USCF Chess [Model 3412]

A 37-year-old Mattel Intellivision Game by Mattel Electronics

USCF Chess [Model 3412] screenshot

Emulated in MAME !

Information for the following ROM(s): chess


USCF Chess © 1981 Mattel Electronics


Model 3412


A good Chess program was beyond the capabilities of the both the Intellivision hardware and the Intellivision programmers, but Marketing felt that it was a must-have title to establish the Intellivision as more than a toy. Money was authorized to produce the Chess cartridges with 2K of RAM on board to bolster the insufficient 147 available bytes in the Master Component. No other Mattel Intellivision cartridge was released with onboard RAM. The gameplay programming was farmed out to Teletape Inc., a company with experience in Artificial Intelligence. In-house, Russ Ludwick programmed the on-screen display and user interface. Although on the schedule from early on, the technical difficulties (including a record 19 weeks of testing and debugging) held up release of the cartridge until 1983. When finally released, it did receive the good reviews Marketing was looking for.

Russ tested the program by playing countless games against the cartridge at all levels. He found that when playing at the highest levels, the cartridge was good, but slow. He got in the habit of making a move, then going home and letting the Intellivision think about a response overnight. Because of this, three features were added: (1) the normal Intellivision time-out feature was disabled, (2) a feature letting you switch to an easier level in the middle of a move was added, and (3) a warning that moves at higher levels could take hours -- or days --was put into the instruction book.

The program code was recycled in the Triple Challenge cartridge released by INTV Corporation.


Heuristics programming by Teletape Inc.
User interface programming: Russ Ludwick
Graphics: Dave James, Peggi Decarli

Game's ROM.