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Spark Chess

Game Description: Play chess against 3 different computer opponents.

How to Play Spark Chess:

  • Choose White (pieces) or Black (pieces) by clicking on the arrow between the two knights near the bottom of the screen.
  • White always goes first.
  • Choose your desired difficulty level by clicking on one of the pictures: Cody is the beginner level. Cody is still learning. Play with him if you're a beginner. Claire is the intermediate level. Claire still makes blunders, but you need to focus a little. Perfect for a coffee break. Boris is the advanced level. Get ready for a challenge. Boris will do his best to beat you, so don't play unless you're an advanced player. (There is also a fourth level named Guru. Guru is only available if you purchase the game. Since I only have free versions of games here on Richard's Game Reviews, the Guru level is locked and is not available on my site).
  • Your pieces are always at the bottom. Your opponent's pieces are at the top.
  • If you chose the White pieces, you go first. If you selected Black, the computer will make the first move.
  • After the first move, play alternates between you and your opponent.
  • When it is your turn to make a move click on the piece you want to move. Spark Chess will light up the board with green colored squares. (If the piece you clicked on has no green squares light up, this means the piece is not eligible to be moved at this particular point and time). To complete your move, click on any green square. (If, after clicking on a piece, should you change your mind and wish to move a different piece, just click on the piece a second time. The green squares will disappear. Now, click on a different piece to move).
  • Should you make a blunder, and wish to undo your mistake, you may click the 'Undo Move' button located in the right panel.
  • Standard chess rules apply.
  • Spark Chess does allow castling. If you are not familar with the castling rules of chess, and would like to learn, please click here for a brief explanation.
  • Spark Chess recognizes the en-passant capture. If you are not familiar with the en-passant move, and would like to learn, please read this.
  • Spark Chess implements standard draw rules of chess based on three repetitions or 50 pawnless moves. (If you are not sure how the draw rules work, well neither do I. Presumably, the game will let you know if there is a draw. So, don't worry about it. Just play).
  • If you need to quit, before finishing your game, Spark Chess should automatically save your game for you. Then, as long as you use the same computer, you should be able to pick up your game where you last left off.

Richard's Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pro: Ever since I started Richard's Game Reviews, about a year-and-a-half ago, I have been searching for an available computer chess game that can consistently beat me. It's not that I am a particularly good chess player. I'm not. (This is not false modesty on my part. I am just being honest in acknowledging my own limitations). Speaking frankly, all of the other computer chess games I have here on this site are, at least to me, not very challenging. That is definitely not the case with Spark Chess! When I play at the highest difficulty, against Boris, I have yet to win. In fact, I usually get beaten quite soundly. The nice thing is, of course, if you are not ready to take on Boris you can always play against Cody or Claire. (Even Cody, the beginner level, is probably more challenging than the other computer chess games on my site even when they are played at their highest levels). So, there are 3 very good levels to play, each level presenting a nice challenge. If you have not yet played Spark Chess I certainly recommend that you give it a try.

Con: The only thing I don't like about Spark Chess, and the only reason I did not give it my highest rating of 5 out of 5, is the lack of depth perception. Sometimes it can be a little hard to distinguish what row a piece is on unless you look very carefully.





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48 comments:

  1. He can't be that smart... He didn't know how to mate me with a queen and a king.

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  2. To Anonymous: I am not surprised by your comment. I have noticed, with most flash chess games, that the 'end' game is usually the weakest part. (Although some of them are better than others). Even with that being said, I hope you enjoy playing Spark Chess.

    I have linked my signature to one of my other chess games, simply named Chess. Chess is different than the other chess games I have on my site because you play live against a real human opponent! You may want to give that game a try. Just remember. Even though Chess will ask you to sign up, you do not have to sign up or register. You can simply play as a guest as much as you want for free.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  3. I am a noob but I was able to beat him. I might have been lucky :)

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  4. Boris is definitely challenging, but quite beatable.

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  5. Yep. I haven't played since I was 14 some 30 years ago and thought I would restart so I could teach the kids. Boris takes me about 20 minutes of play time but never looks like winning against me (4/4 so far).

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  6. To Anonymous,

    So, let me get this straight. You haven't played chess in about 30 years, and you were able to beat Boris 4/4? I am genuinely impressed! I guess it doesn't say much for Boris. But let's give poor Boris the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Boris was having an off day? lol.

