Computer Chess Club Archives




Subject: Re: Novag Super Constellation (very old chess computer)

Author: Les Walker

Date: 14:30:51 09/18/98

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On September 18, 1998 at 16:11:35, John Coffey wrote:

>In 1984 I purchased a Novag Super Constellation.  Mine quit working a few years
>What impressed me the most about this program was the strength for its time
>considering that it was only running on a 4 mhz 6502.  Granted it was no
>master, but the USCF gave it a rating of 2018.  Those ratings given to
>computers were pretty controversial, and may still be controversial today
>on newer machines.
>My understanding is that it only evaluated positional ideas at the base of the
>search tree.  Although that is rather limited, it gave the machine a balance
>of positional and tactical strength (for its time) that still probably could
>beat most tournament players.  It seemed especially strong at speed chess.
>I wonder if anyone has one of these that still work?  I would be curious if
>it still could hold its rating, and if gets totally crushed by better programs
>running on machines that are hundreds of times faster.
>John Coffey

I remember that machine. It was a rave when it was introduced. It's play was
quite agressive. I think it would even play simple sacrifices, which plowed new
ground for computers of the day. I never owned one, but I still have a Fidelity
Par Excellence that was sold with a 2100 rating. Later, it was tested to be
around 1900+. It has the 65C02 processor which, I believe, runs at 3 MHTZ! I
also own a Fidelity Chester Challenger. It talks and says all kinds of sarcastic
things while it plays. What I find most interesting, is Chester will beat the
pants off of Par Excellence, often crushing it in a mating attact. I also own a
Maphisto hand held, that is about 13 years old. It play around 1700ish. If
anybody has a old computer, and would like to play it against any of my old
machine, by email, drop me a note at
It's a shame your old Novag has stopped working.

Best regards,

Les W.

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