Scid vs. PC - Using chess engines

Updated: May 23

Scid vs. PC 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. Scid vs. PC allows you to install multiple chess engines and use one or more of them simultaneously.



This part of the course is prepared in Scid vs. PC version 4.22 in such a way that the vast majority of this program's capabilities can be used in previous versions 4.x.
(Scid vs PC 4.0 was released in 2010).


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

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 Scid vs. PC - 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 - Analysis Engines

Click to enlarge (works with any image)

As you can see, Scid vs. PC version 4.22, which I use, offers several pre-installed chess engines. Each of these engines plays with the power of a champion. Critter 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 Scid vs. PC that uses the:


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

To install new chess engines, download them, and click New button on Analysis Engines window.


A new window will open: Configure Engine.

To properly add a chess engine to the Scid vs. PC program, the empty boxes:

  • Name

  • Command

  • Directory

Must be filled in.


Let's fill them in !

I am going to add a chess engine called Komodo.

First, let's fill in the first field named name by typing the name: Komodo 12


Next, click to 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 Configure Engine on my computer looks like this:

The Directory field can be left filled in as Scid vs. PC did by default. If you have a problem with the first engine start I suggest you fill in the Directory field by clicking on the button marked with a red border in the image below.

After that, as we can see, Scid vs. PC filled in the Directory field after clicking on the indicated button.


Fields

  • Parameters

  • Webpage

  • Elo

Can be left blank.


If an engine needs additional parameters for startup (e.g. a specific opening book) they can be specified in the Parameters field. Please refer to the engines documentation.


I will fill in the Webpage and Elo fields.

The Komodo 12 engine, or more precisely Komodo 12.1.1, is a very powerful chess engine that plays with similar or even slightly higher playing strength than Stockfish 9.


Scid vs. PC 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.

If you're going to do a more detailed configuration of the engine, clicking on the Configure button will open a new window where you can make changes - I refer you to the engine developer's website (in this case https://komodochess.com) for details.


A useful feature in the Scid vs. PC program is the ability to assign a so-called Hot Key to a selected chess engine. For example if you set Hot Key to F4 then after pressing F4 the selected chess engine will be started.


In this final step of adding an engine, all required fields have been completed.

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.


You can now start any engine in the list by double-clicking on it.

But, let's do this after the Analysis Engines window is closed, so that we can check the engine's operation in a more readable way.


Let's check the operation of the Komodo 12 chess engine - press F4 .


Oh yes, it works !


Now let's try Stockfish.


A free chess engine called Stockfish, which comes with Scid vs. PC, provides perfect integration with all Scid vs. PC options and capabilities.

The latest version can be downloaded from the official website.

(it is developed by Marco Costalba, Joona Kiiski, Gary Linscott, Tord Romstad, Stéphane Nicolet, Stefan Geschwentner, and Joost VandeVondele, with many contributions from a community of open-source developers.).

Stockfish 9 chess playing power has been measured at the sky-high level of 3363 Elo points (rapid time control).


By comparison, the playing strength of World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in December 2021 was 2842 Elo points (rapid time control), which is 521 Elo points less than the Stockfish 9 chess engine !


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


Working with chess engine / engines


As you may have guessed, working with chess engine-who can play chess with a strength far superior to that of any human player - produces very good results. And this is indeed the case.


With a game board, open the any chess engine: For example, press F2 to start Stockfish 9.


You can add several different chess engines if you wish.

For example, let's add a second engine Komodo 12.