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Home * Engines * Gandalf

Gandalf 5.0 [1] [2]

the mighty chess program from Denmark developed by Steen Suurballe and opening book author Dan Wulff. Initially developed as MS-DOS program with its own GUI, it was market by Gambit-Soft [3], the WinBoard compliant Gandalf 4.32 was further shipped by Gambit-Soft [4], Gandalf 5 by Schröder BV [5], and Gandalf 6 by Lokasoft as native ChessPartner as well as UCI/WinBoard engines [6]. The most recent UCI compliant Gandalf 7 is freely available from Frank Quisinsky's download site [7], courtesy Steen Suurballe [8].

Tournament Play

Gandalf started its tournament career at the WMCCC 1993 and caused a stir while winning versus MChess and Quest, but also had its tactical blackouts of a highly selective search with only one ply brute-force. It further played the WCCC 1995, the WMCCC 1995, and becoming a more conventional program in 1996, the WMCCC 1996, WMCCC 1997 and WMCCC 2001. Dan operated Gandalf almost at all IPCCCs from 1994 until 2007, one time runner up in 2005 and several times third. Gandalf played various Aegon Tournaments, Dutch Open Computer Chess Championship, International CSVN Tournament as well as CCT Tournaments.



Gandalf 2 Screen [9]

Photos & Games


Mathias Feist - Gandalf, Steen and Dan, Aegon 1997 [10]

[Event "Aegon 1997"]
[Site "The Hague NED"]
[Date "1997.04.21"]
[Round "04"]
[White "Mathias Feist"]
[Black "Gandalf"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Nf6 4.Bxc4 e6 5.Nc3 Bd6 6.d4 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.e4 Be7 9.Bg5 h6 
10.Be3 Nbd7 11.Qc2 Nb6 12.Bd3 Bd7 13.a4 a5 14.Rfd1 Qc7 15.g3 Bb4 16.Bf4 Qd8 17.Na2 Be7 
18.Nc3 Bb4 19.Kg2 Rc8 20.h4 c5 21.dxc5 Bxc5 22.e5 Ng4 23.Rd2 Qe8 24.Kh3 f5 25.exf6 e5 
26.Bh7+ Kh8 27.Rxd7 Nxd7 28.fxg7+ Kxg7 29.Re1 Qh5 30.Rd1 0-1

Selected Games

IPCCC 1998, round 7, Chess Tiger - Gandalf [11]

[Event "7th IPCCC 1998"]
[Site "Paderborn"]
[Date "1998.02.15"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Chess Tiger"]
[Black "Gandalf"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 e6 3.d4 Nd7 4.Bg2 f5 5.O-O Bd6 6.b3 Qe7 7.c4 c6 8.a4 a5 9.e3 Ngf6 
10.c5 Bc7 11.Re1 b6 12.cxb6 Bxb6 13.Ba3 c5 14.Bf1 O-O 15.Nc3 Bb7 16.Rc1 Rac8 17.Bb5 
e5 18.Re2 Qe6 19.Nxe5 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Qxe5 21.Bb2 Qe6 22.Rec2 Ng4 23.Qe2 Qh6 24.h4 Rcd8 
25.Nd1 d4 26.exd4 cxd4 27.Qe7 Be4 28.Re2 Qf6 29.Bc4+ Kh8 30.Qxf6 Rxf6 31.Rd2 Ne5 
32.Be2 Rff8 33.Kh2 Bf3 34.Bb5 Bd5 35.Be2 f4 36.gxf4 Rxf4 37.Kg3 Rdf8 38.Ba3 d3 39.Bh5 
Rf3+ 40.Kh2 R8f5 41.Rc8+ Bg8 42.Be8 Bxf2 43.Bd6 R3f4 44.Rxd3 Rxh4+ 45.Kg2 Nxd3 46.Nxf2
Nxf2 47.Bd7 Ne4 48.Bxf5 Nxd6 49.Rxg8+ Kxg8 50.Be6+ 0-1 


given from the ICGA tournament page [12] :


Gandalf is a PC program developed over the last ten years. The program performs highly selective searches, combining a one-ply brute-force search with selective search and search extensions. The search does not use standard techniques like the null-move method, but instead uses a rule-based method involving a calculation for every node to decide which moves are good. Development of the program was an extremely difficult and time consuming task. Gandalf searches about 1500 nodes per second on a 486/66. Gandalf has considerable chess knowledge and plays aggressively, which is unusual for a highly selective search program. Gandalf uses an opening book containing about 500,000 positions. 


Gandalf was born an extreme selective program (1 ply brute-force + selective search) doing 1500 Nodes / sec on a P90. On SSDF you see a rating of approx 2050. To compete, Gandalf got a standard null-move search engine in early 1996 and has done well at both Jakarta (6/9) and Aegon97 (TPR 2391). It has a high amount of chess knowledge, many extensions and is only doing 30K nodes/sec on a PP200. Gandalf searches approx to depth 9-10 in the middlegame on a PP200. 

Forum Posts

1998 ...

Gandalf is improved by 356 points!! by Jouni Uski, CCC, September 14, 1998
Re: SSDF list 9/98 comments from chairman and results for Gandalf 3 by Moritz Berger, CCC, September 14, 1998

2000 ...

2010 ...

Re: contact address or email of Steen Suurballe by Thorsten Czub, CCC, March 05, 2017 » IPCCC 1998

External Links

Chess Engine


Gandalf fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White


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