Stockfish is a free and strong UCI chess engine derived from Glaurung 2.1 that analyzes chess positions and computes the optimal moves.
Stockfish does not include a graphical user interface (GUI) that is required to display a chessboard and to make it easy to input moves. These GUIs are developed independently from Stockfish and are available online. Read the documentation for your GUI of choice for information about how to use Stockfish with it.
See also the Stockfish documentation for further usage help.
This distribution of Stockfish consists of the following files:
README.md, the file you are currently reading.
Copying.txt, a text file containing the GNU General Public License version 3.
AUTHORS, a text file with the list of authors for the project.
src, a subdirectory containing the full source code, including a Makefile that can be used to compile Stockfish on Unix-like systems.
a file with the .nnue extension, storing the neural network for the NNUE evaluation. Binary distributions will have this file embedded.
See Contributing Guide.
Improving the code
In the chessprogramming wiki, many techniques used in Stockfish are explained with a lot of background information. The section on Stockfish describes many features and techniques used by Stockfish. However, it is generic rather than focused on Stockfish's precise implementation.
Discussions about Stockfish take place these days mainly in the Stockfish Discord server. This is also the best place to ask questions about the codebase and how to improve it.
Stockfish has support for 32 or 64-bit CPUs, certain hardware instructions, big-endian machines such as Power PC, and other platforms.
On Unix-like systems, it should be easy to compile Stockfish directly from the
source code with the included Makefile in the folder
src. In general, it is
recommended to run
make help to see a list of make targets with corresponding
descriptions. An example suitable for most Intel and AMD chips:
cd src make -j profile-build ARCH=x86-64-avx2
Stockfish is free and distributed under the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPL v3). Essentially, this means you are free to do almost exactly what you want with the program, including distributing it among your friends, making it available for download from your website, selling it (either by itself or as part of some bigger software package), or using it as the starting point for a software project of your own.
The only real limitation is that whenever you distribute Stockfish in some way, you MUST always include the license and the full source code (or a pointer to where the source code can be found) to generate the exact binary you are distributing. If you make any changes to the source code, these changes must also be made available under GPL v3.