A new way to play chess
Today we're officially introducing a special type of user account: Bots.
Lichess Bots are for:
- Connected physical boards
- Vote chess programs (letting spectators vote for the next move to play)
- Custom online chess clients
- Chess engines
- Cyborg/Centaur chess (man and machine teaming up)
- Anything you can think of that can play chess
Lichess Bots can:
- Play casual and rated games with other players
- Send and accept challenges
- Follow and be followed by other players
Lichess Bots cannot:
- Participate in tournament or simuls
- Use lobby seeks or pools
- Appear in leaderboards
Credit: Matīss Apinis
Who are these bots for?
You can use a lichess bot to try out your engine against actual players, and other engines. If your engine supports the UCI or XBoard protocol, you're in luck! Download the official lichess-bot client and you will be all set in no time.
No need to be a coder to enjoy playing chess with bots! Here's a list of famous bots you can challenge for great chess fun:
- LeelaChess (TV / Challenge) Leela Chess Zero, the new chess artificial intelligence that learnt to play chess by itself. At full strength.
- LeelaNice (TV / Challenge) The same self-learning AI, but at a much younger state, with a 1800 lichess rating.
- VoteChess (TV / Challenge) This bot watches the spectator chat and plays the most popular move.
- GodelEscherBot (TV / Challenge) A full strength multi-variant Stockfish 9. It will beat you in any variant.
- BadModo (TV / Challenge) The Komodo engine, always playing the worse move possible. The goal is to get yourself mated.
- Bots Team to meet other bot owners.
- Discord channel to get help with the API or the existing clients.
- Bots TV to watch the current strongest bot game.
- Bot HTTP API to build your own bot.
Frequently asked questions
- Can bots play rated games?
Yes. However players only win or lose half rating points during rated games with bots.
- Why do player ratings even change? Shouldn't the bot rating only be affected?
We don't play casual games the same way we play rated games. In order for the bots to get reliable ratings, we need their opponents to play their best, and that means putting their own rating on the table.
A couple years ago, we tried to give the "Play with the machine" levels actual ratings. It didn't work, because we don't play them seriously, because we don't lose rating to them.
- Is it ok to cheat in a game with a bot?
No, it is a bannable offense. Just like cheating in a game with any normal user. If you want to use computer assistance or play Centaur chess, create a Bot account.
Similarly to games with normal users, an exception can be made in casual games, after obtaining the explicit consent of the opponent.
- Many bots will be strong engines. Won't they disrupt the rating system?
Creating a bot requires technical knowledge and we expect that they will remain a minority. As long as less than 0.1% of new accounts are bots, there won't be any visible change to the rating distribution. We'll keep an eye on it.
- What about rating manipulation? One could create a bot to farm rating points out of it?
That is called sandbagging or boosting. You can do the same thing with a normal account. Lichess detects it and bans the offenders.
- Will there be bot contests or tournaments?
Bot play cannot be competitive. No tournaments, no leaderboards, no trophies. Because it all boils down to who's got the biggest CPU to run Stockfish on. Only way we can have competitive engine play is by having lichess host the engines, in TCEC fashion, and we're not going to do that for a long time.
- Why can't we use the API with our normal user accounts?
It would be awesome to open the play API for all, and have people create their own clients. In a perfect world, we would totally do it.
But in our world, we have to deal with cheating. It's a real problem, and we take it very seriously.
In our fight against cheat, we have two weapons. The first one is our server, where we evaluate the moves' quality, frequency, and other metrics. The second one is our client, where we gather more valuable metrics to identify cheaters.
If we open an API to directly access our server, then we're losing half of our defenses (which are located in our client).
That's the reason why only BOT accounts can use an API for playing on lichess. It's unfortunate, but defending fair play is our top priority.