Steve Pribut's Chess Page   |  The Week In Chess (Current Chess News) FAQ

Revised 12/19/2004

Chess Info from

by Stephen Pribut(

WELCOME: Welcome to "The rgcm FAQ", a compilation of information about chess and the internet. This FAQ is posted in 4 parts, bimonthly, to the newgroup Part 1 is about Organizations, Ratings & Titles, Tournaments, Self-Improvement, and Supplies. Part 2 is about Mailing Lists, freely available Services and Material, Chess-playing Hardware, Software, and Utilities, and a Miscellaneous section. Part 3 is about how to improve and chess related supplies including computers, software, etc. Part 4 contains miscellaneous material. In the www version this is currently presented in one file, but may soon change.

Maintaining a text and a html version has led to some minor difficulties in the html code. This will be corrected by the next update.

The USENET group is now a hierarchy of 5 groups:

This FAQ contains an overview of all areas of chess. FAQ's specific to each of the above areas will be posted. The FAQ will also contain information on tht history of computers in chess and sketches of some of the individuals currently active in this field.

If you are new to the newsgroup, you might want to read this FAQ before posting questions to the newsgroup.

This twice-monthly posting is intended to address some of the frequently asked questions (FAQ's) on the news group. Because the answers may not be complete, please feel free to ask questions. This is only intended to address first-level concerns, and not to stifle discussions (discussions are never stifled on

How to get the FAQ:

This document is posted twice monthly to the Usenet newgroups, rec.answers, and news.answers. Other ways to obtain the faq are

WWW (world wide web)

or via several choices of format at my website: Steve Pribut's Chess Page

Anonymous ftp

ftp to ( and get the files

E-mail(for those without ftp access)

send email to:

the body of the message should read: send usenet/news.answers/games/chess/part1

Parts 2,3 and 4 can be obtained the same way as part 1.

What's Should You Do First:


Right now, go check out a free Chess Program, Rebel Decade, by Ed Schroder, programmer of Rebel 9. He has made this available at to celebrate 10 years of chess programming.

Visit the online chess playing sites. Check out TWIC - The week in chess, linked below. Visit Gary Kasparov's Chess site for news and possibly lessons.

Table of Contents

Organizations: International, National, Local, and Mail/E-Mail

Ratings and Titles




Publicly available playing, e-mail lists, or material

Commercially available playing or material


Subject: [1] Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE)

FIDE (pronounced "fee-day") is an international chess organization that organizes tournaments (e.g. Olympiad), grants titles, and controls the World Championship cycle of FIDE. For an example of how politics works in any organization read the latest happennings in

The Directory of Officers and Staff is available at the FIDE website.

FIDE grants three over-the-board titles: FIDE Master (FM), International Master (IM), and Grandmaster (GM). FM can be obtained by keeping your FIDE rating over 2300 for 25 games. IM and GM titles require performances at certain levels for 25-30 games (2450 for IM and 2600 for GM). This is usually achieved by obtaining several "norms." A norm is obtained when a player makes at least a given score in a FIDE tournament. The required score is a function of the number of rounds and the strength of the opposition. There are also minimum rating requirements. There are about 35 GM's, 60 IM's, and 100 FM's living in the U.S., not all of whom are active players.

FIDE also grants titles for which only women are eligible: FIDE Woman Master, Woman International Master (WIM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). Women are also eligible for the other titles.

FIDE also grants titles for Chess Composition, Composition Judging, Tournament Direction (as "Arbiter"), and Correspondence Chess. Another title one may obtain is "International Organiser".

FIDE may be visited at their website at

Subject: [2] The United States Chess Federation (USCF)

The USCF is the national chess organization of the United States. It does several things: (1) computes ratings for players who play in USCF-rated tournaments, (2) publishes a monthly magazine called _Chess Life_, (3) sponsors national over-the-board tournaments such as the National Open and the U.S. Open, and a variety of correspondence (postal) tournaments, and (4) officially represents the interests of chess in the U.S. to international chess organizations. Most over-the-board tournaments held in the U.S. are USCF-rated. This means that to play in them, you must join the USCF (this can normally be done at the tournament site if you prefer).

_Chess Life_ includes a listing, sorted by state, of USCF-rated tournaments to be held in the following few months. It periodically publishes the addresses of all state chess organizations (see [5]). It also has chess news, games from the U.S. and around the world, instructional and enjoyment articles, and embedded catalogs from which you can purchase books and equipment.

Regular memberships is $40/year, including a _Chess Life_ subscription. Youth memberships (same benefits) for age 19 & under are $15/year. Scholastic memberships for age 19 and under (provides a bimonthly publication called _School Mates_ instead of _Chess Life_) are $10/year. Senior memberships (age 65 and over) are $30/year. Life memberships are $850 or can be had by paying double the regular membership rate for 10 years running. _Chess Life_ subscription (without membership): $??. Write to: United States Chess Federation, 186 Route 9W, New Windsor, NY 12553-7698. Phone 800-388-5464 or 914-562-8350.

Those with access to Internet e-mail have active members of the USCF staff available. For non-_Chess Life_ matters, Assistant Director Larry King is available at

Subject: [3] Chess Federation of Canada (CFC)

The CFC maintains ratings of all players in good standing, runs tournaments, attempts to promote chess in Canada, and sells equipment to both members and non-members. Members get a subscription to _En Passant_, a bimonthly magazine. The rating system used by the CFC is the Elo system, also used by the USCF and FIDE. Local variations make CFC ratings from 25-200 points lower than USCF ratings for players of similar ability. Dues range from $25-$45 (Canadian), depending on province of residence. Junior memberships range from $15-$25 (Canadian). Life memberships are also available, depending on age. Write to: Chess Federation of Canada, 2212 Gladwin Crescent, E-1(b), Ottawa, Ontario, K1B 5N1, Canada. Phone 613-733-2844; fax 613-733-5209.

Check out their web site at: CFC Web

Subject: [4] American Chess Foundation (ACF)

The American Chess Foundation promotes chess in the U.S. It sponsors some promising young players and contributes money toward large tournaments (e.g., the U.S. Championship). Write to: American Chess Foundation (President Fan Adams, Executive Director Allan Kaufman), 353 West 46th St., New York, NY 10036.

Subject: [5] State and Local Organizations (USA)

Every state has its own chess organization affiliated with USCF, and most also have a bimonthly or quarterly publication. The state organizations are listed in the annual _Chess Life_ yearbook issue (April). From these state organizations, information can be obtained on local chess clubs. Another good way to find a local club is to look at the tournament listings in the back of every _Chess Life_.

Subject: [6] Correspondence Organizations

International Correspondence Chess Federation
(ICCF), c/o Max Zavanelli, ICCF-US Secretary, 1642 N. Volusia Ave #201, Orange City, FL 32763. Non-US residents may contact ICCF directly to obtain information about their respective affiliated national correspondence chess federation, by writing to the ICCF Tournament Director, address: ICCF Tournament Director, c/o Ragnar Wikman, Box 36, 20111 Abo, Finland. Internet e-mail: ( )

CCCA - Canadian Correspondence Chess Association


Subject:[7] Web Sites (WWW)


Subject: [8] Ratings (with FIDE list)

Different countries have different rating systems. The most common system in use is called the Elo system, named after its inventor. An excellent book on the subject is _The Rating of Chessplayers, Past & Present_ by Arpad E. Elo (copyright 1978; ISBN 0-668-04721-6). FIDE and the USCF use the Elo system, although in the USCF there have been some adjustments and additions in the past which have distorted USCF ratings vis-a-vis systems which have been "pure Elo" forever.
The latest FIDE lists are online: FIDE Web Site at .

USCF has rating classes as follows (with number in class as of 1 Nov 1994):

  title            range          number   (Percentile)

Senior Master   2400 and up          252        100
Master          2200 - 2399          855         99
Expert          2000 - 2199        2,263         95
Class A         1800 - 1999        3,579         88
Class B         1600 - 1799        4,714         78
Class C         1400 - 1599        5,183         66
Class D         1200 - 1399        5,226         54
Class E          below 1200       19,872     	 the rest of the pack

There are more USCF members than the total 41,944 listed here. These are just those who have been active in tournaments recently. The average rating on this list is 1271. Your rating is determined by your results and the ratings of the players you play against. There is no hard and fast relationship between the various rating scales.

One question which often arises is: Do Elo historical ratings of famous players of the past enable us to predict how well they would do against present day players?

Some discussion of this issue occurred in (the now discontinued) _Chess Notes_ in 1988. Edward Winter wrote, "Elo's retrospective rankings look less and less convincing the more one studies them. For example, George Walker is attributed 2360, the same as George Botterill in January 1988 (who has thus had the benefit of insight into a century and a half of chess development since Walker's time)." Ken Whyld responded this "shows a misunderstanding of ELO. The ratings do not reflect how a player from a past age would fare against a present-day player. . . . Elo's figures measure competitive ability, NOT the quality of play. . . . In chess we can only know the standing of players within the pool of which they are a part. It is idle speculation to make comparisons between discrete periods." Arpad Elo himself then got into the discussion, saying, "The historical ratings have generated controversy partly because people misunderstand what they represent . . . Mr. Ken Whyld . . . correctly points out how ratings should be viewed, i.e., as a measure of competitive ability, and that proper comparisons can be made only between players of the same milieu. . . . There is also a fundamental point that should not be overlooked: the rating scale itself is an arbitrary scale, open ended, . . . with no reproducible fixed points."

Subject: [9] How USCF Ratings are Calculated

The following is a simplified version of how the USCF rating system works; for a full version, write to the USCF (see [2]).

*** For the first 20 games (provisional rating): ***

Take the rating of the opponent +400 if the player wins. Take the rating of the opponent -400 if the player loses. Take the rating of the opponent if the game is a draw.

Average these numbers. (If unrated players play other unrated players, this requires several iterations of the above.)

*** After 20 games (established rating): ***

The maximum amount a player can win or lose per game (called the "K" factor) varies according to rating. Players rated under 2100 have a 32-point maximum; players rated 2100-2399 have a 24-point maximum, and players rated 2400 and up have a 16-point maximum. (In a "1/2 K" tournament, divide these maximums by two (?).)

If players of equal rating play, the loser loses half of the maximum, the winner gains the same amount. No change for a draw.

If players of unequal rating play, the higher-rated player gains fewer points for a win, but loses more points for a loss. (The lower-rated player does the opposite, of course.) A higher-rated player loses points for a draw; a lower-rated player gains points. For players rated 400 or so points apart, the maximum rating change is used for an upset, and the minimum gain/loss is 1 point if the much higher-rated player wins.

