What was the first chess engine that could beat the world chess champion when running on a standard desktop playing at standard speeds (i.e. not blitz chess)? For concreteness, say a $1000 PC.

2 Answers 2


Deep Blue was a super computer. In the 2006 match, Kramnik was defeated by Deep Fritz that everybody could buy.

In a November 2006 match between Deep Fritz and world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik, the program ran on a computer system containing a dual-core Intel Xeon 5160 CPU, capable of evaluating only 8 million positions per second, but searching to an average depth of 17 to 18 plies in the middlegame thanks to heuristics; it won 4–2.[31][32]


  • 4
    The comparison between a 1997 supercomputer and a 2006 standard machine isn't necessarily trivial. Feb 3, 2019 at 23:20
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    @InertialIgnorance I don't know but I am sure you couldn't afford IBM Deep Blue.
    – SmallChess
    Feb 3, 2019 at 23:23
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    True, but I'm talking about the comparison between computational speeds. A mobile phone today is much faster than a supercomputer in the 50's, even though the latter costed way more at the time. Feb 3, 2019 at 23:25
  • 5
    @InertialIgnorance A mobile phone today would have made the supercomputer TOP 500 list in the mid 1990s, nevermind the 1950s!
    – J...
    Feb 4, 2019 at 13:05
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    For reference, Deep Blue was evaluating 100 million (first version) to 200 million (updated) positions per second, but to a depth of only 6-8moves on average (to a max of 20 in some cases). Deep Fritz had better heuristics, allowing it deeper searches with fewer evaluations.
    – J...
    Feb 4, 2019 at 13:13

A standard desktop today is significantly more powerful than whatever machine Deep Blue was running on in the mid-1990s against Kasparov. Since Deep Blue was the first engine to beat a world champion, that's the answer to your question.

Note that there may have been an engine before Deep Blue that, if it ran on a modern day desktop, could have beat Kasparov. But we never saw such a match happen so it's just speculation to say any earlier engine than Deep Blue.

  • 5
    Thanks for this. It seems according to the wiki that Deep Blue was running at 11.38 GFLOPS which is roughly the speed of a cheap PC these days. However it's not 100% clear Deep Blue was better than Kasparov. The match was controversial.
    – Simd
    Feb 3, 2019 at 20:01
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    Note peak FLOPS and achieved FLOPS are very different things. And I'm not sure that FLOPS is actually a reasonable measure of performance in this case - Ian the HPC guy
    – Ian Bush
    Feb 3, 2019 at 20:30
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    Yes, the match was controversial. If you don't accept that Deep Blue was superior though, you could select the next engine that beat a world champion in a match (there's a list in the wikipedia page on "Computer Chess"). Feb 3, 2019 at 21:35
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    Deep Blue used significant amounts of custom hardware. It is not the answer to the question because it cannot "run on a standard desktop." Feb 4, 2019 at 14:41
  • 3
    Due to the specific hardware used by Deep Blue I am not certain that the assumption about powerful holds. A 10 year old GPU can probably still outperform a modern CPU when rendering graphics. Feb 4, 2019 at 16:08

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