Game Guys
MacChess 4.0

MacChess 4.0 PPC
Author: Wim van Beusekom

Mike: This time, we decided to deviate from last
month’s low-thinking, heavy-reflex shoot-em-ups, and instead offer a game that relies solely on thinking and strategy: MacChess. Chess is an ancient game, but its complexities and strategies still challenge-and frustrate-some of the greatest intellects of the world today.

The traditional game of chess has found a home on virtually every computer platform, and the Macintosh is no exception. There are many commercial and shareware chess games available for the Mac, and one of the most polished of these adaptations is MacChess 4.0, a freeware game by Wim van Beusekom.

Adam: Since I always like to start things off being honest, this review will be no exception. I have never played chess in my life. Nope, never. Never with my grandfather, never with my uncle, never with my 10th cousin, never. I have also never played it on a computer. So, reviewing a game I didn’t know how to play was not what I had in mind. But, Mike, being the great friend he is, helped me…

Mike: You see Adam, chess is played on a board that is just like a checkerboard.

Adam: Checkers! Cool. I can play checkers.

Mike: You have several different types of pieces-the king, queen, knights, rooks, bishops, and pawns-all of which move about the board in their own way. You capture your opponent’s pieces by moving one of your pieces onto a square that your opponent occupies. The object of the game is to attack (and eventually corner) your opponent’s king. When you attack your opponent’s king, your opponent is placed in “check”, and he must either move the king or one of the other pieces in such a way that you can no longer threaten the king. If your opponent is unable to relieve the check, “checkmate” is declared and the game is over.

Adam: So that’s why they wouldn’t let me keep playing when it said that the king had been checkmated.

Mike: That’s it! Well, on with the review…

When I first downloaded MacChess, I was under the impression that its best-move hint feature and game log analysis features would mean that it would also have a good tutorial for new players. (Although I really like chess, I am a casual player with average skills at best, and I knew Adam was not a chess player at all, so we both could have used a good tutorial!) It turned out that, to the best of my knowledge, this isn’t true. You can pick up some excellent strategy by watching the computer play a game against itself; however, I would highly recommend having some rudimentary chess knowledge before playing MacChess!

Adam: Gee, Mike. Now you tell me! I was also very disappointed that there was not a tutorial with the game. The hint feature helps, but if you don’t know chess, watching the computer play isn’t much help at all.

Mike: For an experienced chess player, though, the game offers several useful options. You can set the skill level and speed of the computer, save your name and game information for record tracking, get hints from the computer game engine about your best available move, and import and export game files in popular computer chess game formats.

Adam: There are 4 ways to play the game. You can play against the computer, have the computer play against you, play against another human, or have the computer play itself.

Mike: MacChess keeps a detailed log of every move in your game, making it possible to analyze or replay previous games. There are even several aesthetic options for MacChess: you can customize the type of playing pieces and color of the game board that you play with.

Adam: You can also have MacChess set up the board in different manners. You can place different pieces in different areas, and set which side you want to move first, etc.

Mike: The graphics and appearance of MacChess are very attractive; the graphics are very good, and sound effects are used effectively, too. Every feature of the game-the board, the game log, the time clock, etc.– has its own window, which you can move or hide at will.

Adam: All these windows can be hid or shown again with a simple key command or by going under the easily accessible “windows” menu. Of course, graphics and sound are always a factor in a good shareware/freeware game, and MacChess’s graphics fall under the “best” category. As for the sound, chess isn’t the type of game that you want a music soundtrack for. The sound effects it does have serve their purpose well.

MacChess 4.0 is PowerPC only, and requires about 3500k free RAM; Mr. van Beusekom has also kept an older version, 2.5.1, freely available for 68k-based Macs. If you would like a more recent 68k-compatible chess game, I would recommend the freeware GNU Chess, which is currently at version 4.0b5.

You can download MacChess from the MacChess web site, at, or from, at the obvious URL of Going to and entering “chess” in the search field will yield these plus several other quality Macintosh chess games.

The Summary
Mike: Mr. van Beusekom continues to develop and improve MacChess. He regularly enters the program in competitions in the Netherlands, and it has performed and finished admirably in them. He is still not satisfied with the game engine, and states in the documentation that he hopes to improve the computer’s skill level in subsequent versions. In my opinion, the game is tough enough to keep average chess players challenged for hours; I have yet to beat the computer in a game. MacChess is a very well-done game that should provide chess fans with a lot of entertainment and a good deal of challenge.

Adam: My experience with MacChess is no different than I expected it to be. Have I learned how to play chess? Nope! Do I have a good grasp on what is going on when I play chess? Nope again! In fact, I am still virtually clueless. But what I can say about MacChess is good. It is a well done game, with few operational flaws. It is very customizable, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy chess on their computer.

  • Download MacChess 4.0 PPC 

    Mike Wallinga

    Adam Karneboge


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