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Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro 1.0 - Review

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

We lived to see it. Finally, it is here – new version of Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro and updated author's chess engine.

After many years of waiting, is it worth to give a chance to the new Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro?

What has changed in the program that the note Pro appeared ?

Does the new version of the engine bring significant changes in the style and strength of the game?

I will try to answer these and other questions in this review.

Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro (single-core version) was run on the Mac version using a MacBook Pro with an Apple M1 processor.

First, let's take a look at some of the data in the table below.

Table of Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro specifications.

Interface, Appearance, Access to Program Features.

Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro (HCEP) has a highly customizable and readable interface.

The elements-windows and toolbar-can be active or inactive and moved relative to each other.

If we so desire, the HCEP look can be minimalist...

...With several panels active...

...With a chessboard of various sizes...

...And colors...

...And in a light or dark theme (the dark theme is available in HCEP exclusively on macOS).

Of course, there is also the option to change the theme of the chess board and pieces.

However, I have my favorite set & dark theme, because I spend a lot of time working in front of a computer monitor and it makes my eyes less tired.

You can also use several open windows and tabs, depending on the function or database you are using.

Access to the most frequently used functions is provided by the toolbar at the top of the interface. Using the drop-down menu, you get use of all the other functions and capabilities HCEP.

Some windows / panels have context icons that when clicked, expand their menus or open windows.

The interface and all HCEP messages have been translated into several languages, which will certainly please users who prefer to use this program in their native language :-)

To sum up this part of the review, my feelings are very positive. The interface is neat, clear, functions are easily accessible and dedicated windows or panels have useful context menus.

One thing that may bother users with poorer eyesight is the size of the help icons located in the window bar. They are relatively small and certainly if there was an option to enlarge them, it would have a beneficial effect.

I make no secret of the fact that I was very comfortable using the Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro interface. Despite the many options, the program is easy to read, interface elements can be changed (position, size), access to program functions is intuitive and easy.

Dark mode in the macOS version "does a great job" bringing relief to tired eyes and when working with less light.

Power of play.

The previous version of Hiarcs engine number 14 was released 11 years ago, in 2011. Even then, the strength of the Hiarcs game oscillated around 2900 Elo (depending on the hardware). Compared to the playing strength of the strongest grandmasters, that's about 100-200 more Elo.

The consistent development of this engine resulted in several World Champion titles, including Hiarcs becoming World Computer Software Champion in 2013 !

It is worth noting that Hiarcs on slow hardware played at a relatively high level compared to other engines, which even on old computer processors allowed this engine to top the ranking lists.

So let's check how the latest Hiarcs 15.0 performed against two class opponents and in a tournament with the strongest chess engines.

First, Deep Shredder 13 engine, whose playing strength is some reference / comparison to other engines. DS13 is an engine with basically no major weaknesses, playing with strength in excess of 3100 Elo on modern computer.

Each engine had 1 CPU at its service, game time 1 minute per game. Banksia GUI, Perfect 2021 opening book.

Hiarcs won that match, winning 25 more games than DS13. A confident victory for Hiarcs 15.0 and a show of strength. 74 Elo points difference in this match between these two engines.

Hiarcs 15.0 vs Deep Shredder 13_100 games.pgn
Download ZIP • 162KB

Next, result from match consisting of 100 games Hiarcs 15.0 against the Komodo 13.2.5 engine using the MCTS algorithm.

Each engine had 1 CPU at its service and 1 minute per game; Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro GUI, internal opening book.

And two images showing what a match between two engines might look like.

A very elegant and minimalist look.


28 Elo points difference, but as many as 10 wins more Hiarcs. That's a pretty convincing win for Hiarcs in this match.

Hiarcs 15.0 vs Komodo 13.2.5 MCTS_100games.pgn
Download ZIP • 116KB

And a little more challenge for Hiarcs 15.0 and more computer opponents. There were 15 engines in the tournament. Each engine had 1 CPU at its service, game time 1 minute per game +1 second extra for each move. Banksia GUI, Perfect 2021 opening book.

Hiarcs 15.0 took an excellent fifth place in competition with the strongest chess engines. It obtained a ranking of 3225 Elo, 225 Elo higher than its previous version (Hiarcs 14 WCSC).