- REBEL 8.0 First impressions -
written by Juergen Faas

  • General impression
    Rebel 8 is a very strong program and itīs ideal for the serious chess player or analyst. It contains many useful features that helps to improve your playing strength of or to help with your analyses. Rebel 8 is mainly a program thatīs able to play chess - on an extremely high level - but itīs also a "database" program with a lot of important options.

  • Playing strength
    Playing strength of the beta engine was very impressive. Test positions showed that Rebel 8 BETA is very strong but maybe not essentially stronger than Rebel 7. It had to play versus MChess Pro 5.0 (leader in the ranking list of the SSDF, the famous "Swedish List") and Genius 3.0 (second in that list). The results were:
    Rebel 8 - Genius 3.0      3.5 - 4.5
    Rebel 8 - Mchess Pro 5.0  6.0 - 2.0
    Iīve been told that Ed Schröder is "still" not satisfied with this great engine and plans on using another one that heīs been testing during the last weeks. So the final version might even be stronger! I found the game following very nice while itīs very rare "that" easy to beat such a strong opponent:

  • [Event "Test p6"]
    [Site "?"]
    [Date "1996.08.02"]
    [Round "6"]
    [White "Reb8"]
    [Black "M-Chess 5"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [BlackClock "3752"]
    [TimeControl "40/7200:40/7200:40/7200"]
    [WhiteClock "5930"]

    1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e5 Qe7 5. Nc3 d6 6. d4 dxe5 7. Nxe5 f3 8. Qxf3 Nfd7 9. Bf4 Nxe5 10. Bxe5 Nd7 11. O-O-O Nxe5 12. dxe5 Qc5 13. Bb5+ c6 14. b4 Qb6 15. Nd5 cxb5 16. Nxb6 axb6 17. e6 Bxe6 18.Qxb7 1-0
    The playing style of the Schröder programs has been a topic for a long time. Some said itīs playing "boring", others found it "solid". The truth (IMHO of course) is that the style of all Rebel versions was dynamic and fascinating. solid yes, but risky, not endless manoeuvering like Genius 3.0. Itīs nice to see that the tactical part is as strong as the positional part by now. And of course Rebel 8 remains strong in the endings where it shows all its profound knowledge of the value of passed pawns etc.

    Rebel 8 is not considered a windows program but itīs supposed to run perfectly under Windows95, while this would slow down the engine a little bit. Still fast and strong enough for the most purposes...

  • Database functions
    Today itīs standard to come up with not only a couple of databases (famous games, test positions) but also with the possibility to file and collect your games in a nice way. So Rebel allows to create new collections and to enter every game with the complete data = Names of the players, place, ELO, result etc.

    Maybe partially due to the internet another feature seems like itīs getting standard - the import/export of PGN-files. Itīs not only important for the exchange of games through the internet, you can also exchange games between several chess programs. Hiarcs, Mchess Pro and Nimzo3, for instance, are already knowing this PGN-format. So if someone wants to analyse a Hiarcs game with the help of Rebel 8, he just needs to export it from Hiarcs and import it to Rebel. Very simple.

    New is the possibility of importing/exporting EPD files. These are text files that make possible the exchange of single positions between several chess programs. The other programs in question are Genius 3.0, Mchess Pro 4.0 and 5.0, Hiarcs 3.0 and Nimzo3. Be aware that PGN files are only for the import/export of whole games, but aside from that the purpose is the same. Very useful, this new feature.

    Rebel is also able to convert Nicbase files, so there is only the problem Chessbase left. Chessbase and Fritz1/2/3 files (cbf files) can also be converted but with two restrictions, firstly itīs a little bit more complicated (for a "newbie" at least) and secondly - and this is more essential - it can only convert complete games from the cbf. format but not single positions. Little bit to do in the future...

  • Book functions
    Ok, itīs high time to confess: Iīm an idiot regarding opening books but I know that many players like to create own opening books. This is still possible and now even in a easier way by using the option "User book from DB (database)". So the moves that are contained in the games of a database can be used as a new Rebel book!

    Rebel can also use the books of three other chess programs, thatīs Fritz, Genius, Chessmaster 4000! Might be interesting to see how strong the influence of the different opening books are on the playing strength...

  • Remaining options
    I will only mention the most helpful - in my view - options. There is a very nice teacher option specially for beginners (and for fun of course). Pawn structure, king safety etc. is evaluated ("balanced" "bad" etc.). These evaluations are not based on deep searches because that would take too much time, but itīs interesting anyway. More important, specially for beginners, are the information on some threats - pinned or hanging pieces, passed pawns. So everyone can play a while without overlooking a simple threat. Of course Rebel will be superior to a beginner and even to the most of the experienced players nonetheless..

    The general information views are also very impressive. You can even see how much of the available "hash tables" are used - thatīs quite an interesting point for "freaks. New is that you can look at the best four lines - here you can see sometimes why Rebel doesnīt consider a certain move the best, for instance. Like the former versions Rebel also shows the last three "main (best) lines" it has found (main lines development).

    I like the analysis options very much. As every good chess program there is a PGA possible (Post Game Analysis). At every point of the game Rebel shows both the best move (in its view) with evaluation and - for comparisons - the actually played move, also with evaluation of course.

    Another "automatic" analysis possibility is the Analyse Database option. Itīs improved now since you can select a fixed time for every position. On my computer I couldnīt use that analyse option because my computer is having general problems sometimes which are not due to Rebel...

    NEW and very important for correspondence chess is the Analysis Power option. You can restrict the analysed moves to one or a few moves you consider the most interesting ones. Advantage: Deeper search! Of course itīs worthless if the best moves accidently arenīt on your list....hehe. But no doubt, it IS useful - I know only one other program thatīs having this feature! There is one thing to improve - it should also be possible to select those moves that should NOT be analysed! Would make things easier sometimes...

    I like the many search options and I think every serious tournament player will like it too. There are search functions within one game - a "Go to move #...." option and also you can enter a move that you expect to happen later and you are there at once.

    Even more interesting is the search within a whole database. For instance, if you have a certain position this option will list in a few seconds (well, depends on the size of the database of course) all games where the given position was on the board.

    Of course there are some other funny features too, for instance the energy level: Rebelīs starting "energetic" but getting more and more tired...or reverse, itīs sleepy at the beginning but gaining more and more "energy" during the game....

  • Bugs etc. ?
    As one of a couple of beta testers I found some little "bugs" while trying all the features I told on above, but partially the problems were caused by my "bad" computer , partially Ed Schröder assured that he already fixed those bugs. Actually it was striking that the Beta version was reliably working. More reliable and with less bugs than many final versions of other chess programs.

    So Rebel 8.0 while Iīm only knowing the Beta version, is my No. 1! But I always liked the Schröder programs, maybe Iīm not quite objective. If you are interested in more details and the exact definition of the playing strength of the FINAL version you might wait for my full report in a few weeks!


    Last update September 19,1996