    The reason I am so impressed is that I can distinctly remember when I first begin writing this site, that I too had not played chess in a long time, and I remember how rusty I was. Also I just reread my review of Spark Chess that I wrote about 6 months ago, and I see that I said I was unable to beat Boris. So again, I am very impressed.

    So far, most of the comments are from people who say that they were able to defeat Boris. I think Boris could use a bit of an ego boost. Is anyone willing to post a comment, and admit that they lost to Boris? I am sure it would make him feel better!

    Anyway Anonymous, I really enjoyed reading your comment. I hope you don't mind my using your comment to create a little levity. It sounds like you are more than ready to teach the kids. Good luck, and have fun with that!

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  7. I'd been playing at spark chess website with multiplayer mode...The chess set is beautiful but the only thing i did not like is numerous time while i was winning it suddenly stopped and frozed.. so instead of me winning i loss the games through technical problem with the site..I played Boris 3 times and i beat it twice..when he is losing he will make unbelievable blunder as if he is giving away the games

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  8. They keep changing the difficulty level. Cody used to be no brainer and good match for my kid, Claire was good match for me and Boris was ... well, we never tried. Now it takes some serious thinking to beat even Cody. I am looking for different game that does not keep changing every week.

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  9. This comment is in reply to Anonymous from September 7, 20ll.

    I did not know that Spark Chess had their own website. (I guess it is true what they say. You learn something new everyday). I have never played the multiplayer mode, so I really can't comment on that. As for games getting frozen, I can certainly identify with that. It seems lately, in the last few days, that is becoming a big problem for me. You may want to try playing games on a different browser and see if that helps.

    As far as beating Boris goes, and having Boris make unbelievable blunders and give the game away, I have never been in the postion of getting the upperhand on Boris. So, of course, I have never seen Boris' reaction when he is losing. Congrats on beating Boris. To me, that is quite a feat!

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  10. This comment is in reply to Anonymous from November 10, 2011.

    I agree with you that Cody is a tough opponent. And, of course, Claire and Boris are even tougher.

    I have two different chess games, here on my site, that I can recommend. For your kid, try Flash Chess. Flash Chess is problably the easiest game I have. It will be much easier than playing Cody. As for you, try Flash Chess 3. Flash Chess 3 has three difficulty levels, and all three levels are probably easier than playing Claire, but they may still give you a good challenge. You can find both of these games by clicking the Chess category tab at the top of this page. When Chess Games Page 1 opens, scroll down a bit and click on the picture icons for each game.

    I hope this helps.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  11. I put boris against chess titans level 10 and he beat it pretty bad.

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  12. To Anonymous,

    That was a very clever idea to match Boris against Chess Titans. (For those of you who are not familiar with Chess Titans, it is a really cool game that comes with some versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7). How in the world did you ever think of doing that?

    I haven't played Chess Titans in ages. In fact until I read your comment, I had completely forgotten about it. So I opened it up and checked to see what level I last played, and it was level 2. I do remember that I was having a tough time beating it.

    So you matched Boris against level 10 of Chess Titans (which is the highest level available), and good ol' Boris came out on top! I would say that is pretty darn impressive.

    It is nice to see that Boris is finally getting some respect. If you read the comments on this page, there are quite a few of them that suggest that Boris is easy to beat. I respectively have to disagree.

    Anyway Anonymous, I really did enjoy reading your comment. It kind of made my day!

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  13. Hello Virenderverma,

    Spark Chess allows you to castle by the regular chess castling rules. If you are not sure how this works, scroll up the page and read the section of my review that says "How to Play Spark Chess". In that section you will find a link to a Wikipedia page where you can learn how the castling move works. I hope this answers your question.

    By the way, after rereading that same Wikipedia page, I just learned an interesting fact. Let me quote: "Castling was added to European chess in the 14th or 15th century and did not develop into its present form until the 17th century. The Asian versions of chess do not have such a move." I never knew, at least according to that Wikipedia article, that castling may not be recognized in some parts of the world. I find that surprising, and very interesting. Don't you?

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  14. I played someone last night 17-Feb-2012 between 11pm and Midnight EDT, Every time I was about to mate the person or put him in a bad spot, the game reset.
    It was a whole new game.
    He never resigned, nor did he challenge me to a new game. We were just in a new game.
    I'm wondering if there are cheat codes or something.

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  15. To those of you that say you're easily beating Boris, I think you're not being very honest with us. He is a formidable opponent. It's a great program.
    Anyway, I was wondering if anybody has bought the downloadable version of spark chess and is it worth it. Does it coach you at all?