The true formula for the number of points won/lost versus the ratings difference is a curve, but a straight-line approximation for players with a K factor of 32 points can be used, where every 25 points of ratings difference is one additional rating point gained/lost starting from a beginning of 16 points for a win/loss, and from zero for a draw. (I.e., for a 100-point difference, the higher-rated player gains 16 - 4 = 12 points for a win, but loses 16 + 4 = 20 points for a loss. If a draw, the higher-rated player loses 4 points, the lower-rated player gains 4.)

The actual formula is as follows:

K = K factor
delta_R = (Opponent's rating) - (Player's rating)
Expected_Wins = 1/(10^(delta_R / 400) + 1)
New_Rating = (Current rating) + K * ((Actual wins) - (Expected_Wins))

Rounds Delta 4 .7 5 .6 6 .5 7 .4 8 .3 9+ .2

Also, norms may be earned if the delta is met as well as exceeded. An established player's rating cannot drop below (his rating - 100) truncated to the next lowest hundred (i.e., a 1571 player cannot drop below 1400). This is called the rating's "floor."

Subject: [10] How USCF Lifetime Titles are Earned

USCF's class title norm system is similar to the system FIDE uses to determine GM and IM titles (see [1]). There is no time limit for accumulating points towards USCF titles.

There are two titles per class from E to Expert: "Certified" and "Advanced." Master-level titles have a different naming scheme: 2200 is "Life Master," followed by "1-Star Life Master" at 2300, "2-Star Life Master" at 2400, etc.

Points are earned toward titles by exceeding the expected score of a player with the minimum rating of that level by a certain number of points. Rules:

1. A norm can be earned only in events of four rounds or greater. (Norms cannot be earned by playing a rated match.)

2. A minimum score of two game points in the event is required, not counting unplayed games.

3. Ten "norm points" are required for a title.

4. Making a norm earns two points toward the title for that level.

5. A player who does not have the title 100 points below the norm level also earns five points towards that title.

6. A player who does not have the title 200 points below the norm level automatically achieves that title.

7. A player who achieves an established rating, but not the title corresponding to 100 points below this rating, is awarded that title.

8. Only established rated players can earn titles.

The Life Master title may still be earned by playing 300 games at the 2200 level. After 1996, this title may only be earned through the norm system.

For a full description of the system, see _Chess Life_ May 1992.

Subject: [11] Tournaments

Chess tournaments can be large (1000 players) or small (10 players or even less); long (1 round per day for 2 weeks) or short (a few rounds in one day). There are tournaments only for Masters and tournaments only for beginners, although most tournaments are open to anyone. A typical _Chess Life_ will list about 350 tournaments coming up in the U.S. in the next couple of months, and there will be about the same number which are unlisted. If you want to participate in a tournament but are intimidated because you don't know the procedures, by all means go and ask the director and/or other players questions before things begin. They'll be glad to help.

A typical tournament announcement will contain the following: (1) Date(s) and name of the tournament. (2) What kind of tournament it is, e.g., 4-SS or 3-RR. The number given denotes how many rounds will be played. "SS" stands for Swiss System, which is a method of pairing the contestants (see [12]). "RR" stands for round-robin, a format in which the players are divided into groups of similar ratings before the tournament begins, and then each member of a group plays every other member of that group. Thus, in a 3-RR, the group size will be four. The Swiss System is by far the most popular in the U.S.

(3) The time controls, e.g., "30/60, SD/60" or "G/60" or "20/1, 30/1." The number on the left is the number of moves, and the number on the right is the time in minutes, or if that number is 1 or 2, in hours. "SD" stands for "sudden death," and "G" stands for game. Where more than one time control is listed, they are the controls which will take effect as the game progresses. So, the three examples given above can be explained as follows. In the first example, the players would each get 60 minutes on their clocks, and would have to have made their 30th moves before the 60 minutes expires (your clock only runs when it is your turn to move). Then, they each have another 60 minutes to finish the game completely. Time left over from the first time control carries over to subsequent time controls. In the second example, each player would begin with 60 minutes on his clock, and would have to finish the game within that time. In the third example, the players would each get 1 hour for the first 20 moves, 1 hour for the next 30 moves, and another hour for every subsequent group of 30 moves.

(4) The location of the tournament.

(5) The entry fee, sometimes by section (see item 7).

(6) The total prize fund (if any), either "guaranteed" (G) or based on a certain number of entries (e.g., b/30). The difference is guaranteed prizes must be paid, and "based on" prizes need only be paid in full if the stated number of players enter. If the stated number of players do not enter, the prize fund is reduced proportionally, but only down to a minimum of 50%.

(7) Sections, if any. If none are listed, the tournament is an "open." "Open" sections are always open to *any* player. Other sections may be restricted to players below a certain rating, and/or occasionally above a certain rating. Sometimes sections (or whole tournaments) are restricted to certain age groups, school grades, etc. "Class" tournaments separate players by USCF rating classes. Sometimes different sections carry different entry fees.

(8) Prize fund breakdown (if any). If the tournament is in sections, each section shows its own prize fund. In an small open, a typical prize fund might look like this: $140-100-70, A 50, B 45, C 40, D/E/Unr. 35, Jrs. 20. This means first prize is $140, second is $100, and third is $70. The top Class A player gets $50, etc. The top player in the combined classes of D, E, and unrated players gets $35, and the top Junior (under age 21) gets $20.

(9) The registration time and time the rounds will begin.

(10) Where to send an advance entry fee, and/or who to contact for more information.

Subject: [12] The Swiss Tournament Pairing System

The best way to get the rules for a Swiss System is to buy a copy of the USCF rulebook, available for about $7.95.

However, a VERY simplified summary of the USCF rules is:

1. Arrange players in order by rating, highest to lowest, unrated either at the bottom or by estimated rating.

2. For round 1, divide into two stacks. The top players in EACH stack play each other, then the second players in each stack play each other, etc. This results in the highest-rated player playing the middle-rated player.

3. After round one, divide up by score groups. Win=1, Draw=1/2, Loss=0.

4. Pair up each score group as in step 2. If an odd number, the bottom person in higher point group plays top person in next score group. If odd number in lowest score group, lowest rated player gets a full point bye. (Limit players to one bye each.)

5. Where possible, players should alternate color, or at least equalize. (By round 4, players ideally should have had two Whites, two Blacks.)

6. Players NEVER play the same opponent more than once. If necessary, pair players with someone in next lower score group. (Treat as if odd number.)

7. To improve on color allocation as per step 5, if two players in the bottom half of a score group are rated within 100 points, they can be interchanged. (If rated over 2100, 50 points is a better cutoff.)

Subject: [13.1] I'm a Novice (or Intermediate). How Do I Improve?

There are lots of variations to the methods, but the things most good teachers agree on is to emphasize (1) tactics, (2) endings, and (3) playing with a plan. Most people spend too much time studying openings. Just learn enough about openings to get to a playable middlegame. The books listed below should give you a great start on (1), (2), and (3). Of course, playing experience is important. Review your games (with a much stronger player if possible) or your chess computer to find out what you did right and wrong. Seek out games against stronger players, and learn from them.

Some books are listed below to help in the quest to improve. You don't need to buy all these--pick and choose as you please. Buy one or two general works, a tactics book or two, and an endgame book.

You should also consider reviewing classical games by the masters: Capablanca, Tal, and others. Read over well annotated games.

If you are web oriented check the site of Jon Edwards, U.S. Correspondance Chess Champion's Home Page. This has a lot of introductory material on learning to play chess, some tactics and openings. Chess Primer & Intro To ChessJon Edwards

General Books:

1. _Comprehensive Chess Course_ 2nd edition by GM Lev Alburt and Roman Pelts (ISBN 0-9617-207-0-5). (Available as 2 separate vols. from Chess Digest.) Expensive. Chess neophytes (i.e., NOT most readers) will find volume I useful; otherwise, try volume II. Good teaching material for an intro-to-chess class. (It is now in its 3rd edition.)

2. _Play Winning Chess_. Yasser Seirawan,Jeremy Silman. $9.95 (ISBN 1-55615-271-X) Introduction to chess for the beginner. Interesting and enthusiastic. Fundamentals, themes of tempo, space, etc.

3. _Logical Chess Move by Move_ by Irving Chernev (ISBN 0-671-21135-8). Looks at 30 or so games, and comments on the thought behind *every* move. Bridges the gap between novice and intermediate books.

4. _How to Reassess Your Chess_ by IM Jeremy Silman (ISBN 0-938650-53-X). Explains how to formulate a plan. An excellent improvement program for the intermediate player. Good companion to assist in understanding of Nimzovich my system.

5. _The Ideas Behind the Openings_ by Reuben Fine. 0-8129-1756-1. Algebraic edition. McKay Chess Library. $11.95. Not state of the art opening theory, but the ideas are explained move by move. For beginners to C level.

6. _How to Play the Opeining in Chess_ by Raymond Keene and David Levy. Batsford Chess Library 1993. (ISBN0-8050-2937-0). General outline of many openings.


1. _My System_ by Aron Nimzovich (ISBN 0-679-14025-5). Must read for class C and above. Then reread.

2. Pawn Power in Chess by Hans Kmoch. Hard to find, still in print. Helps one understand some of the concepts of Nimzovich. Not as well known as My System, but, in spite of strange terminology, presents important concepts.

3. _The Game of Chess_ by Siegbert Tarrasch (ISBN 0-486-25447-X). Excellent instruction for intermediates.

4. _Judgment and Planning in Chess by Dr. Max Euwe. (ISBN 0-679-14325-4) McKay Chess Library $6.95.


1. Chess Tactics for Students. John Bain. Clear diagrams, large format. Clear and unconfusing presentation of pins, forks, back rank combos, double attacks, discovered checks, skewers, double threats, pawn promotion, perpetual check, removing the guard, zugzwang. For chess players of all ages. Use this book before going on to more difficult ones such as Pandolfini's Chessercises. While the 1900 player will not consider either of these difficult, the 1400 and below player will definitely benefit from this one. More information is at the author's "" home page .

2. Winning Chess Tactics. Yasser Seirawan, Jeremy Silman. (ISBN 1-55615-474-7) Tactics and combinations for the beginning student of chess. Includes double attacks, pins, skewer, deflection, decoy.

3. _1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations_ by Fred Reinfeld (ISBN 0-87980-111-5). A cheap book of 1001 tactical quizzes, most from actual games. Mix of easy & hard. Great for improving tactical ability. Also 1001 Ways to Checkmate by the same author.

4. _Test your Tactical Ability_ Yakov Neishtadt. Batsford Chess Library 1981 & 1991. $24.95. Includes Decoying, attraction, destroying the gurard, pin, clearing a square, closing a line, blocking, combinations and a tactics exam. Many examples from older games and classics. Full explanations of answers. _Your Move_ is another helpful book by the same author.


1. _Essential Chess Endings Explained Move by Move_ by IM Jeremy Silman (ISBN 0-87568-172-7). Very clear explanations of basic endings. For novices and intermediates.

