3.7 Options Menu
3.7.1 General Options
The following items to set option values appear in the dialog
summoned by the general Options menu item.
- Absolute Analysis Scores
- Controls if scores on the Engine Output window during analysis
will be printed from the white or the side-to-move point-of-view.
- Almost Always Queen
- If this option is on, 7th-rank pawns automatically change into
Queens when you pick them up,
and when you drag them to the promotion square and release them there,
they will promote to that.
But when you drag such a pawn backwards first,
its identity will start to cycle through the other available pieces.
This will continue until you start to move it forward;
at which point the identity of the piece will be fixed,
so that you can safely put it down on the promotion square.
If this option is off, what happens depends on the
which would force promotion to Queen when true.
Otherwise XBoard would bring up a dialog
box whenever you move a pawn to the last rank, asking what piece
you want to promote to.
- Animate Dragging
- If Animate Dragging is on, while you are dragging a piece with the
mouse, an image of the piece follows the mouse cursor.
If Animate Dragging is off, there is no visual feedback while you are
dragging a piece, but if Animate Moving is on, the move will be
animated when it is complete.
- Animate Moving
- If Animate Moving is on, all piece moves are animated. An image of the
piece is shown moving from the old square to the new square when the
move is completed (unless the move was already animated by Animate Dragging).
If Animate Moving is off, a moved piece instantly disappears from its
old square and reappears on its new square when the move is complete.
The shifted Ctrl-A key is a keyboard equivalent.
- Auto Flag
- If this option is on and one player runs out of time
before the other,
will automatically call his flag, claiming a win on time.
The shifted Ctrl-F key is a keyboard equivalent.
In ICS mode, Auto Flag will only call your opponent's flag, not yours,
and the ICS may award you a draw instead of a win if you have
insufficient mating material. In local chess engine mode,
may call either player's flag and will not take material into account (?).
- Auto Flip View
- If the Auto Flip View option is on when you start a game, the board
will be automatically oriented so that your pawns move from the bottom
of the window towards the top.
If you are playing a game on an ICS, the board is always
oriented at the start of the game so that your pawns move from
the bottom of the window towards the top. Otherwise, the starting
orientation is determined by the
flipView command line option;
if it is false (the default), White's pawns move from bottom to top
at the start of each game; if it is true, Black's pawns move from
bottom to top. See User interface options.
- If this option is on, XBoard displays the board as usual but does
not display pieces or move highlights. You can still move in the
usual way (with the mouse or by typing moves in ICS mode), even though
the pieces are invisible.
- Drop Menu
- Controls if right-clicking the board in crazyhouse / bughouse
will pop up a menu to drop a piece on the clicked square
(old, deprecated behavior)
or allow you to step through an engine PV
(new, recommended behavior).
- Enable Variation Trees
- If this option is on, playing a move in Edit Game or Analyze mode
while keeping the Shift key pressed will start a new variation.
You can then recall the previous line through the ‘Revert’ menu item.
When off, playing a move will truncate the game and append the move
- Hide Thinking
- If this option is off, the chess engine's notion of the score and best
line of play from the current position is displayed as it is
thinking. The score indicates how many pawns ahead (or if negative,
behind) the chess engine thinks it is. In matches between two
machines, the score is prefixed by ‘W’ or ‘B’ to indicate
whether it is showing White's thinking or Black's, and only the thinking
of the engine that is on move is shown.
The shifted Ctrl-H key is a keyboard equivalent.
- Highlight Last Move
- If Highlight Last Move is on, after a move is made, the starting and
ending squares remain highlighted. In addition, after you use Backward
or Back to Start, the starting and ending squares of the last move to
be unmade are highlighted.
- Highlight with Arrow
- Causes the highlighting described in Highlight Last Move to be done
by drawing an arrow between the highlighted squares,
so that it is visible even when the width of the grid lines is set to zero.
- Move Sound
- Enables the sounding of an audible signal when the computer performs a move.
For the selection of the sound, see ‘Sound Options’.
