Brand new: Komodo 14!

by ChessBase
5/28/2020 – The program Komodo 13 was consistently one of the three rating leaders in all computer lists – in fact it was often on place number one. Now we are releasing a new version, Komodo 14, which is even stronger (more than 40 Elo points). But apart from pure strength this program displays superb positional play. And it can be set to different playing styles: aggressive, defensive, active, positional, endgame, beginner and human. This allows you to optimize your analysis: switch the engine over to “aggressive” whenever you suspect that the position offers enough attacking potential for a win!

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Double world champion, quick change artist, expert analyst

Komodo is a chess program that is different from the rest. Its search makes greater use of extensions than any other top engine, which results in a slightly lower average depth, but helps the actual playing strength significantly. It also allows Komodo to see deeper than any other engine, even if it is displaying a lower search depth.

The evaluation of Komodo differs from its main rivals because, unlike the automated tuning generally employed, Komodo's evaluation represents a blend of both automated tuning and the judgment of a grandmaster and computer expert (Larry Kaufman). The programming team have avoided terms and weights that don't make sense to him, even if they happen to test a bit positively. Automated evaluations are subject to rather large sample error, and applying some chess judgment appears to be beneficial, both in results and in the reasonableness of reported evaluations.

Komodo is primarily known for superb positional play. Of course it is also one of the top few engines in tactical strength as well, but the programmers have not been willing to sacrifice positional play just to score better on tactical problem sets. It is generally recognized that all good engines are far stronger tactically than any human player, but that when positional judgment is involved, top grandmasters are still superior in many positions to any engine. Therefore it makes sense to emphasize positional play rather than tactical skill: it is better to improve one's weakest point rather than just to further improve the strongest feature.

Komodo is especially useful for opening analysis, because as an opening specialist author Larry Kaufman has always paid close attention to checking whether the program's evaluations in the opening agree in general with accepted theory. Another point in which Komodo excels is the play and evaluation of positions with material imbalance, which it handles more correctly than other top engines. The endgame of Komodo has been improved by the use of Syzygy Tablebases, which are considered the best for actual play and game analysis as they provide only the most essential information to save time and memory.

Another unique feature in Komodo is its superior handling of multiple processors, using a method that is quite different than the usual one. This is most noticeable when using eight or more cores. There is little doubt that Komodo 14 is and will remain the top rated commercial chess engine on most rating lists.

About the authors

Komodo was developed by Don Dailey. It is maintained and improved by Mark Lefler and chess author and evaluation expert, GM Larry Kaufman. Over the years it has been consistently rated in the top three on most major chess engine rating lists. The previous version, Komodo 13, was rated 3421 (running on a 64-bit four core CPU).

The original author of Komodo was Don Dailey, who along with GM Larry Kaufman, developed the program. Dailey started chess programming in the 1980s, and was the author and co-author of multiple commercial as well as academic chess programs. He died of an acute form of leukemia in November 2013, but before his death handed over the code and all assets to Mark Lefler.

Mark Lefler is an American computer games and chess programmer. He is author of the computer chess program Now and with Jeff Mallett co-author of the general game playing program Zillions of Games. Mark is a graduate in Engineering Science and Mechanics, and has been employed as a Security Engineering Officer by the US State Department. His non-computer interests include performing magic, music, and gaming.

Lawrence C. ("Larry") Kaufman is a chess grandmaster, a title which he earned after winning the 2008 World Senior Championship. A longtime researcher in computer chess, Kaufman helped write the opening book for the pioneering chess program Mac Hack, co-developed Socrates II, worked on Rybka 3 and on many other research and commercial chess engines. He has written several books and articles, including The Evaluation of Material Imbalances. Larry has reached a considerable level of competence in several other board games. He is one of the strongest shogi players in the West; he learned the game by the traditional method of studying handicap theory and is one of the leading experts in this field. Go and Xiangqi are among his other past interests.


GM Boris Avrukh: "I am deeply moved by the style of Komodo. In my opinion it‘s the perfect combination between computer accuracy and human positional understanding. I get the feeling it‘s taken positional undertanding to the next level. After such an impressive performance I am going to test Komodo in my future work, especially in very positional play, and am really looking forward to working with it."

GM Roman Dzindzichashvili: "I am extremely impressed by Komodo's play. I watched and analyzed every game and it was absolutely flawless positional chess, the likes of which has never been seen before by an engine... or human. Komodo clearly outplayed the other programs in the TCEC tournament."

Order Komodo 14 now

Komodo 14 thinks like no other chess program. Inspired by AlphaZero, two years ago Komodo programmers GM Larry Kaufman and Mark Lefler began to redevelop their engine from the ground up. A good decision, since Komodo 13 was setting new benchmarks not only on the basis of its performance, but also because of an innovative approach with “MCTS” (“Monte Carlo Tree Search”). Komodo 14 continues with that successful concept. In addition to a further improvement in playing strength Komodo 14 offers exciting new functions for the configuration of the engine.

Playing strength meets individuality. The new Komodo 14 is once more 40 Elo points stronger than its predecessor. But what is quite new is how it can be varied. In addition to the standard version there are seven other “personalities”: various playing styles (aggressive, defensive, active, positional, endgame, beginner and human) which can, moreover, be combined. That allows you to simulate different styles or strengths of human opponents. And for analysis, too, this provides new options: switch the engine over to “aggressive” whenever you suspect that the position offers enough attacking potential for a win, or go into the positional mode if the position demands well thought out strategic play!

Double world champion 2019. Last year Komodo won the world championship title on two occasions and can call itself “2019 World Computer Chess Champion” and “2019 World Chess Software Champion”. And the current Komodo 14 has been clearly improved over its predecessor!

Match winner and analysis partner. It is delivered with two versions of the engine: the playing strength of the standard version is somewhat stronger than the “MCTS” version, so long as the engine only has to calculate one variation at a time. If the number of variations is increased, however, the very much improved “MCTS” version is your first choice!

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