According to Chess.com, a chess engine is a computer program that analyzes chess positions and returns what it calculates to be the best move options.
Below are the most popular chess engines at the present time. Their relative position, in terms of highest ratings, changes periodically.
- AlphaZero – the first AI engine to use reinforcement learning and self-play to train its neural networks.
- Stockfish – currently, the strongest chess engine available to the public; open source and used by Lichess; works on all major computing platforms.
- Leela Chess Zero – currently, the second strongest publicly available chess engine; open source neural network project started in 2018.
- Komodo Chess – acquired by Chess.com in 2018; strong ability to run at different playing strengths with different styles and opening books; used to play different personalities (including Beth Harmon of Queen’s Gambit).
- Deep Blue – IBM’s chess computer, used to play matches against Kasparov in 1996 and 1997.
- Shredder Chess – commercial chess engine that runs on all major computer platforms.
- Fritz – added to ChessBase in 1991; runs on multiple computer platforms as well as Sony and Nintendo gaming consoles.
- Rybka – another commercial chess engine.
- Houdini Chess – another commercial chess engine that only runs on Windows. At the end of 2019, this was the highest-rated commercial engine behind Stockfish, Leela, and Komodo.
- HIARCS – a proprietary chess engine developed in 1980. The oldest chess engine that has reached an ELO of more than 3000.
Here is an interesting Youtube video that shows the Strongest Computer Chess Engines Over Time.
On Chess.com, you can watch the chess engines play each other in computer chess championships.
Chess.com has also published an interesting article called “10 Positions Chess Engines Just Don’t Understand.” These are:
- Closed Positions
- The Horizon Effect
- The Mad Piece
- The Trapped Piece
- The Pinned Piece
The study of chess engines is a fascinating project for any human chess player, especially those that seek a better understanding of how the best human chess players incorporate such strategies and tactics into their play against other human competitors. This is useful, given the best players are all using chess engines to gain an edge in their preparation for play, particularly in the opening.
In case, you missed it, here is a link to an earlier news post whereby the Stockfish Bot analyzes the recent controversial game between Carlen and Niemann at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis.