Although chess is an age-old game, it relies heavily on computers and artificial intelligence. Almost all GMs run chess engines to prepare for their openings and analyze variations.
Even new players can benefit from the technology to learn from their mistakes and improve their game. With all those perks, the demand for making engines compatible with different operating systems, like Android, increases.
In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 best chess engines for Android so that you can enjoy and learn chess on your mobile at any time. So, keep reading for all the details!
Whether you’re old or new to the game, you’ve probably heard of Stockfish. The former is a free, open-source chess engine, considered one of the strongest—if not the strongest—engines.
Stockfish has an estimated Elo of over 3500, enabling it to win the Top Chess Engine Championship 13 times! It’s available for Android, Windows, iOS, macOS, and even Linux! This engine also supports classical chess and Chess960 (the Fischer Random Chess variation).
What separates Stockfish from other engines is its advanced alpha-beta algorithm. The former enables the engine to reach great search depth, making the best move at each position.
What’s more, Stockfish can have up to 512 CPU threads, and a maximal transposition table is 32 TB! Those features allow the engine to deeply analyze previous positions and evaluations, providing accurate assessments throughout the game.
The only problem is that Stockfish’s playing style is more reactionary; it doesn’t have ideas. The engine calculates the most tactically winning move and plays it.
That can be a drawback for new chess learners since some moves are difficult to understand.
2. Leela Chess Zero
Leela Chess Zero (LCZero) is another open-source, self-learning chess engine capable of playing on par with Stockfish.
Although it’s programmed by one of Stockfish’s developers, Leela Chess Zero doesn’t use the same algorithms as the former. Instead, the latter chess engine runs a search based on an artificial neural network, which is based on Google’s Alphazero Go project.
As the name implies, a neural network is an artificial intelligence technique that mimics the human brain. The network learns by being exposed to a large body of input. Then, it’s rewarded or punished, depending on the accuracy of the response.
Having played over 1.5 million games against itself, LCZero has trained in numerous chess positions and outcomes. So, it’s capable of calculating the best possible move.
Even when it doesn’t have a perfect understanding of a particular game, LCZero can make good decisions thanks to the MCTS algorithm.
Leela’s rating is slightly under 3500. Its play style is different from conventional engines. LCZero can alternate between normal, aggressive, and fast. It also values space and material sacrifices, creating creative, alien-like moves that eventually led it to win against Stockfish!
Designed by GM Larry Kaufman and Don Dailey in the mid-2000s, the Komodo chess engine was one of the strongest, beating top engines like Rybka.
Like Stockfish, Komodo has won multiple titles, including the World Computer Chess Championship and the Top Chess Engine Championship. The former also supports Chess960.
Despite being released over a decade ago, this engine remains one of the best thanks to its advanced MCTS algorithm. It provides advanced positional evaluation at top-notch speed and accuracy. Additionally, Komodo helps detect tactical opportunities.
What makes Komodo unique is that it can adjust its style depending on the position.
That enables it to change its behavior depending on the difficulty, a perk that made it a favorite at Chess.com. The number one internet server uses Komodo for its computer bots, which range from Elos as low as 200 to as high as 3200.
However, generally, this search engine’s style is aggressive. So, it might be suitable for those who want to improve their attacking game.
While that sounds great, Komodo is a commercial engine, meaning you’ll have to pay to access all its features. Still, the earlier versions are free, which might be handy for beginners.
True to its name, Berserk is a chess engine that’s all about risky, aggressive play. Although released in 2021, the former engine achieved a 50% score in its debut tournament. With a 3490 Elo, Berserk ranks in the top 5 engines, falling only behind Stockfish, Komodo, and Ethereal.
Berserk’s network architecture features neural networks, delta pruning, and singular extensions. The former allows it to tackle complex chess positions and find the best move in seconds.
This engine’s play style is more tactical, creating opportunities for attacks by making risky plays. It makes an excellent option for positional players looking to train for aggressive play styles. In contrast, you can use it to defend against threats without losing your position.
What’s more, Berserk understands different chess variations, including Atomic, Suicide, Loseres, and Crazyhouse.
Unlike the above engines, Fritz offers a graphical user interface (GUI). So, you can play the games on the application instead of using chess servers.
Although Fritz isn’t the strongest engine, it remains one of the tops, with an Elo above 3300., winning many titles.
Through Fritz, you can access numerous opening databases and play at different levels against the engine.
What’s more, Fritz provides deep game analysis, suggesting the best moves and helping you improve your game. You can use it to practice theoretical positions, end games, and more! The best part is that Fritz is user-friendly and easy to navigate!
This engine’s playing style is all about tactics. Despite being a computer, Fritz’s moves resemble humans—a perk that makes it suitable for chess beginners looking to understand the fundamentals and improve their game.
All the above sounds great, right? However, it comes at a cost. Frtiz is a commercial engine. To access it, you need to either buy the application or pay for a premium account on ChessBase.
What You Should Consider When Using a Chess Engine
Regardless of your chess goals, here’s what you need to consider when using a chess engine:
Speed and Accuracy
Most chess engines are designed to run deep searches and provide the best move for a high-accuracy game. However, you don’t want the analysis to be slow.
Sure, running an engine to a depth of 20 would take less than 60, for example. Still, analyzing at lower depths shouldn’t take more than a few seconds or minutes.
Customization and Analysis
Look for a chess engine that offers numerous customization options, such as strength level adjustment, time changes, or specific opening selection.
The engine should also offer a detailed analysis of the positions, providing the top moves and the statistics regarding a line’s variation.
Endgames can be the trickiest part of a chess game because of the increasing possibility of a draw, whether through insufficient material or the 50-move rule.
Luckily, engines contain an endgame tablebase that includes the number of moves possible to win an endgame, depending on the number of pieces on the board.
Currently, a seven-piece tablebase is the largest supported by top engines. However, the former is important for elite chess players since spending time studying how to win endgames isn’t something recreational chess players would do.
As you can see, engines have become a crucial tool for chess players, helping them improve their game and analyze their mistakes. That’s why most engines are compatible with different operating systems, including Android.
When looking at our top 5 best chess engines for Android, Stockfish remains the most popular thanks to its advanced algorithms and fast performance.
However, other engines like Leela Chess Zero, Komodo, Berserk, and Fritz are also great options. Regardless of the engine you choose, it’ll help you improve your game while playing chess on your phone!