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Silicon Brain Syndrome: The Addiction to Computer Evaluations

The point of this post is to show the reader (Humorously) how you should and shouldn't use a chess engine.

How many times have you been observing a live GM game and heard a discusion such as this one?

randompatzer52: I like white's game here. He is 0.74 ahead here.

Dogzilla: No, you're completely wrong! Houdini gives white 0.56, so black has his chances.

randompatzer52: Man, I can't believe he missed that! He just lost 7 centipawns!

Dogzilla: Yeah, today's grandmasters are really pathetic, they just computer prep everything and then once the get out of book, they fall apart.

These two players clearly have no Idea what is going on in the position and so, instead of trying to figure it out, they allow their multi-processor machines to break the position down into a more digestible series of random numbers.

First randompatzer52 gives a numerical assessment of the position, which is quite impossible for any human to accurately do.

Second Dogzilla Disagrees, making an equally insane numerical statement which is also impossible to explain in words other than "Houdini says so"

Third randompatzer scoffs at the grandmaster's apparent lack of skill (after all he just lost 7 centipawns!)

Fourth Dogzilla, (the computer enthusiast) makes the contradictory statement that GMs computer prep everything, as he himself uses a computer to evaluate all positions, certain that the infalliable Houdini can get to the core of any position, no matter how complex. 

So if neither player is making any effort to understand the position whatsoever, then why are they both sitting glued to their screens watching Houdini's evaluation graph jump for hours at a time? Their are a few reasons that come to mind.

1. They know nothing about chess themselves, so content themselves with the all-knowing Houdini's numerical evaluations.

2. They have nothing better to do with their time then sit staring at the computer screen until their eyes bleed.

3. They get some sort of high from watching random numbers flash across the screen.

Now, I'd just like to bring the focus back to this question: What is the point of a chess engine? Some of you may think the point of an engine is to beat the other programs on ICC or Playchess.com, but that is not true. While letting your engine win against other programs and strong human players may temporarily inflate your ego to the bursting point, you will be very disappointed when at your next local tourney you get crushed to dust by an average club player. Many players have lost sight of the reason for chess computers. It is to help human players improve. How can they help us then, if it's not by beating up on GM's online? Well, first, computers are very strong tactically, we all know that, so it is a good idea to use them to tactics check your games. The thing is though, what's the difference between engines like Houdini and Stockfish? Really nothing but the cost (Houdini, rated 3250 for $25 Stockfish rated 3200 for free.) the only difference is that Houdini can usually beat Stockfish. How does one engine help a person more than the other? Answer: It doesn't, both engines are pretty much tactically perfect. Now another use for an engine is opening prep, but if the engine's moves don't make any sense, then once you get out of its book, you have no clue what to do. For this reason the engine that I reccomend buying is Vitruvius 1.11H. The reason is, it is by far the best engine positionally, and also is fun to use due to its sacrificial playing style. It's also almost as strong as other engines like Rybka or Houdini. It's a very good analysis tool. It's webpage, (VitruviusChess) is definitely worth a view. You can download the free version here. Vitruvius 0.82b

And now I will finally bring this blog post to a conclusion by saying I hope 1. You have enjoyed my one of many instructive blog posts. 2. That you have learned something from this post. 3. That if you have enjoyed my post and/or found it instructive you will pass it on to your friends. 4. That you will let me know what you thought about my blog post, and give me any feedback/suggestions you might have. Also if you liked it you can track my blog so you will know when I post and  View My  Coaching Services . You can also join my group 

Thanks for reading this,




  • 13 months ago


    Nice one

  • 14 months ago


    Thanks. I didn't understand all, but thanks anyway. :)

  • 14 months ago


    I think when you follow a GMs tournament and is comented is better nobody looks at engine evaluations because the comentators themselves are strong players. But when just the moves are posted without additional insight the engine is a good guide to detect mistakes and so on because broadens the amount of amateurs who can follow and understand (or try to) something of what is really happening.

    I use Houdini 1.5 to analyze games and it's free too.

  • 14 months ago


    I have never used an engine and have never bought one but my rating points have gone up to 2200s. Does that mean I beat players in chess.com who use their engine to tactically analyze our games? Just wondering.Smile

  • 14 months ago


    good post

  • 14 months ago


    Thank Miles

    Here's one blogpost.


    In January 2004, Rybka participated in the 6th Programmers Computer Chess Tournament (CCT6) and took 53rd place out of 54 competitors.

    it's commercial, money and so forth. I got rybka and tryed some stuff the program has to offer, only my pc is to old. i set up a competition between couple of engines, 2 days later i had to unplug the PC, it was grinding and crutching / no end in site.

    besides that blunder, i found out that one can sell own CPU, bandwith etc.., very lucrative if one knows whats and hows. 

    Then those small differences make sense in such setting.

  • 14 months ago


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