Chess Terms
Crafty

Crafty

There have been many powerful chess engines over the years, but according to the author of Stockfish (the highest-rated chess engine in the world, as of September 2020) the Crafty chess engine is "arguably the most important and influential chess program ever."

Let's learn about the Crafty chess engine. Here is what you need to know:


What Is Crafty?

Crafty is a free, open-source chess program and one of the first powerful chess engines widely available to the public. It is available on almost every major computer platform, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, Unix, and more.

Originally developed by Dr. Robert Hyatt in 1994, Crafty was written as a continuation of Cray Blitz (computer), which was the World Computer Chess Champion from 1983 to 1989. Crafty was a major influence for many (if not all) of the chess engines in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Crafty chess engine
Crafty's user interface. Image: craftychess.com.

Crafty Accomplishments

Crafty has some impressive results under its belt. It won the first Computer Chess Tournament (CCT) in 2000 ahead of Shredder, Junior, and 19 other programs. In CCT-2, it finished in second place behind Shredder.

In 2003 Crafty tied for first in CCT-5. In 2004 it again tied for first in CCT-6, this time alongside HIARCS and Zappa. In the 2004 World Computer Chess Championship, Crafty finished tied for fourth place alongside Fritz and remained close to the top of the chess computer ratings list for a long time.

In the 2010 World Computer Rapid Chess Championships, Crafty finished in second place, half a point behind the winner Rybka, with a score of 7/9.

Crafty Games

In this first game example, we see Crafty defeat Deep Junior at CCT-12 in 2010. Crafty gets a large advantage out of the opening when Deep Junior sacrifices a pawn for a developmental lead. Then Crafty is relentless when Deep Junior sacrifices a piece for activity after 16...Nxc4?!:

In this second game example, we see Crafty dismantle Lime in a convincing fashion. Crafty wins the bishop pair in the early middlegame and then transitions to a pleasant endgame with an outside passed pawn after 23. Qxc6.

It is amazing how straightforward and simple Crafty's play is in this game, which makes its master-level engine opponent look like a beginner. The outside passed pawn just marches down the board and wins the game:

Conclusion

You now know what the Crafty chess engine is, what it has accomplished, and more. Head over to Chess.com/CCC to watch top engines battle against each other at any time on any day!