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Subject: gnu.chess FAQ: GNU Chess and XBoard Frequently Asked Questions
This article was archived around: 8 Aug 1999 16:51:35 GMT
Version: $Id: FAQ.html,v 1.121 1999/07/24 15:55:51 mann Exp $
GNU Chess and XBoard:
Frequently Asked Questions
Here is the list of frequently asked questions and answers for the
gnu.chess newsgroup, covering the chess-playing program GNU Chess, the
chess interfaces XBoard and WinBoard, and a few other chess topics. In
addition to the plain text version that is posted to the newsgroups, a
hyperlinked version of this FAQ is available on the Web through the page
* [A] Introduction and hot topics
* [B] GNU Chess
* [C] GNU Chess, bugs and problems
* [D] XBoard and WinBoard
* [E] XBoard and WinBoard, bugs and problems
* [F] Crafty and other topics
* [A] Introduction and hot topics
* [A.1] What are the gnu.chess newsgroup and info-gnu-chess
mailing list for?
* [A.2] How do I subscribe or unsubscribe?
* [A.3] Where can I get chess information and chess software?
* [A.4] What are the current version numbers for GNU Chess,
* [A.5] Who is working on this project?
* [A.6] How do I report bugs, offer help, etc.?
* [B] GNU Chess
* [B.1] What is GNU Chess?
* [B.2] What is GNU Chess's rating?
* [B.3] Does GNU Chess run on a PC under DOS (or Windows, or
* [B.4] Does GNU Chess run on an Amiga?
* [B.5] Does GNU Chess run on a Macintosh?
* [B.6] Does GNU Chess run on VMS?
* [B.7] Does GNU Chess run on the Acorn Archimedes?
* [B.8] Does GNU Chess run on Atari computers?
* [B.9] How do I build GNU Chess? Do I have to have gcc?
* [C] GNU Chess, bugs and problems
* [C.1] XBoard tells me "Error: first chess program (gnuchessx)
* [C.2] GNU Chess lets its flag fall a move or two before the
* [C.3] GNU Chess freezes after it gets out of its opening book.
* [C.4] GNU Chess sometimes tells me that a legal move is
* [C.5] GNU Chess crashes when I try to compile and run it on
the DEC Alpha.
* [C.6] Running (or building) GNU Chess fails with a message
* [C.7] GNU Chess runs way too slow and makes my disk seek
* [D] XBoard and WinBoard
* [D.1] What is XBoard?
* [D.2] Is there an XBoard for Microsoft Windows? What is
WinBoard? How do I install WinBoard?
* [D.3] Is there an XBoard for the Amiga? What is AmyBoard?
* [D.4] Is there an XBoard for the Macintosh?
* [D.5] Does XBoard run on VMS?
* [D.6] What is cmail?
* [D.7] How do I build XBoard? Do I have to have gcc?
* [D.8] Can I use XBoard to play a game of chess with another
* [D.9] Will WinBoard run on Windows 3.1?
* [D.10] How do I use XBoard or WinBoard as an external viewer
for PGN files with my Web browser?
* [D.11] How do I use WinBoard as an external viewer for PGN
files with the MS Windows File Manager or Explorer?
* [D.12] How do I use ICC timestamp or FICS timeseal with
* [D.13] How do I use ICC timestamp or FICS timeseal with
* [D.14] How do I play bughouse with XBoard or WinBoard?
* [D.15] How can I scroll back in the WinBoard console?
* [D.16] What is Zippy? How can I interface a chess program to
the Internet Chess Servers?
* [D.17] How can I interface my own chess program to XBoard or
* [D.18] How can I recompile WinBoard from source?
* [D.19] How can I use XBoard or WinBoard to talk to an Internet
Chess Server through a firewall or proxy?
* [D.20] How can I use XBoard or WinBoard on chess.net with
* [E] XBoard and WinBoard, bugs and problems
* [E.1] I can't build XBoard because the X11/Xaw/... include
files are not found.
* [E.2] Configuring or building XBoard fails due to missing
header files, missing libraries, or undefined symbols.
* [E.3] I have problems using WinBoard on ICS with a modem. I'm
not running SLIP or PPP, but just dialing in to an ordinary
login account ("shell account").
* [E.4] I have problems using WinBoard on ICS with Windows 95
and SLIP or PPP. When trying to start up, it gets the error
"Address family not supported by protocol family" (or some
equally strange message).
* [E.5] When I try to run WinBoard, I get the message "Failed to
start chess program gnuchesx on localhost: NO LANGFILE (file
gnuchess.lang not found)".
* [E.6] I want to use XBoard or WinBoard as an Internet Chess
Server interface, but the ICS Client option is grayed out on
* [E.7] How do I give command-line options to a Windows program
* [E.8] When I try to log in to ICC using timestamp (or to FICS
using timeseal) with XBoard, it accepts my handle, but just
beeps at me when I type my password.
* [E.9] When I exit from WinBoard after using it to play against
GNU Chess or Crafty, the chess program keeps running in the
* [E.10] When running WinBoard, I get the message "Error getting
user name: The operation being requested was not performed
because user has not logged on to the network."
* [E.11] WinBoard crashes Windows 95!
* [E.12] Why do my ICS opponents often get extra time after they
make their moves? Why do I sometimes lose time off my clock
after I make my move?
* [E.13] I can't run WinBoard 4.0.x unless I delete the
WinBoard.ini file each time!
* [E.14] How do I turn pondering on and off from the WinBoard
* [E.15] I get errors compiling XBoard's parser.c.
* [E.16] I get an error building WinBoard from source because
"flex" is not found.
* [E.17] XBoard hangs shortly after connecting to an ICS when
used with dxterm, cmdtool, dtterm, kterm, konsole, or other
substitutes for xterm.
* [E.18] The WinBoard pieces show up in the wrong colors, appear
distorted, or are not visible at all.
* [F] Crafty and other topics
* [F.1] What is XChess?
* [F.2] What is Winsock Chess?
* [F.3] What is Crafty?
* [F.4] How do I use Crafty with XBoard?
* [F.5] How do I use Crafty with WinBoard?
[A] Introduction and hot topics
[A.1] What are the gnu.chess newsgroup and info-gnu-chess mailing list
The newsgroup gnu.chess and the mailing list email@example.com are
for the discussion of GNU Chess, XBoard, and related free chess
gnu.chess and info-gnu-chess are not for general chess or computer chess
discussion. You won't be flamed if you post such messages here, but you
will find more information in other places. See topic [A.3] below.
PLEASE DO NOT try to start or play chess games by posting messages to
gnu.chess. Instead, read the rec.games.chess FAQ (see topic [A.3] ) to
learn about the IECG, the IECC, and other groups that you can join to
find opponents, and send one or more of them email to join.
The newsgroup and mailing list are gatewayed bidirectionally; that is,
any article posted on the newsgroup is automatically forwarded to the
mailing list, and any mail sent to the list is automatically forwarded
to the newsgroup.
[A.2] How do I subscribe or unsubscribe?
The simplest way is to either choose to read gnu.chess in your
newsreader, or choose not to.
If you want to be added to or deleted from the mailing list, mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org (not to the list or newsgroup itself).
[A.3] Where can I get chess information and chess software?
As a shortcut to most things mentioned in this FAQ, try my Chess Web
page, http://www.research.digital.com/SRC/personal/Tim_Mann/chess.html .
My Web page is the best place to get the latest versions of XBoard and
WinBoard and the most up-to-date version of this FAQ.
For general news and information about chess, try the newsgroup
hierarchy rec.games.chess.*, especially the groups rec.games.chess.misc
and rec.games.chess.computer. Both of the latter groups have very
informative FAQs maintained by Steve Pribut; look for them on the
newsgroups or at http://www.clark.net/pub/pribut/chess.html .
Like other GNU software, you can get GNU Chess, XBoard, and WinBoard by
anonymous FTP from ftp://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/ and its many mirror sites.
