Video Chess is a video game released by Atari in 1979 for the Atari 2600, based on the rules of chess. The game was developed by Larry Wagner (AI) and Bob Whitehead. The box art of the first production run of the Atari Video Computer System (or VCS, later known as the Atari 2600) featured a chess piece, even though Atari at the time was not contemplating designing a chess game. A man from Florida supposedly sued Atari over the box art; however, in an interview, Video Chess programmer Bob Whitehead said he was not aware of such a lawsuit.
At first, the idea of chess on the Atari 2600 was considered to be impossible due to the limitations of the technology at the time. For example, Atari had to overcome sprite limitations; the Atari 2600 was only capable of displaying three sprites in a row, or six (such as in Space Invaders) with the right programming. The eight-piece-wide standard chess board exceeded this limitation. To rectify this, Bob Whitehead developed a technique known as 'Venetian blinds' where the position of each sprite changes every scan line; this allows for eight or more sprites in a row. Additionally, the concept of bank switching ROMs was invented for earlier prototypes of Video Chess that were larger than four kilobytes in size, however the released version ended up fitting the standard 4K size.
The game is played from an overhead perspective. The player uses an 'x' cursor to select and move pieces, rather than using chess notation. If an attempted move is illegal, a warning sound is made and the move is not made. If the right-most switch is set to A the computer plays as white; setting it to B lets the player play as white. With the left switch, selecting A allows the board to be set as the player pleases, whereas selecting B sets up the board for a regulation chess game.
There are eight different difficulty levels, with the computer-player taking a variable amount of time to determine its moves for each level. The approximate time length ranges between ten seconds (level 8, for beginners) to ten hours (level 7).
Find digital download of this game on
This version of Video Chess was designed for Atari 2600, which was commercially very successful video game console of second generation produced by Atari from 1977 to 1992. It was the first console that used removable memory modules with games. At the time of its greatest fame, more than 30 million units of this console were sold for about $ 200 a piece. To date, the game library for this console contains nearly 1,000 original games. More information about the
Atari 2600 can be found here.
Recommended Game Controllers:
You can control this game easily by using the keyboard of your PC (see the table next to the game). However, for maximum gaming enjoyment, we strongly recommend using a USB joystick that you simply plug into the USB port of your computer. If you do not have a joystick, buy a suitable USB controller in Amazon or in some of your favorite online stores.
Available online emulators:
5 different online emulators are available for Video Chess. These emulators differ not only in the technology they use to emulate old games, but also in support of various game controllers, multiplayer mode, mobile phone touchscreen, emulation speed, absence or presence of embedded ads and in many other parameters. For
maximum gaming enjoyment, it's important to choose the right emulator, because on each PC and in different Internet browsers, the individual emulators behave differently. The basic
features of each emulator available for this game Video Chess are summarized in the following table:
If you like Video Chess you'll probably like also some of the similar games in the overview below. The games you see here
are selected based on title similarity, game genre, and keywords. However, the list is generated automatically and can therefore be very 'subjective'
especially for some specific games. To find a particular game, please use our search form.
This website is NOT sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Atari, Sega or by any other video games company.
RetroGames.cz makes no claim to the intellectual property contained in the individual games.
Text content of RetroGames.cz
is available under the
Creative Commons 3.0 License. You can copy it freely, but indicate the origin and keep the license.