I'm looking for a GUI that I can control via the terminal. Something where I can input a series of moves into the terminal, such as:

>  e4
>  e5
>  Nf3

...and have the GUI update the board accordingly.

Does anyone know of any program(s) like this?

I can't find anything either on Google or by searching previously asked questions.

  • Do you really need a GUI window? If no, gnuchess will work for you.
    – SmallChess
    Apr 14, 2016 at 10:46
  • I'm actually writing a tool in Java that will visualize certain things for me. Things, such as which squares on the board are under attack from my pieces (by coloring them), under attack from opponent pieces, number of pieces attacking certain squares, etc... I could write my own GUI in Java, but I would rather be able to make sure my game-mechanics are working, by testing them on a pre-existing GUI (which would give me less things to debug simultaneously) Apr 14, 2016 at 17:31
  • @Jay_Frizzle I'm not aware for any GUI that also offers command line. However, you can do it with gnuchess. You'll be able to script your moves.
    – SmallChess
    Apr 15, 2016 at 4:28

1 Answer 1


Given your stated goal,

"...a GUI that I can control via the terminal. Something where I can input a series of moves into the terminal,..."

and Student T's comment of

"I'm not aware for any GUI that also offers command line."

I've tried to find paired items of engines that take command line moves and GUIs that will interact well with these.

Your best bet might be Crafty:
It seems that one can use command lines through “Crafty” [ref. 1] in order to play or analyze a chess game within the GUI of XBoard [ref. 2] (which can run multiple chess variants, in addition to orthochess) – as in one enters one's moves directly via command line at terminal.

Though a very close second best bet would probably be Sjeng:
Sjeng takes command line moves (very definitely) [ref. 4], plays somewhere in the region of ELO 2500(±) [ref. 5, 6], can interface with XBoard [ref. 5], and supports multiple chess variants.

Arena (GUI) seems to be borderline sometimes. Some indicate it to be unstable within Wine [ref. 7], some have no problem [ref. 8].

“Command-line-chess” uses a TUI, rather than a GUI, but is at least definitely command line based [ref. 9]. Perhaps one might utilize UTF-8's chess characters as a workaround? [ref. 10]


  1. https://www.cis.uab.edu/hyatt/craftydoc.html
  2. http://www.delorie.com/gnu/docs/xboard/FAQ.html
  3. http://www.linuxlinks.com/Software/Games/Board_and_Card_Games/Chess/index.shtml
  4. http://www.macworld.com/article/1139946/termchess.html
  5. http://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Sjeng
  6. https://www.linux.com/news/chess-engines-linux
  7. http://www.open-aurec.com/wbforum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6550
  8. http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-377613.html
  9. https://github.com/marcusbuffett/command-line-chess
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_symbols_in_Unicode

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