Chess News

TCEC computer chess championship

These days, chess played by computers has reached a new level of precision. Any desktop computer paired with the latest chess software can beat a human Grandmaster relatively easily.

This is one of the reasons the chess world is going to see yet another edition of Martin Thoresen’s Chess Engine Competition, aka TCEC. The goal of TCEC is to provide the viewers with a live broadcast of quality chess, played strictly between computer chess engines created by different programmers. No humans are involved when the moves are made. Also, TCEC is not an “official” computer world championship event, it is just a private event made available for everyone to watch.

This is the event where Houdini became a star after defeating Rybka in a match, and where multiple new chess engines proved to be worthy competitors in the computer chess world.

TCEC Season 1 – Stage 1 starts at Tuesday, January 22nd at 14:00 CET. Stage 1 is a 7-round Swiss consisting of 32 chess engines. The top 16 will move on to Stage 2a / 2b, While those finishing 17-32 are out of TCEC for the current season. Stage 2a / 2b will start 2 days after Stage 1 is finished.


The list of participating chess engines for Stage 1 is as follows:

Houdini, Komodo, Critter, Rybka, Stockfish, Gull, Equinox, Vitruvius, Chiron, Hiarcs, Shredder, Hannibal, Spike, Protector, Quazar, Junior, Minkochess, Nemo, Texel, Scorpio, Crafty, Dirty, Gaviota, Octochess, Arasan, Exchess, Prodeo, Redqueen, Rodent, The Baron, Danasah, Nebula


TCEC is using 150m + 60s per move for the whole game, running on an Intel Core i7 3770k @ 4500 MHz.

Each engine is allowed to use up to 4096 MB of hash and to use up to 3 cores of the processor, if this is supported. The remaining core is dedicated to the GUI and for maintaining the website. Typically all “deep” versions of engines today supports multiple threads, or cores. Pondering or “permanent brain” is not allowed so it is always disabled. An engine compile that supports the SSE 4.2 or AVX instructions are preferred, the same applies to 64-bit compiles versus 32-bit ones. Large pages are disabled in Windows.

All engines are configured with the default settings, so parameters like “contempt” or similar are not adjusted. Many engines have a prefix like “deep”, but this has been omitted from the engine names to make the names shorter, but the “deep” version of an engine is always used if the engine exists in this version. In general, most commercial and free engines are available.

If an engine currently scheduled to play in a Stage has been released in a new version, this new version takes the place of the old version, but only if the Stage hasn’t started yet. So during a Stage being played, no engine updates are allowed. After the Stage finishes and if the engine qualifies, it can be updated for the next Stage.

All engines will receive an initial ELO rating based on the CCRL 40/40 single CPU list. If an engine isn’t found here, the CEGT 40/20 single CPU list is used but the difference in rating between Houdini 3 64-bit in the two ratings lits will be added. If an engine isn’t found in either list, an approximate ELO rating will be given to that engine.

After each game, the ELO rating will be calculated automatically so that the viewers can follow the rating progress throughout the season. The rating page will be updated after each Stage. If an engine is updated to a new version, this new version will inherit the rating of the old version.

TCEC processor is the quad-core Intel Core i7 3770k “Ivy Bridge” which is overclocked to 4500 MHz and water-cooled by Corsair H 100. Hyper-threading has been disabled. The motherboard, an Asus Sabertooth Z77, is the heart of the system. The 16 GB Corsair memory runs at 2133 MHz. During a TCEC event the CPU temperature hovers around ~55 degrees Celsius.

Read the full TCEC rules here:


The broadcast will be running 24/7 with 1 game at a time, and can be watched here:


Finished games from Stage 1 will be moved here:


Read the latest TCEC news here: (you can read without having a FB account)


Old TCEC archive:

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