Chess Terms
Komodo

Komodo

Over the past 10 years, there have been a handful of truly dominant chess engines—Komodo and Stockfish have been battling at the top of the chess engine world since 2013. Let's learn more about the insanely powerful chess engine Komodo.

Here is what you need to know:


What Is Komodo?

Komodo is one of the strongest and most successful Universal Chess Interface (UCI) chess engines on the market. It was originally developed by Don Dailey in 2010 and was further developed by Mark Lefler in 2013. GM Larry Kaufman has been supporting and improving the engine for many years as well. 

Komodo was acquired by Chess.com in 2018 alongside the release of Komodo's "Monte Carlo" version. Unlike most conventional chess engines, Komodo Monte Carlo selects its moves by win probability and not with the traditional alpha-beta pruning method. This methodology is similar to the machine-learning chess projects AlphaZero and Leela Chess Zero.

Komodo chess engine
Chess.com acquired Komodo in 2018.

Komodo gains an edge over conventional brute force engines because of its positional style of play and the fact that it relies on position evaluation over depth—when most engines can't find a good plan, Komodo can seemingly create something out of nothing. These are just two of the factors that contribute to Komodo's long-term success and an impressive number of world championships.

Komodo has the ability to run at different playing strengths and with different styles and opening books, which is a very popular feature for chess players. It runs on many platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Android. Although it is a commercial chess engine, earlier versions are free.

Komodo chess engine
Komodo logo. Image: komodochess.com

Komodo Dragon

In 2020, the Komodo team released a new engine they called "Dragon," which incorporated NNUE (Efficiently Updatable Neural Networks) technology to the already powerful Komodo engine. The added NNUE technology allows Komodo's engine to integrate the deeper positional understanding possessed by neural network engines such as AlphaZero and Leela Chess Zero.

In practice, Komodo Dragon gained a dramatic increase in playing strength, is easier to use (not requiring an advanced graphics processing unit), and has higher ceilings for potential strength.

Below you can see NM Sam Copeland analyzing one of Dragon's positional masterpieces:

Komodo Accomplishments

Komodo has won many top-level engine championships: CCT15, three Top Chess Engine Championships (TCEC), multiple World Computer Chess Championships, multiple World Computer Blitz championships, and multiple World Chess Software championships. According to the October 2020 computer chess rating list (CCRL), Komodo is ranked third in the world with a rating of 3419.

Stepping onto the scene in 2010, Komodo had its first major success in the CCT15 tournament in 2013 when it placed first with a score of 6.5/7 ahead of Hannibal, Crafty, and 21 other powerful engines. At the end of 2013, Komodo defeated Stockfish in the TCEC season-five superfinal. In TCEC season six it reached the superfinal against Stockfish again (but lost this time). In 2014 and 2015 Komodo again faced Stockfish in the TCEC superfinals for seasons seven and eight; Komodo won both of these championships.

Komodo chess engine
Komodo has won multiple World Chess Championships. Photo: Erdogan Gunes.

In 2016 Komodo won the World Computer Chess Championship and the World Computer Software Championship. In 2017 it again won the World Computer Chess Championship and also won the World Computer Blitz title. Komodo repeated as World Computer Blitz champion in 2018 and again won the World Computer Chess Championship and the World Chess Software Championship in 2019.

How To Play Komodo On Chess.com

It is easy to play against Komodo on Chess.com! As mentioned, Komodo can play at different strengths and playstyles. Chess.com has recently released over 60 computer personalities and a new interface to play versus the computer! All you have to do is go to Chess.com/play/computer or hover over the "Play" option in the menu bar and select "Computer": 

komodo chess.com computer personalities
Hover over the "Play" button in the menu bar and then select "Computer" to play the Chess.com computer personalities!

After you select "Computer," you can choose the computer personality you want to play against! They can even converse with you in some situations.

komodo chess.com computer personalities
Chess.com's new computer personalities are fun to play against!

Another method of playing Komodo on Chess.com is to go to Live Chess and select the "vs Computer" option below the "Play" button.

Komodo chess engine
Select "vs Computer" in Live Chess to play Komodo.

After selecting the "Play" button, you are given many different personalities and playing strength options that range from around 700 all the way up to the Hikaru-bot and KomodoBoss!

komodo chess engine
You can select many different Komodo personalities to play against!

After you select the bot you'd like to play, you select your preferred time control, whether you want the game rated or unrated, and your preferred color. Next, select the "Play" button.

Komodo chess engine
Do you dare challenge KomodoBoss?

Your game against Komodo then starts automatically. 

Conclusion

You now know what Komodo is, what it has accomplished, how to play against it on Chess.com, and more. Head over to Chess.com/CCC to watch Komodo and other top engines play at any time on any day!