Komodo is World Computer Chess Champion

by Frederic Friedel
7/5/2016 – Its stiffest competition came from the German program Jonny, running on a giant 2400-core machine. With only 48 cores the US program Komodo finished the computer tournament in Leiden, Netherlands, equal first with Jonny, then went on to win a hard-fought tiebreak, making it the 22nd World Computer Chess Champion. It may interest you to know that the latest version of our flagship chess engine, Komodo 10, was released just a month ago.

The 22nd World Computer Chess Championship started on June 27, 2016. Six programs participated in a double round robin tournament of ten rounds. The tournament took place at the Leiden University and was organized by the ICGA, LIACS and LCDS. The sponsors were Google, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the municipality of Leiden, Leiden University, Faculty of Science, ICGA, iSSC, SurfSara, Digital Game Technology and NWO Exact Sciences. It is held in conjunction with the 19th Computer Olympiad and the 15th Advances in Computer Games conference.


Program Nat. Authors Operators
Architecture GHz
GridGinkgo Ger. Frank Schneider, Kai Himstedt, Robert Hyatt Timo Haupt, Kai Himstedt
AMD + Intel mix 3.4
Hiarcs GB Mark Uniacke Harvey Williamson, Hans v.d. Zijden
Intel Xeon E5-2697 2.7
Jonny Ger. Johannes Zwanzger Johannes Zwanzger
AMD x86-64 2.8
Komodo USA Don Dailey, Larry Kaufman, Mark Lefler Mark Lefler, Erdogan Günes
Intel I7 2.8
Raptor USA Steve Webber Wolfgang Zugrav
Intel Xeon X5680 4.1
Shredder Ger. Stefan Meyer-Kahlen Stefan Meyer-Kahlen
Intel I5-2697 2.6

The reigning 21st World Computer Chess Champion was the program Jonny, written and operated by Johannes Zwanzger, Germany. Jonny was running on 2400 (!) AMD x86 cores, its main challengers Komodo and Shredder ran on 48 and 32 Intel cores. The tournament ended in a tie for first, with both Komodo and Jonny scoring 7.5/10 points.

Erdogan Günes operating Komodo against Stefan Meyer-Kahlen, author of Shredder

The rules required a play-off to determine the new Computer Chess Champion. The playing time was 45 minutes plus 15 seconds per move for each side. Two games were played, both ending in draws, in 53 and 65 moves. The second play-off saw playing times reduced to five minutes for the game plus five seconds increment per move. Again the outcome was 1-1 (two draws). Thus a third play-off had to be played. This had time controls of three minutes per game plus five seconds increment per move. The first game ended in a draw, and the second game was a win for Komodo.

So in the end Komodo, originally designed and implemented by Don Dailey, became the
World Computer Chess Champion 2016. Our congratulations to the team and to Don’s widow.

All the games of the 22nd World Computer Chess Championship

About the Komodo authors

Komodo is a UCI chess engine developed by Don Dailey, Mark Lefler, and supported by 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. Currently it is number one.

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.

The latest Komodo available in the ChessBase Shop

The chess engine Komodo is currently the strongest chess program available anywhere in the world. The new version has gained 60 Elo points over Komodo 9, which was already rated at over 3300 on the international computer chess rating list.


Thanks to a host of extensive improvements and fine tweaking, the latest version of Komodo has again gained over 60 Elo points on its predecessor. The changes cover several areas: the evaluation function has been significantly sharpened, particularly with respect to king safety and endgame positions, and the search algorithm has been improved and optimized to run on multiple processors.

Komodo’s intelligent and results-driven evaluations have also proven extremely effective in practice: if Komodo 10 considers its position to be advantageous, it avoids exchanges and seeks to open the position.

The program has also recently demonstrated its exceptional playing strength in a series of matches against grandmasters: Komodo is unbeaten in over 50 games in which it gave its opponents a material advantage or several free moves, even beating Hikaru Nakamura 2.5 - 1.5 despite handicaps! And now it has won the 2016 World Computer Chess Championship in Leiden, Netherlands.

