Chess Games and Chess Resources for Linux

I listed below the chess programs and resources I have on my Computer running under Linux. Some of these listed below are also cross platform.

3D Chess – glChess and this manual page were written by Robert Ancell bob27@users.sourceforge.net. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Version 2 any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License can be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL.

http://linux.die.net/man/6/glchess

Gnome Chess – GNOME Chess is a 2D chess game, where games can be played between a combination of human and computer players. GNOME Chess detects known third party chess engines for computer players.

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Chess

Brutal Chess – Brutal Chess features full 3D graphics, an advanced particle engine, and several different levels of intelligent AI, inspired by the once popular “Battle Chess” released by Interplay circa 1988.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/brutalchess/

Chessx – A free and open source chess database application for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/chessx/

Chinese Chess – GMChess is an open source Chinese Chess based on XiangQi Wizard. (link is external) Chinese chess (Xiangqi) is one of the most popular chess games to have originated in China.

https://lgdb.org/game/gmchess

One of many configurable from beginner to winner Chess games for Linux

Dream Chess – DreamChess is an open source chess game. Our primary target platforms are Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. DreamChess features 3D OpenGL graphics and provides various chess board sets, ranging from classic wooden to flat figurines.

A moderately strong chess engine is included: Dreamer. However, should this engine be too weak for you, then you can use any other XBoard-compatible chess engine, including the popular Crafty and GNU Chess.

Other features include music, sound effects, on-screen move lists using SAN notation, undo functionality, and savegames in PGN format.

The DreamChess team currently consists of only a handful of people. We could use help in many areas, such as programming, graphics, sound and testing. If you’re interested in helping out, please send an email to feedback at dreamchess.org.

http://dreamchess.org/

EBoard – EBoard is a user-friendly chess interface for ICS (Internet Chess Servers). While it will focus on FICS (www.freechess.org ), should work with any other ICS. It supports playing against local chess engines too.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/eboard/

Knights – Knights aims to be the ultimate chess resource on your computer. Written for the K Desktop Environment, it’s designed to be both friendly to new chess players and functional for Grand Masters. Here’s a quick list of Knights’ key features:

Play against yourself, against computer opponents, or against others over the Internet.

Customize your board and pieces with over 30 different themes, or create your own!
Audio cues help alert you to important events.
Novice players can preview potential moves.
Save your unfinished matches and play them again later.

http://knights.sourceforge.net/news_archive.php and http://www1.knights-chess.com/?kw=chess+pieces

Pychess –  PyChess is a gtk chess client, originally developed for GNOME, but running well under all other linux desktops. (Which we know of, at least). PyChess is 100% python code, from the top of the UI to the bottom of the chess engine, and all code is licensed under the GNU Public License.

The goal of PyChess is to provide an advanced chess client for linux following the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. The client should be usable to those new to chess, who just want to play a short game and get back to their work, as well as those who wants to use the computer to further enhance their play.

Use Any Chess Engine

With PyChess it is easy to play a game against the computer or use the computer to help you find the best move during a game with the Hint Mode feature.

PyChess comes with its own built-in chess engine and will automatically detect and work with most popular chess engines as long as they’re installed on your computer. This includes engines such as GnuChess, Crafty, Sjeng and Fruit, and even Windows engines like Rybka.

In the case PyChess doesn’t automatically detect an engine you’ve installed, you can manually add and configure it engines menu. See the wiki for additional engines.

http://www.pychess.org/about/

Scid – Scid is a chess database application (cross-platform, for Unix/Linux and Windows) with many search and database maintenance features.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/scid/

XBoard – XBoard is a graphical user interface for chess in all its major forms, including international chess, xiangqi (Chinese chess), shogi (Japanese chess) and Makruk, in addition to many minor variants such as Losers Chess, Crazyhouse, Chess960 and Capablanca Chess. It displays a chessboard on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves games in Portable Game Notation (PGN). 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, Crafty, or many others.

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 and chat.

Correspondence chess played by electronic mail. The CMail program 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.

XBoard runs on Unix and Unix-like systems that use the X Window System.

https://www.gnu.org/software/xboard/

XShogi – GNU Shogi is a computer program that plays the game of Shogi, also known as Japanese Chess.

https://www.gnu.org/software/gnushogi/

Visualizing Chess to Improve Your Game

In the time since I last talked about chess, I have learned a little more, mostly about myself. I think the biggest challenge for me to learn is to teach myself how to visualize. One of the ‘tricks’ of chess masters when they go on the road is to play multiple chess games without looking at the board, either blindfolded or having their backs to the boards.

