Rebel Century is aptly named for those who believe the new century starts next year. It's the
latest version of the highly-respected Rebel program. Like its predecessors, Century is a
DOS-based program, but it will also run under Windows 95/98. If I had only two words to
describe the new version, they would be "more" and "better". Since most of what I wrote in
my review of Rebel 10 remains valid for Century, I'll concentrate on
these two words in this review.
I'm always amazed how each new version of Rebel gives us more. For me, the main extras of
Century are as follows.
In my view, current chess programs are too strong for most players, and it's almost
pointless to play them at their strongest settings unless you enjoy losing all the time.
Century offers more ways to adjust its strength by adjusting the engine parameters. These
adjustments can be used to create different "personalities", and saved for later use. The
program comes with various predefined personalties, including some of famous players.
The playing style can also be adjusted by invoking the Chess Tiger engine, which uses a
different search strategy. Finally, the "club player" option allows Century to blunder
occasionally, and gives you a chance to win a game if you can spot the mistakes.
Century comes with a database of more than 500,000 games compared to around 300,000 for
Rebel 10. This is an extremely generous feature for a chess-playing program. It's easy to
take these large numbers for granted until you estimate how much time it would take to
enter all the games! The increase in games is complemented by increases in the number of
opening lines and moves in EOC. Extra specialised databases, such as games by famous
players, are included on the CD.
The analysis options have been extended by the introduction of a blunder check mode. In
addition, all analysis and games can now be logged in a standard ASCII file for later
perusal. This option allows you to quickly see what went on in a game without having to
do an analysis of it.
This is easy to overlook, but I believe it's one of the strengths of Century (and its
predecessors). Registered owners get access to a web site that offers a range of useful
items. This includes program updates, database updates, new opening books and general
information. Hence, it certainly pays to register! The developers are easily accessible
via email and the Computer-Chess Club, so help is available if required.
Although the improved strength of Century is not critical for playing games, it is important
for analysis. Any increase in strength should lead to more accurate analysis, or at least
comparable analysis in a shorter time. Hence, the increase in strength over Rebel 10 is
good news. It's also clear from the test results on the web site that Century is one of the
strongest programs currently available.
Interface and help system
Playing chess on a computer should be fun, and not a battle with the interface. Rebel has
always had a clean and easy-to-use interface, and Century continues that trend with some
extra refinements. The screen layout is highly configurable, so it should be easy to find
one you like. The help file is now available in both a Windows help version and an html
Each new version of Rebel has been an improvement over the previous one, giving a strong
and feature-packed program. If the century ends this year, then Rebel Century is a worthy
end of the current Rebel line, as this is the last DOS-based version. Rebel has always
been a great program; it just got better!