How Do Chess Computers Work?

chess computer

What are chess computers? What’s their utility?

Chess computers are machines made to play chess, analyze it, and improve variations. Chess computers play an important role in actual chess, and they are particularly interesting to study.

These computers have several purposes, play against humans, checking long and complicated variations, evaluating positions, and more. Allows players to practice chess and play with no need of another human player, and their difficulties and strength can be adjusted.

They consist of software or hardware made with the only purpose of playing chess, and it works with an algorithm. They play pretty differently than humans, rather than intuition, they use calculation.

Chess computers calculate every single move of chess, and they build a tree of variations going from that starting point. They have several standards to determine who has the advantage in certain positions.

They can base their analysis on factors like Material, space, pawn structure, plans, and more. It will depend on their programming, and how well their chess analysis database was configured.

For the moment, the strongest chess computer, or software, that exists is “AlphaZero” developed by the project Google DeepMind. However, this software is not available for the public to use.

Instead, you can use engines like Stockfish (second strongest after AlphaZero), Komodo, and many others. They are free and pretty useful too.

How to use chess computers?

chess computer king

You can have your own chess computer working in any chess interface, like Fritz, and install the software of your preferences. You can play against them, they come with preprogrammed chess levels going from beginner to master.

Playing against the computer can give you a whole different vision of chess, and improves many chess skills. You will improve your tactical awareness, and you will learn to balance intuition and calculation together.

You can also use them to analyze your chess games and indicate mistakes or blunders you need to improve. Reviewing your chess games with a chess computer is a common practice among chess players.

It’s also useful to prepare chess openings, by analyzing different variations of the games you want to play. Downloading PGN files of chess games and analyzing them with the engine is a good way to do this.

Another fun feature is that you can make chess engines play between themselves. You can even arrange a computer chess tournament with the engines you choose, you will need a chess interface.

Training with chess computers

chess computer moves

Depending on the chess program you use you can access several training features the chess computer has. For example, the most famous of all of them is Fritz, the official ChessBase program.

We will go over the functions of this program, and tell you how it can be useful for you.

You can start calculation training sessions by activating the option in the interface, this will open another board where you can practice. You can also replay positions from finished games again to improve your play.

There are several modes, you play a competitive chess game, or you can also play a friendly game in which you can undo moves and others. There is also a feature to analyze games and give annotations and commentary with human language.

This will result extremely useful, especially for beginners, to avoid simple mistakes, learning practically and actively playing the engine. If you don’t want to install a chess interface on your computer, there is a different way:

You can also use chess computers in chess webpages like, or

What’s the chess computer analysis?

chess computer board

The chess computer analysis consists of the process of calculation engines do to evaluate a position and play accordingly. We are going to explain how this process is done, using simple words, for you to understand how chess computers work.

The chess computer recognizes all the chess moves that are possible and legal in the position. There is the first elimination process by the chess computer, it instantly discards the disadvantageous moves.

It’s programmed to consider the best moves, based on the numerical evaluation of the position it does. Then, depending on the configuration, it will calculate the possible moves until a certain number of moves.

Using this calculation as a basis, will leave the best move and finally play it. This requires a lot of processing strength from the computer's processor and demands great capacity from the computer.

This is done during the chess computers’ games, and you can also use it to evaluate chess positions. Inserting a chess game or PGN file for the computer to analyze it is also possible.

It will emit a verdict of the position in numerical values, and based on the several chess factors. If you know little about programming, you can tweak the chess computers’ settings to make them play in a certain way.

Why are chess computers imperative for actual chess?

chess computer evaluation

Chess computers are used to improve chess games and variations of chess openings every day. Also, analyzing your own chess games is a great way to improve the level of play.

Every chess player in the world uses a computer to improve their chess or prepare openings. Also, chess computers are used in different chess experiments or researches, like Vladimir Kramnik’s on no castle chess.

In chess clubs, chess computers are used to analyze different chess games and prepare them for lectures and chess classes. They are used to practice for almost every chess player in the world.

It’s used to perfect your chess technique in endgames, middle-games plans, and openings. They are used to make computer tournaments and study the result of those games, looking for improvements, and novelties.

Chess computers gave birth to a new chess era, where the sharp technique and preciseness of chess computers are taking over competitive chess. The more they advanced the more computerized is human chess and is becoming authentic math.

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