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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 option alwaysPromoteToQueen, 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, XBoard 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, XBoard 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 irreversibly.
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 evalZoom option, 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.

3.7.4 Adjudications

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 (e.g. KBKN). 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, and kibitz. 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 gnotify 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 your ICS highlight 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 you specify. Disabled if the saveGameFile command-line 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’ commands 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 and 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 entirely.

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 below.
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 defaultTourneyName option.
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 pairingEngine option. Each Swiss round will be considered a tourney cycle in that case. Default:0
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 defaultMatchGames option.
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. -firstHasOwnBookUCI true), 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 autoDisplayComment and 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. Defaults: 0
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, (the saveGameFile option), or the final position of such games (the savePositionfile option). 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 next time. 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

     -settingsFile  ~/.yboardrc
     -saveSettingsFile  ~/.yboardrc

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", see there.