2. _Pandolfini's Endgame Course_ by NM Bruce Pandolfini (ISBN 0-671-65688-0). Another good endgame book for novices and intermediates.

3. Chess Endings, Essential Knowledge. Y. Averbakh. Concentrates on basic positions and classical endings.

Educational Software:

Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess: Simon & Schuster. Windows 95 & Windows 3.1. Requires 486 33 MgHz or faster. 8 MG RAM. 8 bit or greater sound card.
IM Mauice Ashley's infectious enthusiasm will gently guide your youngster to learn many basic chess concepts. He reviews basic concepts and moves and uses sports analgies to go over a variety of concepts. Video coaching is done by Maurice, who may complement you or let you know you've done something pretty dumb. Exercises help visualization and planning.

Chess Mentor 1.4 by Aficionado, Inc. A new expanded Chess Mentor Demo, with almost all new content, is now available for download from Expert content developed by chess masters is presented to the user. Together with the release of Chess Mentor 1.1, five new Challenge Modules have also been released. The challenges in these new modules are written by IMs John Grefe, Jeremy Silman, Marc Leski and others. A total of approximately 12 modules now exist.

Chess Mentor is currently available for Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, Windows95, and WindowsNT., and should now be available for the Mac.With one module of your choice Mentor costs $59.95 U.S. If you order all 12 modules, the price is $259.95. U. S.
Chess Mentor by Aficionado, Inc.
1-800-465-9301 (toll free in USA)
1-510-644-9301 (international)

ChessBase University. (ChessBase)

Subject: [13.2] New To The Net & Chess. What Do I Do?

The first thing to do is to go play some chess! Check out the section on chess servers and then using either telnet software or some of the available telnet clients go to either one of the free servers or to the Internet Chess Club and start playing.

For the latest listing in online chess sites visit: from NW Washington Scholastic Chess

An introduction to the commands of the F.I.C.S. (Free Internet Chess Servers) is available on a web page called CyberChess Cafe.

The Internet Chess Club has information on its home page at

Software that will run on the chess servers is detailed under the section on the Chess Servers these clients include:


Subject: [14] Recommended Openings (and Books) for Novices to Intermediates

Remember your goal is to reach a playable middlegame. Don't worry about what is popular, or what the Masters play. As GM Lombardy once said, all openings offer good winning chances in amateur play.

As you become stronger, you can shop around for an opening yourself. At first you should play many openings. Don't learn them too deep at first. Learn the principles of the opening and the reasons behind the moves. It is important early in your chess undertakings to spend more time on tactics. Or as someone else put it "TACTICS, TACTICS, TACTICS!" But of course opening theory or at least the theory of develpment is important so you can last more than 10 moves in a game.

Besides what is recommended here, you may want a general manual to browse in (not study from!). _Modern Chess Openings_ 13th edition (MCO-13) or _Batsford Chess Openings_ edition 2 (BCO-2) are good choices.

A somewhat better choice of opening manual for both beginners and intermediates is the prose based "Standard Chess Openings" from Cardoza Press. This text describes the openings in detail rather than just listing the moves.

General Opening Books:

1. _The Ideas Behind the Openings_ by Reben Fine. 0-8129-1756-1. Algebraic edition. McKay Chess Library. $11.95. Not state of the art opening theory, but the ideas are explained move by move. For beginners to C level.

2. _How to Play the Opeining in Chess_ by Raymond Keene and David Levy. Batsford Chess Library 1993. (ISBN0-8050-2937-0). General outline of many openings.

3. _Essential Chess Openings_ by Jon Speelman and Raymond Keene. Batsford Chess Library. $16.95. This contains outlines of a large variety of openings with no discussion. The lines are reasonably current (as of publication date in 1992). White Pieces

Opening 1.e4 is a really good idea. It will get you into tactics fast. Yes, you may last a few moves longer against a Master by cowering around with 1.Nf3 2.g3 3.Bg2 4.O-O etc., but you won't learn as much or improve as fast. Add a gambit or two to your system if you open 1.e4.

Recommended books for White Opening:

_Winning with 1.e4_ (ISBN 0-87568-174-5) by GM Andy Soltis. Covers all (reasonable) Black responses with good lines which tend to avoid the well-trodden paths.

_Mastering The Spanish with the Read and Play Method. by Daniel King & Pietro Ponzetto. Henry Holt and Company. 1994. ISBN 0-8050-3278-9. An excellent introductory discussion of the Ruy. Introduces themes and strategies and is organized by the type of Center that arises. The best introduction to an opening for a midlevel player I have seen. (that is why I placed this specific opening book here.)

Black Pieces

As a response to 1.e4, establish pawn control in the center by either 1. ... e5 or 1. ... c5 (Sicilian), or make a "strong-point" at d5 by either 1. ... e6 (French) or 1. ... c6 (Caro-Kann), followed by 2. ... d5. Playing 1. ... e5 will subject you to some hairy attacks, but again, you will learn tactics thereby. To help avoid reams of theory, use the Petroff defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6) if you choose 1. ... e5.

1. ... c5 (the Sicilian) has rather a lot of White possibilities to play against, but is sound and aggressive at the same time. Many people know versions of the Sicilian fairly deep and this may cost you many games. The French and the Caro-Kann are a bit easier to play, but don't run into as many early tactics (usually).

As a response to 1.d4, play 1. ... d5 and then follow 2.c4 (the most typical 2nd move) with either 2. ... dxc4 (Queen's Gambit Accepted), 2. ... e6 (Queen's Gambit Declined), or 2. ... c6 (Slav Defense). The first promotes early tactics, and the other two have the advantage usually producing similar pawn structures to the French Defense and Caro-Kann, respectively. If you play French and QGD or Caro-Kann and Slav, you are less likely to be confused by transpositions if White varies his move order in the early stages, e.g., by opening 1.Nf3.

Recommended books for Black Opening:

_A Complete Black Defense to 1.P-K4_ by Cafferty and Hooper. The main line is the Petroff Defense, but the authors also show how to handle the other possibilities, e.g., the King's Gambit.

_How to Play the Sicilian Defense Against all White Possibilities_ (ISBN 0-87568-168-9) by GM Andy Soltis and Ken Smith.

_A Complete Black Defense to 1.P-Q4_ by Cafferty and Hooper. The main line is the Queen's Gambit Accepted, but the authors also show how to handle the other possibilities, e.g., the Richter-Veresov Attack. The disadvantage is you aren't shown how to handle other closed openings such as 1.Nf3, 1.c4, etc. although these can frequently be transposed into the QGA.

_A Complete Black Repertoire_ (ISBN 0-87568-163-8) by IM Jeremy Silman. Based around the French and Queen's Gambit Declined.

_A Black Defensive System for the Rest of Your Chess Career_ by GM Andy Soltis. Based around the Caro-Kann and Slav.

I'm really good. How do I get better? (Class A/B and Up.)

No one may actually need this section because you may have already figured out what to do at your current elevated status of chess playing. In case you are looking, aimlessly for things to do to improve. I will recommend a few good sources of material. At the higher levels, tactical ability is a given. Opening theory will become increasingly important. So will the occasional surprise, something outside of your usual repertoire. Note Kasparov and his recent Evan's gambits. It is important to develop a sense of both what positional improvements are possible and what dynamics underly a given position. Methods of choosing and analyzing "candidate moves" is increasingly important - and has at no level really not been important. The use of computer database software to study recent games will be useful. At a high level, you will be able to study the games of your opponent. The assistance of high level chess program to analyze lines that either you or your opponent plays can also be helpful and serve as a double check on your own analysis. You should analyze not only the games you lose, but also those you win. Be sure that you know the errors you made in the games that you have won.

When looking at games for ideas, in addition to looking at the Informants and NIC yearbooks you may also consider looking at high level correspondance chess games. These contain themes that have been worked out with considerable time and effort.

New ideas and older ones that may have been overlooked may frequently be obtained from the Correspondance Chess. The Correspondence Chess Yearbook, is a periodical that covers many key correspondance games. It is published by the Italian firm s1 Editrice. (See publications for more information).

Monographs are also available on a wide variety of openings. These are quite comprehensive. They are available in paper, and disk in the formats acrobat and chessbase. Sample opening monographs include the French Winawer, Caro-Kann advance, Cambridge Springs, Benoni Defence Taimanov Variation (A67) English Opening (A21), Sicilian Defence Najdorf Variation (B99), Semi-Slav Botvinnik Variation (D44) and the The Leningrad Variation in the Dutch (A89). Email to for more information. more information.

Books useful at a higher level of chess play:

Think Like a Grandmaster, GM Kotov. 200 pages. $24.95 Difficult reading. Concepts easily understandable. But you need a bit of a gift to apply. But then you are "really good" and want to be better.

Grandmaster Achievement. GM Polugayevsky. 223 pages. $24.95

Chess any Age. NM Wetzell. 300 pages. Easy reading. Wetzell obtained his Master title at age 50. There may be hope!

Training For the Tournament Player. IM Dvoretsky and GM Yusupov. Learn how to determine your strengths and weaknesses and improve.

Mastering the Endgame, Vol 1. GM Shereshevsky and Slutsky. Endings from the open and semi-open games. Sicilian, Caro-Kann, French, Ruy. $24.95

Mastering the Endgame, Vol 2. GM Shereshevsky and Slutsky. Endings from the QG and closed openings. English, etc. $24.95

Batsford Chess Endings, by GM Speelman, Im Tisdall, Im Wade. Single volume endings encyclopedia. You should have your endings under control after this one.

Dynamic Chess Strategy. Mihai Suba. Pergamon Chess. 144 pages. Offbeat humerous book describing Suba's philosophy toward strategy. Over 800 games of GM Suba may be found in Chess Assistant's Gigantic 350,000+ database of games. Suba loves the hedgehog. NM Allan Savage recommends this book as a "classic to be".

Books for Children

Following is a "Scholastic Chess Syllabus" developed by Ken Sloan. It is intended as a shopping list for parents who don't know the literature. There are many other good books - this is simply one collection.

Scholastic Chess Syllabus of Ken Sloan

0) Pawn&Queen and In Between, Volume 1, Number 1. Available from USCF. In quantity 10, it comes with a Teacher's Guide.

This is the book that I give to everyone who walks in the door. I consider it an excellent starting point. In spite of the title, there will be no "Number 2". It's a good guide to large-group lecture-style teaching - but I prefer to have "good readers" go through it by themselves (or with their parents) and then use it as the basis for questions.

1) Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, by Fischer, Margulies,& Mosenfelder ISBN 0-553-25735-8, paperback from Bantam.

