Next: , Previous: Options, Up: Top

5 Chess Servers

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 and

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 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

help <topic>
to get help on the given <topic>. To get a list of possible topics type help without topic. Try the help command before you ask other people on the server for help.

For example help register tells you how to become a registered ICS player.

who <flags>
to see a list of people who are logged on. Administrators (people you should talk to if you have a problem) are marked with the character ‘*’, an asterisk. The <flags> allow you to display only selected players: For example, who of shows a list of players who are interested in playing but do not have an opponent.
to see what games are being played
match <player> [<mins>] [<inc>]
to challenge another player to a game. Both opponents get <mins> minutes for the game, and <inc> seconds will be added after each move. If another player challenges you, the server asks if you want to accept the challenge; use the accept or decline commands to answer.
to accept or decline another player's offer. The offer may be to start a new game, or to agree to a draw, adjourn or abort the current game. See Action Menu.

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.

asks your opponent to terminate a game by mutual agreement. Adjourned games can be continued later. Your opponent can either decline your offer or accept it (by typing the same command or typing accept). In some cases these commands work immediately, without asking your opponent to agree. For example, you can abort the game unilaterally if your opponent is out of time, and you can claim a draw by repetition or the 50-move rule if available simply by typing draw.
finger <player>
to get information about the given <player>. (Default: yourself.)
to get a list of personal settings
set <var> <value>
to modify these settings
observe <player>
to observe an ongoing game of the given <player>.
to review a recently completed game

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.