According to their website, Houdini 3 contains many evaluation and search improvements and is about 50 Elo stronger than Houdini 2. The opening improvements are mostly related to piece activity and space management and in the middle game Houdini 3 has enhancements for recognizing pieces with limited mobility and in king-side safety. In end games Houdini 3 will seek deeper and solve more positions than before.
There is also something called ‘Tactical Mode’ where it adapts its search strategy to prefer tactical solutions rather than positional moves in the root position. It also has a ‘Smart Fail-High’ feature that is supposed to be especially useful in very deep analysis when a different move becomes best at very high search depth. Its cost is about 40 Euros or $52.
I thought about downloading it, but then got to thinking about it and decided not to. $52 is not a lot of money but for that much I could fill up with a tank of gas and have enough left over for a cup of coffee and some Ho-Ho’s. Or I could buy a Nook book card. Or, since we are going to Disney World in a few weeks, it would probably be enough money to buy lunch or a souvenir T-shirt. Best of all, I could save it. There are all kinds of things I could do with $52.
The real reason I decided against it though is because I don’t need it. The Standard version supports up to 6 cores and 4 GB of hash but I can’t take advantage on that because my laptop is only 2 cores. I have no idea what its hash size is. The Pro version supports up to 32 cores and 256 GB of hash memory and NUMA-architecture (whatever that is). Short version, it won’t win me any more games on LSS because I have such puny computing power. There’s also the fact that, as I’ve pointed out previously, even using an engine you have to be at least 2300 OTB to even think about getting close to the top on LSS…or doing well in ICCF play, for that matter. So, no matter what engine I use, I’m not going to do any better on those sites.
BTW, I did play a couple of games on Queen Alice a while back (no engines allowed on the site) against a guy rated over 2400 and at no time did I suspect engine use. Post-game analysis of our two draws didn’t yield a very high matchup rate and we both got a couple of question marks from Houdini. In fact, in one of the games we both missed winning tactical shots. The one he missed was a B sac on h3. I think he missed it because it required a second sacrifice…a R on g2. The N sac I missed, I never would have seen in a million years. It seems Queen Alice has solved their server problems. A few months back the whole site crashed a couple of times and as a result one of my tournaments got wiped out. Included were two games I was losing, so it wasn’t all bad! I may go back to playing there.