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I'm a hobbyist chess programmer. I've built a few engines from scratch, had lots of fun, and am generally pretty proud of what I've made (I estimate ~1400-1500 though it's hard to tell).

I was very excited when I found out you can make a bot account on lichess. After a few hours of messing around, I successfully played a game against Stockfish running on my computer through the lichess interface, so I think I (sort of) know how to connect an engine to my bot account.

However, for all the engines I've made in the past, I have made my own board representation and move in/output. Obviously I'll need to make some modifications to them in order to connect them to lichess. When connecting Stockfish to my account, I used the Stockfish .exe file you can download online. The lichess interface accepted it, so I'm guessing there's some semi-standard way to make interface with engines. I would like to make one of these interfaces.

Questions: am I correct that there is a standard way to interface with an engine? If so, how would you go about making one? Are there any good guides to doing so?

Or perhaps more generally: how would you adapt a "from scratch" engine to play on lichess?


I'm almost entirely self taught programming wise, and am very conscious of the gaping holes in my understanding of computers/programming. Pointing me to any resources would be very helpful.

  • FICS [Free Internet Chess Server] also allows a declared engine BOT account. – Snack_Food_Termite Nov 29 '19 at 7:46
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There are plenty resources available. First of all, you may be interested in the Universal Chess Interface protocol. This is a text protocol that many engines use. A compiled list is available here.

The protocol specification is available for download here (last link on the page). There is also a python implementation of the protocol.

Last but not least, there exists a lichess API implementation in Python, so you could talk to lichess directly.

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The standard way to connect a chess engine to anything is the UCI - the universal chess interface.

It specifies how the output (and input) of an engine should be structured to be understood by an UI or any other interface.

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https://lichess.org/team/lichess-bots has the documentation you are looking for. If you just want the gui you can embed it like in the project used by http://lichess.bitplan.com. If you want to do moves it depends on the programming language you are using. For python e.g. there are ready to use libraries:

As a committer of Play Chess With a WebCam i'll also point you to the implementation within this project see: lichess.py and the tests for it test_lichess.py

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