Chess Software for Linux
xboard can also be used to play chess via the Internet, which is an excellent way to find fun opponents of all skill levels.
In order to use xboard to play on an Internet chess server, first set up a SLIP/PPP connection, and then to get to the main free U.S. server, type:
xboard -ics -icshost freechess.org
This will connect you to the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS) through port 5000 and open an xboard display so that you are ready to both observe and play games. You will first need to log in, of course, and for this you should choose a handle to use as a guest until you think of one especially clever. To get a list of the games in progress, type:
gamesThen to test the interface, try typing:
obs 6to observe game 6 (assuming it exists). Your interface should work and you should see some pieces moving hither and thither; type “unobserve” when you've seen enough. The commands are quite simple, and the online documentation is thorough, but if you need help getting started you can ask other players in channel 1. A great many chess servers exist throughout the world, including Grandmaster Dzindzichashvili's chess.net, the (commercial) Internet Chess Club chessclub.com, and the main European free server eics.daimi.aau.dk; I imagine any of these would be happy to have new players.
Those of us who were made to suffer at the hands of Sargon in the days of the Commodore 64, tormented by the malicious characters of BattleChess, or politely dismantled by Chessmaster, now have the pleasure of choosing a variety of master strength programs to defeat us on our modern machines (the struggle to prove a consistent match to the ever-improving Crafty is being made into a movie, apparently to be called Searching for Holes in Crafty's Opening Book). However, today's computers also provide the frustrated chess player with relief that computers did not offer when the Commodore 64 was king: Internet chess, featuring human players, complete with mistakes and oversights that computers don't make anymore.
Jason Kroll is a student of economics at the University of Washington. He likes music, computers, and chess, and thinks that Linux is the best thing to happen to computers since monitors (or at least since the Amiga). He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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