I'm using GNUChess with the Knights client (Knights doesn't seem to be THAT mature; 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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 13:37
  • oh from the telnet console! ah yes. Even that'll work!
    – Swair
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 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. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 17:55
  • What's wrong with using Stockfish (notice that the title of your question asks for a chess engine, whereas the corpus claims you want to play online - which is another matter)?
    – gented
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 10:49

6 Answers 6



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
  • 2
    Specially talking about linux I do miss Sotckfish in the list of engines. It's for sure available in every distro, or if you prefer you can compile it yourself: github.com/mcostalba/Stockfish Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 18:25

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.

  • 2
    And NO, Houdini evaluations are NOT more meaningful in any sense than those offered by Stockfish, and this is extremely easy to see by analyzing historical games with both engines. Nope, in any way Houdini analyzes better than Stockfish. That is just Chessbase sponsoring. As you have been doing for more than a decade. Stop that. Enough is enough.
    – Mephisto
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 18:41
  • Pychess is in no way equivalent to Chessmaster (the engine is weak, the evaluations are not always correct and it's extremely buggy).
    – gented
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 10:51

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.
-- EDIT after comment by Saibot --
You're confusing a specification (= protocol) with a concrete piece of software built / implemented for a specific operating system. The UCI protocol (UCI = universal chess interface) only describes the communication of a chess engine and a chess user interface.
The Stockfish Linux version won't run on a windows box, just as the Stockfish Windows version won't run on Linux, whereas both support the UCI protocol. Some engines - f.e. Stockfish - provide multiple implementations for different operating systems, but many engines are for windows only.
So it's nothing wrong with best engine for Linux, best engine for Windows !
Engines implemented in a cross-platform language as Java ("write once run everywhere") will run on several platforms, if Java VM is available for that operating system.

  • 3
    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 ? Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 4:33
  • 3
    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
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:32
  • 1
    All top level engines are UCI compatible, which is a cross-platform standard. Therefore it's wrong to say, best engine for Linux, best engine for Windows etc.
    – ferit
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 18:20
  • @Saibot see my edit..
    – Rebse
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 20:37
  • @Rebse Yeah, you are right, shame on me :-)
    – ferit
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 21:42

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.

  • Xboard is my favourite too: it's just great!
    – gented
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 10:51

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.


All top level chess engines like Komodo, Houdini, Rybka, Stockfish etc. are following UCI standards, which is platform-independent. It doesn't matter Linux, Windows, OSX or whatever.

What you need(and what you probably ask) is a GUI for running engine. For this, I can suggest ChessX on Linux.

By the way, Chessmaster's engine is pretty bad comparing the engines above, I would never suggest to use it, if you are serious in chess.

  • 1
    An engine is a platform-specific binary. The rating of 2700 is enough for everyone except the top 50 in the world Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 4:27
  • Yet no professional would use chessmaster.
    – ferit
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 7:21
  • Professionals are very few; it's much more likely that the OP is an amateur and what he really needs is an engine with a good human-like style. Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 11:15
  • You said except top 50 in your comment, now you dropped to amateurs. Plus, weak engine doesn't mean more human-like style. Nobody prefer an inferior product, except you it seems.
    – ferit
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 14:37
  • I didn't say that Chessmaster isn't suitable for professionals. There are many different qualities of an engine, but you are only aware of rating, it seems. Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 14:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.