- REBEL 9.0 Reviews -

                written by Jeff LaHue


REBEL 9.0 has significant feature improvements over REBEL 8.0, 

particularly in the database area.

Favorite new features include the "small boards" for database 

game listings, the capability to serially analyze multiple games 

consecutively, and book analysis.

REBEL 9.0 is ideal for the serious player looking for the 

strongest PC program as an opponent and/or as an analyst.


My first impression of REBEL 9.0 is that many new database 

functions have been added (see review section on Database 


As to user comfort, REBEL 9.0 is generally programmed to allow 

the user alternate ways to get around the program and its menus 

via the mouse or the keyboard.  In addition to menu options and 

keystroke shortcut combinations (Alt+G for New game for example), 

the program also has a grouping of graphical hot buttons to 

quickly perform common functions.

The use of these hot buttons has been improved in REBEL 9.0 in 

that the user may choose which functions to have available as hot 

buttons.  For example the default definable hot buttons are Enter 

PGN-database, Game overview, New game, Enter database, Search on 

position, Save game, Make move note.  The user can change any of 

the hot buttons to other functions such as Load database, Load 

opening book, Game-info, Search on moves, Data info, Next game, 

Previous game, Rewrite game, Show teacher, Load user book, 

Shuffle Book.  This capability is a fine contribution to the 

REBEL 9.0 user's comfort.  There are also 4 fixed hot buttons for 

the 4 clipboards each of which can save a game.

Another user-friendly REBEL capability (not new to REBEL 9.0) has 

to do with move entry.  One can choose whether to have REBEL 

respond to a "drag pieces" mouse entry or a "click on squares" 

mouse entry.  That option is very handy for any mouse users who 

have a strong preference for one type of move input versus 

another.  Keyboard users can use arrow keys and the Enter key or 

even type in moves such as e2e4.

Regarding user comfort, another convenient option is the 

capability to use a smaller font for the pull-down menus.  New to 

REBEL 9.0 is the similar option to use a smaller font on the 

database page.  This enables the user to see up to 40 games 

listed per page, versus the default 20 games with the larger font 

size.  Again, it is nice for the user to have the option to best 

suit his/her needs.

REBEL 9.0 has no 3-D board capability, but the 2-D board and 

pieces are clean and easy on the eyes.  The Color Menu lets the 

user modify the display's colors in any number of ways including 

changing the color of the White squares, Black squares, White 

pieces, Black pieces, background, menus, text, and many others.  

If you create a particular color combination that you like, you 

can save it (and any other combinations) as reloadable color 


Another very user-friendly feature is the ability to configure 

the database game listing display content (see review section on 

Database functions.)  I found this new feature --particularly the 

"small boards" and the analysis capabilities-- to be amongst the 

best parts of REBEL 9.0 .


REBEL programs are STRONG!!  Unless you are a strong master, you 

probably have little chance against REBEL 9.0 at its default 

settings!!  However REBEL conveniently offers "weakening" 

capabilities such as Strong, Intermediate, Novice settings; ELO 

rating settings; time/ply settings including handicap times; 

Permanent brain on/off (computer thinking while it is your time 

to move); opening book on/off options; Set up positions for 

material odds games; and even multiple chess engines: REBEL 9.0, 


A key advantage to having one of the world's strongest chess 

programs is to use it for analysis of games.  You probably 

can't defeat REBEL 9.0 at its strongest levels, but you can no 

doubt benefit from its analysis of your play.  If the success 

of previous REBEL releases and recent pre-released REBEL 9.0 data 

are any indication, this latest REBEL version yet again stands to 

attain a number one ranking as to PC chess program strength.


I was pleased to find many database features in REBEL 9.0 that 

were missing in REBEL 8.

For example, when displaying the list of games in a database, I 

like to know the length (total number of moves) of each game.  

That info was not shown on REBEL 8, but it can be shown in REBEL 

9.0 .  In fact, the database page's list of games permits you to 

configure the display to suit your needs.  Specifically, you can 

configure the display with respect to showing:  White name, Black 

name, Score result, Place/Tournament, Date, Number of moves, 

First moves of a game.  The user can decide which of those 

options to display, and what amount of character space to 

dedicate to a particular item -- for example how many letters of a 

name to display.  The more space you use for names, the less you 

have available for additional info, etc.  You can save and reload 

various display configurations to suit your tastes.

