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iPhone App Review: Speedchess

iPhone App Review: Speedchess

February 25th, 2010 by

If you enjoy chess but are looking for a change of pace, or simply think the computer isn’t trouncing you fast enough, then Speedchess from Process Holding is probably exactly what you’re looking for.

The Rundown – Features

Played using the same rules as chess but on a much smaller board and with much fewer pieces, Speedchess gives you and an opponent 20 seconds to make each move. You can play against a human opponent via internet, bluetooth, or hotseat play; and also play against several skill levels of computer opponents.

I did not have an opportunity to test the bluetooth or internet multiplayer: bluetooth because I just don’t happen to know anyone else with an iPhone and this game, and internet because there are probably currently few people that own this game (and would have to be logged in at the same time looking for an opponent).

Hotseat would likely be the most practical multiplayer method anyway, and it works really well. A nice touch is that it rotates the board after each move, so that you can almost play against yourself because of the sudden shift in piece position and color.

Trivia note: playing against myself in this way was the only time I won a game.

Blue to mate in... ridiculously few moves.

I would blame my poor play on the 20-second limit, but I’m bad at chess anyway. By the standards of my poor perfomance in other chess programs I’d say the AI in this game performs very well. The difference between the varying challenge levels seems to be how long the computer crunches moves until choosing one. On Student it takes only 6-8 seconds to make a move, while on Professional it uses close to the entire 20-second limit.

The name of the game is also no joke: this game plays fast. When you first start the app there is no fanfare, simply a choice: Vs Computer, Vs Human, Visit Website. A few quick taps and you’re in a game with the clock running.

And don’t waste any time! If your 20 seconds run out you don’t lose your turn, you just lose the entire game!


  • Novel way to play a truly, blazingly fast game of chess.
  • Fast startup, into a game within seconds (and it’s over almost as quickly).
  • Many options for playing human opponents.
  • Apparently tracks ratings in internet play, but again, could not find an opponent to lose against so I could not test this.


  • The game plays almost too fast: I frequently miss the AI’s move. Needs some sort of “What Just Happened?” indicator, maybe a ghost piece in the old position?
  • Again, due to speed: the computer moves so fast sometimes that I don’t know it’s my turn until several seconds have passed. Some more obvious indication would be good. You tend to focus on the pieces and miss the “Your Move” text in the top-right (especially when you’re watching like a hawk so you don’t miss what your opponent has done).
  • Internet play is tough since there are so few potential opponents.

Now everyone run out and buy this game so I can lose to a human.

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