If you turn on this option when using XBoard with the Internet
Chess Server, you will probably want to give the
set bell 0
command to the ICS, since otherwise the ICS will ring the terminal bell
after every move (not just yours). (The .icsrc file
is a good place for this; see ICS options.)
- One-Click Moving
- If this option is on, XBoard does not wait for you to click both the
from- and the to-square, or drag the piece, but performs a move as soon
as it is uniqely specified.
This applies to clicking an own piece that only has a single legal move,
clicking an empty square or opponent piece where only one of your pieces
can move (or capture) to.
Furthermore, a double-click on a piece that can only make a single capture
will cause that capture to be made.
Promoting a Pawn by clicking its to-square will suppress the promotion
popup or other methods for selecting an under-promotion,
and make it promote to Queen.
- Periodic Updates
- If this option is off (or if
you are using a chess engine that does not support periodic updates),
the analysis window
will only be updated when the analysis changes. If this option is
on, the Analysis Window will be updated every two seconds.
- Play Move(s) of Clicked PV
- If this option is on, right-clicking a PV in the Engine Output window
during Analyze mode will cause the first move of that PV to be played.
You could also play more than one (or no) PV move by moving the mouse
to engage in the PV walk such a right-click will start,
to seek out another position along the PV where you want to continue
the analysis, before releasing the mouse button.
- Ponder Next Move
- If this option is off, the chess engine will think only when it is on
move. If the option is on, the engine will also think while waiting
for you to make your move.
The shifted Ctrl-P key is a keyboard equivalent.
- Popup Exit Message
- If this option is on, when XBoard wants to display a message just
before exiting, it brings up a modal dialog box and waits for you to
click OK before exiting. If the option is off, XBoard prints the
message to standard error (the terminal) and exits immediately.
- Popup Move Errors
- If this option is off, when you make an error in moving (such as
attempting an illegal move or moving the wrong color piece), the
error message is displayed in the message area. If the option is
on, move errors are displayed in small pop-up windows like other errors.
You can dismiss an error pop-up either by clicking its OK button or by
clicking anywhere on the board, including down-clicking to start a move.
- Scores in Move List
- If this option is on, XBoard will display the depth and score
of engine moves in the Move List, in the format of a PGN comment.
- Show Coords
- If this option is on, XBoard displays algebraic coordinates
along the board's left and bottom edges.
- Show Target Squares
- If this option is on, all squares a piece that is 'picked up' with the mouse
can legally move to are highighted with a fat colored dot in the
highlightColor (non-captures) or premoveHighlightColor (captures).
Legality testing must be on for XBoard to know how the piece moves.
- Test Legality
- If this option is on, XBoard tests whether the moves you try to make
with the mouse are legal and refuses to let you make an illegal move.
The shifted Ctrl-L key is a keyboard equivalent.
Moves loaded from a file with ‘Load Game’ are also checked. If
the option is off, all moves are accepted, but if a local chess engine
or the ICS is active, they will still reject illegal moves. Turning
off this option is useful if you are playing a chess variant with
rules that XBoard does not understand. (Bughouse, suicide, and wild
variants where the king may castle after starting on the d file are
generally supported with Test Legality on.)
- Flash Moves
- Flash Rate
- If this option is non-zero, whenever a move is completed,
the moved piece flashes the specified number of times.
The flash-rate setting determines how rapidly this flashing occurs.
- Animation Speed
- Determines the duration (in msec) of an animation step,
when ‘Animate Moving’ is swiched on.
- Zoom factor in Evaluation Graph
- Sets the valueof the
indicating the factor by which the score interval (-1,1) should be
blown up on the vertical axis of the Evaluation Graph.
3.7.2 Time Control
Pops up a sub-menu where you can set the time-control parameters interactively.
Allows you to select classical or incremental time controls,
set the moves per session, session duration, and time increment.
Also allows specification of time-odds factors for one or both engines.
If an engine is given a time-odds factor N, all time quota it gets,
be it at the beginning of a session or through the time increment or
fixed time per move, will be divided by N.
