Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chess Programs Review – And a Great Monday

Chess is for everyone!

We had ten players tonight for a Ladder tournament game, casual chess, speed chess and some chess lessons.

We also got to welcome two new players to NPP! Welcome Ethan W and Trevor M!

Congratulations to Vince V. for taking over the top Ladder spot.

Now for some purchasing help. There are quite a few choices when picking a chess software program.
A chess program is invaluable to a learning chess player as a teacher, game reviewer, and an opponent who will not make fun of you and let you take back moves.

The software also doesn’t care if you use his settings to make him weak so you can beat him! What a pal for chess, right?

But before you invest your money, let me give you some information.

Chess players come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, colors, etc.
How we rate any chess player is by strength of their play.

There is an established point system called the Elo System for determining a chess player’s strength in relation to other players. The higher the rating number, the better the chess player is.

Magnus Carlsen, the current World Champion is also the world’s highest rated player. As of this writing, his Elo rating is 2876. This is the highest of anyone - at any time in history - except when in May of 2014, when Mr. Carlsen reached the incredible height of 2882!

With that rating in mind, I will list the chess ratings of some chess programs and people, from high to low – with some comments thrown in.

1.      3325 – Komodo 9 – just released in Europe. Available thru Chessbase dot com.
2.      3310 – Stockfish 6 – available on line for free, although I have not looked for it yet. Why I have not will become apparent very soon.
3.      3250 – Houdini 4 – available at USchess sales for $100
4.      3219 – Komodo 8 – available at USchess sales for $100
5.      3206 – Stockfish 5 – available for FREE on your phone as part of the free ‘Analyze This’ chess app. I have this app on my phone and it works great! I also loaded it on my Pad Notebook.

6.      3185 – Houdini 4 Extreme - available at USchess sales for $65

7.      3175 – Critter 1.6a – I use it with my 'Analyze This' chess app on my Notepad. Research says it is weaker with tactics than the programs above, but better at endgames than the programs above. It was working on my old phone but for Android 5.0 it no longer works.

8.      3090 – Rybka 4 - available at USchess sales for $50
9.      3088 – Deep Fritz 14 – available at USchess sales for $90
10.  3045 – Deep Rybka 4 – available at USchess sales for $110. Lower rated than Rybka 4??
11.  3041 – Deep Junior 13.8 - available at USchess sales for $100
12.  2996 – Deep Hiarcs 13 - available at USchess sales for $110

13.  2968 – Fritz 13 – Who I call "Igor3000" – is the software on this computer, and the one I use to analyze games I publish for you. Paid $100 for it 2 years ago.

14.  2915 – Aquarium 11 (Rybka 2.3) – I have this program also. Picked it up at a clearance sale for $15. I don’t like the interface as well as the Fritz one, and the Rybka software has the same interface as Houdini.

15.  2876 - Magnus Carlsen – World Champion – Did not answer my calls or emails for analyzing games for LCCC. So he was not an option. I guess my contact information was not correct.

16.  2660 – Chessmaster10 (or Fritz 4) – I have this program also. Clearance $9.
17.  1604 – Your humble scribe. Now you know why I use Fritz 13 to do analysis.

Yes, you can claim you are a victim. A victim subject to weak game analysis (and also poor writing, but I digress), because your scribe has failed to keep up with the times. You can honestly ask, "Are you really using a program ranked only #13? Really? ........Really?"

Yes. Because I am victim! A victim of software improvements and upgrades!
Yes, I am chess software dis-advantaged.
Yes, I should write my Congressman and demand equality – or protest in the streets!

Or – We can BOTH realize that – for the analysis of the club chess games, my chess games with my rating straining to be over 1600, and in reality all chess games up to and including Grandmasters, Fritz 13 is plenty strong enough to help us find truth in a chess position - especially when I let it crank out analysis at 2 million moves a minute - for 20 minutes!

Sure, I could make the case that Fritz 13 is only 86 points better than the World Champion on the World Champion’s best day, so what good is the software? It's a wood pusher program, right?

Yeah, right. At a rating of 2968, earned against other top players and top software programs? Unless I am analyzing the games of the other top software programs, I think Fritz 13 will be able to find ‘the truth’ for the games I need to review for you.

Besides that, I have Stockfish 5 on my phone and tablet!! The “Fish5” is 324 points higher than the World Champ! I think we are covered.

If you are buying a chess program for your home computer or laptop, I suggest in order:
Komodo 8 (for $10 extra you are getting a better endgame player than Deep Fritz reviews say)
Deep Fritz 14 (but you cannot go wrong here with Fritz)

You can wait for Komodo 9 to be available in the States or order it from Europe, but is anyone on the planet going to recognize the difference between 3325 and 3219? Uh.......no.

I’m sure you would not go wrong with Houdini 4 or the Rybka 4 programs, but I have never used them so it’s hard for me to recommend them.

And if you get Fritz, be sure to watch all the videos on line on how to get the most out of the software. It’s difficult to use - until you get used to it.

And of course no chess player with a smartphone should be without the “Analyze This” free app.
You have to have it.

Then be sure down-load a free Fischer 960 ramdomizer app, and a good Chess Clock app for your phone while you are at it.


  1. You missed an important part of the equation - the hardware being used to run the chess program. Chess engines are run on high end hardware when they are tested against each other. If a user obtains a copy of a high end program and gives it the same run time used in the tests but on much slower hardware, he is effectively lowering the rating of the program by hundreds of points.

    So, if you are really serious about doing highly accurate chess analysis in a reasonable amount of time you want to run your high end program on the most powerful computer you can afford. Also, since most devices now have multi-core processors, the multi-processor version of any chess program will give far better results than the single processor version of the same program.

  2. Yes, hardware is extremely important. An old program rated 2300 running on a powerful state of the art machine could possibly defeat a 3300 rated program running on a very slow computer, the same way a 1800 player might defeat a 2400 player who hasn't slept in days because he has a very bad case of the flu, and got totally drunk to deal with the discomfort.

  3. First of all....thanks for reading and commenting.
    1. You are both correct. The hardware the computer runs on and the time allowed to analyze are both huge factors. Computers with multi core processors and lots of RAM will allow the chess programs to operate at a higher strength.
    2. The ratings I used were from aa competition with the same time controls and identical machines.
    3. Komodo 9 is now available thru Uscf Sales....and all the ads I've seen tell you the hardware requirements for maximum strength.

    I am fighting the urge.....and will wait and find Komodo 8 on clearance! LOL

  4. PS .....Critter 1.6 still works on my tablet.......just not on my android phone.