Many of you will remember back in March when I began a fantastic tournament with 15 of the leanest, meanest chess engines in existence.

Many of you have also contacted me saying “Brendan, what happened to your awesome training tournament with the engines? 😥 “.

Here is my response.

My Windows 7 installation which held the awesome tournament was corrupted and I lost the data containing the tournament….NO!!!!  👿


What I’ve decided to do  (rather than hold a huge tournament with me and FIFTEEN other engines participating) is hold short “best of 3” challenge matches between myself and whatever engine I (or you guys) prefer.

The first opponent will be:

Chess System Tal 2! (but more on this guy soon…)

Criteria for “Best of Three” Matches:

Engine must be:

  • Lower than 2500 strength, based on CCRL ratings (to give me a chance lol)
  • Have the reputation of being “human-like” in its playing style

Time Control: 60 minutes each with 10 seconds increment from move one.

Schedule: Best of three games (Human starts as white)

So who is Chess System Tal 2? is an introduction from the program’s wiki page.

Chess System Tal is a commercial chess program developed by Chris Whittington in the mid 90s as successor of the Complete Chess System, marketed through his company Oxford Softworks.

Chess System Tal is famous for its entertaining, strong human playing style with focus on King attacks and speculative sacrifices, resembling that of the former World Champion Mikhail Tal.

chess system tal engine

Clearly old software, but a “golden oldie”

This software has a clearly old-style windows GUI, but most importantly benefits from the fact that its programmer was more focussed on creating the “ultimate human-like opponent“.

This is rather in contrast to today’s mind-numbing ELO rat race where engines are rated 3400+ and celebrate tiny 3 point rating increases.

In fact, Chris Whittington didn’t intend for Chess System Tal to play against other engines at all, and was ONLY focussed on style of play, NOT on how strong the engine was!

It turns out that CST 2 is still around 2300 ELO in strength anyway, but with the style to make any true chess lover’s mouth water.

chess system tal 2

Its easy for today’s players to miss how beautifully CST2 plays chess, when looking at its antiquated GUI.

Example of Chess System Tal’s Play:

Chess Genius vs Chess System Tal

In this game (which is against another great classic engine, Chess Genius) we witness one of the first true exchange sacrifices by an engine.

This game is from way back in 1995 when most computers were simple bean counters, yet here we see Chess System Tal achieve a beautifully, human-like attacking win as black.

So now that you have some background…

How did I do in game 1?

It was a toughly fought draw.

Here’s the game with brief analysis by me.

Brendan J. Norman vs Chess System Tal 2

“Best of 3” Match, Game 1

Result: Draw

So what do you think?

Am I going to get crushed tomorrow as black?

Probably, but stay tuned to this page and cheer me on anyway!

Let’s hope that if I lose, I at least lose beautifully.

Round 2 coming soon! 🙂