The last time I could beat a computer at chess was probably about 15-20 years ago. I've gotten marginally worse, and computers have gotten just a tad* better.

Avid readers may recall I got a Nintendo DS earlier. I was given Clubhouse Games (2 thumbs up) as a present, and that has a large variety of traditional games including a Chess program. It was easy on the easy level, but I was floored when I could actually beat it at the harder levels.  What I really noticed was that it took a very long time to move on the hardest level to move.

That got me to check out the official hardware specs at just say One ARM9 and one ARM7. Other less-official sources give more details and say the CPUs are 67 mhz and 33 mhz respectively, with 4 MB ram. 

So it's no Deep Blue. That's not a lot of computational power, compared to basic desktop machines today with 1+ Gigabyte Ram and processor speeds in ghz.

Hardware  aside, I noticed an algorithm deficiency. The DS chess game seriously undervalues the queen. A simple algorithm adjustment here would make it more formidable. So it's not all a hardware issue.

The bottom line is that if my opponent is bad enough, I can win.

On a related note, it would be an interesting tool to evaluate a human player and then list the approximate chess computer strength they correspond to. It would be like those cheap magazine quizes: "You are a  486 50mhz 4 MB ram chess player". I bet it already exists.  Anyone got a link?


(* = sarcasm.)