An Internet Chess Server, or ICS, is a place on the
Internet where people can get together to play chess, watch other
people's games, or just chat. You can use either
telnet or a
client program like XBoard to connect to the server. There are
thousands of registered users on the different ICS hosts, and it is
not unusual to meet 200 on both chessclub.com and freechess.org.
Most people can just type xboard -ics to start XBoard as an ICS client. Invoking XBoard in this way connects you to the Internet Chess Club (ICC), a commercial ICS. You can log in there as a guest even if you do not have a paid account. To connect to the largest Free ICS (FICS), use the command xboard -ics -icshost freechess.org instead, or substitute a different host name to connect to your favorite ICS. For a full description of command-line options that control the connection to ICS and change the default values of ICS options, see ICS options.
While you are running XBoard as an ICS client, you use the terminal window that you started XBoard from as a place to type in commands and read information that is not available on the chessboard.
The first time you need to use the terminal is to enter your login name
and password, if you are a registered player. (You don't need to do
this manually; the
icsLogon option can do it for you.
see ICS options.) If you are not registered,
enter g as your name, and the server will pick a
unique guest name for you.
Some useful ICS commands include
For example help register tells you how to become a registered
If you have more than one pending offer (for example, if more than one player
is challenging you, or if your opponent offers both a draw and to adjourn the
game), you have to supply additional information, by typing something
like accept <player>, accept draw, or draw.
Some special XBoard features are activated when you are in examine mode on ICS. See the descriptions of the menu commands ‘Forward’, ‘Backward’, ‘Pause’, ‘ICS Client’, and ‘Stop Examining’ on the Edit Menu, Mode Menu, and Action Menu.