Look in the subdirectories gnuchess, xboard, and winboard. The .tar.gz
suffix on the files there indicates they were packed with tar and
compressed with gzip. The .exe or .zip suffixes indicate files that were
packed and compressed with zip.
For other chess software, try the Internet Chess Library. Use anonymous
FTP to connect to ftp.freechess.org, or go to the Web page
http://www.freechess.org/ . You can get chess software, game
collections, the FAQ file for rec.games.chess, and other chess-related
material there, in the directory pub/chess. The FTP server can
automatically decompress files for you as you download them, useful if
you don't have gzip.
Here is a sample anonymous ftp session. Some of the ftp server's
responses are abbreviated, but all the commands you must type are
% ftp ftp.gnu.org
Connected to ftp.gnu.org
200 Type set to I.
ftp> cd /pub/gnu/gnuchess
250 CWD command successful.
-rw-r--r-- 1 14910 wheel 1512181 May 20 00:52 gnuchess-4.0.pl80.tar.gz
ftp> get gnuchess-4.0.pl80.tar.gz
150 BINARY connection for gnuchess-4.0.pl80.tar.gz (1512181 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
ftp> cd /pub/gnu/xboard
-rw-r--r-- 1 14910 wheel 393119 May 20 00:25 xboard-4.0.2.tar.gz
ftp> get xboard-4.0.2.tar.gz
150 BINARY connection for xboard-4.0.2.tar.gz (393119 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
[A.4] What are the current version numbers for GNU Chess, XBoard, etc.?
At this writing, the current version numbers are:
* GNU Chess 4.0.80
* GNU Chess 4.15 for Windows
* GNU Chess Mac 4.0b5
* XBoard 4.0.2
* WinBoard 4.0.2
[A.5] Who is working on this project?
Stuart Cracraft is the GNU Chess project coordinator. Currently no one
seems to be working on the GNU Chess engine itself. Conor McCarthy is
responsible for GNU Chess 4.xx for Windows. Tim Mann maintains this FAQ
and is the lead developer on XBoard and WinBoard, but he has little time
to spend on the project. Evan Welsh, the author of cmail, is not
actively working on it but does fix bugs when they are reported.
[A.6] How do I report bugs, offer help, etc.?
Any time you want to report a possible bug in GNU Chess, XBoard, etc.,
we need to know exactly what you did, and exactly what error (or other)
messages you got.
If you are using Unix, run the "script" program, run XBoard with the
-debug flag (if you get as far as running it), do whatever is necessary
to reproduce the problem, type "exit" to the shell, and mail us the
resulting typescript file. We also need to know what hardware/operating
system combination you are using. The command "uname -a" will usually
tell you this; include its output in your typescript.
If you are using MS Windows, run WinBoard with the -debug flag, and send
us a copy of the WinBoard.debug file. If you aren't sure how to add
command-line flags to WinBoard, you can hit Ctrl+Alt+F12 to create a
WinBoard.debug file after WinBoard starts, but that is not as good,
because a few messages that would have been printed at the start are
Either way, please send us the exact text of the commands you typed and
the output you got, not just your recollection of approximately what
they were. The messages may seem meaningless to you, but they are very
meaningful to us and essential for diagnosing problems.
You should be able to contact all the members of the project by sending
mail to email@example.com. If you don't trust this list, you can
send mail about XBoard, WinBoard, or the FAQ to firstname.lastname@example.org (Tim
Mann); mail about cmail to R.E.Welsh@quadstone.co.uk (Evan Welsh).
Comments that are of interest to all users of the software should be
posted to the gnu.chess newsgroup.
[B] GNU Chess
[B.1] What is GNU Chess?
GNU Chess is a free chess-playing program developed as part of the GNU
project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
GNU Chess is a communal chess program. Contributors donate their time
and effort in order to make it a stronger, better, sleeker program.
Contributions take many forms: interfaces to high-resolution displays,
opening book treatises, speedups of the underlying algorithms, additions
of extra heuristics. These contributions are then distributed to the
large user-base so that all may enjoy the fruits of our labor.
GNU Chess is intended to run under Unix or Unix-compatible systems. It
is written in C and should be portable to other systems.
For a test drive, try WebChess, a World Wide Web interface to GNU Chess
provided by DJ Delorie. The URL is
[B.2] What is GNU Chess's rating?
It would be irresponsible to answer this question with a number, without
first explaining a few things about ratings.
The ratings that are commonly given for computer chess players are less
meaningful than they may seem. Most computer chess players (including
GNU Chess) do not play in tournaments against humans, or do so only
rarely, so they do not have official ratings from FIDE, USCF, or other
Some people have methods for rating chess programs approximately by
giving them a set of problems to work on and seeing how they do, or by
having them play tournaments against each other. Any rating number
produced by such means should be taken with a grain of salt; it may be
only a rough approximation to the rating the program would achieve in
over-the-board tournament competition against humans. The chess skills
required for solving problems or playing against other computers are not
necessarily the same as those required for play against humans. Also, of
course, tournaments among computers can rate the computers only relative
to one another, not relative to humans. Some of the computers need to be
rated by other means to give the ratings a basis to start from.
Compared with human players, computer players are strong tactically but
weak strategically, and are much better at blitz chess than at slow
chess. These differences make it more difficult to assign a meaningful
Several computers do play regularly on the Internet chess servers and
have achieved ratings there. These ratings have the advantage of being
based on many games. On the other hand, ICS ratings are only roughly
comparable to USCF or FIDE ratings. Many players have ICS ratings that
are hundreds of points higher or lower than their USCF or FIDE ratings.
Finally, unlike dedicated chess machines, or PC chess programs that run
on only a few different models of Intel processors, GNU Chess runs on
many different kinds of CPU at many different speeds. Thus its strength
depends on how fast a machine you run it on and how much optimization
your C compiler does. Some people have formulas for estimating how a
computer player's rating varies on faster or slower machines---see the
rec.games.chess FAQ for more information---but these need to be taken
with a grain of salt too.
All that said, here are some numbers.
- On the Internet Chess Club, a copy of GNU Chess running on an SGI Onyx
R4400 under the handle MaxII once achieved a blitz rating of over 2500
and a standard rating of over 2300. Current ICC and FICS ratings for
computers using GNU Chess tend to be a good deal lower.
- Wolfgang Gabriel ran the Bednorz-Toennissen Test BT2630 with GNU Chess
4.0 pl74 on a 60 MHz Pentium with 16 MB of RAM. The test gave an
estimated rating of 2213. He also ran Fritz-2 on the same hardware and
got an estimated rating of 2311.
[B.3] Does GNU Chess run on a PC under DOS (or Windows, or OS/2)?
Yes. There are several versions available.
WinBoard provides a graphical user interface to GNU Chess that runs on
Windows 95 and Windows NT. See topic [D.2] . The WinBoard distribution
includes a GNU Chess executable for the Intel architecture, plus
instructions and patches (when necessary) for recompiling GNU Chess from
the official sources, available separately.
GNU Chess 4.xx for Windows bundles GNU Chess and a custom graphical
interface into a single program. Unlike WinBoard, it runs on Windows 3.1
if you have the Win32s compatibility package installed (available free
from Microsoft). You can get GNU Chess 4.xx for Windows from
ftp://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/gnuchess/ , filename currently
gnuchessPC-4.15.zip. The distribution includes complete sources and an
Intel executable. If you need Win32s, you can get it from
The standard GNU Chess 4.0 distribution can be compiled for MS-DOS, and
will run under Windows in a DOS box, but with no graphical interface.
