Take a Closer Look at Komodo Dragon

Take a Closer Look at Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon keeps on getting stronger, and this year it won the World Computer Chess Championship by defeating Lc0 in a tiebreak match. Now is your chance to play against a world chess champion rated above 3500 Elo.

That's a staggering 25% higher than Magnus Carlsen's 2861 Elo rating, but there is no need to panic. Komodo Dragon will humble itself and play at lower levels to help you improve.

After all, one of the main reasons for buying a chess engine is to improve at chess. Komodo Dragon has several valuable features to ensure you become a better player soon.

Apart from lowering the playing strength, you can play against a variety of Komodo Dragon's multiple personalities. The variety in strength and playing styles is one of the many attractive features of Komodo Dragon.

Have Fun With Komodo Dragon's Multiple Personalities

As you would expect from a silicone brain, Komodo Dragon has no trouble keeping all its personalities in order. There are eight distinct personalities in Komodo Dragon.

Apart from the default, all the other seven personalities play at a slightly weaker level, even when set at full strength. This drop in playing strength is not enough to bring the rating down to less than 3300 Elo, so you are unlikely to notice much of a difference.

The advantage of using the personalities is you can play against a style of chess you struggle with in your games. Botvinnik changed the nature of the games in his rematch against Tal to regain the world chess title.

Today Mikhail Tal could have used the positional personality to learn how to improve his positional chess. Selecting the aggressive or attacking personality would have helped Botvinnik learn to play more like Tal.

Personalities are an excellent way to have your games analyzed by an engine that plays similarly to you. You could change personalities to see if you missed any attacking opportunities.

For example, if you enjoy playing positional chess and draw many of your games, you could use the active or aggressive personalities to analyze your game. These personalities will show you how to add more bite to your positional style.

When you want to play more attacking chess, start with the active personality. Of course, switch to the aggressive personality if you already play active chess and want to take it up a notch.

The aggressive style of play is all about non-stop attacking without concern for king safety. Lots of fun, but your nerves might appreciate it if you kept some Blue Vervain or Ashwagandha tincture close at hand.

Dragon by Komodo 3 64-bit (3498) - Revenge 3.0 64-bit (3440), 2022.07.07, 1-0


Komodo Dragon's Eight Distinct Personalities

Default: The strongest of all the personalities and your go-to for finding what Komodo Dragon thinks is the best move.

Positional: Your choice if you like to play solidly, with lots of maneuvering, and prefer closed or semi-closed positions. Do not worry about it missing the opportunity to attack because it won't hesitate to land a tactical blow.

Active: When you choose this setting, you will find the engine favors open positions and more active piece play. A more restrained version of the aggressive personality.

Aggressive: Are you ready to burn your bridges and go for an all-out attack? This setting will ignite a spark when you feel your chess is a little flat. Remove any though of king safety from your mind, prioritize activity, and get ready to make more use of your queen.

Defensive: Been playing a little too aggressively for too long and want to treat yourself to a rock-solid position with king safety as your number one priority? You will get all that with this personality—about as risk-free an approach to playing chess as you can get.

Endgame: Exactly as the name suggests, this personality is happy to play through all three phases of the game. Although it won't turn down the chance to win in the middlegame, a win in the endgame by promoting a pawn works just as well.

Beginner: definitely not a complete beginner and, by default, only drops its playing strength by a level or two. Make sure you include changes to the playing strength level if you are a beginner.

Komodo Dragon will ignore endgame principles and prioritize checks and captures in this mode. Exactly what you would expect to face playing a beginner over the board.

Human: The best setting to prepare for live play against stronger humans. The engine will look for active positions, avoid simplifications or repetitions, and adopt an aggressive approach while cultivating static advantages.

This personality is a beneficial training aid if you know the rating range of the players in an upcoming tournament. After a few weeks of practice with the strength set within this range, you will have an excellent idea of how you will fare.

Minic 3.24 64-bit 4CPU (3404) - Dragon by Komodo 3 64-bit 4CPU (3528), 2022.07.13, 0-1


Some of the Other Helpful Settings

Dynamism: First introduced in Komodo 9.4, dynamism places a higher or lesser value on the dynamic element of chess. The default is 100, with lower values leading to more conservative play and higher values leading to riskier play.

Dropping this value to 80 will give you a more realistic assessment of the position. In all honesty, there really is no advantage to going higher for practical purposes.

Be warned that dropping to 80 might result in a drop of approximately 25

Book file: You can download a free opening book at the official Komodo chess website and set the number of book moves for Komodo to use. The setting is half moves, so remember to double whatever you choose.

If you want Komodo to use the book for the first ten moves, set it to twenty. Lowering the skill level to have Komodo Dragon play at a lower strength will impact the number of book moves it uses.

Contempt: The default setting of eight is fine for weaker opponents. Change this to at least forty if you are playing against a human, including the world champion.

The rule of thumb in determining contempt is 3450 minus your opponent's Elo divided by 12. Using this formula, if you were playing Magnus Carlsen, you would set contempt to fifty-four.

Suggested values given in the official guide are:

  • 60 against grandmasters.
  • 75 against international masters.
  • 100 against masters.
  • 150 against strong amateurs.

Table Memory: If you allocate too little memory, it can negatively affect the program's speed. For most computers built since 2013, the default of 64 is about optimal if you are playing fast games.

A higher value for slower games, analysis, and machines with many cores might prove more appropriate.

In Conclusion

Komodo Dragon is an excellent choice when buying a chess engine. You will get the strongest commercial chess engine as you are purchasing the current Computer World Chess Champion.

Apart from playing strength, Komodo Dragon offers a variety of valuable tools to help you improve as a chess player. The settings are easy to navigate and not too technical.

In our current technological age, chess engines are an indispensable part of improving at chess. Komodo Dragon will serve you well throughout your chess career.

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