Larry Kaufman Interview - The Dragon's tale

by Arne Kaehler
6/22/2021 – The man behind the Komodo Dragon 2, Larry Kaufman, was a successful broker in the mid-80s. He earned enough money to retire for the rest of his life and lie in a hammock, reading books. But instead, he won the senior chess championship in 2008 to become a chess Grandmaster at the age of over 60 years, worked on several chess engines, like Machack, Rybka, and of course, the Komodo series, steadily played on the highest "Shogi" level for decades, and wrote plenty of books - his newest one "Chess Board Options" just came out a week ago. In the interview with Kaufman, there is even more to discover about his fascinating life. | Photos: Larry Kaufman

Komodo Dragon 2 Komodo Dragon 2

Komodo Dragon 2 has both excellent positional play - thanks to the neural network - and tremendous tactical power and computing speed, thanks to the classic Alpha Beta engine.


Larry Kaufman interview

  • 0:20 - Who are you?
  • 3:56 - When you played the Senior Championship in 2008, were you aiming to win the tournament, or was the success unexpected?
  • 5:40 - You are not only good at chess, but especially Shogi. How come?
  • 7:10 - Being good at Shogi and chess, did you ever mix the games up, or was it even more helpful to get better with the games?
  • 13:47 - Can you tell us the story, of how you dived into the world of chess engines in the 60s, and where you got your motivation from to do so?
  • 24:00 - Who actually came up with the name "Komodo" and why?
  • 25:52 - How did you manage to make the Komodo Dragon 2 "more human"?

As mentioned earlier, Larry Kaufman just released his newest chess book:

"This engrossing memoir is rife with stories and anecdotes about dozens of famous and not-so-famous chess players. In one of the most remarkable chapters Larry Kaufman reveals that the American woman chess player that inspired Walter Tevis to create the Beth Harmon character of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit fame, is his former girlfriend. You will learn about neural networks, material values and how being a chess master helps when trading options. And find lots of memorable but little-known annotated games.

Larry Kaufman is an American Grandmaster. He has been involved in computer chess since 1967, when he worked on ‘MacHack’, the first computer that competed in tournaments with human players. More recently he has been working on the programs Rybka and Komodo." -

Larry Kaufman's expertise in shogi, has helped him tremendously with his chess career

The GM is artistic in many ways

Komodo Dragon 2

„Dragon 2“ - A new concept. Komodo programmers GM Larry Kaufman and Mark Lefler recently decided to start over from scratch after Komodo 14. The step from the classic engine to the new “Dragon”, which, like Fat Fritz 2.0, draws its strength from a combination of a high-performance engine with a neural network, is quite fundamental. The network of Komodo Dragon 2 was trained with the help of countless ultra-fast games of the classic Komodo 14, which for a long time was the world’s strongest engine for games with such short thinking times.

Komodo Dragon 2

Komodo Dragon 2 has both excellent positional play - thanks to the neural network - and tremendous tactical power and computing speed, thanks to the classic Alpha Beta engine.


Arne Kaehler, a creative thinker who is passionate about board games in general was born in Hamburg and learned how to play chess at a very young age. Through teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess content on YouTube, Arne was able to extend this passion onto others and has even made an online chess course for anyone who wants to learn how to play this game. Currently, Arne blogs for the English news page of ChessBase and focuses on creating promotional and entertaining articles.
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adbennet adbennet 6/22/2021 08:19
It seems Kaufman's Shogi opponent has read some chess books -- he has followed Ruy Lopez's age-old advice to place the board so the sun shines in the opponent's eyes.