Depending on what patchlevel of GNU Chess you get and what C compiler
you have, you may need to make minor source changes to get it to
compile. Some precompiled versions are available in the Internet Chess
Library; the most recent at this writing is:
Here is a listing of GNU Chess files for the PC in the Internet Chess
Library (topic [A.3] ). They are scattered among the directories
/pub/chess/Win3, /pub/chess/DOS, and (don't forget)
/pub/chess/DOS/OLD-STUFF. This listing may be outdated; see the library
itself to look for additions.
gch4077.zip 497874 GNU Chess 4.0.pl77 for MS-DOS; needs 386 or better.
gnu40-62.exe 1323260 Probably GNU Chess 4.0.pl62 for MS-DOS
gnu40dos.exe T 317072 GNU Chess 4.0pl60 by Free Software Foundation
- compiled for DOS, executables only
gnu40src.exe 307786 GNU Chess 4.0pl60 by Free Software Foundation
- sources only
gnuchs31.exe T 270559 GNU Chess 3.1 by Free Software Foundation
- compiled for DOS, sources and executables
gnuchs40.exe T 355494 GNU Chess 4.0pl60 by Free Software Foundation
- compiled for 80386er, executables only
chess321.exe W M 238185 GNU Chess 3.21 ported by Daryl K. Baker
gpl65os2.zip 677824 gnuchess-4.0.pl65 compiled for os2.
gc-os2-m.zip 578032 gnuchess 4.0 for os2 with mouse support.
gnu40os2.zip 1303602 Executables for running gnuchess 4.0 pl62
- under OS/2.
pmchs.exe W M 92004 OS/2 PM Chess 1.01 (GNU Chess 3.1 Windows by
- Daryl K. Baker) port to OS/2 by Kent Cedola
pmchssrc.exe 110279 OS/2 PM Chess 1.01 (GNU Chess 3.1 Windows by
- Daryl K. Baker) sources only
Porting GNU software to PCs is not a major focus of the GNU project, and
these ports are not supported by the FSF. Contact the people who did the
ports if you have questions or problems.
[B.4] Does GNU Chess run on an Amiga?
There are at least three ports of GNU Chess to the Amiga. As with the PC
ports, these ports are not supported by the FSF; contact the people who
did the ports if you have problems or questions.
The AmyBoard port (probably the best) is discussed in topic [D.3] .
UChess and AmigaGnuChess are available in the Internet Chess Library
(topic [A.3] ), in the directory /pub/chess/Amiga. UChess is the newer
of the two.
-r--r--r-- 1 chess chess 204025 Mar 31 1993 AmigaGnuChess.lha
-r--r--r-- 1 chess chess 10122 Mar 31 1993 AmigaGnuChess.readme
-r--r--r-- 1 chess chess 705327 May 7 10:28 UChess283.lha
-r--r--r-- 1 chess chess 21478 May 7 10:26 UChess283.readme
-r--r--r-- 1 chess chess 199387 May 7 10:27 UChess283Patch.lha
-r--r--r-- 1 chess chess 21589 May 7 10:26 UChess283Patch.readme
[B.5] Does GNU Chess run on a Macintosh?
There is a port of GNU Chess 4.0 to the Macintosh. It's available from
the Internet Chess Library (topic [A.3] ) under /pub/chess/Macintosh or
/pub/chess/uploads/Macintosh, in the following files:
GnuChessMac40b5.hqx - executable binary
GCMsource40b5.hqx - source
As with the PC ports, the Macintosh port is not supported by the Free
Software Foundation. If you have questions or problems, contact Dan
If you have the old Mac port of GNU Chess 3.0, be sure to get 4.0
instead. GNU Chess has come a long way since version 3.0!
[B.6] Does GNU Chess run on VMS?
An old VAX VMS version is available at ada.cenaath.cena.dgac.fr in the
GNUCHESS.ZIP;1 307 21-MAR-1994 18:42:05.13
It's only a character cell version for VT100, VT200, etc. terminals.
Thanks to Patrick Moreau for this information.
[B.7] Does GNU Chess run on the Acorn Archimedes?
Steve Dicks (email@example.com) has ported GNU Chess to the
Acorn Archimedes under RiscOS, and has written a graphical front-end to
it called ArcBoard. It is available from
[B.8] Does GNU Chess run on Atari computers?
Yves Debilloez (101361.2061@CompuServe.COM or firstname.lastname@example.org) tells us:
There is a version of GNU chess for Atari available. It can be
downloaded from my homepage:
[B.9] How do I build GNU Chess? Do I need gcc?
The first step to building GNU Chess is to get the distribution file and
unpack it. See topic [A.3] for places you can ftp the distribution from.
To unpack the gnuchess distribution, gnuchess-*.tar.gz, put it into a
new, empty directory, cd there, and give this Unix command:
gzip -cd gnuchess-*.tar.gz | tar -xvf -
If this command fails because you don't have gzip, see topic [A.3] , and
ask a local Unix expert if you need more help.
The above command will unpack all the files into a new directory. Next,
cd into this new directory.
Decide what directory tree you are going to install GNU Chess in. The
default is /usr/local. If you have write access to this directory tree,
make sure that it contains subdirectories bin, lib, and man. (If you
must "su" to get write access to /usr/local, you don't need to do so
until just before the "make install" below.) Type the following:
If you are going to install GNU Chess under your home directory for
personal use, do this instead:
mkdir $HOME/bin $HOME/lib $HOME/man
If you have problems or special requirements, see the files README,
INSTALL, Makefile.in, and configure.in for more information.
You don't need to have gcc to build GNU Chess. However, GNU Chess is
written in ANSI C. If you have only an old K&R C compiler, be sure you
have the current patchlevel of GNU Chess, and get "unproto" by:
Mathematics and Computing Science
Eindhoven University of Technology
It was released in comp.sources.misc Vol 27 with patches in vol 28 and
vol 38. Among other places, it can be found on unix.hensa.ac.uk in
Compile it and copy the cpp it produces into the gnuchess src directory
before you type "make" there.
[C] GNU Chess, bugs and problems
[C.1] XBoard tells me "Error: first chess program (gnuchessx) exited
Try running XBoard again with the "-debug" flag on the command line.
This will print out all the messages received from GNU Chess.
If you see this problem as soon as GNU Chess starts up, most likely GNU
Chess is exiting with an error message. If you see the message "NO
LANGFILE", it means that you did not install GNU Chess correctly, and it
is unable to find the file gnuchess.lang. Make sure that you defined
LIBDIR in the gnuchess Makefile, and that gnuchess.lang is in that
directory. If gnuchess.lang is not there, you probably didn't type "make
install" in the gnuchess src directory; you must do this to install
gnuchess.lang (and the gnuchess book). If you defined LIBDIR to
something that is not an absolute pathname (that is, to something that
does not start with a "/"), GNU Chess will work only if you run it from
the GNU Chess "src" directory where you built it.
If the problem happens while GNU Chess is running, you may have hit a
GNU Chess bug. There used to be a bug that could corrupt the stack and
cause the program to exit, sometimes with a nonsensical message first,
sometimes with no message. It was especially evident on Linux. We
believe this bug is fixed in GNU Chess 4.0.pl77 and later.
[C.2] GNU Chess lets its flag fall a move or two before the time
GNU Chess is known to be a bit too aggressive in using its clock time
and sometimes lets its flag fall. Some bugs that caused this symptom
have been fixed, but more work on the problem may be needed.
[C.3] GNU Chess freezes after it gets out of its opening book.
a) First, be sure you have the latest versions of GNU Chess (and XBoard
or WinBoard, if you are using them); see topic [A.4] above. Several
different bugs that could cause this symptom existed in old versions but
have been fixed in the latest ones.
b) Another possibility is that you have a persistent transposition table
(hashfile) that has been corrupted. Look in the LIBDIR directory you
defined in the GNU Chess Makefile, and if you find a file named
gnuchess.hash there, remove it. Do not use the hashfile if you are
running multiple copies of GNU Chess at the same time (for instance,
with Two Machines mode in XBoard). In fact, it is probably best not to
use the hashfile under any circumstances.
