After a busy week, I arrived in the family room with a hot drink in hand, to explore the new King Competition chess computer. The boys next to me, watching USA vs Canada men's hockey, now and then gave their thoughts on the progress of the unboxing, appearance, and progress of games on this latest in the line of Millennium chess computers.
It was perfect timing for a Friday evening to enjoy solo chess, yet still around my family - meanwhile the girls were sleeping.
From the moment I picked it up at work, I noted the sleek, modern packing of the King Competition and hoped the computer design itself would similarly impress.
Being familiar with the many chess computers of the last 25 years, I have ample experience for first impressions and critique.
I lifted the cover and the thin protective foam layer, revealing the electronic chessboard that felt like it belongs in the 2020s. I set the chessboard on the soft gray ottoman in our living room of white and gray accents - where I ended up playing three games in a row at a leisurely 15 minutes apiece plus seconds per move.
The King Competition (February 2022) follows right after the smaller eONE (January 2022). I'll save further comparisons for later.
I was excited to hold and set up the chess pieces for the first time. Inside a protective box was a drawstring Millennium bag with the pieces. These feel heavier than I expected! I emptied the 34 pieces (extra Queens) onto the chessboard and began setting them up.
Modernizing a Staunton design is a BOLD move. In my view, Millennium did this well. The pieces feel outstanding in the hand and have a significant base weight that makes them more stable than I expected. They have a thin, quality felt that provides just enough friction to keep them from slipping on the board while still making moves freely across square surfaces. But what I like most is the new piece style aesthetics that feel youthful and energetic.
At this point, I was very pleased with the overall size of this electronic chess set as well as the square design - even with the buttons and display in the front.
After setting up the pieces, I plugged in the wall AC power and the Competition lighted up the squares and the display. The power and data ports are less visible in this design, being recessed under the right-hand middle side. I should mention that the "floating" design makes it look thinner than it is. Evan's first observation was, "that's a thin chessboard!".
With the board powered up and the pieces ready, I played E4. The computer responded right away with a move shown by the lights and the display.
The move input is made with a light press on the squares. Although I prefer the luxury of auto-sensory move inputs, I found that the weighted pieces and the light square press needed were pleasant through the entire 84 move game first game! I selected one of the easier levels, but it still played a good game.
I was getting into the game with some tense moments that I still remember. In fact, the computer and I both queened pawns at the same time, but I had the half move advantage and was able to win this first game. Playing against the Competition immersed me in an exhilarating chess experience for a while.
I tried out the two main menu options, Expert and Comfort settings. This changes the menu between all settings and common settings. In addition to many levels and styles of play settings, there are many other options available to you. You can save the game, get hints, change the level, take back, analyze it, verify the piece's positions against what's shown on the display, set up your position, change to 2-player mode, connect to ChessLink (optional available separately), and more. I changed the display contrast and brightness, lowered the LED brightness, and the sound level.
After winning this first game against the Competition - without any hints or takebacks, I looked over at hockey - the USA leading Canada?? The boys are learning more about this sport as well. "Why do they call it icing?" "Why is there no goalie in the net right now?"
With the success of King Competition Game One, it was time to plug in the ChessLink I brought along and play online against someone on LiChess. I plugged the power cable into ChessLink instead and then inserted the 4-pin cable between the ChessLink and the Competition. With ChessLink switched on, the chessboard came alive with power through this cable.
I then checked that Bluetooth was active on my phone, opened my ChessLink app, clicked the connect board "link" icon and it recognized the ChessLink right away. The preview showed the starting position.
Next, I clicked Play on LiChess. (I had reset my app, so I needed to get a new token from LiChess profile API access tokens to re-establish the connection - this is usually a one-time action by the way).
I then chose to play a rated game with a 15/10 time control. That way I have 15 minutes to play the game, with 10 seconds extra per move. Since I need to input the other players' moves on the chessboard as well as my own, I want 5-10 extra seconds for this action.
Playing chess online with a chess computer is a relatively new phenomenon in the 2020s with various chess computers now ready for Internet play.
