Reports | July 18, 2008 21:56

Chessbase admits Rybka is the best

rybka3What chess fans and chess professionals alike have known for a long time already, has been admitted today by Chessbase: Rybka is the strongest chess program in the world by a big margin, also stronger than any Fritz.

By Merijn van Delft

Rybka programmer Vasik Rajlich and his team (Iweta Rajlich, Larry Kaufman) have made revolutionary progress in teaching the computer how to play chess. By developing positional algorithms amongst others, the play by the computer is looking more and more human.

The reason for Chessbase admitting that Rybka is the strongest chess playing program in the world is no doubt commercial, but in any case it has several interesting consequences. As of now, Rybka is a product that can be ordered via Chessbase and convenient for the user is that Rybka can finally be selected as the default engine within the Chessbase interface.

Rybka 3 is about 80 points stronger than its predecessor (which was already at an amazing 3000+ level) and contains several fascinating new analysis features like Monte Carlo Analysis, Sample Search and Persistent Hash. More can be read at

On a personal note, I'm proud to see Rybka openingbook author Jeroen Noomen being in the spotlight, as we both originate from the dynamic Dutch chess town of Apeldoorn and have played together for the local first team for many years. Jeroen then quit playing chess to dedicate himself even more to computer chess - not without results, as Rybka has won basically all important tournaments in recent years using his opening book.


DIO's picture

The headline is dull. Such an interesting and important news and nothing better than this. I've read here better stories than this one and this but also worse 'stories' and discussions

Navid's picture

Does this mean that the Chessbase Rybka package does NOT include the book, which needs to be purchased separately? If indeed so, then THAT would be a new low for Chessbase ...

Felix's picture

Note that now both, Convekta and Chessbase, sell Rybka. So you can choose between Fritz GUI and Aquarium GUI .
Also it looks like Jeroen's book is sold seperatly.

The estimated 80 Elo points are quite conervative, latest tests indicate 100+ improvement, quite unbelievable- about 200 Elo gap between Rybka and the next best engine!

Theo's picture

It seems that Rybka has a very good algorhythm...?
Anyways, I think Fritz is made for the money and Rybka is made from the heart.

CAL|Daniel's picture

but now rybka is the one bringing in the money? isn't that just too ironic.

Steve Giddins's picture

Even given your past record for pathetic sniping at Chessbase, this latest "report " marks a new low. I realise that you have a massive, and well-deserved, inferiority complex with respect to CB, and I would not expect anything better from most of your contributors, but I am particularly disappointed to see Merijn van Delft stoop so low. I have always had great respect and regard for him and his father, and all they have done for Dutch chess. This kind of adolescent "penis envy" towards a bigger and more successful rival is a common psychological phenomenon, but you really should try to control it, as it makes for a pathetic and unedifying sight - not to mention a pathetic and unedifying site. Grow up a bit, chaps!

thorex's picture

Ironically Rybka is getting stronger by getting more humanly imperfect. I wonder if rybka will get competition again when brute-force chessengines gain the power of 64+ CPUs.

forest's picture

Thanks Steve, for thinking Chessvibes can compete with Chessbase. That's like linux can win from Windows. However it has been very funny to see how competition including Chessvibes always has been kept out of public. And I think Merijn brought this to the public in a very polite way. What I think is insulting is to take someone's father in the dialog... Who has to grow up here?

Felix's picture

Well, to make it short, I disagree with you. :)
Your making a good job, Merijn, your reports about Poikovsky were short but interesting (I looked up all the games you mentioned in your first report since your report made me curious) and this news is ok - we see a number of posts after the first day so a lot of people found this topic interesting and even if it's quite positive about Rybka, I don't think it's too much on the advertising side. And the interpretation that it's a step towards Chessbase is something I also don't share.

Felix's picture

(my last post was a reply to Steve)

Merijn's picture

I think you are overreacting somewhat Steve. As a matter of fact I live in Hamburg, have many friends at Chessbase (with whom I meet to play soccer on a weekly basis) and do have a lot of respect for what Chessbase has done for chess.

I've always felt that the Rybka team didn't quite get the credits they deserve, that's why I write possitively about them. And concerning Chessbase - as they are old and wise, I'm sure they can handle a bit of teasing.

raj's picture

I think Zappa is strongest

Michel83's picture

Besides the fact that in terms of vocabulary Merjin's article is critical but polite and Steve's post is unpolite and insulting, here's the bottom line:

Steve is allowed to write critical posts (what happens often, no?) because he is right, but Merjin is not allowed to write critical posts because Steve says he is wrong and that obviously makes Merjin pathetic.

I always find it hilarious when people argue in the sense "you are a stupid asshole because you insult other people!", but are so self-absorbed and sure that only what they think is the truth that they don't notice they are inside of a paradox.
Thanks for making my day! :D

By the way, sticking strictly to you own logic, Steve, you are "pathetically sniping at Chessvibes" and having an "inferiority complex towards Chessvibes". Oh, wait, right, I forgot, you are the one who is right so of course your insults are something completely different. :D

The_Anonymous_Person's picture

I can't understand Steve's argument at all. How on earth is this story putting down ChessBase?

