FireBird is so strong that even professional players are using it because it is stronger than Rybka. Rybka currently cost about $60-70 and Firebird is free…all you need is one of any number of the free GUI’s and you’re ready to analyze at the 3000+ level. Of course at that level 50-100 points doesn’t mean much, but when you can get a stronger engine for free, why not?
The big controversy is that, according to Rybka’s creator Vasik Rajlich, FireBird was a clone of his engine and he called the programmers “pirates.” The claim was that they reverse engineered Rybka. I can understand Rajlich being upset over this, but the truth is reverse engineering happens all the time in business. Many times during my working career customers sent us a part manufactured by someone else and wanted us to duplicate it. You grab your notepad, tape measure and calipers and go out in the shop and tear it apart, taking notes and measurements then try to figure out an improvement…there almost always is something that can be improved, real or imagined. The result was we produced the part in an “improved” version and everybody was happy except the original manufacturer, but there was nothing illegal about it.
You can visit Jim Ablett’s Home Page and download just about all the freeware engines available as well as some other interesting and useful programs.
On Queenchess Blog, the author ran a 10-game, 5 minute match pitting Rybka 3 against FireBird. FireBird won by a score of +6 -1 =3
How does FireBird fare against Houdini? One match I saw was tied at one win apiece with 8 draws. In my own 5-minute blitz match pitting Houdini 1.5 x64 vs. Firebird 1.0 x64 the result was: +1 -1 =3. Here’s the most interesting game won by Houdini.