Glossary of C&C Terms

On this page you’ll find explanations for some of the weird terms I use on Chess & Cognac…

The page will be updated often as I write new content, so bear with me… 🙂


Cannon-fodder Engines:

A cannon-fodder engine is one of my selected weaker engines which fits the following criteria:

  1. It has a human-like and distinct playing style according to my own observations, as well as the opinions of other users.
  2. Its approximate strength is 2400 or lower, based on the CCRL Rating Scale.
  3. It is Winboard or UCI compatible, and can therefore be used in the Arena GUI.

These Cannon-fodder engines are used in games against much stronger engines for either Model-mining or Style-defining.

I also use Cannon-fodder engines for my own training games, as well as stronger engines…just not “Truth-finder engines” which are too strong for ANY human.

An example of a Cannon-fodder engine would be WChess 1.06.

Truth-finder Engines:

Any engine rated over about 3150 on the CCRL Rating Scale.

I refer to them as Truth-finders because in the eyes of anybody under about 2400 ELO they play perfect chess and therefore, after all of my independent analysis or games with Cannon-fodder engines, I can refer to a Truth-finder to see what is really going on in the position.

The downside of Truth-finder engines is that due to the perfection of the play, they seem to lack a distinct style and their play can be boring…therefore, they are simply a powerful tool and that’s it.

An example of a Truth-finder engine would be Stockfish 6.

Human-like Master Engines:

A Human-like Master engine is one of the engines which is of master strength, but has a very distinct positional or aggressive playing style, but isn’t quite in the same class as a Truth-finder engine.

These are great for training games, finding crazy/unusual ideas in known openings and Model-mining.

An example of a Human-like Master engine would be the super tactical Prodeo Q3 personality or the Capablanca-like Frenzee engine.


What does a person do when they are trying to learn a new opening, but no matter where they search they can’t find any sample games in their line to study? Do they just wait until the position appears on the board in a tournament and “wing it”?

Not if you’re a Chess & Cognac reader, that’s for sure!

The answer is Model-mining.

Here’s what you do…

Set up an engine tournament in Arena featuring a bunch of Cannon-fodder engines, some Human-like Master engines and maybe 1 Truth-seeker.

Set the engines to begin each tournament game from the critical position in your opening (easy in Arena) and leave the tournament on over night.

The next day you’ll have a batch of sample games involving Cannon-fodder engines being smacked around in very instructive ways by the others and you’ll be able to study them and collect ideas/inspiration for future use in your own games.

Study them over a physical chess board and make notes in a physical notebook…your understanding of the opening will skyrocket!


A chessplayer’s preference for a given type of position determines which types of moves they select in a chess game.

  • If a chessplayer prefers quiet, slow-moving closed positions we can say he has a strategic style.
  • If he is more focussed on static features of a position such as pawn structure, better minor piece placement and such, we can say he has a positional style.
  • If he likes to maneuver pieces quickly toward the enemy king and aim for a quick knockout, we can say he has an attacking style.
  • If his play is dominated more by accurate calculation and direct (even if well-concealed) threats, we can say that he has a tactical style.

Obviously these definitions have some overlap and are subject to opinions, but I have given a rough guideline to help understand what I’m talking about when I use these terms.


So you have heard that this new engine plays in a style like “Tal on steroids”…

Style-defining is simply placing this engine against a Cannon-fodder Engine in a sharp opening, with plenty of play left.

The idea is to let the engine prove itself and clobber the weaker engine, thus making its style obvious in a way which would be much more difficult against an engine of the same strength.

Good openings for Style-defining are Open-Sicilians, Semi-Slav and anything with opposite castling.


A personality is a setting or tweak within a chess engine which changes its style of play from the default.

For example:

  • Prodeo/Rebel has personalities which makes the engine adopt the styles of various grandmasters.
  • Rodent has a great personality called “Kinghunter” which attacks like a maniac.
  • Many others…