An additional item that can be displayed in the database game 

listing is "Small boards."  "Small boards" is perhaps my favorite 

new feature in REBEL 9.0.  When activated (also configurable as 

on/off in display options), "Small boards" shows 2 small 

chessboards for the highlighted/cursor-pointed game.

The first small board graphically shows the opening of the 

particular game.  The board displays positions of the chess 

pieces in the opening, lists that opening's ECO code, and lists a

descriptive name (if available) for that opening.  For example, 

when the cursor is at the Adams,M-Shirov,A 1991 Biel game, the 

first small board graphically shows the chess position after 

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Bc4 ; 

underneath the board is written ECO B70; underneath that is 

written Sicilian defence / Dragon Variation.  The display of the 

board and the description are welcome additions to the basic ECO 


The second board of the "small boards" for a given game displays 

the final position of the game.  This is very handy to view as 

you arrow down through a list of games.  An exciting feature is

the ability to simply mouse click on the word "EVALUATE" beneath 

the final position small board and REBEL 9.0 will display an 

evaluation of that position with a recommended move and 

score--all without having to formally load the game. The time 

level of this handy evaluation can be customized via the Display 


A "Game overview" is also available directly from the database 

game listing.  It provides a graphical display of the currently 

highlighted game via 15 small boards (spread out from the opening 

to the final position) each of which can be evaluated.  An 

initial right mouse click will show REBEL's evaluation and 

recommended move for the given position.  A second right mouse 

click will show REBEL's evaluation of the game's actual move from 

that position.

I would like to see even more database options in the future such 

as sorting options.  Currently a database's list of games is 

displayed alphabetically by White player name.   Additional 

options such as displaying by ascending/descending year or by 

tournament name (including secondary sorting options) would be 


Other welcome database features include a built-in doubles 

removal option, an option to count the number of games in a 

loaded database, and easy loading of PGN files.

I was particularly pleased to see that REBEL 9.0 now has the 

capability of analyzing multiple games in one session.  Earlier 

REBEL versions could analyze databases of positions (test suites 

for example) but now REBEL 9.0 can serially (consecutively) 

analyze multiple games.  For example, if you played several games 

in a tournament and keyed them into REBEL 9.0, you can have them 

all analyzed for you overnight.  Previously, you would have 

had to analyze them one game at a time and manually select/load 

the next game for analysis.  Now you can load a database and 

select any or all of the games in that database for analysis 

(and you can of course set REBEL to analyze at a level of your 

choice such as 3 minutes per move or whatever.)  Since analysis 

is such a key benefit to owning a super strong program, this 

multiple-games analysis capability is very important.

Previously, REBEL offered database capabilities for searching 

on names, dates, scores, moves, positions, and text.  Now 

REBEL 9.0 offers searching on patterns and searching on material.  

These are great additions.  The searching on patterns option 

permits you to find all games within a loaded database that meet 

any particular pattern you choose.  For example, if you want to 

see all games with a particular Pawn structure, you can set up 

the desired Pawn structure and REBEL 9.0 will find all games 

that contain that Pawn structure at some point in time.  Then, 

after REBEL 9.0 has located the games, you can load each of them 

and REBEL 9.0 will automatically load the game at the point where 

the desired pattern occurs--very handy.

REBEL 9.0's searching on material feature is very helpful--

particularly for end game studies.  You can have REBEL 9.0 search 

a database for particular Rook and Pawn endings, specific minor 

piece endings, etc.  Again, after REBEL 9.0 has located the 

games, you can load each of them and REBEL 9.0 will automatically 

load the game at the point where the desired material occurs.  

(Perhaps an improvement would be to enable the user for example 

to look for K+3P vs k+2p (where White has an extra Pawn) and its 

reciprocal K+2P vs k+3p (where Black has the extra Pawn) without 

having to run 2 separate searches.)


A great new feature to REBEL 9.0 is its ability to "Analyze 

MVS-book."  You can have REBEL analyze all positions in a 

particular opening book and subsequently display its analyzed 

values via the "Show book scores" option.  This feature is great 

for cleaning up an opening book or for helping you decide which 

book move to make during a game.  Let's say you made a new book 

and converted it to REBEL's MVS format (such a converter is 

available via the REBEL website --it would be good to have this 

conversion capability built in to the REBEL 9.0 program itself.)  