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  16. Thanks Anonymous for your comment. I agree with you that Boris is indeed a formidable opponent. I have always maintained that Cody and Claire are tough opponents too.

    I have not purchased the downloadable version of Spark Chess, so I cannot give you any first-hand knowledge about it. I don't know what you mean by 'coaching' exactly, but just by reading its advertisement it does seem to have a lot of nice features. If you do buy it, maybe you could post another comment and give everyone your reaction.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  17. There's a lot to love about Sparkchess - and some very serious flaws in the multi-player game. Simply infuriating is the bizarre decision to not count resignations as victories for the opponent of the player resigning. The very definition of resignation in Chess is to admit defeat. I've played somewhere on the order of a couple of hundred games, and I'd say I either win outright or force a resignation 60-65% of the time. According to my stats... I've won 8% of the time. I can rarely count to 3 after I take my opponent's Queen before they resign, knowing it won't count as a defeat. Madness - but an easily-fixed madness.

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  18. Hi Andrew,

    This is Richard. As I mentioned in one of my earlier comments, I have never played the Spark Chess multi-player game myself. To be completely honest, I am not even sure how one would do so. I don't think it is possible to play the multi-player game here on Richard's Game Reviews. As far as I know, the only way to play the multi-player game is probably to create an account on the Spark Chess website and play the game over there, or perhaps to buy the game.

    Anyway, back to your question. I can certainly understand your frustration. Obviously, as you so eloquently described the problem, it is a completely unfair situation.

    As for easily fixing this, yes I am sure it could be done, but of course not by me. As a game publisher, I can only bring the games to my site as they are. Only the people who actually make the games, can make changes to their games. Have you tried contacting the people at Spark Chess? Here is their link. It can't do any harm to give them your feedback. Just describe the problem as you did here. Who knows, maybe if enough people complain, it might even do some good? Anyway, like I said, there is certainly no harm in putting in your two-cents worth.

    Even though you are frustrated with this one particular aspect of Spark Chess, and understandably so, it still sounds like you are having tremendous fun with it. As for me, I am just happy that I can have it here for you, and everyone else, to play. It really is a fine game.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  19. Hey Richard, great site: you've obviously put a load of effort into bringing all this stuff together in one place. I know you don't write the games, but what do you think of this ... why not make computer games behave more like humans. So, for example, you go to play a game of Spark chess, fire up Boris, and he responds, 'Nah, I don't feel like playing right now.' or 'Sorry, I've got a hot date with Claire in about 10 minutes' or 'OK, but I bet you ten bucks you don't win inside 40 moves.' (And you really have to pay!). Anyway, really just writing to appreciate your efforts. Good job.

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  20. Hey Col. Cardboard,

    It sounds like you have some really cool and imaginative ideas, but as you pointed out, I am not a game developer and I don't write the games. There are some games, of course, where I wish I could add the features that I want, but alas you and I have to leave everything up to the professionals who make the games. Anyway, thanks for your encouraging comment. I am glad you are enjoying my site. And yes you are right, it does take a lot of hard work to create and maintain this site. I truly appreciate your acknowledgement about that.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  21. im only rated 1400 and i handed Boris ass on a silver platter

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  22. Hi Anonymous,

    Congratulations on defeating Boris! I am not sure what a rating of 1400 really means. I have no idea if that is a good, or a poor chess rating. However since you are rated, this tells me that you are more than just a casual chess player and that you probably play regularly or at least semi-regularly. It is still my opinion that for most people, and especially for people like myself who only play chess on occasion, that Boris is a worthy and a formidable opponent. There has been an ongoing debate on this page for quite sometime about how tough Boris is, or isn't, and that's okay. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion. How about giving old Boris a rematch? Maybe he will surprise you!

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  23. Hey Richard,
    Congrats on the good blog!

