From ChessBase.com: Lately there has been a debate in the Norwegian mainstream media: who is the strongest chess player in history? The legend Bobby Fischer? The monster with a thousand eyes, Garry Kasparov? Or our own Magnus Carlsen? “Sorry, folks,” says GM Leif Erlend Johannessen in the news portal Nettavisen, “the right answer is: Houdini 3” – which he says would knuser Magnus. Find out what that means.
This machine demolishes Magnus Carlsen
Houdini 3 is The Terminator among the many chess engines available at the moment. It is estimated that it has an unprecedented monstrous rating of 3335. In comparison, Magnus Carlsen recently landed a world record for humans on 2861. That means the computer program is expected to win 99 (!) out of 100 games against the world number one.
Houdini’s “father” is Robert Houdard, a Belgian structural engineer with a peak rating of 2250 and chess engines as hobby. It is interesting to hear him explain the secret behind Houdini:
I would like to pinpoint two key concepts: good evaluation and even better selectivity. It’s self-evident that good evaluation of a position is the key for a good chess engine. Houdini is probably the best engine to evaluate piece mobility and space control on the board.
Selectivity is another key feature in Houdini. Just like a human player, an engine doesn’t look at all the moves to the same depth. Potentially good moves are examined exhaustively, whereas apparently weaker moves are only given a quick, shallow look. Some moves are examined 40 or 50 plies deep, other only five. Houdini has a good ability to identify which moves in the position have some potential. It’s similar to the instinct and experience of a strong human chess player – looking at just a handful of moves in a position, discarding nearly instantaneously and without thinking the 30 other moves.
Obviously, to challenge this program for a chess game is only suitable for those with masochistic preferences. Instead Houdini should be used for training purposes. With one click on the “spy” function you can have Houdini looking over your shoulder while analysing one of your own games.
Just imagine: The world’s strongest chess player is always there to analyse your latest game with you, and it will never get tired! A warning though: Prepare yourself for a brutally honest feedback on your own play. Abstract concepts like “sympathy” or “constructive criticism” still remains terra incognita for a computer.
Houdini is not only a tactical monster. With one mouse click the program will give a strategic evaluation of a position and indicate the different plans and ideas available to both sides, with pleasant-to-the-eye arrows and coloring.