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Interview with Jay Honnold author of the Berserk chess engine.

Updated: 14 hours ago

Hosted by Darius, creator of, May 2022.

„(…) within search there are still many interesting heuristics to be tried”.

Dear Readers, it is my honor and pleasure to present to you an interview with Jay Honnold, who is the author of Berserk - one of the most powerful chess engines.

On our blog, there is a page entirely dedicated to the Berserk chess engine.

If you want to find out more (download, games, etc.), I strongly invite you to visit it.

1. Darius:

Jay, please introduce yourself to our Readers.

Jay Honnold, source: GitHub

Jay Honnold:

Hi, my name is Jay. I'm a software developer in Phoenix, AZ and I'm the author of the Berserk Chess Engine.

2. Darius:

What made you interested in creating and developing a chess engine ?

Jay Honnold:

I've played chess since I was a child. Programming started as a hobby and eventually became a career. At some point I decided it would be fun to mix my "hobbies" together.

3. Darius:

Tell us about the history of Berserk.

Jay Honnold:

Berserk's first code was written in Dec 2020. Originally I wrote it in Java as that is the language I have most experience in. I realized that this was simply too slow of a language (or at least my implementation was) and I decided to move to C. From here Berserk followed a pretty standard path of development and most recently has made the switch to NNUE.

4. Darius:

What is your main work to be done with Berserk right now ?

Jay Honnold:

I'm heavily focused on deep networks. Berserk has used a shallow architecture since NNUE was implemented and I'm looking too improve on this architecture by adding additional layers. At this time, the speed hit has not balanced the improved networks.

5. Darius:

What motivates you to develop the Berserk engine ?

Jay Honnold:

I simply enjoy working on Berserk. It's a fun project and is something I'm happy to put time and investment into.

6. Darius:

What innovations may we expect in future versions of Berserk ?

Jay Honnold:

Only the future knows.

7. Darius:

How did you achieve that Berserk can see moves invisible to other engines ?

Jay Honnold:

This is purely luck :).

8. Darius:

When can we expect Berserk 9 ?

Jay Honnold:

I would say to expect a stronger network as I don't plan on releasing until then. Apart from that, I have fine tuned Berserk's search and continue to work through small patches there as well.

9. Darius:

Do you collaborate with anyone while working on your chess engine ?

Jay Honnold:

Berserk would not be the engine it is without the people I've collaborated with. Early on, Martin (Cheng's author) was a huge help for me. Later, Terje (author of Weiss), Connor (author of Seer), Finn and Kim (authors of Koivisto), Andrew (author of Ethereal), Aryan (author of Bit Genie), Pali (author of Black Marlin), Vizvez (contributor on SF) as well as many others.

10. Darius:

Do you see any weaknesses in Berserk, or is there something you would like to significantly improve or strengthen ?

Jay Honnold:

Berserk has a relatively weak network. It's small and fast, but has room for improvement. That has been my main focus of development.