    1400 is about in the lower levels of Rating - both USCF and FIDE being based on the Elo Rating points. I used to be rated at around 2300, but I am sure my rating must have fallen in the recent periods due to inactivity. Boris may be difficult for beginners but for a good club player even a low rated one like our 1400 friend above, I don't think he would be too much of a problem.
    Col.Cardboard mentioned about a program that behaves like a human being - at least talkwise ;). I used to have Fritz 6 program and it came along with a Talk option. The smart ass comments were fun initially, but did tend to get on your nerves after a while. I think the current version is 13 and is available from the Chessbase store.
    Also there are free and really tough options available for playing chess and some great ones (again free) that are used for learning.
    1. Arena (http://www.playwitharena.com) - This is an interface
    2. Stockfish (http://www.stockfishchess.com) - This is a worldclass opensource chess engine and is ranked at about 3200 Elo points .. and I am pretty sure even Kasparov will have a tough time with it
    3. Chess Position Trainer 4.1 (http://www.chesspositiontrainer.com) - The professional version costs $35, but the normal version is free. He did use to have a lot of free repertoires available earlier - but I couldn't find them as I did a cursory search before writing here
    4. ChessDB (http://www.chessdb.sourceforge.net) - It is a chess database program which can be an effective tool for storing and analyzing games.
    5. BabasChess (http://www.babaschess.net) - A chess client used to connect to Chess Servers to play online. Currently it can connect to FICS - the Free Internet Chess Server. Connecting to Playchess.com and Internet Chess Club requires their own clients and a paid account. Internet Chess Servers are great places to play (as opposed to yahoo and pogo games) coz they have moderators and look down severely upon cheating.

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  24. Hi Darth,

    I am sure you are right that Boris would probably not pose much of a problem for a good club player. But I think you will agree with me, that most people are like me and only play chess casually, and of course, compared to serious chess players, we are not very good. So, for the majority of players like myself, Boris is a nice challenge. However if anyone wants to learn a little more about chess, and perhaps take their game up a notch, I am going to provide links to the five free sites you listed in your reply. Thanks for the great information. I appreciate it.

    Arena Chess
    Stockfish Chess
    Chess Position Trainer
    ChessDB
    BabasChess

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  25. I would like to see the dude record his game against Boris and you tube them. The one who handed Boris his ass on a silver platter. Yeah right. Prove it or be quiet.

    Same for the dude who had not played in years and went 4/4 with Boris.

    BORIS is GOOD.

    I tired to follow the the one post on you tube for beating Boris. I did move for move in accord with the video on you tube. The first thing that one should note is that Boris immediately varied his game against me.

    Richard, you are correct. Sparkchess is awesome.

    I have played Boris allot lately. A part of me thinks that there may be artificial intelligence at work. HIGH level software it is.

    I googled BEATING BORIS REPEATEDLY and NO results game up from around the world.

    So yes Richard, you are correct. Boris is HARD to beat.

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  26. I have never seen Boris give away a knight for no Reason like he did in the"Spectacular Win over Boris" video. If Boris did that against me I would beat him every time. Boris was either on LSD LOL the day that guy played him or it was not actually Boris. I do not trust that video is real or that it has not been altered in some way.

    Any person out there beaten the GURU?

    When has Boris ever given a knight away for free? Boris makes killer use of his knights. He never loses them for no return on his loss of a knight.

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  27. Noobs Do not BEAT BORIS. NO WAY.
    The only games I played against Boris that lasted only 20 minutes were the one he hammered me. I have played chess for years. I have played Boris to Draws and beat him about five times out of about 50 times. Gambits and formulized opening DO not work against him. He sees them and just does something else very high level

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  28. Hi Anonymous,

    It sounds like you are really fired up about Spark Chess! It is nice to see some comments that agree with me about Boris' chess playing abilities. As everyone can see, there has been an ongoing debate on this page for more than a year about how good Boris really is, or is not.

    I did not know that there were any Youtube videos about beating Boris. I am not surprised though that Boris altered his play when you followed along move for move because Boris is a rather sophisticated fellow, lol.

    Anyway, thanks Anonymous for your three great comments. They made my day!

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  29. I just beat Boris on sparkchess.com in 66 moves! He's definitely a strong opponent, but still beatable. But I agree with some of the comments here; there's no way a beginner can beat him. I have been playing chess for years and have an ELO rating of about 1500, which is not great by any means. I'd say Boris has a rating of about 1600 (I can never beat someone with a rating of over 1700, and he seems quite tough for someone with a rating of 1400-1500).

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  30. Thanks Anonymous for your input about Boris. I have to admit that he is too tough for me.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  31. i am bad at chess. i didn't even manage to defeat Clarie. that's so sad! as for Boris i agree he is a strong player yet still defeated by Shredder (Hard). to make them play against each other, i opened two tabs. and just copied their moves.

    if you have defeated Boris try this Shredder. level Hard is definitely stronger than Boris. yet its not its full strength.

    http://www.shredderchess.com/play-chess-online.html

    BTW i want to know how strong Guru is. if anyone has the engine please share it with me. i will love to see a battle between two old hermit men.