Next to playing chess in person, I find the human element of Internet play to be very exciting. While I can't see him or her, I know that I am playing the board with someone who has a thoughtful response to every move and is similarly engaged by the possibilities of the changing battle!
Here is the first game that I played as Black. White put on quite the attack on my Kingside which dissipated with defensive strategy and then put my pieces in such a strong position that Black resigned on move 38.
Right after this, I played another game as White. In this one, I barely survived a Queenside attack. He missed a tactic that could have resulted in a win, and then I again managed to defend and win material and move that to the endgame for another resignation.
After three games of chess won and the USA defeating Canada in that hockey game, it was quite an evening. (Canada, you win most often - this one is ours!)
Joanna came and watched the chess game for a little while. It reminded her of the Centaur chess computer which we've had in our home as well. I pointed out that this one has a lot more options and could also play online with the Link device.
The King Competition feels like a great fit for our home when we want to play chess alone, with someone, or online. Not only are the possibilities extensive, but the aesthetics also are neutral and balanced, the pieces look and feel great, and the size is just right. I played the board on a surface as well as on my lap and it was very stable.
The board is 17" square which I find to be perfect for home unless a full-size board like the luxury Tournament 55 is in your budget. The pieces are just less than 3" tall.
Now it's Saturday morning and my 7-year-old daughter saw the game for the first time. She asked to set up the pieces and play. She's very new to chess, but she set up all the pieces like this.
Then she started a game and had a great time playing the computer on an Easy level. I am surprised by how well she is doing with this chess computer so far.
A nerf war just started between the boys and one of the bases is near the ottoman. She is immersed in her own battle on the chessboard and seems un-phased by the bullets flying overhead. The chessboard is taking hits now and then but surprisingly the pieces are staying steady.
I noticed during her game now that she sometimes presses the destination square first and then starting square last. It works just the same.
Captured pieces are being placed on the outer rim of the board which works nicely with this square design with a decent-size perimeter. They have a good home when out of play.
By the way, I chose an easy level for her with ELO of about 1150. With a few suggestions, the game looks quite equal so far. The computer just gave up a pawn and she took advantage of that on her own. The pressure sensor move input is natural to her. It might even be better at her age since the auto sensors could pick up some of her playing around with pieces between actual moves.
After all, she has two knights still in front of her King, and the King likes to play with the knights sometimes when they are waiting for others to move.
Joanna is watching her play again and says, I really like these pieces. They are smooth and sleek.
It's clear to me this computer belongs in our home. And I'll be playing it again soon!
I think the King Competition is for anyone who wants a modern chess-playing device with great configurations for solo play. It's not limited there, however, since Online Play is ready simply by adding the ChessLink module. Also, if you want to roam free from the wall outlet, add the ChessVolt powerpack for many hours of play on battery power.
King Competition Compared to Other Millennium Chess Computers
Where does the King Competition fit in the family of chess computers by Millennium?
As I mentioned, it follows on the eONE which arrived in January 2022. The main differences are that the eONE is smaller and has no onboard chess-playing engine. It's intended for app and online play only. The eONE has auto-sensing move input though. This means you simply move the pieces and they are detected by the board. Also, the eONE has Bluetooth built-in already. Thus, the ChessLink is not needed.
King COMPETITION is essentially a modernized version of the King PERFORMANCE which has been a fan favorite for a couple of years already. If you're familiar with the Performance, you already know what to expect features-wise. If you're looking for a more familiar look in wood with wooden pieces, then the Performance might be a better choice for you!
Furthermore, I consider the King COMPETITION to be in the mid-range of computers, above the entry-level, powerful classic range of "Genius" models, but just below the Luxury line of Exclusives. If you can afford $400-500, the King Competition is the ideal computer for you.
Where to Buy your King Competition Computer
Chess House gives you the peace of mind you need to receive yours quickly and easily with 90 days guarantee to change your mind, and then a full warranty and personal help beyond that. If you happen to lose a piece in the future, Chess House is known for getting another one to you with no hassle.
Get your King Competition today! We're honored to deliver you the best in chess so you can enjoy it in your home or wherever you play.