[C.4] GNU Chess sometimes tells me that a legal move is illegal.
See topic [C.3] ; the same answer applies.
[C.5] GNU Chess crashes when I try to compile and run it on the DEC
Get the latest version of GNU Chess. Some bugs that showed up only on
the Alpha are fixed in version 4.0 patchlevel 73 and later. If you still
have problems, try compiling with the -migrate flag or the -O1 flag.
Some older versions of the Alpha C compiler have optimizer bugs that
affect GNU Chess.
[C.6] Running (or building) GNU Chess fails with a message about
The message looks something like this:
FIONREAD: Operation not supported on socket
You probably have a non-ANSI ioctl.h; see README. -1 45 4004787f
If you are using gcc to compile, the solution to this error message is
usually to go to the GNU Chess Makefile, find the line that starts
"CFLAGS=" (with no # character in front of it), and append the flag
"-traditional-cpp" to the end of the line. Then do
rm dspcom*.o gnuan.o
to rebuild gnuchess.
If you aren't using gcc, we don't really understand why this should
happen, but we do have a brute-force workaround: You can simply disable
the gnuchess feature that uses FIONREAD. Find all the places in dspcom.c
(and gnuan.c) where the line "#ifdef FIONREAD" occurs. Change each of
them to "#ifdef NOTDEF". Then recompile gnuchess.
With this code disabled, if you tell gnuchess to think on your time
("hard" mode), you will have to type ^C to make it stop thinking when
you want to make your move. The current version of XBoard does this
automatically, so disabling the code has no effect on XBoard.
[C.7] GNU Chess runs way too slow and makes my disk seek wildly.
This happens if you don't have enough real memory (RAM) to run GNU
Chess. You may need 16MB or more. You can reduce GNU Chess's memory
requirements by reconfiguring it, or just buy more memory. Some (rather
out of date) suggestions are in the file doc/PORTING from the GNU Chess
The following is from Nikhil Nair:
It is perfectly possible to run gnuchess on an 8Mb system. I
would suggest that you don't edit the source (though the
defaults are the definitions of ttblsz or something like that
in src/ttable.h and DEFETABS in src/gnuchess.h), but rather
use the -C and -T command-line options (which even work for
gnuan, though not documented in the manpage). The defaults are
`-C 18001 -T 150001' (for MS-DOS, -T 8001). On my Linux
system, this uses just over 9Mb. From memory, `-C 6001 -T
40001' uses around 3Mb. Fiddle with these and see what results
Why does GNU Chess use so much memory? The extra memory lets it keep
large hash tables that speed up its search and make it play better, and
a large on-line book that improves opening play. If you have lots of
memory you may want to reconfigure GNU Chess to use *more* than the
[D] XBoard and WinBoard
[D.1] What is XBoard?
XBoard is a graphical user interface for chess. It displays a chessboard
on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves
games in Portable Game Notation (PGN). XBoard is free software. It
serves as a front-end for many different chess services, including:
Chess engines that will run on your machine and play a game against you
or help you analyze, such as GNU Chess (topic [B.1] above) and Crafty
(topic [F.3] below).
Chess servers on the Internet, where you can connect to play chess with
people from all over the world, watch other users play, or just hang out
Correspondence chess played by electronic mail. The cmail program (topic
[D.6] below) automates the tasks of parsing email from your opponent,
playing his moves out on your board, and mailing your reply move after
you've chosen it.
The Web and your own saved games. You can use XBoard as a helper
application to view PGN games in your Web browser, or to load and save
your own PGN files.
XBoard runs under Unix or Unix-compatible systems. It requires the X
Window System, version X11R4 or later. There are also ports of XBoard to
Microsoft Win32 (that is, Windows NT or Windows 95) and to the Amiga.
See topics [D.2] and [D.3] respectively.
[D.2] Is there an XBoard for Microsoft Windows? What is WinBoard? How do
I install WinBoard?
WinBoard is a port of XBoard to true Microsoft Win32 systems, such as
Windows NT and Windows 95. It uses the same back end chess code as
XBoard, but the front end graphics code is a complete rewrite. WinBoard
is free software.
The WinBoard distribution includes a port of GNU Chess itself to Win32.
The GNU Chess port is distributed in executable form, with instructions
for rebuilding it from the standard GNU Chess sources (available
separately). You should have at least 16 to 24 MB of memory to run GNU
Chess with WinBoard.
The WinBoard distribution also includes the ICC timestamp and FICS
timeseal programs (topic [D.12] ).
cmail (topic [D.6] ) has not been ported to Win32. All the other XBoard
functions are included in WinBoard.
You install WinBoard as follows. Download the WinBoard package to your
PC (see topic [A.3] ). It will be a file with a name like
winboard-4_0_0.exe. Double-click on this file in the Explorer or File
Manager to run it. Follow the on-screen prompts.
[D.3] Is there an XBoard for the Amiga? What is AmyBoard?
AmyBoard is a port of XBoard to the Amiga, by Jochen Wiedmann. The
distribution includes a port of GNU Chess. AmyBoard is free software.
The current version of AmyBoard is 330.5 (based on XBoard 3.3.0). No one
is currently maintaining it.
* An Amiga (obviously :-), running OS 2.04 or later, 2Mb RAM or more.
* MUI 2.0 or later.
* Workbench or another screen with no less than 640x400 pixels
(adjustable with the MUI-Prefs); this restriction is just because
we don't have bitmaps with less than 40x40 pixels per square. If
someone contributes bitmaps with 20x20 or 20x25, they will work
with any Hires mode.
If you would like to use an ICS, you need an Internet connection via
* a telnet-like program, or
* a terminal program reading from stdin and writing to stdout.
AmyBoard is available in the Internet Chess Library (topic [A.3] ).
[D.4] Is there an XBoard for the Macintosh?
No. But porting XBoard to the Mac should not be much harder than porting
it to Win32 or the Amiga was. I can't do it because I don't have a Mac,
I don't know how to program Macs, and I don't have time. If you do, feel
free to give it a try! Send mail to me, email@example.com (Tim Mann), if
you're working on this.
[D.5] Does XBoard run on VMS?
No. This port would probably be a lot easier than the Win32 and Amiga
ports were, because VMS has the X Window system (under the name
DECwindows) and is now POSIX compliant. However, I don't know enough
about VMS to do the port myself, and I don't have time. If you do, give
it a try! Send mail to me, firstname.lastname@example.org (Tim Mann), if you're working
[D.6] What is cmail?
cmail is a program that helps you play and keep track of electronic mail
correspondence chess games using XBoard. It is distributed with XBoard
and has its own manual page. cmail is free software.
[D.7] How do I build XBoard? Do I need gcc?
The first step to building XBoard is to get the distribution file. See
topic [A.3] for places you can ftp the software from.
Next, decide what directory tree you are going to install XBoard in. The
default is /usr/local, but you probably don't have write access to that
directory unless you are a system administrator. If you do, type the
following to install it there:
gzip -cd xboard-*.tar.gz | tar -xvf -
If you want to install xboard in your personal home directory
($HOME/bin), type this:
gzip -cd xboard-*.tar.gz | tar -xvf -
If the first step above fails because you don't have gzip, see topic
[A.3] , and ask a local Unix expert if you need more help. If you have
any problems with the last two steps, read the READ_ME and INSTALL files
in the xboard-*/ directory. You will also find this FAQ there.
You don't need to have gcc to build XBoard, and your C compiler doesn't
have to be ANSI-compliant.
[D.8] Can I use XBoard to play a game of chess with another human?
The only way for two humans on different machines to play chess in real
time using XBoard is to use an Internet Chess Server as an intermediary.
That is, each player runs his own copy of XBoard, both of them log into
an ICS, and they play a game there. Two copies of XBoard cannot
communicate with each other directly.