This makes it obvious to me, pattern recognition by itself can only go so far. Looking at the board and searching for a pattern that worked before is not the same as really seeing. Perhaps this is how famous warriors throughout the ages planned their campaigns.

They could see them play out, and analyses different situations easier and with more clarity. Famous generals and chess masters I believe are far better at visualizing than the rest of us. I stare at the board, and I see chess pieces. I move them around in my mind in a certain pattern looking for what has worked for me in the past.

When that pattern in the void of my head is interrupted or otherwise disturbed, I am like a lost little child not knowing which way to turn. It is in this moment that being able to visualize the game in my head would be so beneficial.

Plodding through a single turn, thinking about the consequences of moving this piece or that pawn, how it effects the next move or two, and not seeing the game as a whole is a bog handicap. Being able to visualize, see the game as an animated movie must be far superior. Possibilities and paths for different moves and lines that are played out on the screen that passes for thought.

How slick would that be! Being able to holistically watch the effects of different moves, watching sequences, spotting the flaws. Reforming the chess army, playing out athe whole campaign. Having strong visualization skills, especially in chess has to be a major game changer.

Visualization, and the willingness to really think instead of play remembered patterns work sometime, but fail me at other times. When I talk with players that are stronger than me, they too have their glass ceilings. Mostly they talk about not having enough time to give to the game. How their life gets in the way.

Maybe they too are too concrete too in their thinking, and have not imagined the next plateau. Being able to visualize enough to make a difference. How much our game could improve using the ability to play out a chess puzzle in our head away from the game,  waiting for something, or just relaxing for a few minutes.

This is a skill I think is important to improving at chess, and perhaps other areas of life as well. It is a skill I think I want to cultivate. I too lack the time and inclination to learn fifty different openings and their counter play. I can’t give hours a day to chess puzzles, and other forms of chess learning in order to improve.

What I think I can do is learn to better use those resources I do have, mainly those resources between my ears. Maybe I learn to play a little better and have more fun in the process.

Chess Barely Past 1000

I have made it past 1000! Only 1,600 more points to climb before I say I know how to play chess. Just kidding, if I get to 1500 to 1600 I will be thrilled. I now know, there is no magic bullet. It takes time and energy to learn anything, especially chess.

Chess feels to me like a series of interwoven steps. I climb one, and step back two steps to correctly integrate what I think I now know. Some days I feel like a six year old would beat me. Then slowly, my newest learning starts to meld with the little I know. Then, for a few moments, I gloat over my new found skill. Then reality happens, again.

My biggest weakness right now is choosing to move too fast. I can’t seem to stay off the gas peddle of moves. I see a nice move, and I do not see (take time to look for) anything better, so I move. Then I watch one of my pieces I didn’t notice eaten, because I moved too fast. When I slow down, protect my pieces and  not leave them hanging, my chess ability will improve.

As I watch the Masters playing their game via a .pgn file, their play looks so thoughtless and effortless. I am learning, every move made in the late opening is meant to support a later move. I used to think they were wasted moves. For my part, I am busy getting my pieces out so I can castle. For no real reason, I forget what I am supposed to be doing, and poof, another piece bites the dust.

A second learning from the master level games is moves that made no sense to me and looked like errors, are starting to make sense. White moves their pawn to block a two move knight problem before it can be made. Black moves a bishop to tie up a rook, planning to over extend the rook in another move or two, while they plan trap the queen.

They had a plan, and a backup plan. My first plan is to get my pieces active. While doing this, I watch my pieces disappear from the board because I am not thinking and I am moving too fast. That is my current best chess ability.

I am a master at allowing my pieces to be taken. I am starting to appreciate the focus and thinking needed to pay chess well. I need a forced pause between mouse clicks. Counting does not work. I can not count and think at the same time. Perhaps having a clock close by would help, so I know when an acceptable amount of time has passed. Or in my case, an acceptable amount of looking and thinking has not yet passed.

When last spring rolled around, my frustration with chess was high. It was easy to set chess down and pretend chess is something for people with a lot more free time than I have. That is what I did. I told myself, it was not worth the effort. There were better things to do with my time.

This fall however, I started spending more of my spare time with chess. I am finding chess is a lot more fun, as long as I am willing to do some thinking as I play. My frustration level has dropped because the more I think, the more I see good changes in my chess, and in my life.

If you work in a group, I strongly suggest you take up learning chess (again if you stopped). The need to focus and analyze in chess will help you in your work and with the problem of office politics.

