Fat Fritz: strong, creative, original

by Stephan Oliver Platz
3/27/2020 – The Fat Fritz engine of the Fritz 17 program is currently number 1 on the CCRL ELO list and has a positive score against all tested programs. Stephan Oliver Platz took a closer look at the games of Fat Fritz to find an answer to the question: How does the engine do that? Answer: Fat Fritz plays very originally and without stereotypes.

Fritz 17 - The giant PC chess program, now with Fat Fritz Fritz 17 - The giant PC chess program, now with Fat Fritz

The most popular chess program offers you everything you will need as a dedicated chess enthusiast, with innovative training methods for amateurs and professionals alike.


Fat Fritz' impressive winning streak

A few weeks ago the first update for the neural network of Fat Fritz was released. The results are really impressive: In the new CCRL ELO list, Fat Fritz once again took the top position with a rating of 3622 ELO. 1339 games have been played in total against the strongest chess programs in the world. Fat Fritz won 364 and lost only 51.

The new Fat Fritz has a positive score against all tested programs. The results of FF against his main rivals are also convincing:

Fat Fritz w471 - Leelenstein 11.1: +16 -11 =164

Fat Fritz w471 - Lc0 0.23.1 w42850: +17 -8 =167

Fat Fritz w471 - Stockfish 11 64-bit 4CPU: +19 -9 =72

Fat Fritz w471 - Allie 0.5 nn49921: +58 -3 =131

Fat Fritz w471 - Stoofvlees II a14: +51 -8 =121

How does Fat Fritz play?

Since the program is based on a self-learning neural network, it is free from all stereotypes. It simply plays what promises success, regardless of what the "theory" suggests.

Let us take a closer look at two significant games:

1) In the footsteps of Wilhelm Steinitz

In the following game against Stockfish 11, Fat Fritz seems to have been inspired by Steinitz (1836 - 1900), who claimed that the King is a strong piece. In the middlegame FF sent his king from b1 via a2, a3 and a4 to b5:


2) Handling the knight like a master

In his book  "The Middle Game in Chess" the Hungarian Grandmaster János Flesch (1933 - 1983) wrote:

"A typical error in the current practice of chess is that the bishop, but especially the bishop pair, is greatly overestimated compared to the knight, or rather the pair of knights. (...) There is no real difference in value between the two different types of minor pieces. We only have to admit that due to their peculiar range each minor piece can be used more successfully in a corresponding position. The chess player of our time treats the bishop better and more practically than our predecessors. This is especially true for the bishop pair. (...) The chess players of the past could treat the knight and the knight pair better." (a)

In the previous game we saw how skillfully Fat Fritz brought his knight to c6, right into the heart of the opponent's position. In the following game against Lc0, Fat Fritz played his knight to e6. Again, the masterly handling of the knight helped to gain a winning position:



(a) János Flesch, Das Mittelspiel im Schach (Stuttgart 1979), p. 11, translated from the German edition by the author.

Top ten in the March 21, 2020 CCRL list

Here's a link to the current CCRL Elo list: https://www.computerchess.org.uk/ccrl/404/index.html

and here are the individual results of Fat Fritz:


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Stephan is a passionate collector of chess books and for years he has been successfully playing as an amateur for his German club. The former musician and comedian works as a freelance journalist and author in Berlin and in the Franconian village Hiltpoltstein.


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