“ExChess is a Superb and Spectacular Engine!”

These were the words by longtime computer chess aficionado Ruxy Sylwyka when speaking on the chess engine ExChess 6.50b.

What would cause him to utter such words to describe an engine which is barely 2700 on the CCRL rating scale?

I can’t be sure, but his words certainly sparked my interest …

ExChess plays really dynamic chess, highly values the bishop pair and is no slouch if you’re crazy enough to give him attacking opportunities.

Sure, he isn’t sacrificing pieces left and right on the insane level of OpenTal (not even close), but he’s still definitely more on the aggressive side, that’s for sure.

Here’s an example of a position ExChess really likes…

ExChess chess engine

Gaviota (white) already worse against ExChess, who already has the bishop pair, better pawn structure AND a nice knight outpost on e4!

Actually, on the same day I seen the positive comments by Ruxy, I read the following words by Fernando Villegas commenting that:

“As I noted sometime ago, this new version goes very very deep with clearly a savage pruning technique.”

And so finally this was actually enough for me to download ExChess.

So I downloaded him, loaded him up in the GUI (Arena in my case), and then watched him kick the asses of a few “cannon fodder” engines  – a common method I use for figuring out playing style.

Here’s an example of what I saw in my initial tests…

Gaviota 0.74.1 vs ExChess 6.50b

In this game ExChess is instructive in how he quickly accumulates the following advantages:

  • The Bishop Pair
  • Superior Pawn Structure
  • Superior King Safety

Under pressure, Gaviota grabbed a pawn with 25.Rxh6?! which seems dubious to me since it opens the h-file for black’s natural attack and in combination with the above-mentioned advantages, ExChess quickly built a devastating attack.

So by now, I was very curious to test out Fernando’s mentioned “savage pruning technique” and I set up the board, loaded the GUI and began to play against ExChess 6.50b myself.

The time control was 25 5, one of my preferred time controls for playing against engines, and as I often do – I decided to take the black pieces and see if I can handle the pressure.

ExChess 6.50b (2670) vs Brendan

Here’s my analysis of my grueling battle against ExChess 6.50b – a battle I managed to survive using human understanding – to overcome the sheer power of a 2670 Elo Chess Engine.

I hope you enjoy.

Download ExChess 6.50b