Play chess online with friends or engines

chessLooking for a good chess website to play with friends or practice against powerful chess engines but do not want to create a permanent account? Here are two good options for you.

lichess

You have options to play with friends or against the powerful chess engine Stockfish. You can also post seeks or accept seeks from others. If you want to play against a friend create a game and send him/her the link to join the game. Each game is unique and you can replay later. You can also adjust the strength of the stockfish engine when initiating a game against machine. The interface is clean and distraction free. You can chat with opponet while playing.

MultiplayerChess

A better interface on mobile than lichess. Allows downloading the game in PGN format. No chat option. The service is probably down.

Shredder

Shredder is a powerful game playing and analysis engine. You can play against Shredder online in its website. There are three difficulty levels to choose from. As additional perks you can solve various chess problems or learn from endgame and opening databases.

Oldest software you still use?

chessIn my case, it is the GNU Chess engine with the XBoard interface. It was available on the first Linux distro I ever installed (Red Hat Linux) and chess being my favourite game it has always been installed on every laptop I use personally since. GNU Chess has been ported to Windows too. It is reasonably strong and a good opponent for budding chess players. GNU Chess is open source and free.

GNU Chess Version 1 was written by Stuart Cracraft, in 1984 (pre-GNU era) and is one of the earliest pieces of software in the GNU package. It has been maintained and developed by many other programmers since.

Leaving aside operating systems and frameworks, what is the oldest and maintained software you are still in love with?

Standalone FICS chess clients for Linux

chessLinux has quite a few clients available for chess enthusiasts who play on freechess.org (a free alternative to ICS). While some of them use JAVA, some run on very few libraries. Here are 2 such clients which are not strictly standalone but are independent of JAVA and has good set of features:

  • eboard
    Lightweight with few dependencies. Supports both playing against the computer or online on FICS. Supports all available features of FICS. A highly customizable mature project.
  • PyChess
    Written in Python and still under development. Has a nice interface and supports most necessary features already. Supports local and online play. However, both the latest release and development versions have some issues. During my tests I have noticed a not so frequent hang up when a new game is started or a game finishes. It uses a lot more memory than eboard and bandwidth usage also much higher.

Analyze chess positions

chessWhile there are many options available to analyze chess positions, here are two which are handy:

  • Online Chess Analysis: Analyses your position using 3 very strong chess engines – Fruit, Stockfish and Critter. Probably the best option available for free. You have to feed the position in FEN format. Here is a handy online PGN to FEN converter.
  • Scid on Linux: Scid provides the GUI to the analysis engine of your choice like Stockfish or Crafty. Simple and efficient.

Stockfish: most powerful open source chess engine

stockfish_compWith the chess fever spreading because of the ongoing WCC 2013 between Anand and Carlsen, here is an industry standard open source chess engine you can develop your chess skills with: Stockfish. It has all the features of any top-notch commercial chess engine and is second in strength only to Houdini (commercial) right now. It is multiplatform and easy to install on any popular desktop or mobile OS. The GUI application on Android is Droidfish. Readily available in synaptic on Ubuntu. You can use the Stockfish engine with PyChess on Ubuntu. You can also use it with eboard by converting the UCI protocol Stockfish uses to xboard. Check this thread for details.

Webpage: Stockfish

Anand vs. Carlsen FIDE 2013 WCC Live

The World Chess Championship 2013 is approaching. Scheduled from Nov 9 – Nov 28, 2013 in Chennai, India, it’s the exciting fortnight every chess lover looks forward to. The reigning FIDE WCC champion Viswanathan Anand (India) will be defending his title against challenger Magnus Carlsen (Norway) who has set a new record for the all-time highest ELO rating this year. A battle of chess prodigies with an age difference of 21 years, this is more of a combined test of their individual experience, variety, innovation, strategies and nerves. Important links to enjoy the games:

  • All links removed now.

As an Indian I will look forward to Anand defending his title successfully against the odds. Good luck Vishy!

While you enjoy the games, keep exploring my blog as well. It’s chess, it’s bound to be slow… 🙂

Mobialia Chess: Android FICS client

If you are a regular chess player and are looking for a good FICS client app on Android then try Mobialia Chess. It is not as feature-packed as the popular desktop clients BabasChess (Windows and Linux over wine) or eBoard (Linux) but is more than sufficient for playing regularly on FICS. All the important features like seeks, console, chat etc. are available. The interface is beautiful. The free version adds a non-intrusive ad over the board but the commercial version is pretty cheap if you want that gone for good. Here‘s the lite version on Google Play.

Game play is glitch-free and gives a pretty smooth experience. I never faced any network issues while using it till date. Navigation has some harmless issues like pop-up windows remain in the board background if someone accepts your seek when you are trying to enter seek menu. However, you will find it only after you exit the active board when your game is over so it poses no threat to your concentration during the game. There is some scope of improvement in the app through more self-explanatory menus but that’s not a huge deal. It also has a pretty strong offline play mode where you can set the ELO of the computer as per your expertise in chess.

Website: Mobialia Chess

Congratulations Anand!!!

Anand is the FIDE WCC 2012 winner. A great feat at the age of 42. Well done Gelfand for putting up such a long fight! A day of celebration for the Indian chess lovers and the numerous fans of Anand. This win also replies Kasparov’s untimely comment on Anand’s motivation. Though I have a lot of respect for Kasparov as a player, I can understand now why people in his own country don’t see him as the President… for their own good. Just being the best player on the scoresheet doesn’t make you the best person in real life.