Dedicated Chess Computers

ChessEval Journal
About Dedicated Chess Computers


Frank Tortorice: a selective collector

Written by Frank Tortorice, MD
First edited | 01/26/2014 | by MMO
Last edited | 02/04/2016 |
Additional Information:
Reference to cite: Tortorice F, A selective collector, ChessEval Journal, 1, September 2015,

The number of Dedicated Chess Computer collectors is very small and in the Bay Area, very few can meet. Frank is one of the rare exception to this rule: he is living at some miles of distance of Stanford University and we regularly meet. Since we are both physicians, our discussions are essentially about our hobby.
He contacted me first to ask if it was possible to repair one of his computers. Following this first contact, we took the custom to meet regularly to exchange about Chess Computers.  He visited several times my ChessEval Collection and my Center. We became friends, discussing Chess and medical milieu.
Frank has collected very rare pieces of collection guided by his own taste for Chess competition.
He has also accumulated an impressive sum of knowledge on these computers and on the way to play them.


The story of Frank

I was interested in chess in high school and college but never had much time for serious study.

While enrolled in medical school in Rome, I came home to USA one summer and saw the Fidelity Chess Challenge Sensory 8 and bought it immediately.
This was my first chess computer and it was easy to play since you simply played your moves on its sensory board. I brought it back to Rome but with study I was able to beat it repeatedly.

Some years later I needed a stronger opponent that was portable and so the Novag Super VIP became my second chess computer.

While I was finishing my medical residency in Ohio I purchased the Fidelity Elite Avantgarde 2265 (Version 2) with the Impact Printer.

About that time the early Chessmaster computer programs were becoming popular, stronger, and inexpensive so for a number of years I would simply upgrade this Chessmaster program with maybe an occasional program like Battle Chess as well.

I first played the wooden Mephisto and Fidelity computers in Italy in the 1980s.
They were beautiful, strong, but much too expensive at that time for me.
I was busy in my profession, so I acquired no chess computers for twenty years.
After I finished my postgraduat medical training in the United States, I went into private practice near San Francisco.

Towards the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011, I wondered if I could find a wooden Mephisto chess computer like I had played 20 years earlier.
I had no idea that there was a community of chess computer collectors (and later friends) out there all over the world. I simply wanted to relive the fun I had going to my friend's home in Rome and playing against his beautiful wooden Mephisto.

I now could afford to buy one for myself.
I went on eBay never realizing anyone else in the world also had these same aspirations, and was fortunate enough to be the winning bidder for a Mephisto Portoroso 68020 with original wooden case from Germany.
Since that time I have been fortunate to acquire another 85 or so computers that make up my small collection.
I don't really consider myself a serious collector since I am not interested in having every major make or model of computer, but simply those I like, think are beautiful, and would like to play computer chess games against.
The two exceptions would be my collecting of the hand held series of Novag computers like the VIP, Super VIP, Ruby, Sapphire and Sapphire II, and the Saitek wooden Leonardo, Galileo, and Renaissance boards with the various Sparc, Brute Force, Maestro, and Analyst modules.

When I had only five or ten computers, each was my favorite and I was able to play frequent matches with all of them.

A great find was the book "Chess: A Psychiatrist Matches Wits with Fritz".
This 400 page book was written by Ernest F. Pecci, MD and published in 2001.
I have used his methods to beat some of my computers for the first time, although still not an easy matter.
I recall it took nearly 60 games to finally beat Fidelity Elite Avantgarde 2325 version 6.
I always write down the moves of these matches and study them.
Again, I enjoy playing these chess computers when I have free time and not simply storing them never to see the light of day.

My twenty or so favorite chess computers, by F. Tortorice, MD

In no particular order:

