Your Mac is full of neat tricks. You probably will never know all of the cool things it can do.Ah, the question posed by the (ultimately) defiant HAL 9000 computer in the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It turns out that your Mac can play a mean game of chess too, without, as HAL did, turning on its human masters.

The Mac’s Chess program, located in the Applications folder, lets you compete against the computer or a human partner. You can open Chess and compete within the Game Center environment.

What’s more, by choosing Chess → Preferences, you can change the board style and pieces, from the wooden board to grass, marble, or metal. You can also drag a slider inside Chess Preferences to make the computer play faster or stronger.

Just like HAL, your Mac can speak as it makes its moves — in about two dozen voices, no less, from Deranged (probably appropriate for HAL) to Hysterical. Then again, you can speak back, so long as Allow Player to Speak Moves is selected in Chess Preferences. Try it out for size by saying something like “Pawn e2 to e4 to move the white king’s pawn.”

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Edward C. Baig is a veteran Mac authority and the technology columnist for USA Today. Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus is the technology columnist for the Houston Chronicle and has written the "Dr. Mac" column for many years. Together, these two experts have co-written all editions of iPhone For Dummies and iPad For Dummies.

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