Kids love this book. No notation. Every page contains a single problem. The answer (and the next problem) is overleaf. After reading the right-hand pages, you turn the book over and go through it again, reading the left-hand (upside-down) pages. Concentrates on MATE! No board required. I give this book as a prize

2) Play Winning Chess, by Seirawan (with Silman) ISBN ?-???-?????-?, paperback by Tempus Books of Microsoft Press.

Explanation of basic strategic concepts (space, time, etc.) Combining this book with Winning Chess Tactics (see below) gives a consistent, enjoyable 2-book sequence. Highly recommended.

3) Winning Chess Tactics, by Seirawan and Silman. ISBN 1-55615-474-7, paperback by Tempus Books of Microsoft Press.

Explanation of basic tactics, examples, and tests. Biographies of famous "tactical" players, from Anderssen to Kasparov, along with representative games.

4) Let's Play Chess: A Step-By-Step Guide for all First-Time Players, by Pandolfini. ISBN 0-671-61983-7, paperback from Fireside (Simon & Schuster).

For the text-oriented kid. Every paragraph has a point, and a number. Can easily be skipped - but has lots of useful ideas, in pithy prose.

5) Square One: A Chess Drill Book for Children and Their Parents, by Pandolfini. ISBN 0-671-65689-9, paperback from Fireside (Simon & Schuster).

Workbook format. The paragraphs are still numbered. Lots of diagrams, lots of questions to answer.

6) Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps (202 Openings Designed to Instruct Players of All Levels). ISBN 0-671-65690, paperback from Fireside (Simon & Schuster).

One opening (actually, one line) per page - showing an instructive shot, and a bit of analysis of the ideas. Useful as a source of 202 short lessons - but also a good book for a low-beginner to read through in search of opening ideas - there are 202 to choose from!

7) Weapons of Chess: an Omnibus of Chess Strategy, by Pandolfini. ISBN 0-671-65972-3, paperback from Fireside (Simon & Schuster).

A collection of short ruminations on every topic you can think of. almost always with a diagram, and a lesson attached. No board necessary, even for low-beginners. An "idea" book.

8) Pandolfini's Endgame Course, by Pandolfini. ISBN 0-671-65688-0, paperback from Fireside (Simon & Schuster).

Highly recommended. Short lessons on the endgame, beginning with KQRk and ending (238 endgames later) with KNPkb. KBNk is handled in Endgames 16 through 24, one small step at a time. Beginners will need a board the first time (or two) through the book. When the material is well understood, the player should be able to read through each lesson without benefit of a board.

9) Chessercizes: New Winning Techniques for Players of All Levels, by Pandolfini. ISBN 0-671-70184-3, paperback from Fireside (Simon & Schuster) .

Not exactly "problems"; not exactly "lessons". Written in the modern Pandolfini style - one idea/example per page. Easy to take in short segments, or as fodder for lessons.

10) Chess for Tigers, 2nd edition, by Simon Webb. ISBN 0-08-037788-2, paperback from Permagon Press

General advice on varied topics, with a lesson woven into every chapter.

Finally, Ken Sloan's recommendations on opening books. Students who learn from Pandolfini will "naturally" play double K-pawn openings. I see no reason to interfere with this for quite some time. Eventually, they want somethings more meaty. My approach is to first introduce the Evans Gambit - and then the Ruy Lopez.

11) Evans Gambit And A System Vs. Two Knights Defense, by Tim Harding. ISBN 0-87568-194-8, paperback from Chess Digest.

An excellent presentation of opening ideas which will appeal to the young player. Beginners need to be cautioned to simply follow the "bold type" - on later passes they can come back for another level of detail, and then another, etc. Emphasis on complete games.

12) How to Play the Ruy Lopez, by Shaun Taulbut. ISBN 07134 4873 3, paperback from Batsford.

Good presentation of essential opening material. Can be read at several levels - starting with simply the text introductions to each chapter and "just the bold type" for the main line. Details can be picked up in later passes through the book, and in analysis of games actually played. This book can be used for ideas on how to meet the Ruy Lopez *as Black*, while still aiming for the Evans Gambit with White.

By now - we're probably well out of the "kids books" area. I believe that any 6th grader (and most 4th graders) can read all of the above books. I suspect that these books will take any beginner to at least USCF 1400. By that time, the student will be ready for the "adult" literature, and the choice of books becomes much more personalized, depending on choice of openings, style, etc.

Other books/software useful for children include:

1) Chess Tactics For Students, by John A. Bain, ISBN 0-9639614-0-3,available from John Bain, P.O. Box 398, Philomath, OR 97370 or $14.95 Students or Teachers Edition. 20% discount with orders of 10 or more student editions Free Teachers edition with order of 15. Introduction to tactics. Clear, large format book with excellent typeface. Step by step explanation of problem solving. "fill in the blank" response area in text. Start with problem, use hints if necessary, then check answers. Good for young and beginning players who need practise in tactics. Excellent for group or individual use. Important and often neglected area of study between learning the moves and learning the openings. I (SP) recommend this book highly before attempting Pandolfini's Chessercises, which is a bit difficult for beginners and lower level players. More information is at the author's "" home page .

2) Bobby Fisher Teaches Chess (CDROM) Bookup. $49. Software version of book mentioned above, plus an excellent chess engine.

3) New Introduction Book(title coming next), by Daniel King, excellent concise and clear.

4) Josh Waitzkin's Attacking Chess. Josh Waitzkin(IM). Fireside Chess Library,1995. $12.00. Entertaining, well written approach to tactics, from Josh's games.

5) The Chess Doctor. Bruce Pandolfini. Fireside Chess Library, 1995. Chess prescriptions for what ails your game.

Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess: Simon & Schuster. Windows 95 & Windows 3.1. Requires 486 33 MgHz or faster. 8 MG RAM. 8 bit or greater sound card.
IM Mauice Ashley's infectious enthusiasm will gently guide your youngster to learn many basic chess concepts. He reviews basic concepts and moves and uses sports analgies to go over a variety of concepts. Video coaching is done by Maurice, who may complement you or let you know you've done something pretty dumb. Exercises help visualization and planning.

Dr. Schiller's How to Play Chess and Chess Game I CD rom for beginners, available for $30 from Runs on Mac and all Windows platforms.




Subject: [15] Publications

_Ajedrez Universal_, Luis Hoyos-Millan, P.O. Box 10020, Staten Island, NY 10301.

_APCT News Bulletin_, c/o Helen Warren, P.O. Box 70, Western Springs, IL 60558. Correspondence chess.

_BDG World_, 303 Cleveland St., P.O. Box 66, Headland, AL 36345.

_Blitz Chess_, WBCA, 8 Parnassus Rd., Berkeley, CA, 94708. Edited by GM Walter Browne, who also founded the World Blitz Chess Association. The WBCA runs "blitz" (5 minutes/game) tournaments and has a separate rating system.

_Caissa's Chess News_, P.O. Box 09091, Cleveland, OH 44109.

_Chess_, Chess & Bridge, Ltd., 369 Euston Road, London, England NW1 3AR. Phone (+44) 071 388 2404. General manager is IM Malcolm Pein. 12 issues/year; subscription rates are: UK L23.95/yr, L45/2 yrs; Europe L29.95/yr, L56.95/2 yrs; USA/Canada (2nd class airmail) $49.95/yr, $95/2 yrs.

_Chess Circuit_ PO Box 1962, London NW4 4NF Edited by Adam Raoof 6 Issues/yr UK L12.00/yr Europe L14.00/yr US or CAN L17.00/yr e-mail Mag for the active tournament player.

_Chess Horizons_ by the Massachusetts Chess Association, c/o George Mirijanian, 46 Beacon St., Fitchburg, MA 01420 is published bimonthly and contains about 64 games/issue, many of them from outside the U.S. $12/year, all other countries (surface) $18. Air mail rates: Canada & Mexico $18, Central & South America $22, Europe $25, Asia, Africa, & Pacific Rim $28. Publieshed 6 times/year. Subscription requests should go to MACA c/o Steve Frymer, 64 Asbury Street, Lexington, MA 02173 USA.

_Chess Informant_ by Sahovski Informator, P.O. Box 739, Francuska 31, 11001 Beograd, Yugoslavia (Serbia). Published in March, August, and December (semi-annually before 1991). Consists of "good" games (judged by committee) from major tournaments; as well as interesting positions (combinations, endings) given as a quiz, and tournament crosstables. There are about 750 games/issue classified by opening (known as _ECO_ classification). Notation is figurine algebraic; games are annotated (often by the players) with special ideographs (defined for 10 languages). The January & July FIDE rating lists are published in the following edition. _Informant_ games are also available in ChessBase/NICBase formats.

_Chess Life_ magazine and/or _School Mates_ magazine--see [2].

_The Computer Chess Gazette_, Box 2841, Laguna Hills, CA 92654. 714-770-8532. Focuses on computer chess.

_The Correspondence Chess Yearbook,A four-monthly periodical dedicated to the correspondence game Format - cm 24 x 17; pag. 240 in each volume; Algebraic annotation with figurines; Opening Classification ECO; Approx. 350 annotated games plus theoretic and written articles in each number; Ranking and results tables of the most prestigious tournaments;

Annual subscription (3 vols.)                  USD 56/DM 95
Single copy                                    USD 22/DM 35

Monographs are also available on a wide variety of openings. These are quite comprehensive. They are available in paper, and disk in the formats acrobat and chessbase.

Orders & Payments

s1 Editrice S.r.l. - Via Porrettana, 111, 40135 Bologna Italy Fax *39-51-6147636 - C.C.P. - 18367409 -
Credit Card - Visa, American Express, Master card, Euro Card -


_GMA< News_, 2 Avenue de la Tanche, 1160 Brussels, Belgium.

_Inside Chess_ magazine published biweekly by International Chess Enterprises, Inc. Subscriptions in the U.S. are $45/year, $80/two years. Subscription address: ICE, Inc., P.O. Box 19457, Seattle, WA, 98109. Phone 800-677-8052 (or 206-325-1952). _Inside Chess_ describes itself as THE magazine for the serious player. Edited by GM Yasser Seirawan. Inside Chess Magazine on line

_International Computer Chess Association (ICCA) Journal_ published quarterly. Membership/subscription is $40/year (Hfl. 60). Follows computer chess worldwide.
ICCA, c/o Don Beal, Department of Computing Science, Queen Mary and Westfield College, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, England.
ICCA Europe, c/o Prof. Dr. H. J. van den Herik, Department of Computer Science, University of Maastricht, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maasticht, The Netherlands
International Computer Chess Association Home Page

_New In Chess_ published by Interchess BV, P.O. Box 393, 1800 AJ Alkmaar, The Netherlands. U.S. distribution: Chess Combination Inc., P.O. Box 2423 Noble Station, Bridgeport, CT 06608-0423. Phone 203-367-1555; fax 203-380-1703; e-mail (Albert Henderson). 8 issues, $68 by air mail, $58 by surface; intro subscription: 6 issues, $34 by air. Sample issue $5 (free for Internet or CompuServe users).

