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I'm using GNUChess with Knights client (Knights doesn't seem to be THAT matured, crashes are common). Is there any equivalent of Chessmaster on Linux? What about good clients to play on servers like FICS. I currently use Jin to play on FICS. But I think Jin doesn't expose all the functionalities of the server, e.g. chat isn't there in Jin.

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You can chat using jin, but it is hard. Basically, you have to enter commands like tell <handle> hello world in order to talk to someone. If you are playing a game, then you can use say good luck! to talk to your opponent. –  Andrew Aug 21 '12 at 13:37
oh from the telnet console! ah yes. Even that'll work! –  swair Aug 21 '12 at 14:21
A less well know fact is that PyChess has its own chess engine built in. It is designed to play more like an average chess player, and less like a grandmaster. –  Thomas Ahle Feb 8 '13 at 17:55

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted


All three are installable via Ubuntu Software Center and all three are UCI compliant (ie. so runs in Chessbase Fritz, Chess for Android, and/or Arena GUI). Arena is used with FICS so you should be able to use all 3.

Except for Glaurung I used both on occasion and was very satisfied with them.


$ sudo apt-get install toga2 glaurung fruit

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For professional level engines, I run Houdini 1.5 (I imagine newer, paid versions of Houdini work as well) and Stockfish in SCID. The Houdini exe loads fine in SCID so long as wine is installed and the exe has been made executable. Both work very well for me, but I find Houdini's evaluations (e.g. -0.71 is a clear advantage to Black) to be the most meaningful. Stockfish evaluations are often inflated/optimistic (-0.71 might only mean a minuscule advantage to Black or +1.5 might not mean White is winning, but that Black in fact has strong compensation for the exchange. In my opinion, Houdini is particularly good at evaluating compensation for material deficit. I've tried the Toga, Fruit, and Glaurang engines; they are fine and , to my recollection, work well with SCID, but not as strong as Houdini and Stockfish.

For a simple chessmaster equivalent program, pychess (in the Ubuntu software center) might be suitable.

I also use Jin and Dasher in wine for ICC. I haven't tried FICS much.

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+1 For PyChess (pychess.org) –  Thomas Ahle Feb 8 '13 at 17:53

Stockfish is the strongest engine for linux AFAIK. The best FICS interface is BabasChess which is a Windows program but runs fine under Linux with Wine - i'm using it in OpenSuse 11.4 without any problems.
Another possibility is to use VirtualBox (use the rpm version from site and not the opensource version from linux repositories !) and run Windows as virtual machine with your favourite chess clients - Windows XP is sufficiant. I'm running Fritz (http://www.playchess.com/, which has a free client also => http://www.fritzhelp.com/download/PlayChessV6Setup.exe), and ChessPlanet client from the russian ChessServer of Convekta (ChessAssistant), also used Dasher Client from ICC.

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Babaschess running under Wine is interesting, but I guess virtual machines are not what the OP is after. I mean, yeah, almost any Windows program can run under a VM, but maybe that's a bit of an overkill, don't you think ? –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 21 '12 at 4:33
Unfortunately the most popular/the best chess clients and a lot of other great chess tools are only for windows. Babaschess runs fine with Wine, but Fritz doesn't. So you have no other choice. And VirtualBox is a peace of cake with seamless mode, snapshot feature and shared folder for datatransfer between Windows + Linux. When using Wine you have to install a lot of windows stuff too, it's similar. –  Rebse Nov 21 '12 at 19:32

I like Xboard. Its a really cool interface for chess engines like GNUChess and it supports connecting to servers like FICS. It can support chess variant engines too (including international variants). It can be used to play Fruit Engine, (as another answer suggests.)

Here is a quote from its website:

XBoard is a graphical user interface for chess in all its major forms, including international chess, xiangqi (Chinese chess), shogi (Japanese chess) and Makruk, in addition to many minor variants such as Losers Chess, Crazyhouse, Chess960 and Capablanca Chess. It displays a chessboard on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves games in Portable Game Notation (PGN)

It also has a Windows port.

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On the Mac, I use SCID as the interface and the Stockfish engine. I've used Crafty and found it to be safe and effective if taken as directed.

There are probably Unix command-line versions for both, if that's what you're looking for.

EDIT - Since I wrote the above I've spun up a Windows box. I'm running Stockfish and Arena. I find Arena annoying but better than Tarrasch.

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