For some reason or other Komodo doesn't send out notifications when they've updated their program, which means subscribers have to periodically check in to see if a new version has been released. So if you're a subscriber, go here and download the latest version, Komodo 10.4.
Entries in Komodo (28)
A little news for fans of chess engines, especially those of you who may have bought a one-year subscription to the Komodo chess engine: version 10.3 is out, and the claim is that it's 30 points stronger than 10.2. Komodo 10.2 was itself stronger than the 10.1 release that narrowly missed the TCEC Superfinal, so don't reject it on that basis. (Of course, the TCEC champ, Stockfish, is always available for free, but different engines have different strengths, and one isn't always right vis-a-vis its rivals.)
There are only 45 shopping days left until Christmas, so if you're looking for something to stick under the tree you'll want to read a different article. If you're looking for something to stick under your analysis board in ChessBase or another GUI, however, you're in luck, as the Big Three - Houdini, Komodo, and Stockfish, in alphabetical order - have all released new iterations of their engines.
Houdini's is the most notable of them all, as it's the first new release in three years. A development version 30 points weaker than the current release qualified for the TCEC Season 9 Superfinal and won the rapid event immediately following the penultimate stage of the normal TCEC tournament, so it's a seriously strong engine.
Komodo's latest version (10.2), is 22 points stronger than 10.1, which is a notable improvement. Of course with Komodo, the sensible thing to do is to buy a year's subscription, which will generally result in approximately four upgrades over that period.
Finally, Stockfish 8 has just been released. As Stockfish is free and has typically been just as good as the other two engines, it's always a winner. Indeed, unless you're a chess professional of some sort (teacher, master level player) or a serious correspondence player, there's no need to go beyond Stockfish unless you like playing around with different engines. They do tend to have different strengths and weaknesses, so if you're using them for opening preparation or deep analysis of strategically complicated positions you may well get different results from each engine.
Komodo won the last two seasons (7 and 8) of the Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC), but for this season's super-final it's on the outside looking in. Stockfish finished with 39/56 in stage 3, going undefeated, winning every mini-match against the other seven engines, and coming in first by a healthy three and a half points. It went 5-3 against a development version of Houdini, 4.5-3.5 against Komodo 10.1, 5.5-2.5 against Fire 5 and 6-2 against the four remaining engines: Andscacs 0.872b, Jonny 8, Gull 3, and the ancient Rybka 4.1.
Houdini lost to no other engine and also went +1 against Komodo, finishing with 35.5, a point ahead of Komodo, which also lost a game - surprisingly - to Andscacs, an engine which it otherwise thrashed. Fire came in a distant fourth with 28.5 points, and after that it was another 5 points down to the next engine.
Stockfish will thus take on Houdini in the super-final, but first - in what looks like a gigantic favor to Robert Houdart, Houdini's programmer - there will be a break for all 32 engines participating in season 9 to play a double round-robin rapid tournament, something which was only decided about a week ago. Only 992 games, and then we'll see if Houdart's for-purchase program will surpass the free, open-source Stockfish.
It's still early, but a mild upset may be brewing as Stockfish leads after the third of eight cycles in stage 3 of the 9th season of the TCEC. Stockfish is undefeated and has 14.5/21, Houdini - also undefeated - is in second with 13.5, and Komodo - which lost a game to Stockfish in the third cycle - is third with 13 points. In the last couple of seasons Komodo was starting to show a little dominance over its rivals, so it's good to see that the competition remains heated. All the engines are likely to improve - and faster - as a result.
At the start of stage 3 of this year's TCEC, something remarkable happened, until it didn't. After three years' hiatus, Robert Houdart has finally updated Houdini (a new commercial release is scheduled for this October or November), and in the first game of the new stage the revised Houdini defeated Komodo 10.1, the #1 program in the world and freshly updated as well. Here's the game.
Unfortunately and very strangely, it turned out that someone on the TCEC side of things had changed Komodo's default contempt and dynamism settings. It wasn't much of a change, but the rules are the rules and Komodo was given a second chance. In the sequel Houdini again put Komodo under pressure, but this time the champ escaped with a draw. Many spectators were rather unhappy about this, especially since other programs have in the past been subject to what seemed like unfair bits of bad luck that didn't result in any second chances. From what I understand, however, what happened was in keeping with the rules everyone had agreed to, so while it was a pity for Houdini's fans the reply wasn't really unfair.
In any case, it's nice to see that fresh work is being done with Houdini, and the dominance of Komodo and Stockfish will be challenged anew.
They're simply the best. Stage 2 of season 9 of the TCEC (Top Chess Engine Competition) was a double-round robin between the 16 qualifiers from the first stage. After the first cycle Komodo 10 led Stockfish 110616 (the June 11, 2016 release) by a point; after the second cycle, Stockfish caught up and they finished tied. Both engines were undefeated and scored 22.5/30, four points ahead of Jonny 7.30 and Gull 3.
Stage 3 starts on Saturday.
I'm not a big fan of the annual ICGA World Computer Chess Championship, as the engines don't have to play on the same hardware. Last year Jonny nipped Komodo; or rather, Jonny on 2400 cores barely beat out Komodo on a measly 48. (Rumor has it that Jonny's programmers used meldonium and EPO, and had a direct line in their rest area that let them consult with Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik. Next year they might be given the option of replaying any game they lose until it comes out in their favor.*)
This year, despite the organizer's best efforts at ensuring fairness (i.e. changing nothing at all), Komodo won anyway. In a bit of a reverse from last year, Jonny outscored Komodo when it came to their results against the rest of the field, but Komodo won the head-to-head. That resulted in a tie, and then Komodo eventually won the third set of tiebreaks to take the title.
While I've been playing the violin for Komodo, someone should rosin up their bow for Shredder. That program, which is far below Komodo in the computer rating lists, took third, only half a point behind Komodo and Jonny, and did so using only 36 cores. It was a small field, and the other three engines were comparatively weak (or perhaps we should say the engine + hardware combinations were relatively weak). So maybe its near-miss was something of a fluke. Unfortunately, we'll never know from a competition like this.
A further report, games, and a sales pitch for ChessBase's version of Komodo, are here.
* N.B. for the humor-impaired and for those who think Jonny's colossal advantages are fair: the "rumors" in the parenthetical are all satirical fictions.
Stage 2 of season 9 of the TCEC (Top Chess Engine Competition) recently passed the halfway point; that is, the first cycle of the double round robin has concluded. Komodo 10 led at that moment with 11/15 (+7 =8 -0), a point clear of Stockfish110616 (i.e. the June 11, 2016 development build) and Fire 5. All three engines, and Jonny 7.30 as well, have gone undefeated so far.
One Komodo game that caught my eye was from the final round of the first cycle. It had black against nominal third seed Houdini 4, and came up with a staggering new idea in a Scotch sideline. Have a look here and shake your head in amazement.
I don't mean any disrespect to GM Sergey Erenburg, the humiliatee of the title line. He's a fine player - a respectable grandmaster entirely worthy of the title. It's just that today's engines are so strong that humiliation is the name of the game when they do battle with flesh and blood.
Erenburg took on Komodo 10 in a four game match, and in each of them the computer played with six handicaps:
- The GM had White in every game.
- 30-1 time odds: 90' + 30" for Erenburg; 3' + 1" for Komodo.
- Komodo played on just one core rather than its usual 24.
- Komodo couldn't think on Erenburg's time.
- Komodo's opening book was limited to the first three moves.
- Komodo couldn't use tablebases.
Fair? Not quite. Erenburg drew the third game and lost the rest. See the games and read about his travails here.