Other Selected International Chess Magazines: Italy

1- Scacchi e Scienze Applicate
   articles/surveies in Italian and/or English.
   WRITE for sample Issue TO:
   Romano Belucci
   Castello 5449
   I-30122 Venezia - ITALY
   near $10

2- Sinfonie Scacchistiche
   [Chess problems]
   articles/surveies in Italian and/or English
   WRITE for Sample Issue TO:
   Massimo LaRosa
   Via carpenino, 8
   I-19121 La Spezia - ITALY
   near L.30.000/50.000 (Italian)

2- Scacco
   WRITE for Sample Issue TO:
   Salvatore Gallitto
   Corso Diaz, 3
   I-12084 Mondovi (Cuneo) - ITALY
   near L.55.000/90.000 (Italian)

4- L'Italia Scacchistica
   WRITE for Sample Issue TO:
   Adolivio Capece
   Via Lamarmora, 40
   I-20122 Milano - ITALY
   near L.80.000/120.000 (Italian)

5- Informazione Scacchi
   WRITE for sample Issue TO:
   Via Baracca, 4
   I-24123 Bergamo
   near L. 25.000 in Italy

Subject: [16] Where to Get Books and Equipment

American Chess Equipment (DeWayne Barber), 524 S. Avenida Faro, Anaheim, CA 92807. 714-998-5508. Good source for sets and boards in quantity.

APCT, P.O. Box 305, Western Springs, IL 60558. (708) 663-0688, Fax (708) 663-0689. Good source for opening books. Ask for catalog.

Australian Chess Enterprises, 4/69 Garfield Road East, Riverstone, NSW 2765 Australia, ph: 61-2-838-1529 fax: 61-2-838-1614. Chess supplies, software, promotions and publications.

Dale Brandreth, P.O. Box 151, Yorkland, DE 19736. 302-239-4608. Used chess books.

Caissa's Press, P.O. Box 609091, Cleveland, OH, 44109-0091. Buys and sells used (and some new) books; send $1 for current list.

Chess Digest, Inc., P.O. Box 59029, Dallas, TX 75229. 800-462-3548; fax 214-869-9305. Massive selection of books; also boards, sets, and clocks. Limited computers and software. Large (!) catalog available.

Chessco, P.O. Box 8, Davenport, IA 52805-0008. 319-323-7117. Associated with Thinker's Press publishers. Books, boards, clocks. Catalog available.

Computer Chess Gazette, Box 2841, Laguna Hills, CA 92654. 714-770-8532. Chess computers and software.

Electronic Games, 1678 Mayfield Road, Lapeer, Michigan 48446. 800-227-5603 or 313-664-2133. Computers, software, and clocks.

Heath's Cliffside Cottage, 14002 Frederick Circle, Omaha, Nebraska 68138 1(402)-896-4550, 1-800-406-0445.Chess sets, boards, books, clocks, videos, t-shirts and sweatshirts, scorebooks and other chess related items. Private or small group instruction at reasonable rates. Master Card, Visa and American Express. e-mail address is

ICD Corp./ Your Move Chess & Games  832 N. Broadway, N. Massapequa, NY.  1-800-645-4710 or 1-516-882-9800. Chess computers, chess software, chess sets, chess boards, chess pieces. Associated with _Computer Chess Club_Chess Thinkers' Forum (see [15]). Highly recommended on RGC.

Lindsay Chess Supplies, Box 2381, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. 313-995-8738. Books, sets, clocks. Possibly the cheapest source for _Informants_. Catalog available.

Metro Game Center (Jeff Prentiss), 4744 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55407. 612-874-9555.

National Chess and Games, P.O. Box 17278, Anaheim, CA 92817. 714-282-8483.

PBM International Corp. Inc., 11 Church Street, Montclair, NJ 07042. 800-726-4685; fax 201-783-0580. Computers, software, and clocks. Catalog available.

Jon C. Rather, P.O. Box 273, Kensington, MD 20895. 301-942-0515. Used chess books.

Sound Chess, Inc., P.O. Box 7504, Boulder, CO 80306. Audio tapes (cassettes), video tapes (VHS), books and software. Send $1 for catalog.

Fred Wilson, 80 E 11th St, Suite 334, New York, NY 10003. 212-533-6381. Specializes in out-of-print and rare chess books; also fine chess sets.

USCF - books, boards, sets, clocks, computers, software (see [2]).

World Wide Web Chess Superstore. 3125 Bridge Ave., Suite B, Pt. Pleasant, NJ 08742 USA 1-800-425-3555. E-Mail:
Publisher and retailer of chess books, chess videos, chess software and chess equipment. Illustrated on-line catalog with secure server on-line shopping. Free monthly on-line publication "SmartChess Online" with many GM contributors and columnists.

Subject: [17] E-Mail Games, ICS, Online Chess Sites, Mailing Lists, Gopher, Usenet reader

The Internet Chess Server (ICS) was originally developed by Michael Moore ( This is a true internet chess highlight! ICS allows interactive chess games for those with Internet telnet capability. Use telnet (e.g., "telnet 5000") to connect. URL's (Uniform Resource Locators do not seem to always connect well with alternate port numbers, so you may need to log on by manually configuring your telnet client for port 5000

The three major ones as described below are ICC (The Internet Chess Club at telnet 5000), FICS (Free Internet Chess Server at telnet 5000), and Chess.Net accessible via their software from - Chess.Net Live Chess

After logging on type "help interfaces" to see what software would be most appropriate for your system. In March of 1995, the old ICS has become the Internet Chess Club (ICC). The ICC now charges $49.95 per year for registration. Students are half price. Full details are available online and at their website:
Questions can be answered via email at:

To play on the ICC, all you need to do is get free graphical software at" with a link.

You will be asked for a name. Type in any name you want. You will then be logged in as an "unregistered" player.

ICC Facts

You can:

For more information, just login into ICC, and look around. "help" and "info" give you a list of all the files of information that you can read. You can also talk to an administrator if you have any questions or problems. Administrators can be found by typing "who" and looking for a "*" by their name.

All may log on and play chess, but if you wish to have your games recorded and develop a rating, register on the system you use (see help on the system for more information). Send questions to or There are several IC Servers running:

FICS (Free Internet Chess Server) - A new location for FICS appeared at 5000 in March of 1995. This was begun in response to the new system of charges at ICC (formerly ICS). The free spirit of the internet lives on here. Contribute in a positive way to that spirit by volunteering to help with code enhancements or in whatever way you can.

New features include simultaneous game feature, a new rating system, and has even stimulated the development of more than one FAQ dedicated to a discussion of FICS vs. ICC. Events similar to those seen on ICC will also be seen here. I suggest visiting both the ICC and FICS to get a feel for the atmosphere, chess played and guests and then deciding whether you want to hang out on one server or the other or visit both. Help files here may also be mailed to your e-mail address once you are registered. If you would like to contribute time and effort to the free server contact an administrator once registered. Much of the description above for ICC also holds true for FICS.

At FICS you may: You can:

Graphical Interfaces for ICS There are several graphical interfaces available for the ICS. All are available via anonymous ftp from the chess ftp site, in the directory pub/chess. See "help addresses" and "help ftp" on ICS for the location of the ftp site and instructions on how to use it.

NAME           Operating System                             Author
GIICS          DOS with modem                               LLama
NGIICS         DOS with TCP/IP                              LLama
ZIICS          DOS with modem                               Zek
JIICS          DOS with modem (requires VGA/mouse)          Peluri
Monarc         DOS with modem                               Kevster
Raja Elephant  MS Windows and modem (also known as "WICS")  fischer
Gilchess       MS Windows and modem                         Azorduldu
SLICS          MS Windows 3.1 - TCP/IP                      dfong
PMICS          OS/2 PM and modem (get pmics091.exe,
                    in pub/chess/DOS/OLD-STUFF)             woof
XBoard         Unix with X windows and TCP/IP (or modem)    mann
WinBoard       WinNT and Win95                              mann
XICS           Unix with X windows and TCP/IP               observer
cics           Unix with ordinary terminal (e.g. vt100)     observer
NeXTICS        NeXT with modem or TCP/IP                    red
MacICS         Mac                                          douglas
MacICS-TCP     Mac with TCP/IP                              eew
E-ICS          Mac                                          douglas
Aics           Amiga                                        fischer

Programmers: Please do "help programmers" for suggestions about how to parse the output from this server.

Server Based Online Chess

WCN - World Chess Network
Free site with a graphical interface.
FICS - Free Internet Chess Server
Many FICS-compatible graphical interfaces are available, the listing above includes many of the older ones.
ICC - Internet Chess Club
Very popular. After a free trial, you may pay dues or you may still use the software, click escape rather than free trial and continue to play as a guest.
USCF - US Chess Live
Started in August 2000.

Java Chess Sites (Play In Your Browser)

The Big Network
MSN Gaming Zone
Chess.Net -


Email Chess

IECG FOR GENERAL information:
Send a message to the autoresponder account : with "QUICK" as message subject, and any text inside the message body. and you will receive our latest IECG Quick Guide in a few hours!

More information is found at their website: IECG Website

International Email Chess Club [IECC]

Information is found at their website: IECC Website

The IECC defines itself as a small intimate chess club and was founded by Lisa Powell.

The IECC is free and has a variety of special events including thematic tournaments, swiss tournaments, round robin, two match pairings, etc.

Rob Buchner ( organizes e-mail games on "ladders." If you would like to be included on the ladder, simply send him a message. Contacting potential opponents and setting up matches is your initiative. Just let him know whenever a match starts or ends. Also, after a game has been completed, include the following information:

 white   score   black   completed       moves   opening
 *****   *****   *****   *********       *****   *******
 name     ?:?    name    date            number  type

Ladder updates are posted to about once a month.

Michael Nolan has set up a mailing list "echo" of the news group. Messages sent to the list will be posted in, and all posts to will be sent to the mailing list. The address to send messages to be posted to is: (UUCP: tssi!chessnews)

The mailing list administration address is: (UUCP: tssi@chessnews-request)

Requests to be added to the mailing list should include a clear indication of the e-mail address to be used, and will be verified before being accepted.

There is a mailing list which is not associated with called "chess-l." It averages about 4 posts/day, which are sent to subscribers via e-mail. To subscribe to the chess-l news group, send the message "subscribe chess-l Your-Real-Name-Here" to listserv@hearn.bitnet. (formerly listserv@grearn.bitnet)

A mailing list for those interested in scholastic chess has been set up by Kenneth Sloan ( Send a request to be added to the list to ("" ).

Gopher is "a document delivery service"; sort of a stripped-down menu-driven FTP. Those with access to a gopher client can access for chess-related material.