The shifted Alt+T key is a keyboard equivalent.
3.7.3 Common Engine
Pops up a sub-menu where you can set some engine parameters common to most engines,
such as hash-table size, tablebase cache size, maximum number of processors
that SMP engines can use, and where to find the Polyglot adapter needed
to run UCI engines under XBoard. The feature that allows setting of these parameters on
engines is new since XBoard 4.3.15, so not many XBoard/WinBoard engines respond
to it yet, but UCI engines should.
It is also possible to specify a GUI opening book here, i.e. an opening
book that XBoard consults for any position a playing engine gets in.
It then forces the engine to play the book move, rather than to think up its own,
if that position is found in the book.
The book can switched on and off independently for either engine.
The way book moves are chosen can be influenced through the settings of
book depth and variety.
After both sides have played more moves than the specified depth,
the book will no longer be consulted.
When the variety is set to 50, moves will be played with the probability
specified in the book.
When set to 0, only the move(s) with the highest probability will be played.
When set to 100, all listed moves will be played with equal pobability.
Other settings interpolate between that.
The shifted Alt+U key is a keyboard equivalent.
Pops up a sub-menu where you can enable or disable various adjudications
that XBoard can perform in engine-engine games.
The shifted Alt+J key is a keyboard equivalent.
You can instruct XBoard to detect and terminate the game on checkmate
or stalemate, even if the engines would not do so, to verify engine
result claims (forfeiting engines that make false claims), rather than
naively following the engine, to declare draw on positions
which can never be won for lack of mating material, (e.g. KBK),
or which are impossible to win unless the opponent seeks its own demise
For these adjudications to work, ‘Test Legality’ should be switched on.
It is also possible to instruct XBoard to enforce a 50-move or 3-fold-repeat
rule and automatically declare draw (after a user-adjustable number of moves
or repeats) even if the engines are prepared to go on.
It is also possible to have XBoard declare draw on games that seem to drag on
forever, or adjudicate a loss if both engines agree (for 3 consecutive moves) that one
of them is behind more than a user-adjustable score threshold.
For the latter adjudication to work, XBoard should be able to properly understand
the engine's scores. To facilitate the latter, you can inform xboard here if
the engines report scores from the viewpoint of white, or from that of their own color.
3.7.5 ICS Options
The following options occur in a dialog summoned by the
ICS Options menu item.
- Auto Kibitz
- Setting this option when playing with or aginst a chess program on an ICS
will cause the last line of thinking output of the engine before its move
to be sent to the ICS in a kibitz command.
In addition, any kibitz message received through the ICS from
an opponent chess program will be diverted to the engine-output window,
(and suppressed in the console),
where you can play through its PV by right-clicking it.
- Auto Comment
- If this option is on, any remarks made on ICS while you are observing or
playing a game are recorded as a comment on the current move. This includes
remarks made with the ICS commands say, tell, whisper,
Limitation: remarks that you type yourself are not recognized;
XBoard scans only the output from ICS, not the input you type to it.
- Auto Observe
- If this option is on and you add a player to your
list on ICS, XBoard will automatically observe all of that
player's games, unless you are doing something else (such as
observing or playing a game of your own) when one starts.
The games are displayed
from the point of view of the player on your gnotify list; that is, his
pawns move from the bottom of the window towards the top.
Exceptions: If both players in a game are on your gnotify list, if
variable is set to 0, or if the ICS you are using does not
properly support observing from Black's point of view,
you will see the game from White's point of view.
- Auto Raise Board
- If this option is on, whenever a new game begins, the chessboard window
is deiconized (if necessary) and raised to the top of the stack of windows.
- Auto Save
- If this option is true, at the end of every game XBoard prompts
you for a file name and appends a record of the game to the file
Disabled if the
option is set, as in that case all games are saved to the specified file.
See Load and Save options.
- Background Observe
- Setting this option will make XBoard suppress display of any boards
from observed games while you are playing.
In stead the last such board will be remembered,
and shown to you when you right-click the board.
