An instruction to set-up and play with shogi engines
Update 2018/5/11: Change of the recommended engines
This article is a short instruction for people who do not understand Japanese language but have the interest to install and play with computer shogi programs. I classify the user's purposes into four categories:
(0) to learn how to play shogi (1) as an opponent to play shogi (2) to watch games between shogi programs (3) to analyze the record of your games or those between professional players to obtain hints
For (1), most computer programs are too tough for human players, and you would be discouraged unless you choose and set-up the opponent programs carefully. The web-based application which does not need installation may be better. My suggestions are http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/shogi/shogi_e.html http://www.hozo.biz/shogi/ The second one is in Japanese but a standard program for the beginners. For the purpose (0), I do not have a good idea which program is useful.
In my site, I study the strength of free software which runs with the interface programs. They are very useful for the purpose (2), (3) and some of them are good for (1) too. ShogiGUI may be the most comfortable choice for the beginners. It has an installer program and comes with a reasonably good engine (GPSFish) preinstalled with it. For most users, it has enough functionality without the further installation. The second option is Shogidokoro whose installation instruction links are, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4VoyAcb4l8 http://www2.teu.ac.jp/gamelab/shogi/SPEAR/spear.html In the second site, you may download Spear engine which is strong enough for the most amateur player, and its strength is tunable in 10 levels.
For the purpose (2-3), you may choose any programs on the top of my engine rating. Currently, I suggest the following engines which are relatively easy to install and strong enough for any human players.
T.N.K.: This program is powerful (R4150) while works with much less memory. Download
Gikou2: the most popular engine in last few years (R3800). It suggests the most natural moves which are understandable for human players. Download link
For these programs, all you need is to download zip ball, expand it and register in Shogidokoro or ShogiGUI. They are compiled to work on Windows. For MacOSX and Linux, you have to recompile engines from the source which is more complicated.
On Android phone/tablet, ShogiGUI developer issued a free APP called "ShogiDroid" which is available in Google play store. It comes with GPSFish, and it is also easy to add Gikou2 and YaneuraOu/elmo. from the menu To use them comfortably, you need memory larger than 3GB. You may also play ShogiDroid by Chromebook if it is compatible with Android.
For the purpose (1), it may be better to start with weaker engines. At this moment, the weakest are 16siki-iroha and GSE 0.1.6 which are so gentle that even beginners can beat it. At the second level, I suggest using LesserKai (which comes with Shogidokoro) Kaitei and shogi686(sdt5 version) whose rate are about 400-1000 (lower than average among amateur player?). Spear mentioned above, have an option to tune its strength. At level 1, it is slightly stronger than Lesserkai, but at level 10, it is at amateur intermediate-hi level (3-dan).
If you have any questions, I am happy to answer. Please write message in the contact tab of the web site. You see four boxes, from the top your name, e-mail address, title of the message and body of the message. An alternative method of communication is to write to my twitter account @uuunuuun1.
Reply to Kelvin's question (December 19, 2016, revise December 24, 2016)
Comments for For MacOSX/Linux users: So far, the binary release of most engines and interfaces for Windows. We may use, however, mono to use the interface programs (Shogidokoro/ShogiGUI) and compile the engines from the source files. The package by @espelade made for the Windows.
I have confirmed that Shogidokoro works on mono/MacOSX but ShogiGUI does not seem to work. It seems that both work on mono/Linux.
Most of the top engines can be compiled with minimal modifications. On MacOSX, it may be necessary to set-up newer gcc/g++ (not clang) from Home brew. So far, I managed to install
Apery(Ukamuse), YaneuraOu, Gikou, Silent Majority, nozomi, Bonanza6, Nanoha mini/nano
Do not forget to download the windows binary at the same time to install other necessary components. GPSfish, one of the strong programs, have binary distribution for MacOSX.
Sometimes, Shogidokoro may have problems to register properly compiled binaries. One may circumvent it by putting shell script, such as "#! /bin/sh ./(program name)", make it executable and register it from the interface.
(Update March 2, 2017)
Most of the strongest programs are developed recently (2016-17) and the authors use new features of CPUs to accelerate their programs. When you install programs, please keep it in your mind if your CPU support these new instruction sets. Some programs have a set of binaries to support various CPU generations. It should be also reminded that most programs work only on 64bit Windows OS.
Here is a summary of major programs on the requirements on CPU and memory (on Windows).
Apery (Ukamuse), Silent Majority, YaneuraOu:
earlier versions work with 0.6GB open RAM, newer ones 1.2GB
providing several versions of binaries (bmi2/avx2, sse42, sse41, sse4, sse2, nosse) depending on generations of CPUs. The earlier is the stronger but later ones supports older CPUs. To see which is best for you, just double click them in order from the beginning and the first one which does not give error is the best one for you.
Gikou: SSE4.2 needed, 1GB open RAM, larger is better since it uses HASH memory alocation efficiently
Yomita, tanuki-: AVX2 needed, memory requirement is similar to Apery
Usapyon2: two versions (one require AVX2 and the other no) available, most users should be comfortable with general binary. Memory requirement is similar to Apery
GPSfish_minimal: SSE/SSE2 needed, less memory
For WindowsOS (32bit) users whose CPU does not have SSE/AVX support: