Having owned many standalone chess computers from the glory days of the past, including models from Mephisto, Fidelity, SciSys, Saitek, Radio Shack, Novag, etc., I’ve been excited to see the introduction of modern machines by Millennium and now own both their ChessGenius Pro board and this King Performance. I knew going in that this is a pressure sensory board rather than a more elegant auto-sensory board, meaning you have to press your pieces down on the squares for the computer to register moves. I also knew the playing field of this board is not real wood, but a wood-grain look plastic. So it’s not quite the fluid and aesthetic experience you get with an authentic wood computer chess board where all you do is lift the piece, move it, and set it back down. But the King Performance goes a ways to ensuring you don’t mind so much by providing pressure sensors that easily register when you press down on the piece rather than having to lift the piece out of the way and press down with a fingertip, like the ChessGenius and CG Pro. Also, having squares that light up in all four corners around the active piece is a welcome feature compared with boards that require you to look to a screen or display off the board somewhere for this information, or older boards that required you to look to X-Y coordinate LED’s. This makes for a much more natural playing experience. Another nice option made possible by the pressure sensor squares is you can use any playing pieces that fit—they don’t need to be magnetic or have special electronics. To top it off, for me anyway, you get to play against Johan de Koning’s King chess engine, which is both exciting and refreshing. Add in the ChessLink option and there really isn’t anything else currently in the market like it, at least not near this price point.
A couple minor complaints to make this totally honest— the metallic gold foil panel on mine had some debris trapped under it and it wasn’t stuck down flat; rather than return it for exchange, I braved the process of prying up the foil to clear it out. I was prepared to fabricate something to replace it, like a piece of walnut wood veneer, but thankfully it stuck down again without a wrinkle. Also, the pieces that come with the King Performance are kind of cheap looking and from a bottom tier in both price and quality compared with what you can find elsewhere in the chess market. I immediately replaced mine with some vintage French Lardy pieces I had stored away. If you replace your pieces, you’ll want to know that the squares are 40mm (about 1-9/16”), so you’ll be looking for pieces probably not exceeding a 3” King with a base diameter of around 1-1/4”. I tried larger pieces and the board was too crammed for my taste. There are some interesting discussions on mating chess pieces with chess boards if you Google it. I was tempted for some time to purchase the CG Exclusive and King Element add-on computer, but then I’d be stuck with pieces I don’t find all that attractive unless I bought a replacement set and figured out how to remove the proprietary sensors and reinstall them in another set. I appreciate all aspects of chess, including the aesthetic experience of playing on a nice board with nice pieces. So, all in all and in case you can’t tell by now, I like the King Performance and am glad I bought it. It’s not quite in the same aesthetic class as the top wooden electronic boards of yesteryear, but it’s nice “enough”, almost certainly plays better chess, isn’t 25+ years old, and doesn’t cost $1,000. Recommended.