This allows you to peek at your bughouse partner's game when you want,
without disturbing your own game too much.
- Dual Board
- Setting this option in combination with ‘Background Observe’
will display boards of observed games while you are playing
on a second board next to that of your own game.
- Get Move List
- If this option is on, whenever XBoard
receives the first board of a new ICS game (or a different game from
the one it is currently displaying), it
retrieves the list of past moves from the ICS.
You can then review the moves with the ‘Forward’ and ‘Backward’
or save them with ‘Save Game’. You might want to
turn off this option if you are observing several blitz games at once,
to keep from wasting time and network bandwidth fetching the move lists over
When you turn this option on from the menu, XBoard
immediately fetches the move list of the current game (if any).
- Quiet Play
- If this option is on, XBoard will automatically issue an ICS
set shout 0
command whenever you start a game and a
set shout 1
command whenever you finish one. Thus, you will not be distracted
by shouts from other ICS users while playing.
- Seek Graph
- Setting this option will cause XBoard to display an graph of
currently active seek ads when you left-click the board
while idle and logged on to an ICS.
- Auto-Refresh Seek Graph
- In combination with the ‘Seek Graph’ option this
will cause automatic update of the seek graph while it is up.
This only works on FICS and ICC,
and requires a lot of bandwidth on a busy server.
- Premove White
- Premove Black
- First White Move
- First Black Move
- If this option is on while playing a game on an ICS, you can register
your next planned move before it is your turn. Move the piece with
the mouse in the ordinary way, and the starting and ending squares
will be highlighted with a special color (red by default). When it is
your turn, if your registered move is legal, XBoard will send it to
ICS immediately; if not, it will be ignored and you can make a
different move. If you change your mind about your premove, either
make a different move, or double-click on any piece to cancel the move
You can also enter premoves for the first white and black moves
of the game.
- ICS Alarm
- ICS Alarm Time
- When this option is on, an alarm sound is played when your clock
counts down to the icsAlarmTime in an ICS game.
(By default, the time is 5 seconds, but you can pecify other values
with the Alarm Time spin control.)
For games with time controls that include an increment, the
alarm will sound each time the clock counts down to the icsAlarmTime.
By default, the alarm sound is the terminal bell, but on some systems
you can change it to a sound file using the soundIcsAlarm option; see
- Colorize Messages
- Ticking this options causes various types of ICS messages do be
displayed with different foreground or background colors in the console.
The colors can be individually selected for each type,
through the accompanying text edits.
3.7.6 Match Options
Summons a dialog where you can set options important for playing automatic
matches between two chess programs
(e.g. by using the ‘Machine Match’ menu item in the ‘Mode’ menu).
- Tournament file
- To run a tournament, XBoard needs a file to record its progress,
so it can resume the tourney when it is interrupted.
When you want to conduct anything more complex than a simple
two-player match with the currently loaded engines,
(i.e. when you select a list of participants),
you must not leave this field blank.
When you enter the name of an existing tournament file,
XBoard will ignore all other input specified in the dialog,
and will take them from that tournament file.
This resumes an interrupted tournament, or adds another XBoard
agent playing games for it to those that are already doing so.
Specifying a not-yet-existing file will cause XBoard to create it,
according to the tournament parameters specified in the rest of the dialog,
before it starts the tournament on ‘OK’.
Provided that you specify participants;
without participants no tournament file will be made, but other entered values
(e.g. for the file with opening positions) will take effect.
Default: configured by the
- Sync after round
- Sync after cycle
- The sync options, when on, will cause WinBoard to refrain from starting games
of the next round or cycle before all games of the previous round or cycle are finished.
This guarantees correct ordering in the games file,
even when multiple XBoard instances are concurrently playing games for the same tourney.
Default: sync after cycle, but not after round.
- Select Engine
- Tourney participants
- With the Select Engine drop-down list you can pick an engine from your list
of installed engines in the settings file, to be added to the tournament.
The engines selected so far will be listed in the ‘Tourney participants’ memo.
