Chess Champion Super System III
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The Scisys Chess Champion Super System III is identical to the Novag version. Click here for the Scisys and Novag : The Early Years story.

In its time the Super System III was the Rolls Royce of chess computers. There were faster models but for style and luxury there was nothing to compare. Unfortunately its time did not last long. If you had to save to buy one, then, by the time you had saved enough, it was too late. By then there were a number of rivals which were stronger and with better chess playing features. Also, as was typical of the time, the manufacturer did not follow the upgrade path but introduced completely new models which could not use the accessories. These were the prices at the end of 1979 :-
 
...............................Harrods....Horten

Computer Unit.........155   398 DM
LCD Board................107   298 DM
Printer........................105   179 DM
Power Pack.............................98 DM
Memory unit..........................179 DM
Suitcase...................................79 DM
_____________________________
Total..........................455...1231 DM

455 in 1979 is around 1500 at UK 2007 values.

Nevertheless the computer unit sold well in Germany, and sufficient of the complete system, in the case, were sold to make finding one on Ebay not too difficult. By comparison Competence was charging 279 for a Modular Game System + Sargon 2.5 in early 1980 and the MGS was stronger at chess and offered a credible upgrade path.

A further Super System III accessory, an LCD chess clock, appears amongst the photographs in the manual (see bottom of page). The Clock was not released for sale.

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Type

Tabletop - Keypad, with LCD Chessboard and Printer accessories

Processor

6502 cpu, 2 MHz, 8 Bit

Memory

8KB ROM, 1KB RAM

Opening Book

Not known

Power

8V  1.3 A  5 pin DIN plug
+ Rechargeable power pack accessory

Dimensions

24.9 x 16.0 x 6.5  - Computer Unit only

Chessboard

6.5 x 6.5 cm

The Super System III was the first chess computer to have either an LCD Chessboard or a printer !! Whilst these were clearly very useful accessories for chess players the emphasis seemed to be more towards producing a rich mans toy than a strong upgradeable chess computer.
The full system included a power pack, which enabled the chess computer and LCD Chessboard to be used as a “portable” and a memory module used to save games, another first. These were slotted into the expansion bay as shown in the photo below left. In the photo directly below those items are sitting on the suitcase, together with the printer paper roll and the connecting pieces used to hold the computer unit, LCD Chessboard and printer together. The power pack took 14 hours to charge and allowed an operating time of about 2 1/2 hours, lights off.

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The Super System III came within a whisker of causing a sensation when it got a winning position against World Champion, Anatoly Karpov. The German department store chain Horten were sponsoring a chess tournament at Bad Kissingen to promote interest in the chess computers. A day was set aside for the Grandmasters to play an army of Super System IIIs in a 25 game Simultaneous. After 32 moves the position opposite was reached. Karpov, a rook down with a lost game has the threat of mate in one with Qh8. Super System III can stop this by Qb8, and in reply to 33. Ne7#, Kh7 34 Be4 black has f5 when the Queens are sure to be exchanged. Unfortunately black played Rf8d8 ??

This sort of thing happened a lot to chess computers in the late 1970s / early 1980s. On the plus side the Super System III was by some way the best chess computer at solving problems. It could solve Mate In 5 (9 ply). It also abided by all the important rules of chess, which could not be said for most chess computers produced up to that time.

Quartz Chess Clock 20x20
Anatoly Karpov v Super System III
free counters