Komodo 10 (64-bit multi-processor engine) offers the unbeatable combination of the strongest ever chess engine running on the best and most popular user interface around. As it comes with the Fritz 15 64-bit GUI (optionally 32-bit), Komodo also offers all the training and playing functions you know from Fritz, including Premium membership to the ChessBase Web Apps with Live Database, the ChessBase video portal, our tactics server and more!

System requirements: Komodo 10: Minimum: Pentium III 1 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Windows XP (Service Pack 3), DirectX9, graphics card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9 and internet access. Recommended: PC Intel i5 (Quadcore), 8 GB. RAM, Windows 10 or 8.1, DirectX10, graphics card with 512 MB RAM or more, 100% DirectX10-compatible sound card, DVD-ROM drive and internet access.

ChessBase Account: Internet access and current browser, e.g. Chrome, Safari. For Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, Linux.

Order Komodo 10 here

Editor-in-Chief of the ChessBase News Page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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KOTLD KOTLD 7/5/2016 01:23
Why didn’t Stockfish compete ?
BabyPfuscher BabyPfuscher 7/5/2016 04:37
I thought the TCEC tournament determines the World Computer Chess Champion? ...and yes why wasn't Stockfish included?
Sotadas Sotadas 7/5/2016 05:01
I also adhere to other comments. Please explain how did these engines qualify to this competition, and how does this compare to TCEC. Thanks.
Clark Potter Clark Potter 7/5/2016 05:37
Or Rybka..
Clark Potter Clark Potter 7/5/2016 05:43
Isn't that a pretty small number of games to play given that puters don't get tired? Why so few engines and so few games? Perhaps there ought to be a division for standardized hardware as well.
jamex jamex 7/5/2016 09:03
But Komodo has won the last three editions of TCEC. The absence of Stockfish undermines WCCC,
MaxMinus MaxMinus 7/5/2016 09:32
No impressive result considering the level of opposition. At least 350 elo lower rated. But it won. I guess that's what counts.
tom fox tom fox 7/5/2016 12:54
What a joke!
MartinG1949 MartinG1949 7/5/2016 01:04
You can't be serious! TCEC is a much stiffer test of chess computers and the championship is still going on. Let's wait and see what TCEC says before we jump to any conclusions.
diegoami diegoami 7/5/2016 03:02
It would be interesting to know more about the program Jonny. Can it be bought ? Is it open source ?
mburch1974 mburch1974 7/5/2016 03:46
LOL why isn't the core count regulated? I mean 48 cores vs 2400? Although i understand diminishing returns with core count Amaduhls law and such isn't it still kinda unfair?
Johannes27 Johannes27 7/5/2016 04:01
Stockfish is by far the best engine . An engine match vs Komodo will persuade everybody. That is why they did not include any decent opponent to Komodo.
Exclam Exclam 7/5/2016 05:28
Well when I do engine tests with Komodo, Stockfish, Houdini and Fritz all the latest versions of each plus a few others Fritz wins every competition. Don't ask me why but it seems to and I have no vested interest I just wanted to see what would happen. I know I have only played a couple hundred games on my home computer with them all using the same hardware, same settings and same openings book, yet the answer is always Fritz at the top of the Cross table.
flachspieler flachspieler 7/5/2016 07:01
Some answers. >>> Why didn't Stockfish compete? <<< The World Championships are organized by the ICGA. The event is open. Stockfish did not register. >>> Why didn't Rybka compete? <<< Rybka's programmer had violated rules for several years - using open source code without mentioning it - and got a lifetime ban from ICGA events. >>> Why different hardwares? <<< It was the open division. There was also a uniform haradware division which was also won by Komodo. >>> What about Jonny? <<< It is a private non-commercial program and is not available to the public.
johnmk johnmk 7/6/2016 01:34
Frankly, so what? At this point it is of little import for most tournament chess players. Games between humans are more interesting, howlers and all. Unless you plan to cheat at chess.
KevinC KevinC 7/6/2016 02:31
@flachspieler, excellent answers. Thank you.
jhoravi jhoravi 7/6/2016 08:32
It would be interesting to know Jonny's nodes/second at that insane number of cores.
docfb65 docfb65 7/6/2016 09:15
Actually, events like this appear a non sense. Only six engines, two, Hiarcs and Shredder, not updated for several years, different hardware and opening books. Nevertheless, if Chessbase wanted with this article to advertise Komodo, they didn't need. It is surely one of the best engines as TCEC shows too!
Pilgrim2011 Pilgrim2011 7/6/2016 09:54
According to TCEC rating list: 1. Komodo 10 3228, 2. Stockfish 1106016 3222. Difference is only 6 ELo points !
Karbuncle Karbuncle 7/6/2016 10:56
Everyone need not freak out. This particular tournament isn't for the real marbles. The ongoing TCEC is the actual world computer chess championship that everyone realistically measures engine strength by.
mjlef mjlef 7/6/2016 08:54
Jonny: the programmer told me Jonny on the 2400 core cluster gets about 1 billions positions a second in the opening, and more than 2 billion nodes per second later in the game. Stockfish: They are welcome to enter the tournament, but have not. Someone tried to enter Stockfish in 2015, but at least one of the Stockfish software maintainers protested. Perhaps some of you can pursued the Stockfish team to enter in the future. TCEC: has never claimed to be the World Championship. That title has long been done via the ICGA, ICCA before 2002. TCEC is a uniform platform test, while WCCC allows unlimited hardware. ICGA also does a World Chess Software Championship each year where all software runs on identical machines. Komodo also won that the first time both WCCC and WCSC was won by the same program).
pantsik pantsik 7/7/2016 09:20
World chess champion without Stockfish playing? Judgment is biased.
The_Tenant The_Tenant 7/8/2016 03:04
This is ridiculous... What you have here is a poorly conceived engine tournament, featuring disproportionate cpu power, no involvement of other highly rated engines (i.e., Stockfish 7, Houdini 4, Fritz 15, etc), with only six participants, many of which are outdated. Make no mistake, this is NOT the real world computer chess championship. TCEC is.
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 7/18/2016 12:09
Please permit me. There was a chess puzzle, 10 movers not solved by super computer. Is this true. In this connection, below is original chess puzzle, is nine movers. With due respect to the authors of super chess engine, do feed this puzzle to the chess engine to try to solve this? How many seconds or minutes, if solved, as it is expected. White to play and mate black in 9 moves.