    Guru vs Chessmaster lol

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  32. Hi Anonymous,

    I had never heard of shredderchess before but it looks like a really cool site.Thanks for sharing this information with everyone.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  33. I bought the download version, and it is very good. It has been awhile since I played chess but now play it regularly again. I play and beat Claire only 20% of total games played. Boris not yet but I get to an end game with Claire having a usual material advantage of her usual 2-3 pieces. My middle game needs to improve. I bought the game cause I thought the fantasy
    pieces would be animated. Check out Ultimate chess, you will enjoy fight sequences, and piece descriptions are funny. Do you guys know there are no Knights in chess just horses that can jump and buck in the game, lol

    Will add my attempts on Boris later and time my attempt on Guru.

    Oh Ultimate has 50 kill sequences (executions)that it tracks your progress. Have audio on when you play it.

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  34. Oh, did forget, Richard first time on your blog, think I will visit it often, ty for nice blog and will look at Guru vs. ___?___, for sure!

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  35. Hello Michael,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree that Ultimate Chess is quite entertaining, although Spark Chess, in my opinion, is still a better game. Good luck on improving your chess skills!

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  36. Hello Richard,

    Thanks for your reply and best wish's also. My hope continues to be that folks strive to see how chess is a game, they can develop with, and have a wonderful time with!

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  37. I enjoy playing Sparkchess and usually play against Claire (my wife's name, btw). I usually beat Claire (60% of the time). Every time I play Boris, I have no trouble winning. "He" is more predictable where Claire is not as predictable with the kinds of moves I would expect (to me anyway). I found this review site and comments because I was looking around to see how fast someone can beat "Claire" in SparkChess. The best I've been able to do is in 7 seconds and 17 moves.

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  38. really i beat claire cody and boris i need to play the guru :)

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  39. I haven't beat Boris yet. He is definitely tougher than Claire who is pretty good. If I play three games in a row against Claire, it is usually 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 draw, so we're about the same level. My ELO rating is about 1300-1400.

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  40. I've just beaten the guru in 28 moves.

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  41. In my opinion, Sparkchess suffers from two major drawbacks that have been intentionally woven into its very design and player interface.

    1) The _horrible_ implementation of a 3D Staunton chessboard and pieces where the "black" pieces are virtually indistinguishable from the "dark" squares they occupy. To be fair, MS Chess Titans "does" exactly the same thing. Clearly, a _clean_ 2D black and white implementation is seen as not too exciting... Yet, instantchess.com have done exactly that.

    2) The rating system is _ridiculous_. Not adopting an ELO rating system is eminently understandable. _But_ adopting a manifestly _caricature_ of a rating system is an insult to... logical players. It's not just that "resignations" do not count as win / loss events. Focusing on whether the win is due to a checkmate and how many moves into the game the players find themselves and whether the last move was a "check" and so on definitely take(s) the cake... Perhaps the designer / programmer should take a course in elementary logic as opposed to some graduate level course in, say, Java classes...

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  42. I haven't played chess in some 15 years and find it quite easy to beat Cody, but impossible to win with Claire. Any tactics to learn?

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  43. Hello, this is my first posting on this site, but for whatever it's worth, I finally beat Boris today for the first time and did it in 27 moves. I even printed out the proof. I had to print it twice in order to show the moves that were made in the game, as only so much info will show off to the right. I have probably played Boris a hundred times and I honestly thought I would never beat him. I will maintain that to me, he is a very, very tough player.

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  44. Congratulations on beating Boris! I find that impressive.

    Richard, from Richard's Game Reviews

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  45. I don't play chess but gave it a shot. I've only played two games against boris and in the first I've messed up and got in a complicated midgame and drew with a pawn advantage. Second game I took his queen in a couple moves and checkmated him in 29 moves.

    He's deffinitly not easy but it's quite possible to outsmart him and get a quick win. Fun game, gonna keep playing him.

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  46. I wish someone would speak about how these people are cheating, as they're about to lose they reset the game. Something to do with flash I'm sure because this happens on Pogo all the time.

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  47. Online sparchess has unbeleivable scoring algorithm. Usually you lose more points then win. And if your win-lose ratio about to 50% you can be in deep minus.

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