Chess - Play & Learn


FREE - In Google Play

FREE - in Win Phone Store


Low level engine , or adjustable level

  • #1


    Is there such a thing ? Im an ancient player coming back, and my level should be around 1200-1400. I tried ChessMaster, but its not really interesting : plays at 2000+, then gives a piece ....

    Thanks for any tips


  • #2

    Yeah, there are both types out there...weak engines, and strong engines with levels that can be lowered.

    For weak engines, the Also-Rans list is a good place to start for ideas.



    For the second category, maybe start with Crafty 23.5 JA or Stockfish 2.3.1 JA. They both have skill levels you can set. The JA means that they're Jim Ablett compiles. Crafty is a Winboard engine that must be configured through its configuration file named crafty.rc. Stockfish is a UCI engine, and it's a little easier to configure. Just remember to use the full-featured compile of Stockfish. (The speed compile can't be dumbed down.) You can get both Crafty and Stockfish at Jim's web site:


    There are others that might work for you, but those two are a good start.

    Also keep in mind that the ratings of these dumbed down engines are often wild guesses.

  • #3

    One stable, easy-to-install UCI engine is Ufim 8.02:


    Some other ideas that I haven't really tried out are Greko 9.8 JA and Phalanx XXIII JA (Ablett's site). Phalanx is Winboard, and there might be an installation trick to know about. (I can look it up if you're interested.) Rodent is another possibility, but it has personality settings instead of elo or skill settings:


  • #4

    TarraschToyEngine .905 (~1500) is very stable and weaker than .906, but both are very stable.  T.rex 1.8.5 is also very stable and plays between 1200 and 1400. These are my two favorite engines. Ufim has a Limit Strength option that also lets you choose "delay move on weaker levels", this is so the move isn't instant at lower levels which typically causes lower rated (and younger) players to play too quickly.  The lowest rating on Ufim is 700, which is terrible.  My 8 yr old son can beat it (and I just taught him how to play 6 months ago).  At 1200-1400 it plays reasonable.

    I've used all these engines under Fritz 8, Arena 3, and Shredder Classic 4 and all are very stable.

    You shoud also try KillerQueen_20b3, Gringo 1.4.9b, Nanook 0.17.  All are UCI with the exception of Gringo but it runs very well with WB2Uci adapter.

  • #5

    After struggling with chessmaster for a long while years ago which would just sacrifice a piece on h3 and then play like kramnik for the rest of the game, the best engine & GUI I could find at humanly immitating various levels was Shredder Classic 4 (NOT the shredder that comes with chessbase). It allows you to adjust the rating, the style, openings, pretty much everything, and rates your level of play too (not only according to your results but the moves you make).

  • #6

    Thanks for all these informations. I will install them as soon as possible. I stopped playing ChessMaster, as the differents personalities are not real. The only thing interesting are the tutorials.

    I only found TarrashToyEngine 906, is there a way to get the 905 version ?

  • #7

    I tried out the engines EddieFreak mentioned, and I'm having some problems with a couple of them in Arena 3. Nanook 0.17 refuses to move when I use an epd opening book (not important if you don't use epd books or if you don't know what an epd book is), and it sometimes stalemates when it's close to mating with an overwhelming material advantage. Gringo 1.4.9b (installed as a winboard engine) has insane time management, sometimes letting almost all of its time run down, then having to play most of the game with 10 or 15 seconds left on the clock. And it will sometimes forfeit the game on time as a result. You can try these two engines if you want, but I'd avoid them.

    The other engines seem to be doing OK.

    P.S. Oh yeah, if you don't mind paying money, the Shredder GUI IS very nice.

  • #8

    You probably need to go through all the options and features of whatever engine you use. Just checking off "play at 1200 Level" or whatever doesn't sound like it's working for you. Fritz gives you the options of setting how long it "thinks" per move or per game, how deep the ply search is etc and you may need to make up your own custom-tailored engine requirements (or at least you may want to)

  • #9

    Many people rave about HIARCS's ability to play human like moves at club levels.

    Not a personal recommendation, as I've never used an engine as my sparring partner, just a thought from memory. 

  • #10

    Hi EscherehcsE,  I don't use epd files but I did test and confirmed the bug with Areana.  Since I mostly use Fritz 8 gui and Fritz doesn't speak Winboard, I decided to test Gringo in Arena using the Wb2Uci adapter.  That fixed Gringo.

    I couldn't get Nanook to move when using the epd... sorry.

  • #11

    Thanks Eddie,

    I might try Gringo with the UCI adapter.

    For what it's worth, I ran a small tournament on the other engines (KillerQueen, Nanook, T-Rex, and the two Tarrasch's). With each engine playing 32 games, Nanook stalemated 11 times in winning positions (a definite stalemate bug problem). Also, Killerqueen made 3 illegal moves, Nanook made 1 illegal move, and T-Rex made one illegal move. I was actually watching the board when T-Rex made the illegal move. T-Rex was playing Black and had a pawn on the second rank, one move from promoting. However, when T-Rex moved the pawn, it wanted to go to the 8th rank instead of the first rank. Of course, the GUI adjudicated the win to his opponent based on the illegal move.

  • #12

    You could try the program called Lucas Chess, instead of an adjustable engine (maybe has that too,don't know) it has a lot of engines.

    It comes with 99 engines in differtent ratings and has many options. The lowest engine has an ELO of 158 (no typo, just 3 numbers), the best 3000+. Engines 68 - 80 are in the 1200 -1400 range.

    It's a free program too!

    Good Luck en hope this helps.


  • #13

    Was that T-rex 1.8.5 or 1.9?  Hopefully not 185 as that's the one I use.  Thx for the testing, I won't be recommending Nanook anymore.

    Lucas is a great GUI and all the engines it comes with is neat too.  I haven't loaded it up in a long time but I didn't realize it had engines that weak.  That's good news for my son.

  • #14

    Yeah, it was T-Rex 1.8.5 that made the illegal move. Maybe I should play around with it to see if the bug is reproducible.

  • #15

    Probably not worth it to test for bugs.  My understanding is that in most engine tournaments there are always some games that get eliminated due to bugs.  T-rex is still one of my favorite engines and I've never had a bug rear its ugly head playing against it.

    I just played around with Lucas.  It actually doesn't come with 99 engines just 21(!).  The engines have different configurations to weaken them, giving you 99 opponents.  You click on Lucas-elo and choose an engine to play against.  Initially you only have 3 choices, 3 very weak engines.  You must defeat the engine as black and white.  This gives you Elo points.  As you gain points, it unlocks new harder engines to play against, and you move up the ladder.  All very neat!

  • #16

    Yeah, you might play against it for a long time and never see the bug. But in case you're interested... Smile

    I was able to reproduce it. Here's the Fen about a move before the bug:

    8/6p1/8/8/6k1/1p1K4/3p4/3N4 b - - 0 63

    Black (T-Rex 1.8.5) plays 63...b2, then White plays 64.Nxb2. Now, T-Rex tries to play 64...d8! Surprised

    I plugged the Fen into Arena with only T-Rex 1.8.5 loaded, then I set it to demo mode so it would play both sides, and it does try to play the bug consistently. (You can see the ...d2-d8 move in the analysis window.) The good news is that the bug doesn't seem to be in version 1.9 beta.

  • #17

    Wow, that's definitely in the programming.  Like you said, you can see it in the eval window 2 moves before it tries it.  I usually run engine tests with 3-4-5 men tablebases, so I wonder if that's another reason I didn't see it.


Online Now