Anyway, after making the book, you can have REBEL 9.0 analyze 

each and every position in the book (at 3 minutes per move or 

whatever level you set) and record its results.  When this 

particular book is loaded for use, each of the book's move 

options for a given position can be listed along with REBEL's 

evaluative scores in the INFO window.  REBEL 9.0 already comes 

with a huge book with such evaluative results, but you also can 

perform this function on your own books.

So, REBEL 9.0 has taken opening books one step further--not only 

can you create and modify books, but you can easily analyze them 

as well.  Since such analysis can take a while for large opening 

books, REBEL 9.0 permits you to stop the analysis and come back 

and pick up where it had left off last time (for the next 

overnight analysis or whenever you choose.)

Other new REBEL 9.0 book features include its "book learning 

system" which strengthens REBEL 9.0 even further (ouch!) by 

having REBEL 9.0 keep track of its performance and learn to 

preferentially play openings where it succeeds and to defer from 

openings where it has lost.  For the weak at heart, this option 

can be turned off and even cleared.  Another new REBEL 9.0 book 

feature enables the user to create specific opening books from a 

database as based on whatever moves are currently on the main 

board.  For example, load a particular database and then put 

the moves e2-e4 and e7-e6 on the board.  The new feature will 

create a new opening book of French Defence lines as extracted 

from games in the chosen database.  The user can decide how many 

moves each book line should contain.


There are many, many options in REBEL 9.0 .  Perhaps it would be 

best to refer interested parties to the Manual as shown on the 

Schroder BV REBEL Web page.

One new REBEL 9.0 option that is very useful is the text file

viewer.  One such use of the viewer is an automated on-line 

Manual that enables the user to highlight a menu option, use the 

"?" option, and directly go to the text within the Manual where 

that description appears.  Additionally, once you're in the 

Manual (or in any text file you choose to view) you can use the 

"Find" command to search for words of your choice and the "Next" 

command to find the next occurrence of those words, etc.  Also 

within the viewer you can easily access other text files such as 

the REBEL 9.0 Examples file for viewing.  I found the text file 

viewer to be particularly handy for a DOS program that doesn't 

have the benefit of Windows multi-tasking.

A seldom mentioned REBEL option is the blindfold piece sets.  

These could progressively be used to help one learn how to play 

"blindfolded" against the computer.  One could start with the 

"blind color" pieces which are actually question marks (light "?" 

for each White piece and pawn, and dark "?" for each Black piece 

and pawn) requiring you to remember what each "?" actually 

represents.  The next set in order of difficulty would be the 

"blind no color" set in which all question marks are the same 

color.  Then, for added difficulty the user could play without 

any white question mark pieces at all or without any black 

question mark pieces at all, and finally--without any pieces at 

all.  I suppose the ultimate in blindfold play would have the 

computer providing and accepting verbal sound moves--then the

user wouldn't have the benefit of even looking at a blank 

chessboard--but such sound generation and voice recognition 

capabilities are not part of REBEL 9.0!

Another underestimated option introduced with REBEL 8.0 is the 

simultaneous option.  You can play (and probably lose!) up to 

four games at a time against REBEL!  This can be very challenging 

and fun.


I like many of the features on REBEL 9.0, but I'll point out a 

few that I particularly enjoy...

My favorite new options on REBEL 9.0 are the small boards in the 

database game display and the capability to do single session/

overnight analyses of multiple complete games (see descriptions 

above.)  The configurable database game listing (with total 

number of moves, etc.) is great to have.

I also like the new convenience of directly loading in PGN games 

(although for full feature benefit you probably will want to take 

the extra step of creating a new REBEL database out of important 

PGN files.)  The text file viewer is also very handy.

The book analysis feature is also a very welcome addition to 

REBEL 9.0 .  It is particularly useful for anyone confronted with 

the task of choosing between several book moves or even when 

having to clean up a new opening book.


REBEL 9 BETA had more glitches than REBEL 8 BETA, but hopefully 

they are fixed for the commercial release.  Most of the errors 

were minor menu or minor display problems.  Actually, with so 

many new options (particularly relative to database features) 

this was probably to be expected.  Also, it should be comforting 

to know that Schroder BV uses a Beta testing program.  I've 

purchased chess programs from other companies in the past where I 

wondered if they had done any testing at all!

The REBEL 9.0 commercial release is to be a CD-ROM only product--

problematic for computer/portable users without CD-ROM drives.  

