On Youtube it shows chess engines as humanoid robots (here, for instance). Is this true, and if so do they play chess over the board according to their software? That would explain why they don't always play the best move according to their algorithm.

  • It's a valid question some people may have, my +1 against the -3. Aug 16, 2023 at 15:28
  • @OverLordGoldDragon Thanks, I'm not sure what people think is wrong with my question. The least they could do is leave a comment or something.
    – user34459
    Aug 16, 2023 at 21:34
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    Reasons to downvote a question: 'This question does not show any research effort, it is unclear, or not helpful'. I guess this question is unclear and doesn't show any research effort. Just google "what's a chess engine" and you're done. About clarity: other than the title, the rest of the question makes no sense at all: "That would explain why they don't always play the best move according to their algorithm." -> what does it even mean?
    – emdio
    Aug 17, 2023 at 15:59
  • @emdio Stockfish (and other engines) doesn't always play the best move according to its own analysis after the game. I was wondering if this was because of the time during a live game. That is what I meant when I said that.
    – user34459
    Aug 17, 2023 at 22:16
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    @gordon I have some experience at chess programming and chess engines just play the best move. But the best move depends (among others ) on the time used in the analysis, the hardware and the engine version. If you provide some examples of that "not playing always the best move" behaviour it could be an interesting question.
    – emdio
    Aug 18, 2023 at 7:20

1 Answer 1


No, chess engines are not humanoid robots. That is just something that the YouTube channel uses to represent the engine so that the videos are more approachable for the intended audience. Chess engines are simply software that run on computers. People may make a robot or animated personality to go with the engine, but that would be entirely separate from the engine itself, and it would not change what the engine does.

Strictly speaking, a chess engine is just a piece of software that defines some criteria for differentiating between good and bad positions. When given a position to analyze, it will yield the best move according to this criteria. It takes time and resources to find this best move, so the same engine analyzing the same position with different amount of time or computer resources may yield different results. This would be especially noticeable when comparing to the performance of an engine that is playing a match, where time is limited, to the same engine analyzing a position after a match, where time is unlimited.

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