Ircos – What’s in a name

I thought long and hard about what to call my chess engine. “Chess Engine” just didn’t seem right :)

I’m writing this engine just for the fun of it. You could say I’m writing just “because” I want to. My youngest daughter is 3 and instead of saying “because”, she says “er-cos” so I thought this would be a fitting name after jiggling the spelling a bit.

Well, there you have it. From now on and forever more my little engine will be known as ‘Ircos’!


I suppose I’d better introduce myself. My name is Roy Hopkins and that’s me in the photo along with my three little ones.

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I live in Worthing in the South of England.

I’m a Software Engineer with 21 years of experience. I currently work for Intel Security (McAfee) working on encryption products. I work on all aspects of product development but am most at home working on low-level software such as device drivers, OS preboot, reverse engineering and that sort of stuff.

I’m the drummer in Random Man – a rock band formed with a few mates just for fun. We haven’t been playing that long and only had one real gig but we’re getting there.


Hello and welcome to my chess programming blog where I plan to document the development of my very own chess engine.

So, why do I want to write a chess engine? It all began when my son started learning chess. At first, when he was just playing in his school club I could use my rudimentary chess skills to provide a reasonable opponent. But over the next couple of years he started competing in Sussex Junior Chess events and got stronger and stronger. Now he is 9 and has just been selected for the Sussex team. This all means that when I play him I quite often “let him win” – in other words I lose.

I started trying to improve my game and have had some success by reading, playing online and solving chess puzzles but progress is slow. Being a software engineer I wondered if knowing and understanding how a computer plays chess would help me in my game.

This project documents my progress in researching computer chess and implementing my very own chess engine. I’m not sure now far I’m going to go with this engine but I plan to at least make it be able to beat me – not a hard challenge!