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Developer(s)Mark Uniacke
Initial release1980; 43 years ago (1980)
Stable release
15 / January 2022; 1 year ago (2022-01)
Written inC
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Pocket PC, Palm OS
TypeChess engine

HIARCS is a proprietary UCI chess engine developed by Mark Uniacke.[1] Its name is an acronym standing for higher intelligence auto-response chess system. Because Hiarcs is written portable in C, it is available on multiple platforms such as Pocket PC, Palm OS, PDAs, iOS, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

HIARCS opening book authors over time were Eric Hallsworth, Sebastian Böhme and Harvey Williamson, who is also operating HIARCS regularly at various computer chess tournaments. HIARCS author Mark Uniacke said in a 2011 video interview that one of his current priorities in development is improving HIARCS to play in a more "human-like fashion" at different Elo strengths.[2]


The first version of HIARCS was written in 1980 in PDP-11 Basic, when Mark Uniacke was only 15 years old. Subsequent versions were also written in interpreted Basic, which meant that the program was rather slow. To compensate for this, Mark developed some heuristics to guide the program's search and evaluation in a more 'targeted' way.[3][4] This resulted in a program that relied on positional algorithms, rather than search depth.[5]

At the end of the 80s, HIARCS was rewritten in C, and soon competed in computer chess tournaments. In 1991, Hiarcs went commercial and Hiarcs 1.0 was released for PCs and the MS-DOS operating system.[6] In 1996, Hiarcs 4.0 became the first version to be marketed by Chessbase sold inside the Fritz GUI.

Version 11, the first version to support multiprocessing, was released in December 2006. HIARCS 12.1 and 13 are the engines in Pocket Fritz by Chessbase.[1][7] Since Version 14, released in August 2012, HIARCS has been sold along with its own GUI (Chess Explorer) available on Mac OS X and Windows.[8]

Competition results[edit]

HIARCS has won numerous computer and human tournaments. In 1991, it won the title of the World Amateur Microcomputer Chess Champion at the 11th World Microcomputer Chess Championship (WMCCC), in 1992, it won the gold medal at the 4th Computer Olympiad, and in 1993, it won the World Microcomputer Chess Championship held in Munich.[9]

In April 1997, HIARCS 6.0 became the first PC chess program to win a match played at tournament time controls over a FIDE International Master. In the same year, HIARCS went on to win the Godesberg Open ahead of Grandmasters and International Masters.[1]

In January 2003, HIARCS played a four-game match against Grandmaster Evgeny Bareev, world number 8 at the time. All the four games were drawn, resulting in a tied match.[1]

Since 2005, HIARCS has been tested to be the strongest chess program available on a handheld device. It is the top handheld on the SSDF rating list, and was considered the strongest engine in a comprehensive review of 63 handheld chess programs.[1][7]

In December 2007, HIARCS won the 17th International Paderborn Computer Chess Championship,[10] and after the disqualification of Rybka,[11] HIARCS was placed first at the 2008 World Computer Chess Championship.[12] It also won the 2009 International CSVN Tournament, and the World Chess Software Championship in 2011[13] and 2013.[14]

Pocket Fritz 4 (which uses the HIARCS chess engine) won the Copa Mercosur (a category 6 tournament) in Buenos Aires, Argentina with 9 wins and 1 draw on August 4–14, 2009, achieving a performance rating of 2898 while running on the HTC Touch HD mobile phone.[15][1] It searched around 20,000 nodes per second, far less than it would on an average home computer.[16]

Notable games[edit]

HIARCS vs Jonny,
17th WCCC 2009
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
c7 black queen
d7 black knight
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
e6 black pawn
f6 black knight
h6 black pawn
d5 black pawn
b4 black pawn
d4 white knight
e4 white pawn
f4 white bishop
g4 white pawn
h4 white pawn
f3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white queen
e2 white knight
c1 white king
d1 white rook
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
Here HIARCS played 13. Bf4, inviting Black to fork White's bishop and knight with 13...e5. The game continued 14. Bh2 Qa5 15. Kb1 exd4, with no apparent compensation for White.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Uniacke, Mark. "Milestone History". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  2. ^ Kingscrusher YouTube Interview. London, December 11, 2011. "Hiarcs chess engine author." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQX_PxKAMTE
  3. ^ Uniake, Mark. "Where It All Began". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  4. ^ Uniake, Mark. "Now Walking". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  5. ^ Christian Kongsted, How to Use Computers to Improve Your Chess (London: Gambit Publications, 2003), p. 111.
  6. ^ Uniake, Mark. "Free HIARCS Chess Software Programs". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Chess Programs for Pocket PC and Palm devices". Archived from the original on 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  8. ^ "HIARCS Chess Explorer". HIARCS.
  9. ^ "12th World Microcomputer Chess Championship". Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Developers' announcement of 17th Paderborn championship victory". Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  11. ^ Rybka placed first but the program was found to have plagiarized Crafty and Fruit (the GPL'ed runner-up in 2005), and was stripped of its title. (Doggers, Peter. "Rybka disqualified and banned from World Computer Chess Championships". Chess Vibes. Archived from the original on 30 June 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2011.)
  12. ^ "16th World Computer Chess Championship". Archived from the original on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  13. ^ "9th World Computer Chess Championship (Software)". Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  14. ^ HIARCS wins the 2013 Computer Chess Software Championship
  15. ^ Mercosur Cup 2009, www.hiarcs.com
  16. ^ "The New Pocket Fritz 4(Hiarcs) Wins in Mercosur 2009 9.5/10". Retrieved 25 October 2013.

External links[edit]