MadChess 3.2 Released

I have released version 3.2 of my chess engine.

The main feature in this release is a sophisticated limit-strength mode, including adjustments to chess knowledge, search speed, chance of erring or blundering, and severity of blunders. MadChess, in limit-strength mode, excludes moves it considers unreasonable (dumb moves even a chess novice wouldn’t play). I have extensively documented the settings and technical implementation of MadChess’ limit-strength mode in The MadChess UCI_LimitStrength Algorithm. I also provide a Limit-Strength FAQ.

MadChess 3.2 is slightly stronger than the prior release. I estimate it has gained 60 rating points, climbing to roughly 2770 Elo at bullet chess.

This likely is the last release of MadChess- at least for a long while. I plan to focus more on playing chess instead of coding chess. And I plan to move on to other (non-chess) programming projects. You may follow along on my general programming blog, ErikTheCoder. Nothing new there yet. But I intend to resume blogging there soon. I’ll keep blogging here also, focused as I said on playing the game, not coding it.

You may download x64 and x86 versions of MadChess 3.2 from the Downloads page. Install the appropriate version for your computer’s CPU. The x64 binary is the strongest version of the engine.


Follow the discussion of MadChess 3.2 in the TalkChess forum.

Never Resign!!

The Moral Lesson

I love this video. We’ve all been there, so we can relate. We’ve all screwed up. You don’t have to play chess or even understand the rules of the game to know exactly how Alexandra Botez feels.

Chess is a very difficult, humbling game. But that’s the point. If we only attempted to do what was easy, we never would grow and mature as chess players, as human beings.

I love the raw energy of this video: Alexandra Botez’s obvious frustration. Her cathartic scream…


How she wards off tilt and steels her nerves. Her determination to play on and make her opponent prove they can win. Her war cry of…

Never resign!!

… when she regains the initiative. The anxiety-inducing ticking of the clock in a one minute bullet game with no increment. (I don’t know how people can play 1 minute bullet. I have enough difficulty managing my time in 3 + 2 blitz .) Her ultimate triumph with only 0.4 seconds left on her clock.

Plus the backing music sounds like an outtake from Metallica’s Death Magnetic album.

The Game

The game begins 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.O-O O-O 6.Nbd2 d6 7.c3 e5 8.e4 fxe4 9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.dxe4 Qe8 11.Be3 Qh5 12.Qd2 Bh3 13.Ne1 Nd7 14.Bxh3 Qxh3 15.Ng2 Nf6 16.f3 a5 17.Bg5 Rae8 18.Bxf6 Rxf6 19.Qe3 Rh6 20.Kf2 b6 21.Rh1 d5 22.exd5 and arrives at this first critical position.

The game continues 22…Bc5 23.Rae1 Bxe3+ 24.Rxe3 Rf6 25.c4 Qf5 26.Rhe1 Qc2+ 27.R1e2 Qxc4 28.Rd2 Rd8 29.Rxe5 Rfd6 30.Ne3 Qc5 31.Ke2 h6 32.Rc2 Qd4 33.Re4 Qf6 34.Rd2 c6 35.Rf4 Qg6 36.Rg4 Qe8 37.Kf2 cxd5 38.Nf5 R6d7 39.Nxh6+ Kh7 40.Nf5 d4 41.Rh4+ Kg8 42.Rg4 d3 43.Re4 Qf7 44.Rg4 Kh7 45.Nh4 g6 46.Ng2 Kg7 47.Nf4 Qf6 and arrives at a second critical position.

Alexandra Botez captures her opponent’s queen to even the score- actually she’s up one pawn. Capitalizes when her opponent hangs a rook. Then wins two pawns, promotes a pawn to a queen, drives her opponent’s king to a corner, and maneuvers her rook and queen to deliver mate on the back rank a split-second before her time runs out. Amazing!

I gave my chess engine, MadChess (rated 2700 Elo = super Grandmaster), one minute to analyze the game. I also gave one minute to a world-class engine, Komodo Dragon (rated 3500 Elo = much stronger than the best human player). It seems appropriate to give the computers the same amount of time the human players had for the game. You can play through the game below, review suggested improvements by MadChess and Komodo Dragon, and read a few comments and explanations I added.

If you’ve never played chess online, and this video piques your curiosity about what you’re missing, consider signing up at Don’t worry, you can play slower-paced games (or games with no clock) than what you see in the video above. You’ll be matched with players of a similar strength as you.

