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.

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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 emeritus 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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