Before we engage with the topic of the day – ‘What is Stockfish chess?’, it is essential that we first deal with the meaning of the term ‘chess engine’. A chess engine is a computer programme that aids in examining the various movements of chess, and it then comes up with a suggestion of chess moves that it deems to be the surest way to victory.
The first time a chess engine shook the chess world was in 1997. That year the then reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov lost to a chess engine named ‘Deep Blue’. This momentous occasion is widely accepted to be the beginning of the domination of chess engines in the global chess arena.
The last few years have seen a manifold increase in the number of chess engines available in the public domain. Well-known chess engines such as Fritz, Shredder Chess, AlphaZero, and of course Stockfish can be downloaded by anyone with a computer, smartphone or tablet.
What Is Stockfish Chess?
As per the views of several chess experts, the Stockfish chess engine is the most potent chess engine available today. This is one name that is known and trusted by millions of chess players worldwide.
The novelty of the Stockfish chess engine lies in its ‘open source’ nature. It has a GPLv3 licence, and it can be accessed by anyone free of cost and is updated continuously by members of chess communities on a day-to-day basis. Anybody using the Stockfish chess engine can engage in reading its code, feel free to adjust it, and contribute to its ever-expanding prowess.
What came to be called the ‘Stockfish chess engine’ traces its roots in a chess engine built by Tord Romstad in 2004 named ‘Glauring’. It was then modified and upgraded by Marco Costalba four years later.
But Costalba announced that he would be leaving the Stockfish project in June 2014. After his departure, the onus of developing the nascent chess engine further fell on the shoulders of a closely-knit chess community. With the help of several other open-source developers such as Joost VandeVondele, Stephane Nicolet, Stefan Geschwentner, Gary Linscott and Joona Kiiski, Stockfish evolved from a rudimentary chess engine to the world’s finest by 2017.
Stockfish was opened to the public for the first time in November 2008. The first variant of Stockfish was aptly called ‘Stockfish 1.0’. It went through a series of changes and tunings and made its debut in its present form as recently as April 2022. Stockfish uses the C++ computer programming language.
Stockfish has been enlarged using a testing framework that goes by the name of ‘Fishtest’. This is a kind of public platform where volunteers regularly give away CPU time to improve the engine’s quality.
Stockfish is the most potent chess engine in the world and the most accessible out of all the premium chess engines. Any interested party can find it on either of the common locations – Windows, Linux, MAC OX X, iOS, and Android.
Stockfish has positioned itself as the most commanding chess engine of the day. To that end, victory in a total of eight TCEC Championships has only strengthened its hold on the top crown. Since 2018, Stockfish has been the clear frontrunner on the Computer Chess Championship held by Chess.com, and it has won six of them so far.
Stockfish has safely maintained its superiority in the chess engine rankings since 2017. However, on one occasion, a huge upset was caused when another chess engine named AlphaZero had beaten it quite convincingly around the same time. The success of Alpha Zero had led many to believe that the days of Stockfish’s number one tag had come to an end. But as we have discovered, Stockfish bounced back from that loss even stronger.
A recent development that is threatening the dominance of Stockfish is the emergence of more neural network-based computer projects aimed at dethroning Stockfish from its top spot. Alliestein, Leela Chess Zero, and Leelenstein are three examples of such up-and-coming chess engines being developed with the aim of toppling Stockfish.
Stockfish made a special announcement in 2020. In September of that year, it released ‘Stockfish 12’. This newest version of the chess engine came with an in-built neural network to improve its efficiency on all fronts. Stockfish 12 had been fitted with the mastery of the Stockfish+NNUE project, with ‘NNUE’ being the acronym for ‘Efficiently Updatable Neural Network’. With this enormous system update, Stockfish managed to ward off threats from all rival chess engines for the time being.
Stockfish Chess Rating
According to the official ratings of October 2020, Stockfish is the highest-rated chess engine. Chess rating agency CCRL has given it a rating of 3514 points, making it the sole engine with a rating higher than the 3500 mark. The SSDF of Sweden, in their rating compilation list dated July 2020, had put Stockfish 9 at the third position; Stockfish 10 took up the second spot; the top place, rated at 3558 points, went to Stockfish 11.
Many chess enthusiasts and commentators believe that Stockfish is by a significant distance the most fantastic chess engine ever invented. It has routinely won TCEC competitions since its first involvement back in 2013. With eight first positions and six runner-up spots, Stockfish has been the runaway champion of the TCEC platform. All this while, Stockfish has checked the threats to its dominance by other chess engines such as Shredder, Komodo, Leela Chess Zero, and Houdini. Apart from this, Stockfish also bagged the 2014 edition of the Fischer Random Tournament, 2018, 2019 and 2020 editions of the TCEC Cups and the TCEC Season 10 Rapid Tournament. To top these all, Stockfish has competed at Chess.com’s Computer Chess Championship contests and has captured the top prize on eight instances. With such an extensive collection of championship wins under its belt, Stockfish has been able to maintain its lead over all other chess engines since 2017.
How To Use Stockfish?
One of the easiest ways to use Stockfish online is by visiting chess.com’s website. Chess.com has been using Stockfish to analyse games for quite a while now. Once you enter chess.com’s portal, you can load a screenshot of either a Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN) page or a Portable Game Notation (PGN) page. Once that is taken care of, the rest will be done by Stockfish-enabled chess.com’s game analysis algorithm. If you are playing live games on chess.com, simply pressing the ‘Analyse’ button after the game is finished would show you a complete analysis chart.
In case you are wondering how to use Stockfish 15, or Stockfish 14 for that matter, there is no need to worry. Stockfish download is a relatively simple process. First, you have to visit its designated website, ‘https://stockfishchess.org/’. Then, you must type whichever version of Stockfish you wish to download. Stockfish is compatible with most computer operating systems. Likewise, this free chess engine is supported by both Android and iOS. So, try the world’s best chess engine on your preferred device by yourself. With Stockfish, you will get your hands on world-class chess analysis from the comfort of your house.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What does Stockfish chess do?
The Stockfish chess engine helps players review their matches after the game. It goes through a chess battle and produces the best possible moves a player can use to achieve victory. Many professionals use Stockfish to study their games and then improve their play.
2. What is Stockfish level in chess?
Stockfish is the most potent chess engine available in the public domain today, and it is enormously hard to play well against it. So, only the grandmasters of the highest level can go up against Stockfish and have a chance at a win.
3. Can a human beat Stockfish?
It is near impossible for any human to defeat Stockfish in a game of chess, and no human chess player has yet been able to beat Stockfish. It remains to be seen if the reigning undisputed world chess champion Magnus Carlsen one day gets a go at Stockfish and manages to cause an upset by upstaging it at its own game.
4. Which is the strongest chess engine?
Although the rankings of the chess engines keep changing, Stockfish is presently the most capable chess engine. It has been able to maintain its lead over others of its kind by continuously updating itself.