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The computer is larger than I had expected. The chessmen, while not weighted, are sturdy and well made. The display is clear though a little small. It is a shame there is not a small screen the other end of the board so when it is used for a two player game, both players can see their clock times.
I own a small collection of chess computers that require the user to press a square on the chessboard to enter a move. It is no biggie for me. I would have to say that not having to press squares on the Centaur makes for much more natural play.
The LED effects work very well and it is nice to be able to play a game without having to look at the screen or move coordinates. It is also nice that the Centaur does not beep with every move.
Some reviewers have been saying that the computer does not understand some move inputs or keeps flashing “random” squares. The issue is that those reviewers are not familiar with how moves should be entered into a traditional chess computer like the Centaur. Additionally, some reviews may be unaware of all of the rules of chess. Two examples are: 1) en passant: You must move your pawn diagonally first, then remove the opponent’s pawn. 2) castling: Provided it is legal to perform castling, you must move your king first, then your rook. DGT could have helped themselves and their customers here by including a more thorough manual for those not familiar with computer chess. You can find manuals for chess computers via a search engine that will explain how moves such as captures, en passant and Castling should be entered into a chess computer.
Some have pointed out that while the Centaur does offer timed games, it does not offer tournament timed settings. This is true. It is also true that the computer does not offer increments either. To be fair, the most traditional chess computers did not offer increment or tournament times either (only a few high end models did). I have noticed that the Centaur seems to take longer than it needs to when deciding its move during a timed game. I presume DGT programmed the Centaur to burn some time so that the game feels more natural like playing a human.
The Centaur departs from the usual level system one would find on traditional chess computers and instead opted for a self adjusting system. It would be easy to criticise this system from the point of view of not understanding it. My experience has been mixed. Friendly mode sometimes results in the computer playing tough in the opening through to the mid game but then plays daft in the end game in a way that is overt. I would have preferred DGT to have included a standard level system alongside their own. The two other modes are Challenge and Expert with the latter not including the self adjusting system. The chess computer’s playing ability is very capable and fast even in its strongest level.
Some have raised concerns about the lack of a base on the computer. Because the unit is large, I use it on a table. I do not think the unit is especially fragile though I do handle it with due care. A clumsy drop could damage one or two of the sixty-four domes underneath which would mean those squares will lose their lighting ring effect. It is true too that I haven’t used this computer on my lap or any soft surface as I have my other chess computers. Additionally, the computer needs to be fairly level for the chess pieces to not slide about. I like the fact that one can slide chessmen to their new location. Again, it gives a very natural feel of play.
The Centaur has an internal non-removable rechargeable battery that is capable of powering the computer through several games of chess before it requires recharging. Not leaving the centaur discharged for a period of time would avoid any battery issues. The Centaur can be charged while it is in use and while it is in standby.
Overall, I very much enjoy using the Centaur for a quiet natural game of chess. The computer looks and feels elegant to use. A choice of level system and a dialogue confirmation for starting a new game (so you don’t accidentally delete the previous game you forgot you wanted to continue) are the two things I think are missing.
Very intuitive chess computer. Indeed, as someone who is in no way strong at chess, I would say that I have lost more games than won while using the Centaur. I expected to do so. Nowhere on the DGT website or the shop I bought it from, was I informed that the Centaur was ‘easy to beat’. I was promised interesting (challenging) games. The Centaur has delivered that. I feel like I have a chess partner who is slightly better than me, an elusive partner in many ways. I don’t feel like I have been unwittingly placed in front of Carlsen, Kasparov or, God forbid.....Mikhail Tal!🤪. Be prepared to lose some, draw some or win some. Be prepared to have interesting games. You can’t get better than this chess computer. You can’t get better than DGT.
The DGT centaur is an ideal casual board due its intuitive handling of general play and it often succeeds in allowing you to forget you're playing a computer. If you don't want to use the board for online play and detailed analysis then this could be the board for you. The unusual adaptive playing modes are in general excellent with a few things to watch for. I find on friendly mode if I play well (no blunders or big mistakes) I will win ~70% of the time. However if you make a blunder or mistake the centaur shows no mercy and continues playing at the level matching your play previous to the blunder. So in practice I may only beat Friendly 60% of the time - this quickly teaches you not to blunder! :-) On the other hand if you play a poor opening (maybe off book but without major material loss) then the centaur can think you are bad player, lower its skill and you can come in with some good middle game play to get a winning position. My poor opening repertoire can be an advantage against the centaur. :-) Challenge mode is 'challenging' - mistakes are not an option. I have maybe only won 30% of the time. It's nice to play challenge first to learn something then play a second game in friendly to try and get a win for your bruised ego :-)
Pros: Good size pieces and squares scaled down sightly from full size in proportion. Easy intuitive general play - just do what you would do vs a human. Excellent move indicator lights Long life on a full charge Easy to use modes - freindly plays at your level, challenge plays slightly above Cons: Not easy to take back more than a move or two - no guided take back - you have to move the pieces back in sequence from memory or scrolling up move history. Board is a little lightweight with exposed light housing on the back - could easily have had a reinforcing back for extra rigidity. Difficult to tell how well you're playing as mode is always adjusting to you - would have liked a specific rating feature too (e.g. play at rating 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, etc.) Cannot record or export game.