Chess games

Chess was one of the first games played on computer systems. While the game hasn't changed over the years, the way it's played on computers has. The set of chess programs that come with Red Hat Linux lets you play against the computer (in text or graphical modes), has the computer play against itself, or replays stored chess games. You can even play chess against other users on the Internet using Internet Chess Servers (ICS).

The xboard program is an X-based chess game that provides a graphical interface for gnuchess. GNU Chess (represented by the gnuchess package) describes itself as a communal chess program. It has had many contributors, and it seeks to advance a "more open and friendly environment of sharing" among the chess community.

With xboard, you can move graphical pieces with your mouse. To play against the computer, click Programs ® Games ® Chess from the GNOME menu, then start by just moving a piece with your mouse. While in the xboard window, select Mode ® Two Machines to have the computer play itself. Select File ® Load Game to load a game in Portable Game Notation (PGN). Figure 7-1 shows the xboard window with a game in progress.

Redhat Chess Software

Figure 7-1: In the xboard window, you can set xgame to either play against the computer or to replay saved games.

You can use xboard to play online against others, by connecting an xboard session to an Internet Chess Server (ICS). To start xboard as an interface to an ICS, type the following command line:

xboard -ics -icshost name

In this example, name is the name of the ICS host. In ICS mode, you can just watch games, play against other users, or replay games that have finished. The ICS host acts as a gathering place for enthusiasts who want to play chess against others on the Internet, watch games, participate in tournaments, or just meet chess people. Here are Web pages you can use to get to a few ICS host computers:

Internet Chess Club: ICC ( (

Free Internet Chess Server (

As an alternative to xboard, you can sometimes use Web-based applications to play chess on the Internet. For example, if you were to visit the Web site (, you could click the Play link to start. You could then choose the chess software to use. ( for Java works in Red Hat Linux with Netscape.) After the software downloads, you can sign up for a account. After that, the window that appears lets you choose someone to play against or to watch a game in progress.

Chess-related commands that come with Red Hat Linux in the gnuchess package provide different ways of playing chess or manipulating chess output. Here are some examples:

game — A command that takes the output of gnuchess (a chess.lst file) and outputs a PostScript file, board by board. The move and current score are printed with each board.

gnuchess — A simple, curses-based chess game that runs on character terminals or in an xterm window. (The curses interface in UNIX is used for creating and using menus and screen controls in character terminals.)

gnuchessn — A command that is similar to gnuchess, but produces a fancier version (using features such as reverse video).

gnuchessr — A completely ASCII-based version of chess.

gnuchessx — Another ASCII-based chess game that is compatible with xboard.

gnuan — A command that is used to analyze a chess game.

zic2xpm — A command that translates ZIICS chess pieces into xboard pieces. (ZIICS was a popular interface for creating chess pieces that could be displayed in DOS.)

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