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I found on the Web some information what centipawns are. But how exactly programs calculate this loss? How can I recognize if one move will bring less centipawn loss that an another? Assuming both would not lead to a loss of a chess piece.

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I think that's your question:

Q: How does a chess engine evaluate a chess position and give centipawns score?

I don't want to bore you with technical details, let me give you simple explanation:

  1. Chess engine is able to evaluates a chess position and give a score

The score can depend on many factors, including but not limited to:

  • Material
  • Pawn structure
  • Mobility
  • King Safety

https://chessprogramming.wikispaces.com/Evaluation

  1. Chess engine searches as many moves as possible and compare the moves by evaluation score. The best move is the move that gives the best score.

  2. Now we know a chess engine can give a score. For convenience, they scale the scores to centipawns.

  • 1
    Also worth noting is that these calculations are done with respect to the computer's capabilities. A 101 centipawn positional advantage is worth the loss of 1 pawn worth of material to the computer, because the computer believes it can leverage that position sufficiently to make up for the loss of material. You may look at the same position and disagree, because you may not have the same ability to leverage such a position or you can do more with that 1 pawn of material than the computer thought it could. – Cort Ammon Jul 17 '17 at 17:11

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