For those on the Internet whose sites do not receive, it can be read (along with all other Usenet groups) from an experimental bulletin board system (EBBS) run by the University of North Carolina. The Internet address for EBBS is "telnet://" ( A news reader (read-only) is available to all users, but posting is limited to those who have been verified by land mail. Internet e-mail privileges are also available to verified users. All access to this system is free at this time.

There is a Special Interest Group (SIG) on a pool of computers: the Free-Net System at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Try "telnet freenet-in-[a,b,c]" (replace "[a,b,c]" with one of a, b or c). Login as a visitor and explore the system. Try "go chess" to find local chess bulletin boards and an e-mail chess group. Request membership at [The Cleveland Chess Sig (FNCF), 4382 Tiedeman Rd., Brooklyn, Ohio 44144].

There is a FidoNet conference for chess which offers games by e-mail. The moderator of the FidoNet International CHESS Echo is Bill Spinks @ 1:2613/333.12.

Also, a second FidoNet conference is now in existence. It is the Fidonet Chess Tourney Echo, moderated by Doug Attig at ("" ) or FidoNet 1:138/239.0.

There's an e-mail chess pairing service run by William Moxley. To get an opponent, send your NAME, E-MAIL ADDRESS, and LEVEL-OF-PLAY (Novice, Intermediate, or Expert) to ("" ). If you don't hear back within a week, you cannot be reached at the e-mail address provided.

[18] Material Available via Anonymous FTP

FTP is a way of copying files between networked computers. Information on it is available via anonymous FTP from "" in the file /pub/usenet/news.answers/finding-sources.

If you do not know how to use anonymous FTP or do not have access to it, you can retrieve the file by sending an e-mail message to with "send usenet/news.answers/finding-sources" as the body of the message. (Send a message containing "help" for general information on the server.) Or, see the posting titled "How to find sources (READ THIS BEFORE POSTING)" in the news groups comp.sources.wanted or news.answers. Information on what the various compression extensions mean (like ".Z") and what utilities are available to deal with them can be found in the comp.compression FAQ list (see the posting in comp.compression or news.answers titled "comp.compression Frequently Asked Questions," or from "" in the file /pub/usenet/news.answers/compression-faq.

Miscellaneous. A general repository for chess-related material is somewhat associated with the Internet Chess Server (ICS). Currently, the 'ICS FTP host' is "" or via the web: "" Material is in the pub/chess directory. New material may be placed in pub/chess/uploads. Many freeware chess programs for different platforms, including graphical ICS (see [17]) clients, are available (e.g., for MS-DOS, MacOS, AmigaOS, NeXT, and UNIX vt100 or X Windows interfaces). Scores of various matches and other groups of games as well.

An outline of some of the available directories on ICS follows:

    pub/chess: general chess directory
    pub/chess/PGN: Portable Game Notation directory
    pub/chess/PGN/Standard: ASCII version of the PGN Standard
    pub/chess/PGN/Standard.TOC: Table of Contents for above
    pub/chess/PGN/Events: directory of directories of events by year
    pub/chess/PGN/Players: directory with many PGN games by player
    pub/chess/Tests: directory with many chess program test positions
    pub/chess/Tests/Manifest: description of EPD test files
    pub/chess/TB: endgame tablebases
    pub/chess/TB/README-TB: tablebase decyphering documentation
    pub/chess/TB/tbt.c: ANSI C tablebase test harness
    pub/chess/PGN/Tools: PGN tools and utilities directory
    pub/chess/Unix/SAN.tar.gz: Standard Algebraic Notation source kit

Chaos. A chess tournament pairing program (Swiss pairing as well as Round Robin), GNU General Public License, runs on the Commodore-Amiga, available from AmiNet mirrors (e.g.,, under /pub/aminet/game/think.

GNU chess. Gnuchess is a freely available chess-playing software program. Gnuchess 4.0 can be FTP'ed from:

It can be compiled for X Windows (with XBoard, below), SunView, curses, IBM PC character set, or ASCII interfaces. Included in the package are the utilities gnuan (analysis program), game (PostScript printout), postprint (prints hashfile), checkgame (checks a game listing for illegal moves), and checkbook (checks the opening book for illegal moves). It has been posted to gnu.chess.

LaTex chess macros. Piet Tutelaers' ( chess LaTex package (version 1.2) may be FTP'ed from (; please restrict access to weekends or evenings. A server can answer e-mail requests (put "send HELP" as the message to ("" ). Get TEX/chess12.*. See [23].

Notation. Notation is a chess game score preprocessor written by Henry Thomas("" ). It reads chess games, either in full algebraic or shortened notation (i.e., Nf1-g3 or f1g3 or Ng3) and is able to output the games and/or the board at any move, in ASCII, PostScript, TeX, or nroff. It also can generate output for the gnuan and XBoard programs. It is multi-lingual for piece identification; understanding French, English, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Polish, etc. The program also handles variations and symbolized comments. It works fine on UNIX (Sun SPARCstation and Sun-3). It uses standard C, and function declarations are done in both K&R-C and ANSI-C. It won't be difficult to compile for MS-DOS with MSC. Sources have been posted to comp.sources.misc. You can also get them from Mr. Thomas by e-mail. They may be FTP'ed from ("*.Z " ) (European users use

Chess notation tool kit. The Standard Algebraic Notation (SAN) Kit chess programming C source tool kit is designed to help chess software efforts by providing common routines for move notation I/O, move generation, move execution, and various useful position manipulation services. There are substantial additions to the previous version which include a standard position notation scheme along with some benchmarking tests. A main program is included which gives sample calls for the various routines. Simple I/O functions are also provided. A clever programmer needs only to add a search and an evaluation function to produce a working chessplaying program. A programmer who already has the source to a chessplaying program may improve it further by including tool kit routines as needed for standardization. The author of this package is Steven J. Edwards ("" ).

The SAN Kit may be retrieved from the "" ICS FTP host .

XBoard. XBoard is an X11/R4-based user interface for GNU Chess or ICS. As an interface to GNU Chess, XBoard lets you play a game against the machine, set up arbitrary positions, force variations, or watch a game between two machines. As an interface to the ICS, XBoard lets you play against other ICS users or observe games they are playing. You can also use XBoard as a chessboard to review or analyze games. It will read a game file or allow you to play through a variation manually. This is useful for keeping track of email postal games, browsing games off the net, or reviewing GNU Chess and ICS games you have saved. Beginning with version 2.0, Tim Mann < has taken over development of XBoard. The program can be FTP'ed from the 'ICS FTP host.'

Subject: [19] Chess-Playing Computers

There are numerous dedicated chess-playing computers available commercially, as well as chess-playing software for various personal computers. Prices vary from perhaps $10,000 for the most expensive dedicated computer to perhaps $30 for the cheapest software (see [20]). The differences are basically how strong the machine (or software) plays, and the other features it has to offer (e.g., for dedicated machines: size of board, wood/plastic, autosensory or "push the pieces," etc.).

When purchasing a chess computer or software, it is best to buy something which plays at least 300 points above your rating. Here are the estimated USCF ratings for some of the more popular dedicated chess computers.

A computer may assist in your learning in many ways. One of the best uses is to auto-analyze your own games. Find out where you have erred and what better lines were available. You may also set up positions that are of interest or play out lines against the computer. If you are working on a specific opening, you may play a vairiety of continuations against the computer. Both middle game and endgame practice are also useful. Set up positions that are in the instructional books you are reading. Playing against the computer is excellent practise. Most people recommend setting up a board, rather than just keeping the position on screen. Unless of course you are cramming for the ICS.

A computer may assist in your learning in many ways. One of the best uses is to auto-analyze your own games. Find out where you have erred and what better lines were available. You may also set up positions that are of interest or play out lines against the computer. If you are working on a specific opening, you may play a vairiety of continuations against the computer. Both middle game and endgame practice are also useful. Set up positions that are in the instructional books you are reading. Playing against the computer is excellent practise. Most people recommend setting up a board, rather than just keeping the position on screen. Unless of course you are cramming for the ICS.

The level of play now attainable on your personal computer has reached that of being able to win against master level and above players. Even world champion super-GM Garry Kasparov has lost to more than one chess software program which would be available to anyone. (Fritz and Genius in speed play) Recently on ICC a GM lost 4 to 5 five minute blitz games in a row to Chess Genius playing on a Pentium. He tried to win using tactics rather than postional strategy. These were casual games, to be sure, but, none the less, computer chess has come a long way since David Levy, in 1968, made a bet that a computer could not, within 10 years win a match against him. In 1975, David Levy was able to undertake, and come out well ahead, in a simultaneous exhibition against 12 chess computers. I don't think any GM would enjoy doing that now.

In several books David Levy and Raymond Keene detail their strategy to win against computer opponents. They suggest avoiding tactics, concentrating instead on postiional advantages and using long term strategy to slowly build an advantage. Some of their suggestions include: allowing your computer opponent to castle first, then castle on the opposite wing and launch a pawn storm.

Software programs typically use a wide band width brute force search, combined with an in depth search for tactically active lines.

Sources of information on computer chess may be found in:

_The Computer Chess Gazette_, Box 2841, Laguna Hills, CA 92654. 714-770-8532. Focuses on computer chess.

_Computer Chess Club_ Hosted by ICD Corp./ Your Move Chess & Games, 2832 N. Broadway, N. Massapequa, NY.  1-800-645-4710 or 1-516-882-9800. Focuses on extensive discussion of computer chess.

_Chess Skill in Man and Machine; Editor Peter Frey. Springer-Verlag. 1983.

_How to Beat your Chess Computer_. Ray Keene and David Levy. Batsford Chess Library. 1991.