REBEL 9.0's intense features require a computer with some power--

an old 486SX-25 worked for me, but rather slowly as REBEL 9.0 

searched through large books, large databases, etc.

REBEL 9.0 can't access your floppy A: drive for retrieving files, 

so you first must copy them to your hard drive for example before 

using REBEL.  A temporary "Jump to DOS" option from REBEL 9.0 to 

a DOS command line might be helpful.

REBEL 9.0 can't handle variations embedded in PGN as does 

Chessbase for example; REBEL doesn't contain branched variations 

within a single saved game.  REBEL can bring in and generate 

mainline move comments, but as far as chess moves, only a main 

line is handled and imported.

While in the midst of on-going live game analysis (for example if 

you have REBEL using its Analysis Level) if you access a menu to 

flip the board for instance (or if you even access a menu by 

accident and you don't intend to do anything) the analysis stops 

and restarts at ply 1 for the board's current position instead of 

picking up again where it left off.

Some REBEL menus must be accessed several times if you are making 

several changes within a particular pull-down menu.  (Example:  

to change the white and black player names one must enter a menu 

to change the white player name, then the program automatically 

exits the menu, then one must reenter the menu to change the 

black player name.)

Alphabetically by White player is the only game listing sort for 

display of all games.  You can of course do various searches and 

selections for finer listings.  For the overall list however, the 

games are sorted on White alphabetically and they do not appear 

to be sorted on Black as a secondary sort.  Additional overall 

display sorting options (display by ascending/descending year, 

tournament name, etc.) would be an improvement.

When importing PGN games, some may be skipped due to PGN errors 

or whatever.  Yet, other than being told the total number of games 

that were skipped and not inserted into the database, you aren't 

directly told which specific ones were skipped nor exactly 

why they were skipped.  (Late news:  I understand a feature is

being added for the commercial release to aid in identifying/

locating PGN games which were not imported.)

(Note that many of these are more `wish list' type items than `do 

not like' complaints.)

It would be nice to have more options available regarding 

deleting doubles from a database (with choices as to % of moves 

matching, headers matching, which game to delete, etc.)  I 

imported a PGN database that contained 2 games with the very same 

move listing but (reportedly) played by different players.  The 

REBEL 9.0 doubles remover (when selected) deleted one of those 


Also from a "wish list" perspective, it would be convenient to be 

able to do some simple text editing to a text file such as a PGN 

file or to be able to create a simple text documentation file 

while using REBEL 9.0 .  The text viewer is very handy, but some 

text editing capability (particularly for a non-multi-tasking DOS 

product) would be great.

There appears to be no way to write more than one game at a time 

(such as the results of a series of analyzed games) to a single 

REBEL format text file.  You can write all games to a single PGN 

file.  Particularly for REBEL-analyzed files, however, it would be 

nice to be able to write multiple games to a REBEL format text 

file since that columnar format lends itself well to reading 

REBEL analysis.

A minor point:  the time setting used for Game overview analysis 

is only available via the Database menus.  It might be handy 

(since Game overviews are available via the main REBEL page as 

well) to have such time setting available on the main menu as 

well.  The user also must understand that the Game overview 

evaluation time control is independent of the game time control 


As people become more accustomed to playing OTB and Net games 

with a Fischer-type time control (where some incremental time is 

added back to the available clock time after each completed 

move), it might be nice to see such a time control available in 



Despite the addition of many helpful database features to 

REBEL 9.0, what continues to set REBEL 9.0 apart is its high 

playing strength.  If you seek very extensive database capability 

with embedded variations you will still want to look for more 

database-intensive programs.

REBEL 9.0 is not a multimedia event; there are no glitzy graphics 

nor .wav files.  Those seeking fancy 3D monster chess pieces and 

talking heads should look elsewhere.  REBEL 9.0 is for the more 

serious user who seeks a professional program of top strength.

REBEL is well known for its superb opening book, and REBEL 9.0 is 

very unique with its configurable/editable/ANALYZABLE book 



Before seeing REBEL 9.0 I had wondered how this release could be 

any better than REBEL 8.  Well, Schroder BV succeeded with the 

greatly expanded database features and such niceties as the small 

boards, multiple game analysis, and book analysis--it is much 

better than REBEL 8.

Those in the market to purchase a chess program of top strength 

should give REBEL 9.0 serious consideration.