Download Sargon (Apple II)

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Apple II - 1979

Alt name Sargon: A Computer Chess Program
Year 1979
Platform Apple II
Released in United States
Genre Strategy
Theme Chess, Turn-based
Publisher Hayden Book Company, Inc., Rainbow Computing, Inc.
Perspectives Top-Down, Text-based / Spreadsheet, Fixed / Flip-screen
4.67 / 5 - 3 votes

Description of Sargon

If you haven't played Sargon or want to try this strategy video game, download it now for free! Published in 1979 by Hayden Book Company, Inc., Rainbow Computing, Inc., Sargon was an above-average chess title in its time.

External links

Captures and Snapshots

Comments and reviews

BenRedic 2018-01-09 1 point


The manual is actually one of the more interesting aspects of this program. When this program was first made commercially available, it was in the form of a book with heavily commented source code, as well as flow charts and descriptions of the program design philosophy. Very little of the 120 pages is actually devoted to how to play against the program. This way, anybody with a Z80 based computer could enter the program into their computer, and hopefully figure out where they needed to make adjustments in the code to make it work on their particular system.

colossus 2017-11-15 1 point

This doesn't work in AppleWin, the downloaded disk is not recognized.

BenRedic 2017-03-28 2 points

Sargon was developed on a Wavemate Jupiter, and was quickly a success in computer chess tournaments. The first public release of the program was a book (!) containing heavily commented assembly source code so anybody with a Z80 powered computer could implement their own version of this game. This manual is certainly not for the faint of heart...

The game was later ported to a number of computers, like the TRS-80 and Apple II, and released on ready-to-play tapes.

The Apple II version gives you a full screen chessboard, or a listing of the last moves, but does not go out of the way to give you both at the same time like, say, MicroChess 2.0 does; You need to toggle between the two screens, or type your moves blindly. Strangely, this approach is also adopted by later sequels to Sargon on most 8-bit platforms, with the notable exception of Sargon II for the VIC-20. Also, the original Z80 version had the moves on the left side of the screen.

The program offers 6 levels ("lookahead"), which is basically setting the program to search 1-6 plies for each move. Only 1 and 2 are really usable for practical play, as level 3 and upwards takes forever to make a single move on the hardware this program would normally run on. This means that searches are 2 plies deep at tournament time controls on a standard Apple II, and the play certainly suffers for it.

The Apple II version does not seem to handle en passant for some reason, although other versions of Sargon does.

Between the clunky user interface, weak play and lack of openings this program is probably only of historical value. This may have been the strongest home computer program of its day, but for the Apple II I'd say MicroChess 2.0 is better implemented chess program. Things improved rapidly, though, and the program made great leaps to Sargon II and later Sargon III.

Sample game:

[White "BenRedic"]
[Black "Sargon (Apple II) level 2"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.e4 e5 { Book; Sargon has a very limited book that simply decides if it starts with the d or e pawn. That's it.} 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 { The fried liver attack, where white sacrifices a piece for tactical possibilites. And frankly, tactics are not really Sargons strong suit at this point.} d5 { This is fine...} 5.exd5 Nxd5 $2 { ...but this is not!} ( 5...Na5 {is recommended} ) ( 5...b5 {is also playable} ) 6.Nxf7 $5 Kxf7 { White is a knight down, but it is open season on the black king.}
7.Qf3+ Ke6 { The king is stuck in the middle of the board, and needs precise play to stay alive.} 8.Nc3 Nb4 9.Qe4 Be7 10.a3 b5 11.Nxb5 Nc6 $4 12.Bxd5+ Kf6 { With the defenses gone, the king is on the run} ( 12...Qxd5 {is not possible because of the triple fork} 13.Nxc7+ ) 13.Qf3+ Bf5 14.g4 Nd4 15.Nxd4 g6 ( 15...exd4 {can't be played because of} 16.Qxf5# ) 16.Nxf5 gxf5 17.Qxf5+ Kg7 18.Qf7+ Kh6 19.h4 e4 20.g5+ Bxg5 21.hxg5+ Kxg5 22.Rh5+ Kg4 23.Qf5# 1-0

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Apple II Version

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