Chess Assistant - Using chess engines

Updated: May 23

Chess Assistant allows you to use chess engine / engines when working with chess games.

For any move or position you can call the engine, which will evaluate the position, suggest a good or interesting continuation, or analyze the chess game noting the good and weak moves, suggesting what to play.

The longer the chess engine works, the more confident we can be in its evaluation. Chess Assistant allows you to install multiple chess engines and use one or more of them simultaneously.


This part of the course is prepared in Chess Assistant version 20 in such a way that the vast majority of this program's capabilities can be used in previous versions.


Depending on the version of Chess Assistant you are using dear reader, your program includes one to several engines that are integrated into Chess Assistant.

The very good news is that...


Some of the pre-built engines for eg. Stockfish plays with a Grandmaster strength that surpasses even the playing strength of a World Chess Champion!

This means, that the results of position analysis and evaluation using the Stockfish engine will be objective and at a very, very high level.



How to use chess engines with Chess Assistant - that's what this part of the course is about.



Chess engines already installed


To see a list of installed chess engines: - go to Tools - Engines setup...

Click to enlarge (works with any image)

As you can see, Chess Assistant version 20, which I use, offers several pre-installed chess engines. Each of these engines plays with the Chess Master power or more. Rybka and especially Stockfish, are chess engines with playing strength far superior to the strongest humans.



Install Chess Engine


You can install any chess engine in Chess Assistant that uses the:


Almost all modern, free and commercial chess engines support the UCI protocol.

Chess Assistant by default suggests using a chess engine communication protocol called UCI, since the vast majority of engines can communicate using this protocol. If you would like to add a chess engine released in, say, the early 2000s, then there is a good chance that such an engine will only communicate using the Xboard / Winboard protocol.


To install new chess engines, download them, and click Add... button on Engines setup... window.


A new window will open: Edit chess programs parameters.

To properly add a chess engine to the Chess Assistant program, the empty boxes:

  • Name

  • Type

  • Path

Must be filled in.


Let's fill them in !

I am going to add a chess engine called Komodo.

First, browse button and let's specify the location and file of the Komodo engine.


Confirm your selection by clicking on the Open button.

Very good!

At this stage of adding the engine, the window called Edit chess programs parameters on my computer looks like this:


It is worth noting that the Name, Type and Path fields were automatically filled in by Chess Assistant.


Of course, if you want, you can shorten and simplify the name of the chess engine so that it is as readable as possible for you. For the author of this course, the name Komodo 12 is more friendly and that is the name I will enter in the Name: field.


To allow the engine to use chess tablebases, I recommend checking box Allow usage of EndGame TB ( what tablebases are will be explained later in this part of this course ).


It is also worth making a change in the Parameters field, where you will find the Hash tables size (MB) option. By default Chess Assistant set 8MB for hash tables. For the purposes of this part of the course, I set the value 256MB. The size of the Hash table parameter is well described in the Komodo engine documentation.


Ok, after making the changes described above, the contents of the Edit chess program parameters window looks like this:

After clicking the OK button, the chess engine will be installed.


Once the chess engine has been installed correctly, it will be visible in the list of available engines.


Excellent!

Komodo 12 chess engine has been correctly installed in Chess Assistant.


Looking at the list of engines in the Engines setup... window, we see that except for the Komodo 12 and Rybka 2.3.2a engines, the other engines are not clearly named. For example - we don't see in which version Stockfish, Ruffian and other engines are installed.


In order to avoid unpleasant surprises by using the wrong version of the chess engine I recommend that each of the installed engines be properly named in a way understandable for the Chess Assistant user.

Below are the changes I made:



Delete engine / engines


To remove a chess engine that you don't need, just go to the Engines setup window... click on the chosen engine and...

...after confirmation with Remove button - the engine will be removed from the list of engines available in Chess Assistant.

This way, we can also remove other unnecessary / unused chess engines from Chess Assistant.


After these procedures, my Engines setup... window looks like this:


Hold on...in the image above the Stockfish engine is named as: Stockfish 0301219.

(I underlined the unnecessarily entered number zero)

To edit the incorrectly entered name and other data, click on the engine of your choice and choose Edit....

A well-known window will open, in which we can edit and save the changes by clicking OK.


Stockfish 031219 (released in 2019 on Dec. 3) is a version that plays with the strength Stockfish 11.

After clicking OK, the Engines setup... window will be closed.


Newly installed engine Komodo 12, or even more precisely Komodo 12.1.1 is a very powerful chess engine plays with similar strength to Stockfish 031219.

Both engines play at a sky-high strength of about 3400 Elo.


By comparison, the playing strength of World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in December 2021 was 2842 Elo points (rapid time control), which is 558 Elo points less than the Komodo 12.1.1 chess engine !


Click on this link - if you want to learn more about the Elo ranking system.


Go chess engines, go chess...!


Let's check the operation of the Komodo 12 chess engine - click on the Infinite analysis icon marked with a red border.