Testing Strength Reduction Parameters

I played an entertaining game against MadChess a few evenings ago. Prior to the game, I adjusted MadChess’ strength reduction parameters because I felt their values caused the engine to play too strongly for a given Elo rating. Perhaps my adjustments made the engine too weak. I’m using “feel”, a very unscientific process. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the game.

I played white. MadChess played black, set to 900 Elo. Time control is blitz, 5m + 5s. The game began 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 d6 4.dxc5 Qa5+ 5.Nc3 Qxc5 6.Nd5 Qc6.

Here I missed a tactic. Can you spot it?

I didn’t see it. The tactic is available on this move and my next three moves because MadChess didn’t “see” the tactic either. See Search Speed for an explanation of how MadChess’ strength reduction algorithm affects the engine’s “sight”.

The game continued 7.Be2 e5 8.O-O h6 9.Be3 Be7 10.c4 Kf8 11.b3 Be6 12.Rc1 Na6 13.Qd2 Qc8 14.Ne1 Bd8 15.Nd3 Qd7 16.f4 exf4 17.N3xf4 Kg7

r2b2nr/pp1q1pk1/n2pb1pp/3N4/2P1PN2/1P2B3/P2QB1PP/2R2RK1 w - - 1 18

Let’s light this fuse. Bd4+!

Material is even, but clearly I’m winning. However, winning “won” games at blitz time control is not guaranteed at my patzer skill level. There’s always a chance I blunder material back to my opponent. Or run out of time. Pushing those concerns aside, I pressed my advantage, didn’t make any egregious errors, and managed my time well.

After I won the game, I gave Komodo Dragon two seconds per position to analyze the game. I then played through the game with Komodo Dragon and MadChess running at full strength, each displaying four best moves (MultiPV = 4). I explored a few variations where I didn’t understand why a particular move didn’t work, consulted the engines, and added refutation lines and comments to the game.

Banks 96th Amateur Series Division 7

MadChess 3.1 participated in Graham Banks’ 96th amateur tournament in division 7.

MadChess 3.1 won the tournament!

                           1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    0    1    2    
1   MadChess 3.1 64-bit    **** ½0½½ 1½0½ ½½½½ 001½ 1½11 1111 ½011 11½1 ½½11 111½ ½½1½  29.5/44
2   Inanis 1.1.0 64-bit    ½1½½ **** 1½0½ ½1½½ 1001 ½½0½ ½01½ 111½ 01½1 ½1½1 ½111 ½½½1  27.5/44
3   Devel          0½1½ 0½1½ **** 0½½½ 010½ ½110 1½01 ½1½1 ½½½½ 1101 1½½½ 11½½  25.5/44
4   Odonata 0.6.2 64-bit   ½½½½ ½0½½ 1½½½ **** ½011 0½½½ 0101 1½½½ ½0½1 1½01 111½ 0011  24.5/44
5   Zevra 2.5 64-bit       110½ 0110 101½ ½100 **** ½0½½ 11½0 ½½1½ ½½1½ 1½½0 ½1½½ 0½½1  24.0/44  522.25
6   Lozza 2.4 64-bit       0½00 ½½1½ ½001 1½½½ ½1½½ **** ½1½½ ½½½½ ½0½1 0½11 ½½10 1½11  24.0/44  500.25
7   Supernova 2.4 64-bit   0000 ½10½ 0½10 1010 00½1 ½0½½ **** ½1½1 ½011 11½½ 10½0 ½½11  21.5/44
8   Blunder 8.5.5 64-bit   ½100 000½ ½0½0 0½½½ ½½0½ ½½½½ ½0½0 **** 111½ ½1½½ 011½ ½111  21.0/44
9   Delocto 200419 64-bit  00½0 10½0 ½½½½ ½1½0 ½½0½ ½1½0 ½100 000½ **** 1½1½ 0½11 ½½1½  19.5/44
10  KnightX 3.5 64-bit     ½½00 ½0½0 0010 0½10 0½½1 1½00 00½½ ½0½½ 0½0½ **** 1½11 ½½11  18.0/44
11  Myrddin 0.89 64-bit    000½ ½000 0½½½ 000½ ½0½½ ½½01 01½1 100½ 1½00 0½00 **** 1½11  16.0/44
12  EggNog 4.0 64-bit      ½½0½ ½½½0 00½½ 1100 1½½0 0½00 ½½00 ½000 ½½0½ ½½00 0½00 ****  13.0/44

Games Hans Niemann Report

Hans Niemann at the 2022 Sinquefield Cup. released their Hans Niemann Report. In the report, the Fair Play Team concludes Hans Niemann “has likely cheated in more than 100 online chess games, including several prize money events.”

