Free Program! (Couldn’t get anyone to buy it!)
This program prints out a brief (very!) explanation of each of the error
messages given out by the Hisoft
Pascal 4 compiler. It is run from CP/M by
typing the word “explain”, followed by a space, then the error number, and
then “enter”. This saves one the bother of getting the manual out and turning
to page 35, which is where I have copied all the text from, so the program
probably belongs to Hisoft at least as much as it does to me! I did actually
try to sell it to Hisoft, then I tried to give it to them, in the hope that
they would send it out with all their compilers, but they were not putting up
with such amateurish efforts, or something like that…
Dreadful Chess Tournament Ends in Exhaustion.
A friend of mine has been improving Sargon for some time now, and recently
sent me a tape of his latest version. As it uses good old Nas-Sys in the
approved manner, it works fine with
as you would expect. I beat
it on level three, and decided to play it against my Spectrum, which I loaded
with Quicksilva’s program “The Chess Player”. (Silly Scenario number 42, an
alien android has arrived and will destroy Earth unless you can beat it at
Chess! Presumably this is a sop to the space invader fans.) The resulting game
was very enlightening. It was also very exhausting, as Marvin is upstairs,
while the Spectrum is downstairs. This exercise factor was one reason why the
game did not get finished. The main reason, however, was that the Spectrum was
so dreadfully slow that in a tournament it would have run out of time. Marvin,
running the improved Sargon, produced a move within two minutes, at all times.
When in check, the response was much faster, under ten seconds.
The Spectrum played with the white pieces, while Marvin was black.
If you play it through, you will probably reach the same conclusions that I
did. The Spectrum program is very heavily biased towards moves that put its
opponent in check, and almost always takes when offered an exchange. The final
position would almost certainly lead to a draw, with just the Kings left. At
least Sargon’s habit of throwing its Queen away in four moves has been fixed,
but neither program seems to have much idea of how to put the other in check
mate – there are several points in the game where good moves were ignored, in
favour of material gain.
Why have I bought a Spectrum?
Not just to play chess against Marvin, I can assure you. And not to use as a
colour display board either, for that matter! No, it is far more devious than
that, I can assure you! Some months ago, when I first heard about Micronet
800, I decided that Marvin just had to be connected. I phoned the local
British Telecom sales department, who had never heard of Prestel, and
eventually managed to get the number of the Micronet people. The man I spoke
to was very interested to hear about Marvin, but was also very firm – there