Last year I reviewed Pawel Kozioł’s Rodent chess engine and introduced you to my wild, aggressive Henny and Remy personalities which, even today are among my favorites.
Since then I’ve created close to a dozen personalities, all with distinct and attractive playing styles, and the one I’ll introduce to you today is called the Strangler personality.
I wanted Strangler to play in such as way that when you play against him, you don’t feel like you’re against a dangerous number-crunching machine.
I wanted Strangler’s opponents to feel comfortable, then optimistic, then slightly less comfortable, then uncomfortable, THEN to shriek “Jeez, my pieces have no good squares! 🙁 ”
In a word: The so-called “boa-constrictor” style.
Making him even more magical as a positional player, Strangler is not materialistic but is happy to sacrifice some material if it means his opponent will lose some mobility or attacking options.
Here’s an impressive example.
This game is amazing.
What follows is an amazing display of positional chess, as Strangler gradually uses his bishop pair, rolling pawns, and queen to take control of the entire board.
By the end, AnMon’s entire army have basically no moves – he has been strangled!
Such a game makes an impression, right?
AnMon is a 2500-level engine which we also like very much, but here it was made to look like a baby positionally.
Look at the following striking position.
White’s bishop, rook and knight have zero long-term prospects.
His king is tied to the defense of the f2 pawn and regardless of this, has no way of mobilizing safely anyway.
His e4 pawn needs constant protection.
On the other hand, black has deadly passed pawns on b2 and d3.
His bishop pair is supremely powerful and his K+N combo can be improved to the point of complete overwhelm.
Here’s a game where Strangler trapped my queen in in center of the board!
The game begins with the same Classical Sicilian I tried in my game against AnMon, but instead of going for an ultra-sharp Richter Rauzer Attack (6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0-0-0 0-0 etc), Strangler just played as positional players do.
He developed his pieces logically, castled and entered the middlegame soberly.
Then, with surgical precision he began to strike at my central pawn chain with his f5, Ne2-f4 and Qb3 maneuvers.
Faced with the pressure, I allowed my queen to be trapped – my major piece strangled in the middle of the board!
I wasn’t always so unlucky though, here’s a fight where I held my own (via only-moves while on the defensive)…
I quite like this game.
This Rodent Chess Engine can be a difficult opponent at the best of times, but in this game I myself was the one who played like a computer – Rodent Strangler played like a relentless human thirsty for a win.
In fact, I posted this game on a chess forum without names attached, and asked which player did they think was the engine.
Most people thought that I had played WHITE and that the engine was playing the black side.
I was quite surprised to see an engine of Bright’s level (Bright is rated over 2800, while Strangler has been held to a draw by me!) completely humiliated by a Rodent Strangulation.
In a seemingly level position, Strangler comes up with an beautifully deep concept.
He sacrifices an exchange to destroy the black king position, then traps the enemy queen out of the game permanently, so he can’t hunt the king without her interference.
You have to see this!
Star Moves: 21.Rxf6 (Natural for a human, but for an engine?) and 23.d5! (Let the queen try to get out of this one!)
If you’re looking for an engine with a brutal and dynamically positional playing style, who’ll give you lots of fun (and pain) in training games, will serve as a unique opinion for analysis, and will be SUPER fascinating to watch in engine vs engine matches – Strangler is your man.
Follow along with the 2 minute video below (shot from Starbucks in Shantou, Southern China!) and learn how easy it is to install the engine personality.
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