| 9

Like the dried cod from the Vikings, the most powerful chess engine in the world today, Stockfish, is made in Norway, then cooked in Italy. His level of genius far surpassed the achievements of the strongest Grandmaster. 

Since more than 1,000 years ago, traditional Scandinavian fishermen would flock to the ocean on the north side of Norway every winter. They want to hunt fish that are entering mating time, especially cod. Age caught, the fresh cod will be cleaned and removed from the stomach to be used as stockfish. 

Stockfish are made by hanging from the side of the tail in an open hut to be blown by the wind and cold temperatures from the North Pole. Then, let it dry naturally without salting.

Fish drying huts (hjell) are common along the Røst Coast. Stockfish has become Norway's oldest export commodity, rooted in Viking traditions.

Cod (hjell) drying hut

At that time, the Vikings relied on stockfish to survive months in the ocean. But uniquely, it was Italy that developed the stockfish menu hundreds of years ago.

Stockfish arrived in mainland Italy thanks to the services of a Venetian merchant named Pietro Quirini in 1432. His ship sank while he was sailing to the seas north of Norway.

On his return to Italy, Quirini brought some dried cod. Stockfish, rich in taste, nutrition, and a very strong aroma, was loved by the Venetians, and soon became a favorite dish there.

It is from the history of dried cod that the most powerful chess program under the atmosphere called Stockfish was created and earned its name.

Like dried cod, Stockfish is made in Norway and cooked in Italy. The Stockfish project is made from an open source called Glaurung which was created by a Norwegian programmer, Tord Romstad, in 2004.

Only later in November 2008, Italian programmer Marco Costalba modified the Glaurung 2.1 program code to design the inaugural Stockfish 1.0 chess engine project.

Not long ago, Tord and several other programmers joined the Stockfish project. As Glaurung sank, Stockfish sporadically developed into the strongest chess engine.

In 2011, Romstad decided to break off his involvement with Stockfish to focus on developing his own chess app. Then, in 2014, Marco Costalba also left. He leaves the development of Stockfish to community members around the world.

Stockfish chess engine illustration

Stockfish relies on software (open source software) that can be accessed by anyone for free. It is developed by members of its community. This collaboration has made Stockfish the strongest chess engine in the world. The development team made a breakthrough in 2020, by incorporating neural networks (NNUE) into the innards of the Stockfish engine. The hybrid technology will make Stockfish even more difficult for other chess engines to match.

Super genius chess players like GM Magnus Carlsen, who is now ranked first in FIDE, can only calculate dozens of steps forward. Compare this with Stockfish's ability to calculate 70 million steps per second. Fantastic!

Currently, FIDE chess world champion Carlsen has an Elo level of 2847 points. Meanwhile, Stockfish has an Elo level of 3558 points. Far away from the strongest Grandmaster in world history.

How the Chess Engine Works
The chess engine is a very complicated program. However, in simple terms, it does the following two important things:

1. Evaluation. The chess engine looks for the position of the chess pieces and evaluates which move is better. It displays evaluation scores based on the same scores that most chess players use (a pawn is worth one point, a knight is three, etc.).

Each chess engine will do it differently, but the majority of machines can see the position of the pieces on each side, all the threats on the board, the safety of the king, and the structure of the pawns. The cumulative scores of the best evaluations will then be added up into one number. Chess engines can evaluate like humans because the program is designed like a human (chess) thinking pattern.

2. Search. Like the strongest chess player, the chess engine will search every move in depth. The further steps forward he can seek, the better moves he will execute.

It can evaluate much deeper and more powerfully than humans. Chess engines like Stockfish are able to see all the possibilities from their own moves and counter moves from opponents.

However, if all possible positions of chess pieces had to be evaluated, it would be very ineffective. Moreover, chess pieces can generate up to a trillion possible moves.

So, he will design possible steps to be like tree branches and trim the steps that are considered bad. Only the best steps he will process in more depth.

Chess engines like Stockfish use highly complex evaluation functions and intelligent search algorithms to find the best moves. Its power is also related to how much CPU power the device uses. The more powerful the device, the stronger the engine performance.

Chess Engine Competition (TCEC)
The Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC), which has been held since 2010, is a competition that is participated in by chess engines by programmers from across the world.

Because they are played by machines, the course of the competition can last for months with games being played around the clock and broadcast live over the internet.

Each competition season is divided into several qualifying stages and one super-final stage, where the top two chess engines will play 100 matches for the TCEC Grand Champion title. Each year, TCEC will be played one to three seasons.

Since the 11th season (in 2018), the division system has been implemented. The top two chess engines in each division will be immediately promoted. And, the bottom two machines will be downgraded. Currently, there are five divisions (Premier division, and divisions 1-4).

The current TCEC champion is Stockfish 14, who defeated Leela Chess Zero (LCZ 0.28) in the 100 matches of the TCEC season 21 Superfinal, which will take place from 20 June -7 August 2021.

Stockfish got the title of the strongest chess engine at this time after winning the most champions, eliminating its toughest enemies such as Komodo and Leela Chess Zero. He has won 11 times and has been runner-up six times during his participation.

Stockfish vs Hikaru Nakamura
The Japanese-born grandmaster who currently has Uncle Sam's passport, Hikaru Nakamura, experienced the genius of Stockfish in 2014.

GM Nakamura, who at that time was ranked as the fifth best chess player in the world (Elo rating 2798), suffered a defeat with a total score of 2 defeats and 2 draws (1.5–0.5).

Despite being assisted by a chess engine named Rybka in the first two rounds, he proved powerless to compete with Stokfish's prowess.

Stockfish vs AlphaZero (Google AI)
In 2017, Stockfish 8 was used as a benchmark to test DeepMind's (Google AI) AlphaZero chess program, both of which are supported by different hardware and software. 

AlphaZero, based on artificial intelligence (AI), is programmed to practice chess independently. He had even surpassed Stockfish's genius level in just four hours!

After nine hours of training, AlphaZero beat Stockfish 8 in 100 games without losing a single game (28 wins, 0 losses and 72 draws).

The two chess programs are made with different programming technologies. Compared to Stockfish which uses the traditional C++ programming language, AlphaZero which uses AI technology is certainly much more powerful.

Stockfish for Beginners
Stockfish can be an excellent chess training medium for beginners. It provides several different difficulty levels and can be used to analyze the game.

It is also available in various types of platforms such as Windows, iOS, and Android. For Android users, you can download the DroidFish application, which is the mobile version of Stockfish, to practice your chess performance anywhere and anytime.

With the help of "Norwegian dried cod", you can beat anyone very easily. However, never use it in a tournament because it is a very serious offense.