written by Steve Maughan
General ImpressionsAs soon as I started using Rebel 8 I felt as if I was using a stable, well written program.
Playing StrengthWhen 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.
An excellent exhibition by Rebel, capitalising on the early space advantage and not letting Genius back into the game.
Chess DatabaseRebel 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 FunctionsAnyone 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 OptionsRebel 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 FeaturesThe 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 9.0After 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 RebelAnyone 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