Instructions on how to get started with Internet chess are included with
the XBoard distribution. The network addresses included in the XBoard
distribution may not always be current. The oldest and largest ICS is
the Internet Chess Club at chessclub.com, which now has a fee for
registered use, but still allows free unregistered use. There are also
many newer sites with no fees, using the Free Internet Chess Server
implementation (FICS). Some current FICS sites are freechess.org (the
most active) and eics.daimi.aau.dk. On all these machines, the port
number to use is 5000.
Note: If you don't have network connectivity to any ICS site, you can
run your own server using the FICS code. You can get a copy by anonymous
ftp from the Internet Chess Library (topic [A.3] ). The code is changing
rapidly, so send mail to email@example.com and/or log into the FICS
server at freechess.org and ask the administrators there for current
The cmail program included with XBoard lets you play email postal games
with another human; see topic [D.6] .
Two humans can play chess on the same machine using one copy of XBoard
in Edit Game mode, but the clocks don't run in this mode, so it's of
See also topic [F.2] , Winsock Chess.
[D.9] Will WinBoard run on Windows 3.1?
WinBoard does not run on Windows 3.1 or Windows for Workgroups 3.11, not
even with the Win32s compatibility package. The main problem is that
Win32s does not have threads or real concurrent processes. A port of
WinBoard to Windows 3.1 is possible in theory, but it would be difficult
and messy, and no one is going to do it.
WinBoard runs well on both Windows 95 and Windows NT.
[D.10] How do I use XBoard or WinBoard as an external viewer for PGN
files with my Web browser?
1) On Unix systems:
- Add the following line to the file .mime.types in your home directory.
(Create the file if it doesn't exist already.)
- Add the following line to the file .mailcap in your home directory.
(Create the file if it doesn't exist already.)
application/x-chess-pgn; xboard -ncp -lgf %s
- Exit from your Web browser and restart it.
2) On MS Windows systems:
The exact procedure depends on which Web browser you are using. The
current version of WinBoard automatically configures itself as your PGN
viewer for local files, Netscape 4.x, and Internet Explorer.
In Netscape 3.x, go to Options / General Preferences / Helpers, click
the button to make a new MIME type, and fill in the boxes:
Mime type: application
Mime subtype: x-chess-pgn
Application command line: "C:\Program Files\WinBoard\WinBoard" -ncp -lgf "%1"
Change the pathname for WinBoard if you installed it in a different
3) To confirm that your external viewer configuration is working, open
the following URL and click on any of the game names shown:
[D.11] How do I use WinBoard as an external viewer for PGN files with
the MS Windows File Manager or Explorer?
On Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, WinBoard does this automatically when
you install it. For the File Manager on Windows NT 3.51, etc., select
Associate from the File menu, enter "pgn" as the extension, and use the
Browse button to find your copy of WinBoard and set up the association.
[D.12] How do I use ICC timestamp or FICS timeseal with XBoard?
First, be sure that you can connect using XBoard without
timestamp/timeseal. Second, be sure that you can connect using
timestamp/timeseal without XBoard. See the help files on ICC and FICS or
ask people online if you have problems.
If you are in a completely ordinary situation, where your machine is
directly on the Internet and you can connect to ICC or FICS without
timestamp/timeseal using just the command "xboard -ics" or "xboard -ics
-icshost freechess.org", change that command to one of the following:
xboard -ics -icshost 18.104.22.168 -icshelper timestamp
xboard -ics -icshost 22.214.171.124 -icshelper timeseal
If you have a firewall between your machine and the ICS, see topic
If you normally have to use the "/icscomm" command line option on xboard
to log into a second machine, and then telnet to ICC or FICS from there,
you are going to have to run the Unix version of timestamp or timeseal
on the second machine. (If the second machine is not running Unix, you
are out of luck.) Get the appropriate version of timestamp or timeseal
onto the shell machine via FTP; see the help files on ICC and FICS for
instructions. Then simply run it when you would normally run telnet. In
this configuration you are not protected against lag between your PC and
the shell machine, or for lag caused by heavy load on the shell machine
itself from other users.
For further information on timestamp and timeseal, see the help files on
ICC and FICS.
[D.13] How do I use ICC timestamp or FICS timeseal with WinBoard?
If you select an ICS from either the WinBoard Startup dialog or the
Windows Start submenu that WinBoard installs, WinBoard automatically
runs timestamp or timeseal if the ICS you chose is known to support it.
If you are constructing a WinBoard command line by hand, add the option
"/icshelper timestamp" or "/icshelper timeseal" to the WinBoard command
line to use timestamp or timeseal. Both timestamp.exe and timeseal.exe
are included in the WinBoard distribution. They both function
identically to the Unix versions, as documented in "help timestamp" on
ICC and "help timeseal" on FICS.
If you have a firewall between your machine and the ICS, see topic
If you normally have to use the "/icscomm" command line option on
WinBoard to log into a shell account, and then telnet to ICC or FICS
from there, you are going to have to run the Unix version of timestamp
or timeseal on the shell machine. (If the shell account is not on a Unix
machine, you are out of luck.) Get the appropriate version of timestamp
or timeseal onto the shell machine via FTP; see the help files on ICC
and FICS for instructions. Then simply run it when you would normally
run telnet. In this configuration you are not protected against lag
between your PC and the shell machine, or for lag caused by heavy load
on the shell machine itself from other users.
For further information on timestamp and timeseal, see the help files on
ICC and FICS.
[D.14] How do I play bughouse with XBoard or WinBoard?
XBoard and WinBoard have simple but effective bughouse support. Offboard
piece holdings are shown in the board window's banner, and you drop
offboard pieces using the right mouse button. Press it over the
destination square to pop up a menu of pieces.
XBoard and WinBoard can display only one board at a time, but you can
observe your partner's game by running a second copy of the program and
logging in as a guest. (Unfortunately, this is not possible if you are
using the /icscomm option.) To observe your partner's games
automatically, use the "follow" or "pfollow" ICS command; see the ICS
online help for details.
[D.15] How can I scroll back in the WinBoard console?
The current WinBoard release has consoles with scrollback! Get it.
[D.16] What is Zippy? How can I interface a chess program to the
Internet Chess Servers?
Zippy is an interface that lets GNU Chess or Crafty act as a computer
player on an Internet Chess Server. Zippy is included in both the XBoard
and WinBoard distributions. It is implemented as a small amount of
additional code within XBoard or WinBoard. For documentation, see the
file zippy.README, included in both distributions or available from my
chess Web page,
http://www.research.digital.com/SRC/personal/Tim_Mann/chess.html . The
version of zippy.README on my Web page is often more up-to-date than
those in the XBoard/WinBoard distributions. You'll also find a
"biography" of Zippy and pointers to the original Zippy the Pinhead
comic strips on my Web page. Please read zippy.README carefully before
you ask me any questions about Zippy.
Using a computer to choose your moves on a chess server is considered
cheating unless your account is on the computer (C) list. Read "help
computer" on your favorite server for details on their policy. Most of
the servers have plenty of computers running now, so they will not be
excited about having you run a new one unless you have written your own
chess engine. They don't really need yet another Crafty or GNU Chess
[D.17] How can I interface my own chess program to XBoard or WinBoard?
This is a non-trivial task. XBoard and WinBoard were not designed with a
clean interface for talking to chess programs; they were written to work
with an existing version of GNU Chess that expects to be talking to a
person. Your program has to emulate GNU Chess's rather idiosyncratic
command structure to work with XBoard and WinBoard. We are gradually
cleaning up, improving, and documenting the interface as newer versions
of XBoard and WinBoard come out, however.
For documentation, see the file engine-intf.html, included in both
distributions or available from my chess Web page,
http://www.research.digital.com/SRC/personal/Tim_Mann/chess.html . The
version of engine-intf.html on my Web page is often more up-to-date than
those in the XBoard/WinBoard distributions.