It is a good feeling to create a situation where a potential problem is either solved or deflected before can cause you harm. Chess also helps one focus on actually doing work. I’m my case at least, it helps me see ways to be more valuable by using the tools I have to work with in new ways.

Beginning Chess Books you can use

I wanted to talk about chess books. Over the past years I have collected about a dozen books on various aspects of chess. A few of the books I own are for a beginner. Content wise – this is a chess board type of book. Other chess books I own are about finding and preventing mistakes in your play, playing a complete chess game, chess openings, and other topics.

There is a problem with my book collection though. All my books except the beginner level books, have a lot in common foreign language. I know generally what they about, but most of the concepts are lost on me. I am not comprehending what I read.

These more advanced books have had little impact on me because I barely have the basics down. I have a large stack of paper with foreign language typed on the pages in the form of chess notation and higher level concepts. I look at some of my books and my eyes glaze over after the first three or four sentences.

After a few months of really trying to learn how to play better chess, I now understand most of the gibberish my books contain. I can not follow all of them without breaking out a chessboard though. What these books try and do is teach some intermediate chess skill(s). For a beginning player like myself what these books become  are paper weights.

I did not know there was such a thing as a beginner level chess book. I was under the impression there were beginner chess books that teach you how the all the pieces move, and the rest of the chess books teach you how to play better chess.

I have a strong collection of chess books however. An added plus is three of the chess books are worth many times what I paid for them. Perhaps not because they are great books that will take me to the heights of chess-land, but because they are rare chess books. Kind of funny because I bought them because they were cheap – as in less than eight dollars each. They may be worth the real asking price, but I am not there yet.

The rest of my chess books, (I thought) I picked using a brilliant method. I checked and cross checked ratings on popular chess books. Now a few years later, I have some of the most popular chess books, and my few rare chess books. I know now most of the books I have are not intended for readers at my level of play. I have learned chess annotation I can follow the thought process for a short time before I am lost in following the annotation.

So what is in this post for you? If you intend to buy chess books, ensure the books you think you want are written for your level of chess ability. It is rather frustrating to buy a highly reviewed and recommended chess book only to find it is way above your level.

If you buy more challenging chess books as I have, they will only sit on your book shelf until you are ready to think while you read. Reading a chess book past the intro is work. I know once I want to move past beginner level chess and still want to progress, I will need to read, and think about what I am reading.

I recommend when you search for books, you look for the words, beginning, intermediate, or advanced. I have found certain authors tend to write for a certain level audience. If you find an author you like, and you understand what they are writing, chances are their other books will be books you can use right now. The highly skilled master level players are brilliant, but generally their books are far removed from basic chess concepts unless they state they were written for new(er) players.

One final thought about Chess books. In mathematics the words: elementary topics,  reads   like a math topic any child can read. In truth elementary topics is a level of math most of us never get to. Some chess books are the same way. Titles that contain words such as simple, basic, or the like may not be what they seem. Ensure you know what is between the covers.

Learning Tactics now to survive to the Endgame

When I started chess tactics training last month, I shot way up into the 1400’s! I thought I was doing well. The next day of tactics training, reality arrived and I was at 897. The day after my 897 day was nothing to get excited about either score wise. I was missing the most obvious simple moves and attacks.

Now a little over a month later and almost daily Chess Tactical Puzzle solving, I am showing improvement. I now manage a score between 925 to 1050. The higher end if I do not have any pawn end game tactical problems that session. With too many pawn endgame problems and I am scraping 900 for tactical ability.

I find chess tactics to be a lot of fun. The puzzles are getting more interesting now. The newest twist in Tactics is the process of making the best move, not just a good move. That is good for me because I know one of  my major faults is completing the first move I see without looking for what that move does or does not do, and what my opponent will do thanks to ,y poor choice of moves.

I have read some complaining by people who’s Tactics score was dropped after missing problems of a certain type. I think it is fine if my Chess Tactics score drops. It shows a major weakness in my already weak chess game. I suppose I have the advantage as I really have no score to worry about.

I believe it is a lot better to discover what we need to know from Tactical Puzzles and press on than it would be to stop Tactics Training due to frustration. All stopping practicing Chess Tactics would accomplish is one opponent after another discovering this gaping hole in our learning and beating us soundly from the other side of the chessboard.

I know now I am going to have to learn the endgame better. Give me a Tactical Puzzle with a few pawns and a King, and I am in serious trouble.  At first the endgame did not seem important because I was barely surviving the opening. As I mentioned my chess games seemed to go from the opening moves straight to the endgame with little or no middle game. Such is the result of  having the skill level of a beginner while playing more experienced players.