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Houdini (Computer)
Number of games in database: 64
Years covered: 2011 to 2014
Overall record: +21 -14 =29 (55.5%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.

Repertoire Explorer
Most played openings
C18 French, Winawer (4 games)
C02 French, Advance (3 games)
B22 Sicilian, Alapin (3 games)
D45 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav (3 games)
A87 Dutch, Leningrad, Main Variation (2 games)
E12 Queen's Indian (2 games)
B04 Alekhine's Defense, Modern (2 games)
A10 English (2 games)
E04 Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3 (2 games)
B12 Caro-Kann Defense (2 games)

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HOUDINI (COMPUTER)

[what is this?]
Its author is Robert Houdart.

References: (1) http://www.cruxis.com/chess/houdini...


 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 64  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Rybka vs Houdini  1-066 2011 TCEC Houdini - Rybka MatchD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
2. Rybka vs Houdini  1-070 2011 TCEC Houdini - Rybka MatchD12 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
3. Rybka vs Houdini 0-153 2011 TCEC Houdini - Rybka MatchB22 Sicilian, Alapin
4. Houdini vs Rybka 1-072 2011 TCEC Houdini - Rybka MatchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
5. Houdini vs Rybka  1-077 2011 TCEC Houdini - Rybka MatchD78 Neo-Grunfeld, 6.O-O c6
6. Houdini vs Rybka 1-053 2011 TCEC Houdini - Rybka MatchD02 Queen's Pawn Game
7. Rybka vs Houdini 0-186 2011 TCEC Houdini - Rybka MatchC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
8. Houdini vs A Celander ½-½90 2012 CasualC97 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
9. Houdini vs Stockfish  1-067 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonE04 Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3
10. Stockfish vs Houdini ½-½58 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonB12 Caro-Kann Defense
11. Rybka vs Houdini  1-060 2013 nTCEC - Stage 3C18 French, Winawer
12. Stockfish vs Houdini  1-046 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonC02 French, Advance
13. Stockfish vs Houdini  ½-½87 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonE12 Queen's Indian
14. Houdini vs Stockfish 1-079 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonA10 English
15. Houdini vs Stockfish ½-½51 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
16. Komodo vs Houdini ½-½57 2013 nTCEC - Stage 4B96 Sicilian, Najdorf
17. Rybka vs Houdini  0-174 2013 nTCEC - Stage 3 - Season 2E71 King's Indian, Makagonov System (5.h3)
18. Stockfish vs Houdini ½-½109 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - Season 1B04 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
19. Houdini vs Stockfish  ½-½59 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonB12 Caro-Kann Defense
20. Houdini vs Vitruvius ½-½84 2013 nTCEC - Stage 3A87 Dutch, Leningrad, Main Variation
21. Houdini vs Stockfish 0-1114 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonC02 French, Advance
22. Houdini vs Stockfish  ½-½69 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonE15 Queen's Indian
23. Stockfish vs Houdini ½-½59 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonC14 French, Classical
24. Stockfish vs Houdini  ½-½59 2013 nTCEC - Superfinal - SeasonC25 Vienna
25. Houdini vs Stockfish  0-187 2013 nTCEC - Stage 4C18 French, Winawer
 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 64  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Houdini wins | Houdini loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 7 OF 7 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Dec-08-13  SChesshevsky: < Daisuki: The game is finished. Houdini 1.5a-Houdini 1.5a, 150'+30", 2013/12/07-2013/12/08, Nb1, a7, h7 removed:>

Thanks for the game. I only had time to run through it once but here are my impressions.

I'm more convinced that for a machine to play optimally a piece down less pawn or pawns, the program would have to be tweaked.

In this game, it looked like White played "straight" chess but being hurt by his advantage of a & h pawns, which turned out to be a disadvantage because of the open files, was not inclined to castle and connect his Rooks quickly.

It also looked like, not being able to plan, White didn't consider that to get equality it'd probably necessitate getting an outside passed pawn and work under that basis as soon as possible without distraction. For instance White's probably best served by moves after 14...0-0-0 being focused on gaining space on the Kside, mobilizing forces there and pushing those pawns while trying to minimize tempo loss. The Kside push also facilitates the exchange of pawns, which as we discussed, the more pawns off the board the more the value of the extra piece is reduced.

I guess the computer played the best moves for White but it sure didn't feel that way.

Dec-09-13  kardopov: <shach matov: There is no need to try anything, I know that playing against a commercial program on you PC is very very different from playing against a special program in a match. I played many computers, I know what that means, it's not going to change my mind about the match>

It's a no-brainer. Just let the two combatants play against each other and presto!, you'll get the answer. The real problem is, who will sponsor the match to make it happen?