Estimated Ratings Of Older Dedicated Chess Computers

Computer Chess Reports, 1993
TASC R30 "King"                          2558
Mephisto Lyon 68030                      2468
Mephisto Vancouver 68030                 2463
Mephisto RISC 1MB                        2444
Saitek Kasparov RISC 2500                2439
Mephisto Portugal 68030                  2432
Fidelity Elite 10 68040                  2377
Mephisto Vancouver 32 bit                2361
Mephisto Lyon 32 bit                     2358
Fidelity Premiere Vancouver              2342
Mephisto Berlin                          2342
Fidelity Elite 9 68030                   2331
Mephisto Vancouver 16 bit                2316
Mephisto Portugal 32 bit                 2315
Mephisto Lyon 16 bit                     2314
Mephisto Almeria 32 bit                  2293
Saitek Galileo BruteForce                2284
Fidelity Mach IV/Designer 2325           2276
Mephisto Portugal 16 bit                 2252
Fidelity Elite v5 dual                   2234
Mephisto Polgar 10                       2234
Mephisto Roma 32 bit                     2220
Mephisto Dallas 32 bit                   2217
Mephisto Almeria 16 bit                  2214
Novag Diablo/Scorpio                     2201
Fidelity Mach III/Elite 2                2189
Novag SuperExpert/Forte C                2184
Mephisto Mondial 68000                   2175
Mephisto Polgar                          2170
Mephisto MM5                             2160
Mephisto Roma 16 bit                     2153
Mephisto Milano                          2152
Mephisto Dallas 16 bit                   2152
Novag SuperExpert/Forte B                2138
Mephisto Academy                         2137
Fidelity Mach II L.A.                    2124
Mephisto Amsterdam                       2119
Fidelity Travel Master                   2117
Mephisto MonteCarlo 4                    2116
Saitek GK 2000                           2111
Mephisto Modena                          2110
Saitek Galileo Maes D                    2107
Mephisto MM4                             2104
Mephisto Mega 4                          2103
CXG Sphinx Domin                         2096
Saitek Travel Champion                   2093
Novag SuperExpert/Forte (6 MHz)          2087
Novag SuperExpert/Forte (5 MHz)          2048
Fidelity Designer 2100 Display           2048
Fidelity 68000 xl B                      2040
Saitek Corona2/TurboKing2                2037
Saitek Statos                            2034
Saitek Corona/Simult                     2021
Excalibur Legend/Accolade                2020
Fidelity ParEX/Chesster                  2014
Mephisto MM3                             2010
Novag Expert (5 MHz)                     2008
Novag Forte B                            2008
Novag Forte                              1999
Saitek TurboKing                         1984
Fidelity Excel 4                         1983
Novag Expert (4 MHz)                     1976
Saitek TurboKasparov                     1958
Mephisto MM2                             1952
Fidelity Excel/Designer 2000             1952
Saitek Prisma/Blitz                      1951
RadioShack 2150L                         1927
Novag SuperNova                          1918
Novag SuperConstellation                 1917
Mephisto Blitz                           1893
Novag Super VIP                          1889
USCF Academy/Mephisto Marco Polo/Europa  1864
Novag Primo/VIP                          1835
Novag Constellation 3.6                  1834
Novag Quattro                            1826
Novag Constellation                      1777
Advanced StarChess                       1755
Fidelity Sensory 9                       1699
Saitek Astral/Conquistador/Cavalier      1678

Ratings are the average of CCR30', CCR10', Computer Chess News Sheet and the "Ply" list from Sweden. See the Volume 3, Number 2 issue of _Computer Chess Reports_ for more details.

There are a number of non-commercial chess-playing machines, the strongest and most famous of which is "Deep Blue." It's predecessor Deep Thought was built and programmed by graduate students Feng-Hsiung Hsu, Thomas Anantharaman, Murray Campbell, Peter Jansen, Mike Browne, and Andreas Nowatzyk at Carnegie Mellon University, and who are now working (some of them, anyway) for IBM. Deep Blue beat Kasparov in the second of their 2 matches. It calculates approximately 200 million moves per second.

Chess computers usually evaluate four types of chess values when choosing their next move: material, position, Kingsafety and tempo. The usual rules for material apply: a pawn is considered to be worth a value of 1, knights and bishops are each valued at 3, a rook value is 5, and the most valuable piece the Queen counts for 9. The King is far beyond value, and cannot be lost during the game. His impending capture via checkmate signifies a loss and is the end of the game.

Position is more complex. In pre-Nimzovitch time, it was thought that control of the center was all that mattered. Most grandmaster games before the 20th century began by moveing the Kings or Queens pawn to the fourth rank. In this century "hypermodern" openings have been used which delay the development of the center. The hope is that the opponent will overextend himself. Position in one sense signifies the number of squares controlled, particularly on the opponents half of the board.

The defensive aspect of position is the safety of the King. You don't want your king to fall victim to a simple attack.

Tempo is related to who gets to place is pieces well first.


Subject: [20] Chess-Playing Software

The strength of chess-playing software is highly dependent on the hardware it runs on (all software discussed is for MS-DOS; programs available for MacOS are noted). Here is a method to approximate the strength differences for the same software running on different hardware (source: _Computer Chess Reports_).

Processor "Chess MIP's"

8088                      Speed in MHz divided by 19
80286, 1 wait state       Speed in MHz divided by 8
80286, 0 wait states      Speed in MHz divided by 6
80386, no cache memory    Speed in MHz divided by 6
80386 with cache          Speed in MHz divided by 4.7
80486                     Speed in MHz divided by 2.3

(Note that math coprocessors--used before the 486--don't change the speed, since chess programs don't use floating point arithmetic at all.)

Now, if a program has a given rating on a 1 (Chess) MIP machine, this is how to adjust the rating for other MIP's (interpolate between points):

MIP:  0.25 0.5 1 1.5  2  3   4   6   8   12  16  24  32  48  64
Adj.: -180 -87 0  47 80 124 154 195 223 261 287 323 347 379 402

For example, a program running on a 10 MHz 8088 (0.5 MIP's and -87 points) will be about 272 USCF rating points weaker than the same program running on a 33 MHz 80386 (no cache: 5.5 MIP's and +185 points).

Check The Latest SSDF Listings

The SSDF Rating List 2000-08-04

74012 games played by 209 computers

Rating + - Games Won Average
1 Fritz 6.0 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2631 28 -27 673 67% 2504
2 Junior 6.0 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2601 25 -24 864 67% 2478
3 Chess Tiger 12.0 DOS 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2573 30 -29 569 63% 2481
4 Fritz 5.32 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2553 31 -30 557 62% 2467
5 Nimzo 7.32 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2549 29 -28 613 62% 2463
6 Goliath Light 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2534 48 -48 210 51% 2528
7 Hiarcs 7.32 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2533 31 -31 519 60% 2460
8 Junior 5.0 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2526 29 -28 598 58% 2467
9 SOS 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2516 57 -55 159 58% 2456
10 Nimzo 99 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2501 29 -29 581 54% 2475
11 Crafty 17.07/CB 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2499 27 -27 651 51% 2496
12 Fritz 5.32 64MB P200 MMX 2477 20 -20 1208 57% 2429
12 Hiarcs 7.32 64MB P200 MMX 2477 25 -24 815 60% 2404
14 Chessmaster 6000 64MB P200 MMX 2473 61 -53 184 76% 2278
15 MChess Pro 8.0 128MB K6-2 450 MHz 2470 34 -35 418 44% 2511
16 Fritz 5.0 PB29% 67MB P200 MMX 2459 23 -22 1005 66% 2342
17 Hiarcs 7.0 64MB P200 MMX 2458 21 -21 1106 55% 2420
18 Nimzo 99 64MB P200 MMX 2447 23 -23 885 51% 2439
19 Junior 5.0 64MB P200 MMX 2433 22 -22 1010 51% 2427
20 Nimzo 98 58MB P200 MMX 2423 22 -22 1038 58% 2367
21 Rebel 9.0 47MB P200 MMX 2419 24 -23 900 61% 2340
22 Hiarcs 6.0 49MB P200 MMX 2417 24 -24 829 56% 2373
23 Rebel 8.0 51MB P200 MMX 2409 23 -23 887 50% 2408
24 MChess Pro 6.0 41MB P200 MMX 2407 26 -25 749 54% 2378
25 Shredder 2.0 58MB P200 MMX 2396 21 -21 1054 48% 2408
26 MChess Pro 7.1 46MB P200 MMX 2394 22 -22 1042 53% 2371
27 Genius 5.0 DOS 46MB P200 MMX 2393 21 -21 1093 52% 2378
28 MChess Pro 8.0 64MB P200 MMX 2390 27 -27 681 53% 2366
29 Chess Tiger 11.8 Pentium 90 MHz 2387 45 -45 242 52% 2375
30 Gandalf 3.0 64MB P200 MMX 2364 41 -40 307 59% 2296
31 Kallisto II 64MB P200 MMX 2342 35 -35 403 52% 2327
32 Rebel 9.0 Pentium 90 MHz 2334 23 -23 890 47% 2356
33 Hiarcs 6.0 Pentium 90 MHz 2332 18 -18 1437 51% 2328
34 Genius 5.0 DOS Pentium 90 MHz 2329 18 -18 1558 47% 2348
35 MChess Pro 6.0 Pentium 90 MHz 2309 17 -17 1726 45% 2343
36 Nimzo 3.5 Pentium 90 MHz 2293 22 -22 998 46% 2322
37 Chessmaster 5000 Pentium 90 MHz 2287 49 -45 240 67% 2162
37 Junior 4.0 Pentium 90 MHz 2287 22 -22 1035 42% 2341
39 Shredder 1.0 Pentium 90 MHz 2282 59 -58 145 53% 2262
40 R30 v. 2.5 2274 41 -38 343 69% 2135
41 CometA90 64MB P200 MMX 2251 37 -39 358 36% 2351
42 Fritz 4.0 Pentium 90 MHz 2234 40 -39 324 60% 2163
43 WChess 1.06 Pentium 90 MHz 2230 20 -20 1222 39% 2308
44 Meph Genius 68 030 33 MHz 2198 45 -44 248 55% 2161
45 Berlin Pro 68 020 24 MHz 2125 24 -24 850 58% 2071
45 Meph RISC 2 1 MB 2125 62 -66 125 39% 2205
47 Mephisto Montreux ARM 14 MHz 512K 2099 29 -28 689 73% 1930
48 Atlanta SH7000 20 MHz 2093 31 -29 580 67% 1967
49 Sapphire II 2013 35 -33 444 63% 1917
50 Milano Pro SH7000 20 MHz 1974 33 -32 469 61% 1895


SSDF Policy Statement: "The Swedish Ratinglist may be quoted in other magazines, but we insist that this will be done in a correct way! We expect, that not only the rating figures, but also the number of games and the margin of error will be quoted. This list is primarily made for the members of the Swedish Chess Computer Association. The details of the testwork are described in our Swedish magazine PLY, where you for instance can find the names of the tester for every single result! Note that all games are played on the tournament level - 40/2 hrs. "

Some Old, Some New, Nothing At All That Is Blue

Available for MacOS: Chessmaster 3000 & 2100, Sargon V, BattleChess and CheckMate. Available for the Amiga: Chessmaster 2000 and 2100, Sargon III and IV, Chessplayer 2150 and Chess Champion 2175, BattleChess and CheckMate, ChessMate, The Art of Chess, Colossus Chess and the ChessMachine.

Gnuchess is a freely available chess-playing software program (see [18]). Its strength varies widely based on the machine for which it's compiled.

