Tiny Chess Playing Computer


We have covered many chess computers in the past, but we think this might just be the smallest. Enter the PIC Blitz: A tiny low-cost low-power computer that can play lightning chess.

It’s based on a PIC16F628A microcontroller, which only has 3.5kbytes of flash and a mere 224 bytes of RAM. For comparison, Boris (one of the first consumer chess computers), utilized an 8-bit microprocessor with 2.5 kbytes of ROM and 256 bytes of RAM.

PIC Blitz has a full fledged chess library: it knows all the moves, all the basic openings and even changes its evaluation function weights as the game progresses to keep the game interesting. The creator [Mark Owen] quips about some of the additional techniques he utilized to make up for the limited processing power; including “pondering time”, a difficult and slow user interface, and of course, a barely-comprehensible LCD.

If you’re interested he has released the files under Creative Commons, and has a link to the PCB layout on the project page – we won’t link it directly though, since it goes straight to a download.

[Thanks Martin!]


  1. Nico Verduin says:

    Sounds much like the chess program I used to have on my KIM-1 in 1977

  2. Chuck Peddle says:

    An awesome job! And while we’re talking about implementations of chess with limited resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1K_ZX_Chess

  3. Tom the Brat says:

    Cool! I’ll show this to the “Lumpit” next time I see him.

  4. Reblogged this on Perfectly Opaque.

  5. Miroslav says:

    Impressive. I often use this same chip and it is a challenge to get anything close to this done.

  6. Bill Stewart says:

    Wait a minute! Do you mean that a computer that could kick my ass at chess only needed 2.5KB of ROM and 256B of RAM?! Was I really that bad? :-)

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