Dec-09-13  kardopov: Gee! Knight handicap for a super powerful computer against the strongest human chess player of today. That would be very interesting. It's whetting my appetite. I bet Carlsen will smash the super computer to oblivion.
Dec-09-13  shach matov: kardropov - I know, the interest will be huge!! People are still talking about it on the site. I think the machine will be the favorite, but it could be close! Too bad nobody seems to be interested in doing such a match, which is a shame, could've been be much fun
Dec-09-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: Of course nobody with any sense is interested in such a ridiculous match (including you I actually think...) The hardest part would be to keep the computer from resigning.
Dec-09-13  Daisuki: <SChesshevsky>, it's true that it doesn't "plan" in that sense, although as you could see it did look ahead about a dozen moves (for each side) more or less all the time. I think that to us it may look weirder because we underestimate the problems that could be faced if we simply castled into black's half-open h file manned by the Rh8. If it was just me in a game with someone on my level then it would be much easier, but computers are ruthless at exploiting both a lack of king safety and passive positions, so even if you fix the former by causing the latter it can be a problem.

Anyway, pushing pawns aggressively also has its drawbacks, namely how it becomes easier to attack the pushed pawns. It is still down a piece, so it may be difficult to do this without losing pawns or making other major concessions that lead to lost material or just a loss in the future. This seemed to be something white could handle better in the games where it had 3-5 extra pawns for the knight, but in the longer time control game where it had 2 extra pawns it obviously didn't see a good way to get enough control of the board to make much of what it considers progress. Another thing to keep in mind is that even if it gets a passed pawn it likely can't promote it while down a piece (and therefore doesn't exactly jump at that plan unless it really thinks it looks decent; it does of course value passed pawns, but I doubt it does if it doesn't expect to hold and make use of them). And getting two clear, solid passed pawns without compromising king safety seems like a tall order while down a piece.

I'll try a Stockfish-Houdini 150'+30" game missing Nb1, a7, and h7, where Stockfish is set with -50 contempt (and should thus jump at draws), 200 aggressiveness, and 0 cowardice. These are the minimum, maximum, and minimum numbers, respectively, the defaults are 0, 100, and 100, respectively, and 50, 0, and 200 are the maximum, minimum, and maximum numbers, respectively. I haven't looked into what these settings do well, so I don't know how much they might help or hurt. ;p

Dec-09-13  shach matov: Marmont - I would personally be very interested (do i have a reason to lie?) and many people already expressed their interest and even kardropov now also shared this interest. The best engine (not something we can buy but specifically prepared for the match) with the most powerful hardware should win, but it may be close. But there is no doubt that the interest will be huge!! It would be a fascinating thing!
Dec-09-13  Daisuki: I'm canceling this Stockfish-Houdini game, as Stockfish is performing poorly. I'll try the other three extreme combinations for aggressiveness and cowardice in 3'+2" games to try to find a better combination for a long game.
Dec-09-13  Daisuki: I think 0/0 aggressiveness/cowardice might be best, as it took much longer to get mated because it pushed many pawns and didn't trade pieces quickly. I tested all four extreme combinations and the 100/100 default combination, all with -50 contempt. I don't know when I'll try a long game.
Dec-09-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: Looks at it from Carlsen's POV. If he wins, big deal he has a big edge to begin with, and if he loses it would be too embarrassing.
Dec-10-13  SChesshevsky: <Daisuki: ...if we simply castled into black's half-open h file manned by the Rh8.... Anyway, pushing pawns aggressively also has its drawbacks..>

Related to castling, that's my point the pawn's advantage actually turned into a disadvantage because the King would not castle. As in the game, the King moves 7 times by move 35 all on the back rank. That doesn't exactly suggest proper play needed to achieve equality.

Related to pawn pushing, I'm obviously not advocating woodpusher pawn attacks but with the Knight on the a-file, O-O-O, and if the Rooks were connected without tempo loss it looks like White has at least a shot at equality. You don't have to promote the pawn but gain space on the Kside, exchange the lead for another then try to keep the pressure on that minority side and look to keep exchanging pawns. Certainly not the same strategy as one would use to win even-up.

That's why I think a chess computer's program would likely have to be altered to favor lines which have the best chances for drawing rather than trying to gain any sort of advantage.

That's the idea of computer vs. computer. If the disadvantaged computer can draw a significant number of times against another similar computer, and if it can be tweaked to even be better at drawing, then the assumption is that against a top player with odds the computer might not win but might also rarely lose.