1. Phoenix Chess Systems Revelation II with Zagreb 1959 pieces

2. Fidelity Elite Avantgarde version 2 with Printer

3. Mephisto Portoroso Exclusive 68020 with wooden case

4. Saitek Renaissance with Sparc Module

5. CXG Sphinx 50 Plus

6. Tasc R30 Version 2.5

7. Fidelity Prestige with EAG version 11 and case

8. Fidelity Elite Premiere

9. Fidelity Elite Private

10. Conchess Monarch with T8, T6, S5, P and M modules

11. Fidelity EAG version 6

12. Saitek Risc 2500 v. 1.04 with 528 KB

13. Mephisto Montreux

14. Saitek Leonardo

15. Mephisto III with ESB 6000 board

16. Sargon ARB 2.5 with 4.0 module

17. Novag Diablo

18. Fidelity Chesster Phantom

19. Fidelity Elegance

20. Fidelity Playmatic S

21. Fidelity Sensory Chess Challenger 12, 12 B, and 12E

22. Fidelity Decorator Challenger


The full Tortorice Collection
Wiki ELO – Liste  04/26/2015
Phoenix Chess Systems Revelation II                                                    (2800)
Tasc  R30 Version 2.5                                                                   2372
Fidelity Prestige ( EAG version 11)                                                    (2294)
Mephisto Genius 68030 33 MHz                                                            2294
Saitek Renaissance / SPARC 20 MHz                                                       2223
Saitek RISC 2500 v. 1.04, 528 KB                                                       (2208)
Mephisto Risc 1                                                                         2203
Mephisto Montreux                                                                       2198
Saitek RISC 2500 128 mb                                                                 2192
Mephisto Atlanta                                                                        2184
Saitek Leonardo/ Analyst D++ 16 MHz                                                    (2150)
Mephisto Portoroso    68020                                                             2127
Novag Star Diamond                                                                      2123
Novag Sapphire II                                                                       2108
Fidelity Elite Premiere                                                                (2113)
Mephisto Senator                                                                        2076
Mephisto Milano Pro                                                                     2076
Novag Sapphire                                                                          2091
Fidelity Elite Avantgarde 2325 V6                                                       2074
Kasparov Brute Force                                                                    2018
Radio Shack 2250 XL                                                                    (2022)
Novag  Citrine                                                                          2014
Novag Diablo                                                                            2005
Saitek President                                                                        1979
Fidelity Elite Avantgarde 68000                                                         1993
Fidelity Mach III                                                                       1993
Mephisto Nigel Short                                                                    1970
Fidelity Elegance at 8MHz                                                              (1965)
Mephisto  MM V / HG 550                                                                 1964
Tiger Grenadier                                                                        (1960)
Mephisto Monte Carlo IV LE                                                             (1960)
Mephisto Mondial 68000 XL                                                               1958
Novag Super Expert C  6 MHz                                                             1957
Mephisto Milano                                                                         1963
Mephisto Montreal 68000                                                                 1969
Mephisto  Academy 5 MHz                                                                 1945
Fidelity Mach II                                                                        1931
Saitek Corona  8 MHz                                                                   (1924)
Radio Shack Master 2200 X                                                              (1910)
Mephisto MM IV Mobile                                                                   1904 
Sargon ARB 4.0 – 16 MHz                                                                (1901)
Mephisto Modena                                                                         1899
Saitek Virtuoso                                                                        (1897)
CXG Sphinx Dominator                                                                   (1880)
CXG Sphinx 50 Plus                                                                     (1880)
Novag Ruby                                                                              1879
CXG Sphinx Galaxy                                                                       1866
Fidelity Chesster Challenger                                                            1829
Fidelity Chesster Phantom                                                               1829
Saitek Corona                                                                           1824
Saitek Leonardo/Maestro B  6 MHz                                                        1824
Kasparov Stratos                                                                        1824
Saitek Renaissance/Analyst D                                                           [1820]
Excalibur Grandmaster                                                                   1814
Novag Constellation Expert                                                              1790
Conchess Monarch T8 , L Opening Module                                                  1780
Conchess Monarch T8, T6, S5, P, M modules                                               1780
Excalibur Mirage Robot                                                                 (1780)
Fidelity Excellence     3 MHz                                                           1757
Fidelity Voice Excellence     3 MHz                                                     1757 
Peri Gamma                                                                              1754                                                              
CXG Sphinx 50                                                                          (1745)
Novag Super Constellation                                                               1728
Fidelity Elite Privat                                                                  (1720)
Fidelity Sensory Chess Challenger 12 E                                                  1700
Novag Super VIP                                                                         1684
Fidelity Playmatic S @ 5 MHz                                                           (1684)
Fidelity Sensory Chess Challenger 12 B/ CB 9                                            1681
Fidelity Sensory Chess Challenger 12 / CB 16 Openings                                   1681
Sargon ARB 2.5 with 4.0 module                                                         [1673]
Excalibur Alexandra the Great                                                          (1653)
Fidelity Champion Septennial                                                           (1650)
Novag VIP                                                                               1631
Fidelity Super 9 Deluxe                                                                (1630)
Fidelity Elite A/S (Prestige)                                                           1609
Fidelity Little Chesster                                                                1575
CXG Chess 3000                                                                         (1570)
Fidelity Champion Sensory Chess Challenger                                             (1550)
Saitek Galileo                                                                          1514
CXG Chess 2001                                                                          1500
Mephisto III + ESB 6000 Board                                                           1479
Chess Master Diamond                                                                    1450
Novag 2Robot                                                                           (1450)
Conchess Ambassador  AO  module                                                         1426 
Conchess Escorter                                                                       1426
SciSys Sensor Chess/Hypermodern Module                                                 (1400)
Fidelity Decorator Challenger                                                          (1377)  
Fidelity Chess Challenger  Sensory 8                                                    1300
Mephisto Junior                                                                        (1294)
Fidelity Micro Chess Challenger                                                        (1087)
Millennium Chess & Games 8 in 1