[D.18] How can I recompile WinBoard from source?
The source code for WinBoard is available from the author's Web page,
WinBoard is currently developed using Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0. By far
the easiest way to recompile it, and the only way that is really known
to work, is to use MSVC++ 5.0. You can build the program either from the
MSVC++ GUI or from the command line using the nmake program supplied
WinBoard is a Win32 application, so you definitely need a compiler and
tool set that supports Win32. In particular, DJGPP can't be used to
build WinBoard. DJGPP can build only 32-bit MSDOS programs; that is,
programs that use a DOS extender to get a 32-bit address space and do
not make any Windows calls. It can't build Win32 programs.
Cygwin32 (see http://www.cygnus.com/ ) is said to be able to build Win32
GUI apps, so perhaps it could be used to build WinBoard. I don't know if
anyone has tried this and gotten it to work. The Makefile (and maybe
other things) would most likely need changes. It would be nice to do
this conversion, so that the free WinBoard program could be built with
free tools, but I can't afford the time. Perhaps someone else will try.
Let me know if you do.
The WinBoard Makefile includes a rule for rebuilding parser.c from
parser.l using the program "flex". Flex is free GNU software, available
from many sites around the Internet. If you don't have a copy handy, and
you don't need to modify parser.l, you can simply remove the rule from
the Makefile. The file parser.c is supplied with the WinBoard source
WinBoard executables for the DEC Alpha running Windows NT will be
provided in the future, along with instructions for compiling your own.
For now, contact me if you want to do this.
[D.19] How can I use XBoard or WinBoard to talk to an Internet Chess
Server through a firewall or proxy?
There is no single answer to this question, because there are many
different kinds of firewalls in use. They work in various different ways
and have various different security policies. This answer can only
Note that you can't access Internet Chess Servers through a Web proxy,
because they are not a Web service. You talk to them through a raw TCP
connection, not an HTTP connection. If you can only access the Web
through a proxy, there may be a firewall that stops you from making
direct TCP connections, but there may also be a way through it. Read on
for hints, and contact your local system administrator if you need more
information about your local configuration.
If you are using a non-SOCKS firewall, read the FIREWALLS section in
your XBoard or WinBoard documentation (man page, info document, or Help
file). If you can telnet to a chess server in some way, then you can
almost certainly connect to it with xboard/WinBoard, though in some
cases you may not be able to run timestamp or timeseal. The timestamp
and timeseal protocols require a clean, 8-bit wide TCP connection from
your machine to the ICS, which some firewalls do not provide.
If you have a SOCKS firewall and are using XBoard , you should be able
to SOCKSify xboard and use it. See http://www.socks.nec.com/ for
information about SOCKS and socksification. However, if you do this, you
can't use timestamp or timeseal; what you really need is a socksified
version of timestamp or timeseal. This is hard because the source code
for timestamp and timeseal is proprietary; the folks running the chess
servers don't give it out because that would make it too easy to cheat.
On some versions of Unix, you may be able to socksify a program that you
don't have the source code to by running it with an appropriate dynamic
library; see http://www.socks.nec.com/ . For others, you might be able
to get a pre-built socksified version from the chess server
administrators. For timeseal versions, see
ftp://ftp.freechess.org/pub/chess/timeseal/ . For timestamp versions,
the directory would be ftp://ftp.chessclub.com/pub/icc/timestamp/ , but
at this writing there don't seem to be any socksified timestamps there.
Once you have a socksified timestamp or timeseal, simply run it with a
normal, non-socksified xboard in place of the standard timestamp or
If you have a SOCKS firewall and you are using WinBoard , we now know
how to make this configuration work, complete with timestamp or
Start by getting SocksCap32. This software is freely available from
http://www.socks.nec.com/ . Install it on your machine, read the
documentation, and learn to use it. You may find it useful with many
other programs besides WinBoard.
Next, don't socksify WinBoard. Socksifying WinBoard itself doesn't let
you use it with timestamp or timeseal. For some reason I don't
understand -- something strange that SocksCap32 does -- the socksified
WinBoard runs but does nothing, and timestamp/timeseal runs all by
itself in its own window.
Instead, use the following workaround. Follow the instructions exactly;
don't try to skip steps or simplify things.
First, make SocksCap32 application profiles for timestamp and timeseal.
Use the following command lines in the SocksCap32 profiles. Name the
first profile "timestamp" and the second "timeseal".
"c:\program files\winboard\timestamp.exe" chessclub.com 5000 -p 5000
"c:\program files\winboard\timeseal.exe" freechess.org 5000 -p 5000
Second, run timestamp or timeseal by itself, socksified, using its
profile. This will open an unneeded, black window that will not respond
to typing. Minimize it to the task bar and ignore it. It will go away
when you exit from WinBoard.
Next, run WinBoard using the following command line. Make a shortcut or
type this command into an MS-DOS Prompt box. Don't run WinBoard itself
socksified, just run it directly.
"c:\program files\winboard.exe" /ics /icshost=localhost /icsport=5000
After you get this working, you can try getting the timestamp window to
auto-minimize by starting it from a shortcut instead of from the
SocksCap32 control window. As it says in the SocksCap32 help file, put
the following in the Target field of a shortcut's Properties page:
"c:\program files\sockscap32\sc32.exe" timestamp
Then select "Run: Minimized" on the same page. Do the same for timeseal.
Another method that can work is to use a .bat file to start both
timestamp and WinBoard. It would look something like this:
REM -- icc.bat
REM -- Start timestamp under SocksCap32 and use WinBoard to connect to it.
REM -- The string "timestamp" refers to a SocksCap32 profile for timestamp.
REM -- Do not change it to the filename of the timestamp program!
start /minimized "c:\program files\sockscap32\sc32.exe" timestamp
cd "c:\program files\winboard"
winboard /ics /icshost=localhost /icsport=5000
This workaround has a problem if you want to run two copies of WinBoard
at once, talking to the same chess server twice (for bughouse) or to two
different chess servers. If you need to do that, you will need to run a
separate copy of timestamp with a different port number for each
connection. You'll need to make a second set of profile entries with a
different value after the -p flag (say, 5001) and you'll need to change
the WinBoard command line /icsport=5000 for the second WinBoard to
[D.20] How can I use XBoard or WinBoard on chess.net with accuclock?
I believe chess.net provides a Win32 command-line version of accuclock
that will work with WinBoard. Please see the documentation on the
chess.net server itself; don't ask the author of WinBoard.
I don't know whether chess.net provides versions of accuclock for Unix
at this time. Ask them.
[E] XBoard and WinBoard, bugs and problems
[E.1] I can't build XBoard because the X11/Xaw/... include files are not
These are the header files for the Athena Widgets library, which XBoard
uses heavily. Some versions of Unix don't supply these files, but they
are part of the standard X distribution, freely available from MIT.
For general information on getting missing X sources, see the FAQ on
comp.windows.x. Note that you may be missing only the header files, or
you may be missing the libraries themselves too.
HP-UX users are missing only the header files. You can get them by
anonymous FTP as follows. (But first check with your system
administrator to see if someone else at your site has already done
this.) Get the archive file /hpux9/X11R5/Core/Xaw-5.00.tar.gz (Xaw
header files) via anonymous FTP from the site hpux.csc.liv.ac.uk
(126.96.36.199), or one of the other official sites---Germany:
hpux.ask.uni-karlsruhe.de (188.8.131.52), US: hpux.cae.wisc.edu
(184.108.40.206), France: hpux.cict.fr (220.127.116.11) or Netherlands:
hpux.ced.tudelft.nl (18.104.22.168). Unpack the archive using gzip and
follow the instructions in its README and/or HPUX.Install files. Thanks
to Richard Lloyd for this information.
If you have the Xaw header files installed in a different place than the
other X11 headers, you may need to configure XBoard with an extra flag
to help it find them. For example, if yours are in /foo/bar/X11/Xaw, try
(setenv CFLAGS -I/foo/bar ; configure)
Also see topic [E.2] .
