Fool’s Mate Friday: That move was the highlight of the game!

There were several computer GUI systems invented already, but the first (to the best of my knowledge, correct me if I’m wrong) computer GUI that would highlight your move options after selecting a piece was that of “Daly CP”. It was a computer chess interface written for the IDIIOM CAD computer, which was a computer that had a stencil and was used for Computer Aided Design of parts in manufacturing processes. The program was written by Chris Daly, who worked for NASA, and it was used for several tournaments against other computers, as well as against people.

I wanted my JustChess game to highlight the available moves of any piece that you tapped on, similar to what you see in the Daly CP program. Now, every time that you tap on a piece, it’s legal moves are highlighted for the user. This works for both your pieces, and that of your opponent. The process is simple to implement, but lengthy in explaining it here. The whole commit can be viewed on my GitHub, though.

The key problem that I ran into was that of castle moves. The way I was working this was to discern from a query of possible moves for a piece, all of the “to” positions, and to simply change the background color of those tiles. However, castle moves are “k0-0-0”, and “K-0-0R”, etc., as opposed to a standard move, which looked like “P0816*” (Pawn from square 8 to square 16, which is empty – *), from which I was just stealing the 3 and 4 character (remember, computers count the first character as a 0), and parsing an integer. That integer was then used to change the background tile of the corresponding number on the board.

To solve this I used a little trickery with an if/then statement inside of a try/catch block. Essentially saying, “try this: if it is one of these king castle moves on the list, then highlight x square, if not, then use the normal method.” It seems to have worked quite well. The great thing is, you can test it out for yourself now! That’s right, I’m releasing JustChess, version 1.0 for download. So give it a try and let me know what you think!

Do keep in mind, it has a long way to go, but is currently completely playable against the phone, or in pass and play two player mode.

Linux – keep it simple.

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