Fair Play Team’s Report

The report includes several tables and charts of statistical evidence, a description of’s cheat detection system, along with numerous emails between the Fair Play Team and Hans. In his email responses to questions asked by the Fair Play Team, Hans confesses to cheating online.

Regarding Hans’ game against Magnus Carlsen at the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, the Fair Play Team states, “In our view, this game and the surrounding behaviors and explanations are bizarre… However, we are currently unaware of any evidence that Hans cheated in this game, and we do not advocate for any conclusions regarding cheating being made based on this one encounter.”

In our view, [the Niemann – Carlsen Sinquefield Cup] game and the surrounding behaviors and explanations are bizarre.

The report stresses’s cheat detection system was built to detect cheating in online play, not over the board (OTB) play. Nonetheless, regarding Niemann’s rapidly rising FIDE rating, the Fair Play team states, “his results are statistically extraordinary.” With regard to OTB cheat detection, the report states, “ has historically not been involved in OTB or classical chess fair play decisions, as we do not run OTB or classical chess events… We have shared our findings with FIDE and will cooperate with any investigation or requests they pursue. It is our belief that OTB event organizers should be taking much stronger precautions against cheating by all players to ensure fair play.”

I posted the following comment on the TalkChess forum.

My Thoughts (Posted on TalkChess)

My previous TalkChess forum post (Fri Sep 09, 2022 12:20am UTC) and MadChess blog post:

[Hans] seems to be playing a character: the wild-eyed, misunderstood genius who cannot suffer fools and is impatient with the unimaginative, bourgeois chess establishment.

Whether this is based on…

  1. Derogatory comments Hans endured while stuck in the 2400s (not smart enough, not talented enough, etc) that inspired him to seek revenge by doubling-down his efforts, leading to a legitimate rise to the elite level, or…
  2. Hans realizing there’s no audience for the bad-boy, trash-talking villain in the 2400s; that no one cares unless the villain rises to the top and knocks the princes and kings off their thrones; so Hans decided to leverage computer assistance to get himself on the stage.

… is unclear to me at this time.

I read the entire Hans Niemann Report. I am leaning towards explanation #2. The evidence of Hans cheating online is damning. As a consequence, I question the man’s motivations. Does he want to improve his skill or does he want attention and adulation? On the other hand, the over the board (OTB) evidence demonstrates serious abnormalities but is not conclusive.

I just can’t get past the man’s cocky attitude, snarky interviews, and rage and bravado. I can’t reconcile it with his incoherent post-game analysis. Especially when compared to Vassily Ivanchuk’s famous post-game analysis of an entire game completely from memory with no visual board to prompt him. I’m skeptical that Hans’ zest for put-downs and reticence to discuss details of his OTB thought process are simply an odd personality quirk or a manifestation of some-can-do-but-can’t-explain.

It’s looking more and more likely he simply shifted arenas for his devious conquest from online to OTB. Perhaps for vengeance, fame, money, or a taste of each. Or maybe just for the amusement of punking us all, satisfying some psychological need known only to provocateurs, as I suggested with my earlier reference to Andy Kaufman.

Having achieved a respectable degree of proficiency professionally and in my chess engine hobby, I have come to appreciate the hard-won knowledge earned by a long slog up the learning curve. I respect expert opinion. So I find it exceedingly difficult to toss aside the concerns of Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and other high-caliber players who have stated or insinuated there’s something suspect with Hans’ chess. It’s erratic, disjointed, alien.

I realize what I’ve expressed here is subjective opinion. While I spend most of my professional time and energy on more objective matters of software development, I live in a world of human beings. In my experience it’s personally and professionally valuable to form opinions of people’s character. I- we all- must navigate their idiosyncrasies, disguised motivations, veils of personal mythology, calculations of political expediency, etc.

I’d stay the hell away from a character like Hans Niemann.

Follow the Story

Follow discussion of the report here: Carlsen Withdrawal After Loss to Niemann.