[E.2] Configuring or building XBoard fails due to missing header files,
missing libraries, or undefined symbols.
Perhaps you have the X server and client programs installed on your
machine, but not the X header files and link-time libraries. If so, you
can run existing X programs, but you cannot compile a new X program from
source code. In this case the XBoard configure script will fail and will
tell you to look at this question in the FAQ. Many Linux distributions
put the headers and libraries in a separate package, which you might not
have installed. If you are using RedHat Linux, install the XFree86-devel
package. If you are using some other kind of Unix, ask your system
administrator where to find the X header files and link-time libraries.
If this is not your problem, read on.
The configure script for XBoard looks for X libraries and header files
in some common places. Sometimes it fails: If yours are installed in an
odd place, it may not find them at all. If you have more than one
version of X installed on your system, it may find the "wrong" one, or
occasionally it may find libraries from one version and incompatible
header files from another. You can work around these problems by telling
the configure script where the files are. For example:
configure --x-includes=/odd/place/include \
The directory named in the argument to --x-includes must have a
subdirectory "X11" that contains the actual .h files. That is, if your
X.h file has full pathname /odd/place/X11R6/include/X11/X.h, then you
must give the argument --x-includes=/odd/place/X11R6/include.
Some linkers have bugs that cause bogus error messages when you try to
link X programs. The configure script includes a workaround for a bug of
this kind that exists in some SunOS 4.x.x installations. See the FAQ on
comp.windows.x for more information about problems of this kind.
If all else fails, check whether anyone else at your site has been able
to compile any X programs on your system. Your X installation might be
buggy. If so, the system administrator at your site might know how to
fix or work around the problem.
Also see topic [E.1] .
[E.3] I have problems using WinBoard on ICS with a modem. I'm not
running SLIP or PPP, but just dialing in to an ordinary login account
Here are solutions to some common problems in this area.
Some people want to connect to ICS through HyperTerminal or some other
terminal program first, then run WinBoard. This is not how it works.
WinBoard wants to talk directly with your modem, acting as a terminal
program itself. Start out with the modem "on hook" (not making a call).
Run WinBoard with a command line like this (adding more options if
WinBoard /ics /icscom com1
Use com2, com3, or com4 in place of com1 if your modem is connected to
one of those ports.
After you start WinBoard, you may need to change some of the options in
the Communications dialog (on the Options menu). The dialog has the
usual options for talking to modems: bits per second, bits per byte,
parity, number of stop bits. You will probably want to use Save Settings
Now when you're done.
Next, type dialing commands to your modem in the text window that
WinBoard creates. You may need to turn off Local Line Editing on the
Options menu while you are typing commands to your modem. Turn it back
on when you're done. See the WinBoard Help file for instructions if you
see your typing echoed an extra time after you hit Enter.
[E.4] I have problems using WinBoard on ICS with Windows 95 and SLIP or
PPP. When trying to start up, it gets the error "Address family not
supported by protocol family" (or some equally strange message).
WinBoard is a 32-bit application, but some Winsock (TCP/IP)
implementations support only 16-bit applications. You get a strange
looking error message if you try to use a 32-bit application because
there is no standard Winsock error code number for "32-bit application
Microsoft TCP/IP works with both 16-bit and 32-bit applications,
supports SLIP, PPP, Ethernet, etc., and is included with Windows 95. If
possible, I recommend that you uninstall whatever Winsock you are using
and install Microsoft TCP/IP instead. For more information, see
http://walden.mo.net/~rymabry/95winfaq.html (the Win95-L FAQ) .
Trumpet Winsock 2.1 (and earlier) supports only 16-bit applications, and
hence does not work with WinBoard. But there is a beta-test release
available that does support 32-bit applications. I have not tried it
with WinBoard, but it should work. See Trumpet's Web page
http://www.trumpet.com.au/wsk/winsock.htm for more information.
The 16-bit versions of America On-Line's software do not support 32-bit
Winsock applications. Get the 32-bit version, which is called "AOL for
A few versions of Winsock may have bugs that prevent Windows
timestamp/timeseal from working with them. I'm not sure if such bugs
exist in any versions that actually have 32-bit support, so this point
might be moot. Again, Microsoft TCP/IP is known to work.
[E.5] When I try to run WinBoard, I get the message "Failed to start
chess program gnuchesx on localhost: NO LANGFILE (file gnuchess.lang not
This problem should not occur with WinBoard 3.4.1 and later. It used to
happen because some unzip programs (notably pkunzip) do not understand
long file names, so they would unzip gnuchess.lang as gnuchess.lan and
gnuchess.data as gnuchess.dat. I have changed the GNU Chess port
included with WinBoard to use the shorter names. However, if you want to
recompile WinBoard, you still need to use an unzip that understands long
file names, because some of the WinBoard source files still have long
[E.6] I want to use XBoard or WinBoard as an Internet Chess Server
interface, but the ICS Client option is grayed out on the menu.
XBoard and WinBoard have three major modes that can't be changed from
the menus: local chess engine mode, ICS mode, and standalone mode.
With XBoard, you have to set the mode using command-line options. Local
chess engine mode is the default, -ics selects ICS mode, and -ncp ("no
chess program") selects standalone mode.
With WinBoard, if you don't set the mode using command-line options, you
get a dialog box asking which mode you want. To bypass the dialog box,
use -cp ("chess program") for local chess engine mode, or -ics or -ncp
as with XBoard. Also see topic [E.7] .
[E.7] How do I give command-line options to a Windows program like
There are many ways; pick your favorite:
* Type the command line into an MS-DOS Prompt box. Example: "WinBoard
-ics". Starting Windows programs from an MS-DOS Prompt box works
only on Windows 95 or Windows NT, but then, WinBoard itself works
only on those systems.
* Make a Windows 95 shortcut for WinBoard. You can do this by
right-dragging WinBoard.exe to the desktop and selecting "Create
Shortcut(s) Here" from the menu that appears. Right-click on the
shortcut, select Properties, and click the Shortcut tab. The
command-line text box is labelled "Target" instead of "Command
line" just to confuse you. Edit the text in this box, adding the
command line options to the end.
* Choose Run from the Start menu, or File / Run from the Program
Manager or File Manager, and type the command line into the dialog
you get. You may have to give WinBoard's full drivespec and
filename if it is not in a directory on your search path.
* Make a Program Manager icon for WinBoard. You can do this by
dragging WinBoard.exe from the File Manager into the Program
Manager, or by using File / New in the Program Manager. Select the
icon and choose File / Properties. Edit the Command Line text box
to add the command-line options to the end.
[E.8] When I try to log in to ICC using timestamp (or to FICS using
timeseal) with XBoard, it accepts my handle, but just beeps at me when I
type my password.
This problem should not occur with XBoard 3.6.0 or later. Let me know if
you encounter it.
[E.9] When I exit from WinBoard after using it to play against GNU Chess
or Crafty, the chess program keeps running in the background.
If you are using Crafty, be certain to get the version compiled for
Win32 (wcrafty.exe), not the version compiled for MS-DOS (crafty.exe).
Also, be sure you have the current version of WinBoard. WinBoard 3.4.1
and earlier had a bug that caused this problem to occur with all chess
This problem is reported to still happen occasionally, for unknown
reasons. You can generally stop the rogue Crafty by pressing
Ctrl+Alt+Del, selecting the Crafty process from the menu, and pressing
the End Task button.
[E.10] When running WinBoard, I get the message "Error getting user
name: The operation was not performed because user has not logged on to
This problem should not occur with WinBoard 3.6.0 or later.
[E.11] WinBoard crashes Windows 95!
This problem is fixed in WinBoard 3.6.1 and later versions. If you still
see it in the current version of WinBoard, please report it.