The latter is a normal text edit, so you can use normal text-editing functions
to delete engines you selected by accident, or change their order.
Do not type names yourself there, because names that do not exactly match
one of the names from the drop-down list will lead to undefined behavior.
- Tourney type
- Here you can specify the type of tournament you want.
XBoard’s intrinsic tournament manager support round-robins (type = 0),
where each participant plays every other participant, and (multi-)gauntlets,
where one (or a few) so-called ‘gauntlet engines’ play an independent set of opponents.
In the latter case, you specify the number of gauntlet engines.
E.g. if you specified 10 engines, and tourney type = 2,
the first 2 engines each play the remaining 8.
A value of -1 instructs XBoard to play Swiss; for this to work an external
pairing engine must be specified through the
Each Swiss round will be considered a tourney cycle in that case.
- Number of tourney cycles
- Default number of Games
- You can specify tourneys where every two opponents play each other multiple times.
Such multiple games can be played in a row,
as specified by the ‘number of games per pairing’,
or by repeating the entire tournament schedule a number of times
(specified by the ‘number of tourney cycles’).
The total number of times two engine meet will be the product of these two.
Default is 1 cycle;
the number of games per pairing is the same as the default number of match games,
stored in your settings file through the
- Save Tourney Games
- File where the tournament games are saved
(duplicate of the item in the ‘Save Game Options’).
- Game File with Opening Lines
- File with Start Positions
- Game Number
- Position Number
- Rewind Index after
- These items optionally specify the file with move sequences or board positions the tourney
games should start from.
The corresponding numbers specify the number of the game or position in the file.
Here a value -1 means automatic stepping through all games on the file,
-2 automatic stepping every two games.
The Rewind-Index parameter causes a stepping index to reset to one after reaching
a specified value.
A setting of -2 for the game number will also be effective in a tournament without
specifying a game file, but playing from the GUI book instead.
In this case the first (odd) games will randomly select from the book,
but the second (even) games will select the same moves from the book as the previous game.
(Note this leads to the same opening only if both engines use the GUI book!)
Default: No game or position file will be used. The default index if such a file is used is 1.
- Disable own engine bools be default
- Setting this option reverses the default situation for use of the GUI opening book
in tournaments from what it normally is, namely not using it.
So unless the engine is installed with an option to explicitly specify it should
not use the GUI book (i.e.
it will be made to use the GUI book.
- Replace Engine
- Upgrade Engine
- With these two buttons you can alter the participants of an already running tournament.
After opening the Match Options dialog on an XBoard that is playing for the tourney,
you will see all the tourney parameters in the dialog fields.
You can then replace the name of one engine by that of another
by editing the ‘participants’ field.
(But preserve the order of the others!)
Pressing the button after that will cause the substitution.
With the ‘Upgrade Engine’ button the substitution will only affect future games.
With ‘Replace Engine’ all games the substituted engine has already played will
be invalidated, and they will be replayed with the substitute engine.
In this latter case the engine must not be playing when you do this,
but otherwise there is no need to pause the tournament play
for making a substitution.
- Clone Tourney
- Pressing this button after you have specified an existing tournament file
will copy the contents of the latter to the dialog,
and then puts the originally proposed name for the tourney file back.
You can then run a tourney with the same parameters
(possibly after changing the proposed name of the tourney file for the new tourney)
by pressing 'OK'.
3.7.7 Load Game Options
Summons a dialog where you can set the
autoDisplayTags options, (which control popups when viewing loaded games),
and specify the rate at which loaded games are auto-played,
in seconds per move (which can be a fractional number, like 1.6).
You can also set search criteria for determining which games
will be displayed in the Game List for a multi-game file,
and thus be eligible for loading:
- Elo of strongest player
- Elo of weakest player
- These numeric fields set thresholds (lower limits) on the Elo rating of the mentioned player,
or the date the game was played.
- Search mode
- This setting determines which positions in a game will be considered a match
to the position currently displayed in the board window
when you press the ‘find position’ button in the Game List.
