10 Strongest Free Chess Engines [all above 3000 ELO]

Yury Markushin
Category: Reviews

Chess engines play a huge role in 21st century chess. Mostly due to their presence we now see 15, 14, 13 and even 12 year old grandmasters, something that was unthinkable just 20 years ago.

Ability to have a precise analysis of any given position changed the way players are preparing for the competition. Here is the list of 10 strongest free chess engines in the world.

Note: the engines were tested on identical 64-bit 4 CPUs machines.

Chess Engine 1. Stockfish DD, ELO 3247

Stockfish is the most powerful, free, open source chess engine in the world. Rated only 20 ELO points below the top commercial chess engine Houdini 4, Stockfish is definitely a great alternative for most chess players.

Stockfish plays better and faster than humans. And it’s one of the strongest chess engines in the world, appearing near or at the top of most chess engine rating lists.

Official Website

Chess Engine 2. Critter 1.6a, ELO 3173

Critter is one of the youngest and strongest chess engines in the world. The first version was created in 2008. Critter does not have a distinct playing style (yet) and relies more on tactics. All I can say, it’s doing it pretty well.

Official Website

Chess Engine 3. Fire 3.0, ELO 3159

Fire is another awfully strong chess engine, rated almost 300 points higher than the highest rated human chess player. After a multiple updates from the publisher, Fire scores high on many of the top computer rating lists.

Official Website

Chess Engine 4. Gull 2.3, ELO 3155

Gull is a free, fast and very strong open source chess engine.

Official Website

Chess Engine 5. Strelka 5.5, ELO 3118

Strelka is a Russian designed chess engine which is now one of the strongest in the world. It is especially good at quick time control chess such as blitz and bullet.

Official Website

Chess Engine 6. Hannibal 1.4b, ELO 3092

Hannibal is a state-of-the-art chess engine with a distinct playing style. Hannibal is a strategic player and relies on its very selective search, good endgame knowledge and an understanding of material imbalances.

Official Website

Chess Engine 7. Protector 1.5.0 , ELO 3071

Protector is yet another very strong chess engine, rated above 3000 ELO.

Official Website

Chess Engine 8. BlackMamba 2.0, ELO 3068

BlackMamba build to imitate strengths of human players (such as piece sacrifices) but not the mistakes.

Official Website

Chess Engine 9. Spike 1.4, ELO 3035

Spike was developed from the scratch but uses many ideas already tested on our two other engines: Cheetah and IceSpell. It has an aggressive playing style and “spiking” its opponents.

Official Website

Chess Engine 10. Spark 1.0, ELO ~3000

Spark is a new chess engine with a unique playing style.

Official Website

What is your favorite chess engine?

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The ratings used in the article are from CCRL as of March 1, 2014.


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Updated 01.14.2024


Yury Markushin:
Ok I am joining.
Hi there , i´, search the Mephisto-Chess-Engine to download
Houdini 1.5 is free... and so is Komodo version 3.
Houdini it`s not free man...& others...
I find the opening book of some lower-rated programs is superior to Houdini and that tactical ability or positional play can be as good or better too. But, where Houdini, and perhaps other 3000+ programs, shines is the late middle-game where it sees into the long-variations of the endgame much better. That's not really much to recommend it over a 2600 program. Are these qualities somewhat the same with other programs?
Hello everyone, the number 6 was omitted by mistake :P Thanks to everyone who brought that to my attention. Now it's all set, enjoy!
I mustn't think about those engines, because my chess capabillities are centuries away from theme :-) .
There is no #6,why its been omitted, How about Fritz? or Shredder? How does this engines fared with the rest.
What about the HIARCS engine? I Knew HIARCS beat Houdini...
@koravi Houdini it`s comercial...not free...but it`s mentioned ...read again number one...
¿number 6?
You havent mention Houdini