Position: White: Pa2 , Ka3, Pa4,Ba8, Pb5, Bb6, Pc2, Pd6,Pe2, Nf3, Ng1, Ph2, Pg5
Black: Pc3. Kc4, Pc5, Bc8, Nd5,Pd7, Pe3, Pf6, Pg7, Bh8, Ph6

Thank you. Jsaldea12
Chrismond Jagmoc Chrismond Jagmoc 8/12/2016 10:37
Hello, I hope everyone will understand, many of commentators here underestimated the WCCC just because many other strong engines did not compete; the likes of Stockfish, Houdini, Fire and more. But those other strong engines have been beaten by Komodo 10 - in CCRL, TCEC and more engine testings site; check it in CCRL 40/40 then you can check the individual encounter there below the webpage. So how would you underestimate Johny and Shredder when even Komodo just tied up a score with Johny in this World Championship and only winning the the 6th game of the Tie Break match to finally emerge as 2016 Champion. Komodo did not even beat Shredder on Standard time control they just draw on both games. On play off with shredder with time control of under 5 minutes - Komodo won, but on their World Computer Blitz Championship Encounter Shredder won. This WCCC has just rules and regulations differ from other tourney, but my point here is that this World Computer Chess Championship 2016 deserves respect. Other important Highlights in this World Computer chess championship is the Chess Programmers are present playing over the board. So it's interesting!! Check this out https://chessprogramming.wikispaces.com/WCCC+2016
frobisher69 frobisher69 7/21/2017 07:29
@babypfuscher = yeah why is stockfish not around to compete???
frobisher69 frobisher69 7/21/2017 07:30
why is stockfish not around to compete???