You can search for an exact match,
a position that has all shown material in the same place,
but might contain additional material,
a position that has all Pawns in the same place,
but can have the shown material anywhere,
a position that can have all shown material anywhere,
or a position that has material between certain limits anywhere.
For the latter you have to place the material that must be present
in the four lowest ranks of the board,
and optional additional material in the four highest ranks of the board.
You can request the optional material to be balanced.
The ‘narrow’ button is similar in fuction to the ‘find position’ button,
but only searches in the already selected games,
rather than the complete game file,
and can thus be used to refine a search based on multiple criteria.
- number of consecutive positions
- When you are searching by material, rather than for an exact match,
this parameter indicates forhowmany consecutive game positions
the same amount of material must be on the board before it is
considered a match.
- Also match reversed colors
- Also match left-right flipped position
- When looking for matching positions rather than by material,
these settings determine whether mirror images
(in case of a vertical flip in combination with color reversal)
will be also considered a match.
The left-right flipping is only useful after all castling rights
have expired (or in Xiangqi).
3.7.8 Save Game Options
Summons a dialog where you can specify the files on which XBoard should
automatically save any played or entered games,
or the final position of such games (the
You can also select 'auto-save' without a file name,
in which case XBoard will prompt the user for a file name after each game.
In ICS mode you can limit the auto-saving to your own games
(i.e. suppress saving of observed games).
You can also set the default value for the PGN Event tag that will
be used for each new game you start.
Various options for the format of the game can be specified as well,
such as whether scores and depths of engine games should be saved as comments,
and if a tag with info about the score with which the engine came out of book
should be included.
For Chess, always set the format to PGN, rather than "old save stye"!
3.7.9 Game List
Pops up a dialog where you can select the PGN tags that should appear
on the lines in the game list, and their order.
3.7.10 Sound Options
Summons a dialog where you can specify the sounds that should accompany
various events that can occur XBoard.
Most events are only relevant to ICS play,
but the move sound is an important exception.
For each event listed in the dialog,
you can select a standard sound from a menu.
You can also select a user-supplied sound file,
by typing its name into the designated text-edit field first,
and then selecting "Above WAV File" from the menu for the event.
A dummy event has been provided for trying out the sounds with the
"play" button next to it.
The directory with standard sounds, and the external program for playing
the sounds can be specified too, but normally you would not touch these
once XBoard is properly installed.
When a move sound other than 'None' is selected,
XBoard alerts you by playing that sound
after each of your opponent's moves (or after every
move if you are observing a game on the Internet Chess Server).
The sound is not played after moves you make or moves read from a
saved game file.
3.7.11 Save Settings Now
Selecting this menu item causes the current XBoard settings to be
written to the settings file, so they will also apply in future sessions.
Note that some settings are 'volatile', and are not saved,
because XBoard considers it too unlikely that you want those to apply
In particular this applies to the Chess program names, and all options
giving information on those Chess programs (such as their directory,
if they have their own opening book, if they are UCI or native XBoard),
or the variant you are playing.
Such options would still be understood when they appear in the settings
file in case they were put there with the aid of a text editor, but they
would disappear from the file as soon as you save the settings.
Note that XBoard no longer pays attention to options values specified
in the .Xresources file.
(Specifying key bindings there will still work, though.)
To alter the default of volatile options, you can use the following method:
Rename your ~/.xboardrc settings file (to ~/.yboardrc, say), and create
a new file ~/.xboardrc, which only contains the options
This will cause your settings to be saved on ~/.yboardrc in the future,
so that ~/.xboardrc is no longer overwritten.
You can then safely specify volatile options in ~/.xboardrc, either
before or after the settingsFile options.
Note that when you specify persistent options after the settingsFile options
in ~/.xboardrc, you will essentially turn them into volatile options
with the specified value as default, because that value will overrule
the value loaded from the settings file (being read later).
3.7.12 Save Settings on Exit
Setting this option has no immediate effect, but causes the settings
to be saved when you quit XBoard. What happens then is otherwise
identical to what happens when you use select "Save Settings Now",