Dec-10-13  Daisuki: In the game black doubled rooks on the h file. So castling kingside probably would've been bad. White could've castled queenside after black did, but by then white had disturbed its pawn structure there. I think overall it's a problem because you can't just not disturb your pawn structure anywhere, so wherever you castle black can just double rooks (or set up Alekhine's gun) and slam you. The more you trade pawns, the more mobility that extra piece gets, too, which is also a problem. Even if you play better than your opponent and get a passed pawn for no material or positional concession I think that passed pawn would just get eaten later. And I really don't see how to get multiple passed pawns without issues. Honestly I would expect a more passive strategy based on having pawns in front and trading and opening the position as little as possible to perhaps have better chances, but when I personally try this while up the full knight against Houdini or Stockfish it's a fine line between holding things together and getting so passive that I fall apart at least a little. Engines could do better, but how much better I don't know.
Dec-11-13  SChesshevsky: <Daisuki: ... a more passive strategy based on having pawns in front and trading and opening the position as little as possible to perhaps have better chances...>

A great discussion. Lots to think about. Related to the above comment and unrelated to computer play, the general theory is that with a material disadvantage, even a pawn, passive play typically loses outright. The strategy with advantage is to get good position, easier when there are no complications, then position the King and then exchange for the endgame. It's easier with the Rooks off. Best defense is usually to try to create an unbalance somewhere, stir up complications and swindle.

It's probably ancient history now but when I played a lot, being a pawn up, especially the right one, meant a won game. Byrne once wrote about Fischer's poisoned pawn defense that though risky, the pawn if held means a won game. Or something like that. It might be something to consider for own play as it might still be true.

Dec-11-13  kardopov: C'mmon, start the nudging. Who's gonna hurl the first salvo? Maybe a program developer should challenge Carlsen to a winner take all match with the prize coming from both parties as a wager, say to the amount of 2M Dollars. Both parties have to raise 1M each. The condition: 7 games of classical chess, less knight for the computer.
Dec-11-13  Daisuki: I know passive play is generally bad, but engines default to active play, and that seems like a loser when you're down a piece, unless you have <many> extra pawns. Two pawns doesn't seem to be very close to cutting it (in terms of expected score; I know the ~200-point inferior Rybka couldn't win in a couple of its 3'+2" games, but more equal engines always did so far) between two roughly equal strong engines. "Swindles" just aren't really going to happen in such engine games, as "complications" are no problem for engines, and, as stated by others, tactics favor the player with the extra piece. I'm sure it would work better between more unequal players and/or players enough lower in skill so as to be unable to exploit the extra piece too well relative to the two extra pawns. Otherwise complications and active play are like marching forward to your death, since you are down the piece. Of course everything's a matter of death, but it did take a third more moves in a 3'+2" game for Houdini to mate Stockfish when Stockfish was set to 0/0 aggressiveness/cowardice (which seems to mean that it doesn't care much about both reducing the opponent's king safety and increasing its own king safety, respectively). Under this setting it didn't seem to place its pieces so aggressively or trade them much, and it kept the position more closed by pushing pawns, which seems better than normal in this situation.

Yes, I'd say that an extra pawn from a starting position would probably often be won (between equal enough, good enough players).

Dec-11-13  Daisuki: -50/0/0 contempt factor/aggressiveness/cowardice Stockfish lost to Houdini in 56 moves, while -50/100/100 (the latter two being defaults) lost in 55 moves. Both games were 60'+30". I don't really see an easy way to make it drag out the game. I could play with pawn settings, but in the end the piece is worth way more than the two pawns to engines. The starting position with Nb1, a7, and h7 missing is evaluated at -2 to -3 by various engines, in spite of white having the advantage of the first move.
Feb-15-14  FairyPromotion: Oh my, oh my, oh my....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRDH...

What a game by Houdini! Chess is amazing!!

Jun-08-14  supertimchan: http://www.computerchess.org.uk/ccr...

Houdini is now just the second best engine in the world, far behind the Stockfish champion. In the computer engine world, Houdini is more or less like Aronian. Strong, stable but not the best.

Stockish would be Magnus Carlsen. Dominate everything and winning everything.

Jun-08-14  supertimchan: Professional players are leaving Houdini because it's simply expensive and much weaker than Stockfish. Google TCEC chess championship and you'll see Houdini was owned by the Stockfish team.
Jun-08-14  supertimchan: http://talkchess.com/forum/viewtopi...

Houdini lost to Stockfish on the rating list. Just another stupid commercial product which doesn't provide anything over a free alternative. Don't be fool, stay away from Houdini.

Jun-08-14  N0B0DY: The uncompromising 'high quality standards' of this troll need to be reflected in the showroom.
Jun-08-14  supertimchan: You talking about me? Are you serious? Houdini has been proven as a much weaker chess engine than the world's number one Stockfish. Look at the TCEC world computer chess championship how Houdini 4 performed.

Only fools would purchase for a weak engine when the strongest is free.

Jun-08-14  supertimchan: Look at http://www.computerchess.org.uk/ccr... yourself.

Houdini is no longer a relevant chess engine to the top players. Stockfish is much stronger. Stockfish is programmed by Tord.R who is also a computer adviser to Magnus Carlsen.

Robert Houdart can't possibly compete with the Carlsen's top adviser and many many other open source contributor.

Jun-08-14  supertimchan: We're about to witness a repeat of Rybka. Houdini will fade away from the computer chess community simply because it's slow and weak.
Jun-08-14  N0B0DY: Houston, we’ve had a problem.
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