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Part 1.   The Tablet



As the pace of life in the modern age increases, the methods of presenting chess, the most ancient of board games, change to meet  the needs of the age.  When Caxton printed the first books, a massive innovation at the time, one of the subjects he chose was chess and ever since chess has kept in step with the advances of technology.  The challenge of computers did not leave the game standing still.  In fact, it was peculiarly suited to this medium and the development of chess engines further enhanced the manner and substance of its presentation.  Now that we are getting accustomed to telephones in our pocket as we travel, chess technology can come with us.

Our need to take chess books on our travels to tournaments was gradually replaced with the advent of laptop computers, and it is becoming more common to see the laptop receiving close attention during congresses, not only to follow the course of play and the analysis of positions, but also as a teaching tool.  Now the laptop has almost had its day and is being replaced with the less bulky computer tablet.  Chess has not been slow to make use of this technological advance and many chess applications have been developed that are designed purely for use on tablets. 

This series on "Chess Devon" is designed to make the computer orientated chess player aware of the software that is available which can be used to aid the reproduction and understanding of the royal game via computer tablets.

The tablet we will use is Google's Nexus 7 available from Argos, mainly because it makes very many chess applications readily available - both free or for a small fee. 

There seems to be a competition between makers of tablets to produce the thinnest product possible and this seems to be winning at the moment.

The Nexus I have has a black lightweight casing providing a 7" screen, which, for the purpose of presenting a chess board, is an ideal size making the board and pieces very clear.  This screen can be used in either portrait or landscape format. Battery life is approx ten hours when the battery is fully charged, which is an ample amount for a days outing.  The screen produces very clear images in bright colours.  As with other computer appliances, one can adjust the settings to personal choice and comfort.  The touch screen is very responsive, but as my fingers appear to be very cumbersome I have found a stylus to be very helpful.

Compared with other PC appliances, at times the responses are rather slow, for instance, after the first battery charge I found that I had to hold down the start key for some time before there was a reaction.  Unfortunately the start button is rather small and rather tricky to operate.  However, these small criticisms in no way detract from the fit for purpose criteria.  If you are considering taking the tablet route, I suggest that the Nexus should be your first port of call.

Google make the acquisition of applications very simple to use.  They are mostly contained in the store section and the subjects available include games, books, music, movies and TV, so don't think that chess is the only subject you will have available, there is much, much, more, not forgetting the internet access and e-mail.

As I suggested earlier, chess is very suited to being represented in all media and chessplayers make the most of this flexibility.  For instance, there are more books written on chess than any other game or sport.  There are very few games where the devotee can reproduce a game played many hundreds of years ago.  It is this facility that has permitted a steady increase in the knowledge and expertise required to play the game well using experience gleaned from the games and writings of  masters of yore.

In this series we will be taking a look at the chess applications available on the Google platform from the viewpoint of learning and improving ones game and being able to follow the course of tournaments around the world.  Some of the applications will be familiar to you as they are derived from the products developed for normal desktops and laptops.  But as yet, tablets are not quite powerful enough to handle these programmes in their original form, so modifications have been made.  However, our main objective is to examine the advantages of using the simple-to-handle tablet in our travels for either business or leisure purposes.  Hence our title "Chess on the Move."

Bill Frost

October 2013