When IBM super computer Deep Blue won a 6-game chess competition against reigning world champion Gary Kasperov in 1997, many speculators of the sport had started showing concerns regarding the increasing capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and the way in which it could affect the world of Chess. Many of them feared that the Grand Masters of Chess would soon be computers rather than humans while some others were optimistic and believed Deep Blue’s win to be a start of a new era. Years have passed since the historic event of New York City and today, at 2016; common computer programs such as Houdini seems to have ratings as high as 3277. However, Houdini is no ordinary chess engine and its features, development and creation has been done very creatively.
Developed by Robert Houdart, Houdini first released in the May of 2010 and was slowly raised through the ranks to become one of the best Chess software ever. Houdini is known to be very familiar with Sicilian Defense and is known for playing both defensively and offensively. So far, Houdini has 5 versions available and the latest, known as Houdini 5, seems more focused in playing aggressively yet very cautiously. Houdini 5 was released on November ninth of 2016.
One of the best features of Houdini is that it has frequent updates and the engine is constantly revised for any flaws or defects. The engines has had numerous revisions and the latest major revision, which ultimately led to the release of Houdini 5, is said to be 200 Elo stronger than its previous versions.
Houdini has played several chess matches against other Chess engines and among them; I take these three to be the most memorable ones:
- Houdini VS. Rybka
This match that took place on January 28 2011 was very competitive in nature and very interesting to watch at the same time. The match took place in the TCEC season 1 and was very much anticipated by millions of Chess enthusiast from all around the world. In the game, Houdini, playing black, starts with c5 and continues to develop his knight to f6 (which is non other than the Nimzowitsch variation). Rybka on the other end of the board started with e5 and for its second move, tried c3. From the very beginning, the game promised to become a very competitive one and it was clearly a very long and competitive game, which was really fun and interesting to watch.
- Houdini VS. Komodo
This is another brilliant match played by Houdini that took place in the third stage of the eight season of TCEC. Houdini 4 played white in this match and Komodo played black. Houdini started the game off with the Benko’s opening. Similarly, his second move was Bg2 and the game carried on from there. The game was a tense match with both parties making some aggressive sacrifices but Houdini eventually won the game.
- Houdini 2.0 VS. Houdini 3.0
This game was the classic example of what happens when you make two brilliant minds fight each other in a game of chess. Both parties started the game with a Sicilian Defense and went on to have a fierce match where both of them became very aggressive with each other. The match took place on September 25th of 2012 and the event and the place of the match is still not known. However, it still was a match to remember.
Houdini is a classic example of a great chess engine that is ever developing and becoming more powerful. Every new release of a new version of Houdini is more aggressive and more fun to watch play.