Also, this story does not attack anyone on the Rybka team, something Steve falsely claims.

I could be wrong, but I think Steve was inebriated at the time of writing his post. Please correct me if I am wrong.

If Rybka is the strongest engine, then why not sell it? Any intelligent chess company would sell a product from another company that is superior to their's - provided they have permission from that company, of course.

Merijn, I disagree that you are "teasing ChessBase"; on the contrary, you are highlighting ChessBase's excellent business sense as a chess company by selling the best chess engine.

Keep up the good work, ChessVibes! :)

arne's picture

Steve, please tell me you've drinking before you wrote your comment. It's not like you at all. As Merijn said, we all have a deep respect for Chessbase, especially for their software (I've been an addict since the DOS age). But let's face it: in the past, Chessbase has never ever mentioned Rybka at all (can you prove me wrong?), even when it would have been quite appropriate and sportsmanlike to do so. Now, there's nothing wrong with it, since Chessbase is a commercial site, but when they start mentioning the program at long last, that's simply news, and Merijn wrote about it. I don't see how you can oppose to that.

FM Radio's picture

Even Steve will readily agree that most products Chessbase sells are just overpriced crap: the infamous Shirov DVDs (one coming out every other week), the opening encyclopedia (cf. Hansen's reviews on, Chessbase 10 without substantial improvements, engines with ridiculous evaluations (Fritz topping 'em all).
It's about time they acknowledged defeat; maybe this is even a first step in the right direction to decrease the amount of propaganda they publish on their site.

Felix's picture

Looks like the huge number of visitors crashed the chessbase website :)

Jonas's picture

Chessbase news have never been impartial - they have always been biased, at least, incomplete.
For example that mock mach between Kramnik and Fritz was presented as mach between strongest program and strongest human and that certainly was a lie.
And people are aware of these tricks and more and more often chose other chess news portals for example Chessvibes. :)

Marvol's picture

ChessBase have no need to be the slightest bit neutral. They are a commercial operation trying to sell their chess software. They also happen to operate a chess news website as a free service to anyone, even those not buying anything from them.
IMO they deserve more credit for running quite a substantial and fairly neutral news site than they often get. Nothing would stop them from plugging their own stuff more - i.e. every time Shirov or Kasim play somewhere go "hey by the way they've made this-and-this DVD, buy it from us!".

As for mentioning Rybka, why would they? - it's made by another company. It's like going to the Microsoft website and then complaining there's no mention of Linux being a more stable OS or Firefox being more easy to tweak. Or Pepsi mentioning that Coca Cola actually tastes just as good. Anybody expecting something similar from ChessBase is living in cloud cuckoo land.
It's also not like ChessOK or Rybkachess are mentioning that the ChessBase interface or Fritz's features are superior to theirs - as they don't need to, either.

(and why are the instructions "Iets te zeggen" en "Verstuur" still in Dutch? I thought you guys had ditched Dutch? :p)

arne's picture

Marvol, try setting your language to English. The site itself still supports two languages, but we just don't write in Dutch anymore :-)

Marvol's picture

Well given that I was using a computer on the University of Sussex campus over which I have zero control - on which no cookie can be stored because they are erased after every logout - I doubt that that is the problem :o). In other words, I doubt that the language was set to Dutch by that computer :-).

The default setting of the website seems to be Dutch still? It's hard to let go isn't it ;)?

arne's picture

OK, thanks Marvol. I'll let Peter handle this when he's back from his holiday :-)

justanotherusername's picture

"admitted today by Chessbase: Rybka is the strongest"

There is nothing wrong with this statement. It is not a put down, it is the truth.
Until now Chessbase has pretty much kept total silence about Rybka and understandably so, it was the competition after all.

Now that they have Rybka on board and are selling it you will start to see many articles about it (her?) I'm sure.

Daniel Nepomuceno's picture

Est?ɬ£o de parab?ɬ©ns, Vas, Iweta e Jeroen. Rybka hoje ?ɬ© uma realidade, uma unanimidade. Assim como g?ɬ™nios apareceram (Capablanca, Fisher, Kasparov...) Rybka chega pra marcar o "divisor de ?ɬ°guas" na hist?ɬ?ria do xadrez moderno, xadrez das m?ɬ°quinas.
Come?ɬßa uma nova era do Computer Chess, a era Rybka.
Quem viver ver?ɬ° quero ver.

Eiae's picture

Only one thing pathetic in all this, Steve Giddins.
Arne, it is not at all unlike him, this is the usual subjective poison from that wannabe journalist.

Chessvibes is much better than the Chessbase webpage, btw.

Aaron's picture

Right forest "What I think is insulting is to take someone?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s father in the dialog?¢‚Ǩ¬¶"
Overreaction by this Steve Giddins...

dave's picture

I've used both, and i still prefer Fritz. More professional interface, easier to use, less buggy. What do I care if Rybka is rated 3000 and Fritz 2900, at that level it makes no difference to me.... I'll stick with Fritz, thank you.

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