Computer Chess

AnMon Chess Engine: Tough, Solid and Strong!

What’d you think of the video above? Was this AnMon chess engine lucky to “swindle” me or was it a fair result?

I actually think it was a fair result.

(BTW…If you just want to download AnMon, you can do so at the bottom of this post 😉 )

Moving on…

Having outplayed the engine with my typically risky but dynamic style, I then played like a greedy Bond villain at the roulette table, pressed too hard and then lost (cue the violin music).

That’s life in chess.

So who is AnMon anyway?

The AnMon Chess Engine – Master Strength with a Balanced Style

It’s funny, in the video I described AnMon as having a positional style but if you look at some of the feedback from as long as 17 years ago, you’ll see people say that AnMon is a tactical engine!

AnMon Chess Engine
This is AnMon playing against another program, GnuChess way back in 2002. (Source)

Fernando Villegas, a Chilean computer chess expert who has played his training games exclusively against engines for at least TWENTY years, said of AnMon:

“I recommend all of you to download and play the AnMon chess engine. It is a real beast and dangerous as hell.”

That was back in June of 1999!

Fernando Villegas
Here’s Fernando (center) with IM RenĂ© Letelier and Anatoly Karpov! (Source)

So if a friend of Karpov recommends AnMon, I guess we can at least give it a try!

AnMon Chess Engine Results

Despite being a freely downloadable engine, AnMon has had some pretty good results in computer chess tournaments, such as consecutive wins in the French Programmers Tournament which is held in the city of Massy.

Massy 2005

AnMon won Massy 2005 ahead of Fruit ( a revolutionary engine at the time) and Capture (former French Computer Champion)

Massy 2006

AnMon Chess Engine Wins Massy 2006

And as we can see above, the following year AnMon won Massy 2006 with a perfect 6/6, ahead of Pharaon and Chess Tiger (a great engine I reviewed here).

And this was the same 5.53 version I played blitz against in the post’s video!

Awesome haha, let’s look at some other nice games of AnMon then I’ll let you guys download AnMon for your own testing.

AnMon Chess Engine Best Games

As mentioned I’ve always thought that AnMon was a positional chess engine, while others described this engine as a tactical engine, so why the confusion?

The AnMon chess engine can play any type of position!

That’s why.

It’s like the Bobby Fischer of chess engines.

Now let’s see some examples.

Tactical Brilliance and Understanding of Compensation:

Game 1: Crafty 22.01 vs AnMon 5.53

This game is really impressive for a TEN-year-old engine.

AnMon grabs the Catalan c-pawn, hold onto it with 9…b5, and then when Crafty tries to exploit it with 10.Ne5, AnMon just sacrifices the exchange.

By the time AnMon plays 16…c3 he is down the exchange for a pawn, but he is STRATEGICALLY WINNING with a protected passed pawn on c3 and devastating pressure on the light-squares.

Meanwhile, Crafty can’t develop any of his pieces!

Check it out.

Fischer-style Technical Play and Light-Squared Bishop Use:

Game 2: AnMon 5.53 vs SmarThink 0.17a

Here you’ll see AnMon play a R+B vs R+N ending with the smoothness of Bobby Fischer against an engine of basically the same strength…pretty impressive!

This game illustrates in a simple way the basics of good endgame strategy:

  1. Keep your pieces active/not tied down
  2. Prevent counterplay (often by making the enemy pieces passive/tied down)
  3. Activate the king
  4. Push your passed pawns!

Kramnik-style Conversion and Use of Passed-Pawns

Game 3: AnMon 5.53 vs Amyan 1.72

This game is more Kramnik-like!

AnMon stakes an early claim on the light-squares with the forceful 13.e5, 14.d6, and 15.a4! gaining an edge pretty quickly and this time when Amyan (another great engine I’ll review another time) sacrificed the exchange with 16…Qa5 AnMon accepted without hesitation.

He then begins a rather human-like serious of moves to exchange pieces (you know the maxim “exchange when you’re ahead”) via 18.Nc7xa6 and 20.Bg5! initiating more beautifully forcing play.

The final flourish ending with 36.Nf5+ is very nice.

So what do you think? Not bad for an engine whose claim to fame was way back in 2006 huh?

As you know I love human-like engines and I firmly believe that engines make great training opponents.

Download AnMon below and give it a try yourself.

Till Next time…



Download AnMon and check it out for yourself!

Click Here to Get AnMon 5.53 (Massy Tournament Winner)

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Chess Coach, Computer Chess Nut, Copywriter, Language Learner, Philosopher and Nice Guy Living in China.
  • Mmm I’m testing AnMon against other engines and its results are not being that good (10.5/25 in the tournament I’m organising against other average engines). Plus it didn’t know how to win the queen vs bishop’s pair endgame.

  • AnMon just gives a black screen. Again no instructions on howto download.

  • Paul Evans says:

    Cool video, I’m enjoying your blog posts. I also like playing computers, currently trying to beat the K2 engine built into Arena (on linux, apparently 2000 ELO but I think its a touch stronger) and I’m causing it problems but can’t break it, gotta love those miraculous defensive moves. About to try using a dry defensive style and grinding out the endgame.

    • Hey Paul,

      Ahh K2, I remember that one. Decent style from memory.

      Share some interesting games some time.

      Shoot em over to brendan (at) 😉

  • Thanks Morten, very helpful. I didn’t see your comment because comments with links automatically goto moderation and I missed it. Arena is a great GUI.

  • Many of us are not that familiar with computers. I couldnt use program and someone said I have to download something else to make it work. You could have told us that.

    • Thanks Barry, you made an excellent point.

      Just for guys like you who are newer to computer chess, my next post will be a comprehensive guide to software, terminology and usage of all this stuff. I know it gets confusing at times.

      Until then, what you’ve downloaded is a chess ENGINE which is just a binary file which contains coded instructions on how to choose chess moves. It still requires a GUI (graphical user interface) to “plug in to” for playing chess games. A great one you can use that’s free is Arena ( and I’ll be doing a lot more tutorials on that software pretty soon.

      Stay with us, the next post is for you. 😉

  • Bobby Garry says:

    Why not make chess personality of yourself, and play against him? 😀 Brendan vs. Brendan 😀

    • haha Several people have suggested this! I’ll put it in the todo list for my engine projects.

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