- REBEL 8.0 First impressions -
written by Steve Maughan

  • General Impressions
    As soon as I started using Rebel 8 I felt as if I was using a stable, well written program.

  • Playing Strength
    When considering whether to purchase a new chess program, by far the most important factor for me is the playing strength; all the other elements for me are cosmetic. With Ed Schroder's ten years of commercial experience developing chess software one would expect a top class chess engine.

    Rebel 8 lives up to this pedigree. Compared to Rebel 7 the program seems a little sharper at finding key continuations. No doubt there will have been some additions to the knowledge base. However since Rebel 7 is a knowledge rich program, the additional knowledge in Rebel 8 is difficult to detect. The following game between Rebel 8 beta and Chess Genius 4 illustrates the high class of chess produced by Rebel 8.

  • White: Rebel 8.0 beta 1 (Pentium 90 MHz, 16 Mb of RAM)
    Black: Chess Genius 4.0 (Pentium 90 MHz, 32 Mb of RAM)
    Rate of Play: 60 moves in 1 hour.

    1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 g6 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. Bb3 Bg7 7. Ng5 (the first move out of book. Genius was expecting 7.a4) 7.d5?! (a strange move by Genius which gives Rebel a good space advantage; 7.e6 would have been better) 8. f4 O-O (castling into a potential kingside attack) 9. O-O Nc6 10. c3 (this solidifies the centre and allows the bishop a "bolt hole" on c2. This is a typical anti-computer position, in which one would expect a human, playing white, to close the centre and start a slow but aggressive kingside attack. How will Rebel stand up to the challenge?) 10.Bf5 11. g4! (excellent - the black bishop on f5 is attempting to force an exchange of bishops on c2. Rebel realises that a white Bishop anchored on c2 is likely to play a key role in an attack, opting for 11.g4 which chases the black bishop and increases the kingside pressure) 11.Bxb1 12. Rxb1 h6 13. Nf3 Qd7 14. Nh4 Na5 15. Bc2 Nc6 16. f5 (white has a significant space advantage. It is difficult to see how black can defend) 16.g5 17. f6 exf6 (17.gxh4 lead to a quick finish - 18. fxg7 Rfe8 19. g5! Nd8 20. Qh5 Qe6 21. Rf6 leading to mate in 6) 18. exf6 Bxf6 19. Rxf6 gxh4 20. Rxh6 (20.Qd3 is also very strong - Rebel chooses the simpler path to victory) Qe7 21. Qd2 f6 22. Qf2 (the game is really over at this point - Rebel just need to tidy up the loose ends) Rae8 23. Bf4 f5 24. Rg6+ Kf7 25. Bxf5 Rg8 26. Bg5 Rxg6 27. Bxe7 Rxe7 28. Bxg6+ Kxg6 29. Rf1 Nd7 30. Qf5+ Kg7 31. Qg5+ Kh8 32. Qh6+ Kg8 33. Rf5! (Rebel is kicking for home with a mate in seven announcement) Re1+ 34. Kf2 Rf1+ 35. Kxf1 Ne7 36. Qg5+ Kh8 37. Qh5+ Kg7 38. Rf7+

    An excellent exhibition by Rebel, capitalising on the early space advantage and not letting Genius back into the game.

  • Chess Database
    Rebel 8 had powerful database capabilities. A particularly welcome addition is the support for the standard PGN format, which is particularly popular on the Internet. I had no problems importing large files into the system.

    One feature I particularly like is the search for position facilities, which enables the user to search the database for the current position - very powerful!

  • Book Functions
    Anyone who likes to study and create their own opening book libraries will love Rebel 8! I downloaded a collection of games from the Internet (PGN format), which all started with the two knights defence. A few mouse clicks were required to create the new custom opening book. Loading the new book was also extremely easy.

    Within five minutes Rebel 8.0 knew all the key variations in the Fried Liver Attack - very impressive! I really like this feature and I can see myself using it a great deal.

  • Remaining Options
    Rebel 8 is stacked full of features. Almost everything is configurable, from the playing strength to the colour of the text. However, most of the time I used the default settings.

    A major new feature is the game overview, which allows the user to see sixteen boards showing the different stages of the game. This is a great tool for seeing exactly how the game has developed.

    Rebel 8 also allows the user to play four games simultaneously, switching when required.

    One of my favourite additions to the user-interface is the "Super War Room", which allows the user access to Rebel's inner most thoughts. Hash table usage, selective search information and principle variation for the top four candidate moves (I don't know of any other program which gives this feature!)

    The ELO management options are an excellent set of features for the beginner. If you find the playing strength of Rebel 8 a bit too strong, you can set it to a given level or alternatively have Rebel increase in strength during the game. This means you have some chance of entering the endgame stage with an advantage over Rebel.

  • My Favourite Features
    The feature I find the most useful is creating opening books from PGN files. It is unbelievably easy to create these custom openings and I am sure this is going to be a favourite of many people.

    In addition, as already mentioned, the excellent playing strength is most likely the main reason why I would recommend anyone to buy Rebel 8.0.

    It is a joy to battle against this intelligent adversary, watching the way in which it skilfully manoeuvres its pieces.

  • My Wish List for Rebel 9.0
    After using Rebel 7.0 I did find Rebel 8.0's user interface a little cluttered. One symptom of this is the abbreviated menu heading which I must say I am not keen on.

    This is undoubtedly due to the tremendous amount of new features incorporated into Rebel 8. I do hope there will be a Windows version of Rebel (Any plans Ed?)

  • Who Should Buy Rebel
    Anyone who is looking for a serious chess program will more than satisfied by Rebel 8.0. The exceptionally high playing strength will satisfy the vast majority of experienced chess players, while the new ELO management features makes Rebel the ideal mentor for the aspiring beginner.

    All in all a great program which I am sure will be a favourite of many chess enthusiasts.


    Last update October 7,1996