I have been fascinated by computer chess and chess engines since almost the day I got into chess.
The Beginning of Computer Chess
The first chess software I got hold of was ChessMaster 3000 back in 1998 and this program became my addiction for a long time.
This software had “personalities” and would change its playing style based on a set of weights such as “control of centre”, “attacker vs defender”, “piece values”, and a dozen other settings.
My favourite personalities were the ones that were programmed to mimic human grandmasters such as “Capablanca-style” and “Nimzowitsch-style” and I had these guys regularly playing tournaments, as well as playing against them myself.
As time went on I did get more professional software (such as Fritz, Chessbase, Rebel, Chess Tiger etc), but I always liked this idea of playing against specifically designed computer “personalities” or at least, engines with widely varying styles.
So many chess engines!
You might be wondering why somebody would have so god damn many chess engines…
I myself have more than 100 chess engines and I know of computer chess guys who have thousands!
The reason is this:
Imagine if instead of having to passively follow guys like Kramnik, Carlsen and Topalov when they play in elite events just a few times a year, you could just throw them all together in a tournament any time you like!
Why not throw Magnus Carlsen against Paul Morphy for a laugh?
Why not choose what openings they play so that the games are more interesting (think: no Berlin, no Petroff Defence)?
Why not create your OWN engine personalities (As I did here) and pit them against the famous Grandmasters as an experiment?
ALL OF THIS IS POSSIBLE WITH COMPUTER CHESS!
Just yesterday I thought to myself:
“Hmm…Gary Kasparov himself only drew a match with Deep Junior and Vladimir Kramnik LOST a match against Deep Fritz 10.
These guys are 2800+ WORLD CHAMPION players.
So these engines must be damn strong!
Russian Grandmaster Evgeny Bareev was held to a draw in a match against Hiarcs 8 (substantially weaker, yet more “human” than Fritz and Junior) as well!
Rebel 10 CRUSHED Vishy Anand in a match too.
I wonder how the engines from those days would do against Stockfish 7?
The former WORLD CHAMPION (in human terms) level chess engines against today’s leader…”
So I loaded up my Fritz GUI with all of the top engines from my youth and put Stockfish 7 into a Gauntlet against them…
Stockfish made them look stupid!
Then, we asked them to play against Magnus Carlsen…
Imagine even more if Carlsen just plowed through them all as if they were not the legends we know them to have been?
Let’s have a look at some of the sample games.
Stockfish 7 vs Historical Masters
Stockfish 7 vs Chess Tiger 14.0
The first game we see Stockfish against Chess Tiger 14 (I reviewed it here), the engine which won a strong GM tournament in 2002 with a 2788 ELO performance.
Stockfish 7 makes him look completely useless!
Fritz 10 vs Stockfish 7
Here we see Fritz 10, the engine that defeated Vladimir Kramnik (my favourite player) in a match, playing its its attractive human-like way.
Stockfish 7 vs Hiarcs8 Bareev
In this game Stockfish plays against the exact engine which drew the match with GM Bareev.
On my Macbook Pro 2016 this engine should be even stronger than it was against Bareev, yet this didn’t save Hiarcs one bit.
Stockfish’s play in this game is on such a level that even an engine that plays like a Russian grandmaster, is absolutely dominated.
Within 14 moves Stockfish is already up a pawn and begins to roll his centre forward while Hiarcs can do little to stop the oncoming avalanche.
On move 25 Stockfish plays a beautiful exchange sacrifice (25.e5!!) and just keeps rolling forward.
The level of play in this game is breathtaking.
Rebel Century (2000) vs Stockfish 7
What about Rebel? The engine that crushed Vishy Anand in their 1998 match?
Rebel put up a reasonable fight, but was gradually dominated with deep positional play.
The result was never in doubt.
So What’s All This Mean?
Does this mean that all of those old engines suck now?
Nope. That’s bullshit, they’re awesome.
Does it mean that humans like Fischer, Tal, Kasparov and other elite humans suck?
Nope. They’re awesome too.
It means that…
With chess engines we have access to any type of chess we like.
If you want perfect, SUPER high level chess which you (If you aren’t master level) don’t even understand then you can easily get engines like Stockfish which are light years ahead of any human that has ever lived.
What about solid positional chess?
Try WChess 1.6, Zarkov 4.5, Hiarcs, Disaster Area Karpov or Genius.
There are also weaker engines for learning players to train against…
Try Mephisto Amsterdam, Kangaruh, Predateur 2.0 or Uralochka 1.1b.
Those ones are all sub 2200 yet have nice styles.
With computer chess you are like the manager of a group of great players of all levels who are ready to play any time, any day and any position you tell them to.
This is why Im so fascinated by engines and have been for so long.
What do you think? Agree with me? 😆