals.
The objectives of the masters are displayed solely on the basis of results.
Once you have learned some of the fundamentals of good play, CYBERCHESS  can help to develop some positive insights into the game.
However, it does that through repetitive play through all levels of difficulty and requires a thorough exploration of the reasons for not selecting the bad moves.

The approach used in CYBERCHESS  keeps the concentration level up and forces you to study the score to a greater degree than you would have in just reviewing the game on your own with the cryptic notation generally supplied as comments by most chess analysts and editors.
The list of additional game packs to be used with the program (four games to the pack) groups the games according to difficulty (amateur or professional).

(Document from Wayne Revox)





Computerized Versions of CYBERCHESS

A computerized version of CYBERCHESS was made in 1982 for the TRS80 model I: 

"Cyberchess for Model I (DSK) - Norbert Mikun/Cyber Enterprises (1982) Cyberchess(r) Program Pack System (c)(p) Cyber Enterprises 1982 - All Rights Reserved".

Other versions were made for the Commodore 64, the Apple II, the IBM-PC, XT and other compatibles.


CyberChess for Apple II - Screenshot

All these versions use the library of games of Norbert Mikun.
Many versions for other platforms exist (official versions or versions made by amateurs).
The common link between all these different versions is the use of the original game library and algorithms found in the "paper" version.


From Creative Computing Magazine (September 1984) Volume 10 Number 09
Cyberchess Creative Computing MagazineCyberchess Creative Computing Magazine

Reference: Johnson CA, Creative Computer Magazine, 1984
Chess Algorithmic Methods