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Gullydeckel. How does a 20-year-old chess engine play today?

On various online forums and discussion groups for computer chess enthusiasts, very often the topics discussed are mainly about the strongest chess engines. The ones with the top of the top. When the strength of one of these chess monsters increases by 5 or 10 Elo, a significant part of the Internet community welcomes this state of affairs. When Lc0 wins against Stockfish, or Stockfish wins against Lc0, another interesting topic of conversation arises for many participants in these debates...

Well, that is about ok.

But.... what about those chess engines that have not reached such a high level of strength or will never reach it? What about older chess engines, What about engines that are 10, 15 or even 20 years old? Have they become quite... useless ?

Such a nice picture of chess Rook

At we appreciate all chess engines, we appreciate the work of all Chess Developers, especially those who make their engines available to as many users and the chess community as possible.

It is worth noting that before the engines started playing with a strength of 3000 Elo and higher, it took several decades to reach such a level; all this effort was the result of the work of countless talented Creators from all over the world.

The Oldie Goldie series aims to showcase these magnificent chess engines – products of human creativity, which, although older by their age, still manage to delight and be useful.

The Gullydeckel chess engine is no different, although it is not as strong, well-known and successful.

It is not an engine that plays at the level of 3000 Elo, it does not even play at the level of Grandmaster. More! It doesn't come close to the Master level!

Source: MCERL (ongoing)

I chose Gullydeckel deliberately to show that an engine more than 20 years old can be.... well, just what? :)

I invite you to read the rest of this post to find out what a chess engine playing at around 2000 Elo level can offer.

Before we go further, let me add that Gullydeckel is a chess engine by Mr. Martin Borriss, open source under the GPL.

It's a wonderful exception from decades ago, when its author was one of the really few to make the source code available (a very rare practice in those days). Gullydeckel, although originally written to run on computers using Linux and Windows, is written in such an elegant and accessible way that it has enabled me to prepare binaries for modern Linux arm64 and also Mac (Intel & Apple Silicon) computers.

Ok, to answer the title question, let's see the game between Gullydeckel 2.16.pl2 (white) and Cinnamon 2.0 (black)*.

Cinnamon 2.0 is an engine that, according to MCERL, plays with the strength of a champion candidate and holds a 2158 Elo ranking.

Objectively, Gullydeckel plays with a strength about 100 Elo lower, however, this will not prevent a quite interesting game - by both computer players.

On the chessboard we see a position after already 31 moves, formed after the Spanish opening, a closed variant. Usually, the continued play after this opening is characterized more by strategic maneuvers than open tactical plays.

With 31 moves behind us, there is still a lot of material left on the chessboard. With painstaking maneuvers, Black has developed a clear advantage: their Rook penetrates the first line, the Knight occupies the excellent c5 square and they have a pair of Bishops that can pose quite a threat in retrospect.

The Whites seem a bit overwhelmed by the developments, their Bishop plays the role of Pawn.... on the first line, it is so limited in its moves, the b2 pawn seems to be in a lost position. Before Gullydeckel the difficult task of saving this game.


Typical Knight play when there is an opportunity. White provokes an exchange.


Exchange made, white places its Rook on d5. Is this a good square for a heavy piece ?


Obviously not 33...Qxb2 because of 34.Bc3.

The movement of the black pawn on f5 is unfortunately late, it is a mistake. Probably the idea was to block the white Queen by planning to play ...f4 or to bring about an exchange on f5 in order to weaken the d5 square where the white Rook is located.

A calm 33...Nd7 with another Nf6 was the best to threaten Rook d5.


White eagerly agreed to the exchange on the f5 square. Cinnamon, in response, sets the black Queen on b7 hoping to put pressure on the “weakened” Rook d5. Unfortunately, this is another mistake, which on the next move allows white to seize the initiative and reverse the fortunes of this game.


Gullydeckel decided (rightly) that d5 was not the best square for Rook, and it would make no sense to go back; white sacrifices Rook for a strong black Knight.


Let's assess the situation on the chessboard.

The white pieces are finally starting to play like a good orchestra. Thanks to the activation of the white Bishop, all the dark squares – are weak squares. Cooperation with the white Queen will allow Gullydeckel to penetrate deep into the black camp.


White poses a checkmate threat.


Cinnamon finally takes Pawn b2, although it won't do anything to improve its situation.


The White Knight is untouchable. If black takes it, then in two moves their King will be checkmated. Nothing more can save black from defeat in this game.


The orchestra of the whites plays triumphantly. Despite the resistance put up by black, their end is near.


Cinnamon is unable to avoid the checkmate.


Nice Pawn checkmate.

Gullydeckel 2.16.pl2 vs Cinnamon 2.0
Download ZIP • 4KB

Did you like this game Dear Reader ?

Although it was not without fat errors, I think that the style in which Gullydeckel won could be enjoyed.

Gullydeckel and other chess engines playing at this and similar levels, may not be the best for conducting analysis and looking for, for example, novelties in chess openings or finding clever solutions in endings.


It can be a cool and interesting sparring partner who plays quite natural chess and sometimes allows himself inaccuracies, mistakes but also able to play nicely and strongly!

As part of the MCERL games, I let Gullydeckel play several hundred games, and a good number of them I really enjoyed!

Gullydeckel, is a cool chess engine, an exciting return to the past that can provide a lot of fun.


Like most engines of yesteryear, Gullydeckel does not support the UCI protocol, but communicates well via the CECP (XBoard/WinBoard) protocol.

To use Gullydeckel in a program that does not support the CECP protocol (e.g. Fritz), you need to use the appropriate adapter (author Odd Gunnar Malin).

This is a free tool, see the zip archive below for details.

Download ZIP • 124KB

Feel free to download the Gullydeckel chess engine.

Linux arm64 – Compiled by Darius

Download 7Z • 593KB

Linux x32 – Compiled by Martin Borriss

Download 7Z • 582KB

Mac Apple Silicon & Intel – Compiled by Darius

Download 7Z • 585KB
Download 7Z • 590KB

Windows x32 – Compiled by Martin Borriss

Download 7Z • 604KB


* Diagrams created in the Hiarcs Chess Explorer Pro with custom pieces and board theme.


Martin Borriss
Martin Borriss
Dec 27, 2023

Hello Darius, stumbled across this — thanks for taking the time and bringing good old Gullydeckel back to life :-) I enjoyed reading the article and seeing the game.

Jan 10
Replying to

I am very pleased 😊

Cool that Gullydeckel was created, it's a nice engine!


A welcome article, out of respect for those who have contributed to the building and development of chess engines, for the free benefit of chess players everywhere.

Today, these engines are useful for training chess players with a rating of up to 2000, but if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have such powerful engines today.

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