Alberto Chueca, FIDE Trainer & International Master 
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Stockfish: The best chess engine in the world

Today we are going to talk about Stockfish, the chess source for everyone, that will allow you to analyze chess positions. The Stockfish configuration, download, and usage will be explained in detail today.

Quick disclaimer: This isn’t really the “best chess engine” it’s the second-best chess engine created, with GoogleDeepMind’s Alpha-Zero being the first one, but not being available for everyone.

Nevertheless, Stockfish has a great strength to play chess, having the insane amount of 3560 ELO rating, you can view the stockfish configurations for the skill level.

Recently, on February 19th, 2021 the latest “Stockfish 13” version of this powerful engine was released for everyone to download.

Stockfish is a chess engine that anyone can use to analyze chess games and giving a precise assessment of the position. It is often used to easily see all the possibilities in a certain position and improving your play.

Analyzing chess games is very important for any chess player who seriously wants to improve. Many years ago when chess engines didn’t exist you had to analyze for hours a position on your own to determine all the possibilities.

Analysis used to be very exhausting and sometimes imprecise by even the strongest masters, we are all human, we all can make mistakes. Nowadays there is a machine that can do this job for us, you tweak with the stockfish configuration a little to get what you need.

Although is not the best option to leave all the work to the machine either, chess would be extremely boring otherwise. It is good to use to prove wrong or right our own assessments in certain positions, which can be good training.

Stockfish download and installation

chess playing

To download the latest version of the Stockfish engine you only have to go to stockfishchess.org/download/ to download it for free.

You can use Stockfish on your phone, tablet, or PC, but first, you need to know some things to use Stockfish, we will explain it in 3 simple steps:

  1. You need to have the GUI or Interface that will allow you to run the Stockfish engine on your PC or phone. If you are using a PC we recommend you use the programs ChessBase or Arena. But if you are on Android, you can use DroidFish GUI to run Stockfish on your phone. This allows you to change all of the stockfish configurations as well.
  2. Install the Stockfish engine in your GUI, the process can be different depending on the interface you are using. Anyways, it is a pretty simple process that will not last more than 5 minutes.
  3. Done! Enjoy your new chess engine to analyze chess games or to play against it, good luck!

How does the Stockfish engine work?

stockfish calculation

The Stockfish chess engine is a computer program that will analyze and calculate all the possibilities in a chess position. It will demand your computer’s processor to run all the processes to calculate moves and store variations.

Finally, all this analysis will be shown to the user on the screen through the interface you have selected for that process.

The chess engines in general are assistants that list out the best moves in a position and show possible variations. Then, they show you the result of their analysis in a simple language that humans can understand. You can change the deepness level of the analysis in the stockfish configuration panel.

Chess engines also evaluate any chess position they are given and translate their results into numerical values. Like this, “this player has a +1, (which is understood as a pawn of advantage).

Stockfish is programmed to consider every chess practical advantage like Open files, King’s security, space, control of the center, material, development, and more.

Of course, you can also use it to play adjusted to your level, train your calculation and analysis, and many other uses. There are many useful uses you can give to a chess engine; we recommend you watch a Stockfish guide to know the secrets of this chess monster.

Stockfish configuration

stockfish configuration download

The Stockfish configuration and parameters of the chess engine come adjusted to almost any chess player. However, you can configure Stockfish the way that works best for you.

You have the simple configurations, the basic adjustments that every user can mess around with, here are some of the basic ones:

Difficulty level, which has 20 levels, the level 20 is the strongest of all, at this level, Stockfish will have no mercy.

You can change the time per move of Stockfish, this will determine the time that Stockfish will take to analyze the position before making a move.

But then, we have what we could call the advanced settings which I recommend you research before tweaking with them. These can be the Hash boards, threads, and move overhead functions.

It is nice to know what these settings are for and how to change them correctly. They are simple to adapt the engine more to the capabilities of your computer and processor in general, which will allow you to run the program comfortably without hurting your PC.

Why should I use Stockfish?

stockfish configuration playing

The chess engines have many useful uses for any chess player, we are going to list some of the most relevant:

  1. The chess engine can be used to identify critical chess mistakes in your games. Identifying your mistakes and accepting them is the first step to fixing them, chess masters benefit a lot from this method.
  2. It can help you assess your chess level. Clearly knowing your level will let you know your limitations. This tells you which chess resources or books work best for your level.

It is important to know that the idea is not to get used to letting the chess engine think for you. There are some ways to use the chess engine in ways that really benefit your chess but Don’t forget to think for yourself!

  1. The best practice you can do is to analyze a position by yourself and compare your analysis with the computer’s moves. This will improve your calculations skills greatly and you can be sure to obtain better results.

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