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Komodo - chess

Developer(s) Don Dailey, Larry Kaufman, Mark Lefler
Initial release January 2010
Stable release 9.3 / November 26, 2015
Development status Active
Written in C, C++
Operating system Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Android
Type Chess engine
License Proprietary

Komodo is a UCI chess engine developed by Don Dailey, Mark Lefler, and supported by chess author and evaluation expert, GM Larry Kaufman. Komodo is a commercial chess engine but older versions (7 and older) are free for non-commercial use. It is consistently rated at the top on most major chess engine rating lists ahead of Stockfish and Houdini.


Komodo was derived from Don Dailey's former engine Doch in January 2010. The first multiprocessor version of Komodo was released in June 2013 as Komodo 5.1 MP. This version was a major rewrite and a port of Komodo to C++11. A single-processor version of Komodo (which won the CCT15 tournament in February earlier that year) was released as a stand-alone product shortly before the 5.1 MP release. This version, named Komodo CCT, was still based on the older C code, and was approximately 30 Elo stronger than the 5.1 MP version, as the latter was still undergoing massive code-cleanup work.

With the release of Komodo 6 on 4 October 2013, Don Dailey announced that he was suffering from an acute form of leukaemia, and would no longer contribute to the future development of Komodo. On October 8, Don made an announcement on the Talkchess forum that Mark Lefler would be joining the Komodo team and would continue its development. The latest version, Komodo 9.3, was released on November 26, 2015.

Playing strength and style

Komodo heavily relies on evaluation rather than depth, and thus has a distinctive positional style. Its forte is to play when there is nothing to play. Komodo author Don Dailey described it as such: "In positions that most engines would likely struggle or find it impossible to make progress, Komodo quietly prepares a break and ends up with the victory."

Competition results

Komodo has played in the ICT 2010 in Leiden, and further in the CCT12 and CCT14. Komodo had its first tournament success in 2013, when it won the CCT15 with a score of 6½/7. Komodo also fared very well in the TCEC competition, where in Season 4, it lost only eight out of its 53 games and managed to reach Stage 4 (Quarterfinals), against very strong competition which were running on eight cores (Komodo was running on a single processor). In TCEC Season 5, it won the superfinal against Stockfish. It managed to reach the Superfinal in TCEC Season 6 again, but this time, it lost to Stockfish. Komodo regained the title in TCEC Season 7, defeating Stockfish in the superfinal. In TCEC Season 8, Komodo defeated Stockfish again in the superfinal: .

Notable games

Komodo vs Hannibal
a b c d e f g h
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Komodo plays the exchange sacrifice 33. Rxc6 and goes on to win the game, proving the superiority of its pieces over Black's two rooks.