Background: Versions of WinBoard prior to 3.6.1 sometimes crash Windows
95 (but not Windows NT) at the end of a game or when you use the Time
Control dialog. The crash occurs when WinBoard kills off a chess engine
process and quickly starts a new one. WinBoard 3.6.0 does not exhibit
the problem unless you give it the -xreuse (-reuseChessProgram False)
flag. WinBoard 3.6.1 and later fix the problem completely.
[E.12] Why do my ICS opponents often get extra time after they make
their moves? Why do I sometimes lose time off my clock after I make my
If you are playing with the ICS incremental clock, both you and your
opponent get a set amount of extra time after each move.
If your or your opponent has netlag, your opponent might appear to get
extra time, especially if your opponent is using timestamp or timeseal.
The ICS charges each player who is using timestamp or timeseal only for
the time between when the player received his opponent's move and the
time he sent his own move. Thus delays in network transmission do not
count against either player. But WinBoard counts down the display of
your opponent's clock on your screen under the assumption that there is
no netlag. When his move comes in, if there was netlag, the ICS may not
have really charged him for that much time, and WinBoard corrects the
clock to what the ICS says it should read.
If you are not using timestamp or timeseal, you may appear to lose time
off your clock at some point after you make your move. In this case, the
ICS charges you for the time between when it sent you your opponent's
move and the time it received your move. Thus delays in network
transmission count against you. WinBoard stops counting down the display
of your clock on your screen (and starts your opponent's) when you make
your move. When the ICS echoes your move back to you, it may have
charged you for more time than that, and WinBoard corrects the clocks to
what the ICS says they should read.
See "help lag" and "help timestamp" or "help timeseal" on your ICS for
more detailed information.
[E.13] I can't run WinBoard 4.0.x unless I delete the WinBoard.ini file
Most people don't have this problem, but two or three people using
Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 3 or 4 have reported it. I have no idea
what causes this problem. Contrary to what was reported in a previous
version of this FAQ, reinstalling the service pack after installing
WinBoard does not seem to solve the problem.
[E.14] How do I turn pondering on and off from the WinBoard command
The command line options are /ponder to turn pondering on, /xponder to
turn it off. This information was inadventently left out of the WinBoard
4.0.0 documentation. It has been added in version 4.0.1.
[E.15] I get errors compiling XBoard's parser.c.
The file parser.c is automatically generated from parser.l. The copy
included with XBoard 4.0.2 was generated by lex on an Alpha running
Tru64 Unix (formerly Digital Unix). It won't necessarily work on other
versions of Unix; in particular, it seems to have a problem on current
Linux releases. You can fix this problem by deleting parser.c and
letting the Makefile re-create it from parser.l. This will work if you
have either lex or flex on your system. Flex is available in all Linux
distributions and can be obtained at no charge from the Free Software
[E.16] I get an error building WinBoard from source because "flex" is
The file parser.c is automatically generated from parser.l. The Makefile
included with the WinBoard source kit has a rule for generating parser.c
using the program "flex", which will fail if you don't have flex.
However, the source kit also includes a ready-made copy of parser.c, so
you don't really need flex unless you have made changes to parser.l.
Check that you still have a copy of parser.c; if you don't, unpack the
WinBoard source zip file again to get one. Either set the last-modified
time of parser.c to be later than that of parser.l, or comment out the
Makefile rule for building parser.c from parser.l, and then try building
If you do want to change parser.l and rebuild parser.c, you can get flex
as part of the free Cygwin32 kit from www.cygnus.com. You can probably
also get flex for Windows by itself from various other places around the
Internet. It is free software distributed by the Free Software
[E.17] XBoard hangs shortly after connecting to an ICS when used with
dxterm, cmdtool, dtterm, kterm, konsole, or other substitutes for xterm.
After connecting to a chess server, XBoard 4.0.2 sends an escape
sequence to its terminal that is meant to display your handle and the
ICS host name (for example, "firstname.lastname@example.org") in the terminal's
banner and icon. It seems that several of the alternative X terminal
programs have a bug that makes them hang when sent this escape sequence.
You can work around the problem by using xterm, nxterm, rxvt, aterm,
xiterm, or gnome-terminal, all of which seem to work fine. In fact,
current versions of kterm and konsole seem to work fine too, so if you
are having problems with one of them, be sure you are not running an
Alternatively, you can disable this feature by commenting out the body
of DisplayIcsInteractionTitle in xboard.c and recompling xboard.
[E.18] The WinBoard pieces show up in the wrong colors, appear
distorted, or are not visible at all.
This can happen if you have a bug in your Windows display driver. Check
with the manufacturer of your display card, the manufacturer of your
computer, or Microsoft to see if there is an updated driver available.
You can usually download updated drivers from the Web.
If you can't find an updated driver, you can try running Windows using a
different color depth and/or disabling some of the acceleration features
on your display card. You can do this from the Display applet on the
Windows control panel.
[F] Crafty and other topics
[F.1] What is XChess?
XChess is an older chessboard program that is no longer supported.
XChess was written for X version 10, and you may or may not be able to
build and run it on an X11 system.
XChess has only one significant feature that is not present in XBoard:
Two humans can play chess using XChess on different machines, without
using the Internet Chess Server as an intermediary. This feature is of
interest only if you don't have network connectivity to the Internet
Note: There actually have been several different programs called
"XChess" in circulation at various times. The above describes one that
was associated with GNU Chess.
[F.2] What is Winsock Chess?
Winsock Chess is a program that lets two people play chess across a
network. It runs only under Microsoft Windows. Some of the code in
Winsock Chess is derived from GNU Chess, but it is not maintained by the
GNU Chess team. You can get a copy from the Internet Chess Library; see
topic [A.3] . For more information, contact its author, Donald Munro,
[F.3] What is Crafty?
Crafty is a freely-available chess program written by Bob Hyatt. Bob is
the main author of the well-known chess program Cray Blitz. Crafty is
already a much better chess program than GNU Chess on many dimensions:
it plays better, the code is commented and readable, and the author is
actively working on improvements.
You can download Crafty from ftp://ftp.cis.uab.edu/pub/hyatt/ . Start by
getting the read.me file and reading it. Among other things, this file
contains instructions on how to install Crafty as a command-line
application on your machine.
There is a Crafty mailing list hosted at http://www.jpunix.com/ . To
subscribe, send email to email@example.com.
[F.4] How do I use Crafty with XBoard?
First, you need to get Crafty and install it as a command-line
application on your machine. See topic [F.3] .
To use Crafty with XBoard, give the -fcp parameter like this:
xboard -fcp "crafty" -fd crafty_directory
Here crafty_directory is the directory where you installed Crafty. You
can add more xboard options at the end of the command line.
Crafty 15.14 or later is required to work properly with XBoard 4.0.0 or
later. We generally recommend using the latest versions of both XBoard
[F.5] How do I use Crafty with WinBoard?
First, you need to get Crafty and install it as a command-line
application on your machine. See topic [F.3] . You must use the version
of Crafty compiled for Win32 (wcrafty*.exe), not the version compiled
for MS-DOS (crafty*.exe), and it is best to use the latest version of
Crafty with the latest version of WinBoard to make sure all features are
compatible and function correctly. You can install Crafty in any
directory you like.
You also need to get WinBoard and install it in the normal way using its
built-in installer. You can do that either before or after you install
After both Crafty and WinBoard are installed separately, follow the
directions in the WinBoard Help file (included with WinBoard) for
connecting new chess engines to WinBoard.
If you want to have Crafty act as an automated computer player on a
chess server, see topic [D.16] . Before you try to get that working, be
sure you can play against Crafty locally, first without WinBoard, then
with it. Also be sure you can use WinBoard to play on the chess server
yourself, without having Crafty connected to it. You have to crawl
before you can walk!
** End of GNU Chess FAQ **
Tim Mann <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Compaq Systems Research Center