Subject: [21] Database Software

Chess databases store games and information about games, and can manipulate and recall that information in a variety of ways. The "big four" of chess databases are Chess Assistant, ChessBase, NICBase, and Bookup. You can purchase data disks for each of these databases. NICBase and ChessBase are game-oriented, Chess Assistant is position or tree oriented as is Bookup. While Bookup is primarily known for studying openings it really is also useful for endings, as may be noted by Chuck Schulien's endgame books. You can also enter middle game tactics for study. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. A good (but dated) review of these programs was written by Eric Schiller and appeared in the Sept. 1990 _Chess Life_. A more current review was written for the APCT, and Jon Edwards has volunteered his e-mail address for information: At this time, I believe each of these programs can interface with Fritz, Zarkov, HIARCS, and Chess Genius. A saved postion (epd format) can even be retrieved by ChessMaster 4000. The next version of ChessMaste 5000 is expected to be able to have a closer integration with the database software. Reviews will be incorporated and expanded here as I more fully evaluate the programs.

Bookup from Bookup, Inc. 2763 Kensington Place West, Columbus, Ohio 43202
1-800-949-5445 toll free
614-263-7219 outside the United States
614-262-9788 fax
The complete "20 Questions" including screenshots can be found on the website.

Bookup Hompage

Online demos are also on the website. BOOKUP Version 1.5.2 for Windows 3.1/Win95 for $199
Version 2.5.2 for MacOS costs $99.
The demo may read any version 8 database and includes a subset of the e4 openings. Definitely look at the demo and sample data. Opening study books, are also available. Endgame studies too! Make your own studies for tactics! Books on disk include The Scheveningen Sicilian, London System, Samisch Seminar, Open Game, Classical Ruy, Smith-Morra, and the Closed Game. Books on disk are priced from $25- $29 The opening books are directed at a varied audience from club player to that which would be suitable for a grandmaster's opening repertoire. Annotations are geared to the level at which the specific book is directed.

Bookup can be used to rapidly study openings. All of the information and notes regarding a specific position is stored with the position itself. This is helpful if a position is reached via transposition. A new book can be created rapidly by either entering the moves by hand or even faster by selecting and exporting in PGN format a series of games from a Chess Assistant or Chessbase database. PGN games are easily imported to create a branching positionaly based tree. The informtion regarding game results and players is retained. Bookup for Windows can be used with other windows programs.. Chessbase combined with Fritz is a nice way to check out your books and come up with additional lines.

While Bookup initially gained its reputation for opening study, it is also useful for many more aspects of chess. FM Chuck Schulien has written a Bookup book called "100 Essential Endings" which contains 7,000 positions. This follows his "King & Pawn" set of endgame studies. The "Rubinstein Collection" is FM Chuck Schulien's more advanced analysis of Akiba Rubinstein's instructive endings. Bookup may also be used for middle game study. Entering positions from your favorite middlegame or tactics book will be helpful. You can than set Bookup to training and test your ability to handle these positions.

Bookup can also be integrated with several chess computer programs. These programs all utilize the EPD format. More information on the expanding list of chess computers can be obtained directly from Bookup. This is useful to generate an analysis of the postions in your specific book.

ChessAssistant 3 (Win95); Free conversion utilities for PGN, NICBase, ChessBase formats. Free functional demo anticipated to be available. The DOS demo works on up to 250 games. Get the demo! This functional demo will give you an idea of the power of this program. It is available directly from ICS, Seattle, Washington and is also found online at The online name is capgn.exe. (550,000k+of selfextracting file). 5,000 games included in basic. One of the outstanding features is the "tree", from which all of the paths leading into and out of a particular board position are displayed. The percentages wins for white, draws, wins for black are displayed for each move , and the same statistics may be toggled on for that particular board position. Header and position searches. Easy easy to use, the interface and menu is quite intuitive. When entering your own games, a move guessing algorithm is used by CA and is extremely helpful. Comes with built in analysis engine - The King. May be linked to Zarkov, Chess Genius, Fritz or HIARCS for analyis assistance. 1995 subscription 2,000 games sent every 2 months $150. 350,000 games on CDROM $250. This is truely an amazingly large number of games. Annotated Game Collections: include CA-Light Ruy Lopez (Spanish), Sicilian Chelyabinsk (...e5, Lasker/Pelikan), King's Indian Averbakh, Sicilian Rossolimo - $15 each. Toll free support is available 5 days per week.

ChessBase 6 for Windows(Windows 3.1 & Windows 95); Currently there is a special available with the basic ChessBase for Windows: 200,000 games are included at no extra charge. ChessBase Homepage ChessBase USA, P.O. Box 133, Hagerstown, MD 21741. 301-733-7541 (orders only: 800-524-3527); fax 301-797-6269. A demo is available in 2 parts.

ChessBase Demo Now Available

ChessBase Light Download

Get the demo to see the revolutionary features of this program. This was the first chess database program available to run directly in Microsoft Windows. Note that Windows requires a fast computer. I would recommend a Pentium 90 with 16 megabytes RAM at a minumum, but those with more tolerance for waiting than I could use a slower machine. VGA graphics are viewable at 640 x 480 although the manual recommends 800 x 600. (Maybe they have a 17" monitor!). It is an exceptional program and makes full use of the features of windows. Multiple games may be viewed simultaneously, each one may be miniaturized so that 6 or more games may be visible, each with independent controls. The same game may be viewed at different stages. It is easy to edit or add alternate lines and comments, annotations or "?", "!", etc to any game in your database. Just begin using your mouse to enter the moves or click on the appropriate icon to add comments. You do not have to switch to any other submenu area. This is an incredible convenience and an amazing time saver. The game may then be saved either in the original database or an alternate or "training" database. Several games may be combined. If you are studying a particular opening and want to combine 4 or 5 games that exemplify this opening, you may combine them together as alternate lines of each other. Highlight the games, press the enter key and the games will be combined together. ECO type viewing of the lines is available one mouse click away. Searching and sorting on a variety of fields is available. Classification by ECO is one Control-C away. Besides the oridinary position search a feature called "find novelty" features a modified position search which will find games that are similar to the game that you are viewing or have just entered. It will search the currently open database. The printing and publishing features are exceptional, and like other truetype windows printing programs, extremely easy to use. If your windows has already been configured for your printer there is no set up necessary. At this time it comes with a "quick start manual" which is adequate to get you going. An undocumented feature is Alternate-F1, which sets an internal toggle to floats a bubble over the icons telling what each does as your mouse passes over it. ChessBase magazine includes approximately 1,000 games every second month, 25% - 50% annotated, along with a section on tactics, endgames, dramatic master errors and an opening study. These may be added to your database choices within CBW. $115. (CBM Express $225 includes CB Magazine and monthly disks totalling 16,000 games per year).
The TASC System-TascBase
Tasc has a fine looking and interesting program available. The complete information may be seen at their web site along with information on a variety of their products.
The Tasc ChessSystem
Demos of Chessica, Tascbase, Tasc Chess Tutor -
Clubmate is database software for Windows. ClubMate provides a huge range of powerful features at a low price.Whether you want to record your own triumphs and disasters, study openings, or collect thousands of games by masters, ClubMate gives you ease of use, clear presentation. speed of data retrieval, and excellent technical support. And if that's not enough, ClubMate has a free upgrade policy. Clubmate was formerly freeware, then shareware and now costs approximately $64. A functional demo is available at their home page.
Clubmate - Database Software
NICBase 3.0 (MS-DOS or Atari ST: $195 with 5,000 games; $595 with 50,000 games) & NICTools ($125) from Chess Combination, Inc. P.O. Box 2423 Noble Station, Bridgeport CT 06608-0423. Phone 203-367-1555 or 800-354-4083; fax 203-380-1703; e-mail: "" (Albert Henderson). Free catalog and sample of _New in Chess_. NICBase 3 demo disk free to users of CompuServe and the Internet. NICBase 3 was reviewed in _Chess Horizons_ Jul/Aug 1992, Canadian _En Passant_ Apr 1992, _California Chess Journal_ Feb/Mar 1992, and USAT _Chess Perspectives_ Nov 1991.
SmartChess, available from R&D (Chess) Publishing. 800-425-3555 2679 State Highway 70, Manasquan, NJ 08736 Macintosh Software
Contact: Paul Hodges("" )
SmartChess Web

Subject: [22] Utility Software

Eric Churchill's Chess Recorder, a (PC) Windows program that records chess moves, suitable for keeping track of postal games, will be uploaded to GEnie and submitted to (It even keeps a log of when the moves were entered, which could be used to keep track of postal time limits.) You can enter annotations and other comments and they appear in a separate window when the corresponding move is displayed. The program will print out the moves of the game (with annotations). $15 shareware fee. Graphics are quite good--looks OK even on monochrome systems. The colors of the pieces on color systems are 'interesting.' It can now flip colors to put Black on bottom.
Swis-Sys, a $70 Swiss System pairing program, is available from Thad Suits (the author), 2125 1st Ave North, Great Falls, MT, 59401. 406-453-6160.
Chaos, another pairing program (Swiss pairing as well as Round Robin), GNU General Public License, runs on the Commodore-Amiga, available from Aminet mirrors "" .
For other software utilities see [18].

Subject: [23] Using Graphic Chess Symbols in Printed Text

There are a few ways of composing chess texts in international figurine notation (or including diagrams in printed text):
1) Use a word processor or page-layout program and a chess font. For instance, for the Apple Macintosh there are at least 3 different sets of fonts usable with standard word processors like Microsoft Word, MacWrite, Nisus or WriteNow; or with page-layout programs like Illustrator or PageMaker. Most of these fonts are proprietary (you must purchase them). The fonts usually can be used for both the figurines and the diagrams. A freely available/usable PostScript font, including a variety of figurines, diagrams and _Informant_ symbols, has been posted to "news:comp.fonts"comp.fonts and "" by Andy Walker ("" ).
2) Use a chess-specific writing application. ChessWriter (Apple Macintosh) offers an interface including a chessboard and a text window. Moves made on the chessboard are automatically transformed into characters in the text window. ChessWriter is proprietary.
CC-Publisher (MS Windows) is another commercial chess-specific writing application. You must have MS Windows, a word processing package (Word, WordPerfect, AmiPro), and a chess database system (for generating diagrams--although this could be done by hand--like ChessBase or Zarkov). It comes in two versions. The basic version supports HP LJ-compatible laserjet printers ($49.95). The deluxe version supports any PostScript printer, and comes with PostScript Type I or TrueType fonts ($139.95). You get integrated utilities to move you from game-entry or diagram-creation to conversion and import into your word processor, with special Tips and Tricks for MS Word, Lotus AmiPro, and WordPerfect users. Extremely easy installation, and your fonts become available to all Windows applications. There's a comprehensive user manual on the installation disk, and you get free technical support! Chess Chow Publications, P.O. Box 3348, Church St. Station, New York, NY 10008. 212-432-6546. e-mail
3) Use the LaTeX chess macros and fonts package by Piet Tutelaers (see [18]). TeX is an advanced public-domain system for text formatting available on mainframes, workstations and personal computers. LaTeX is a set of text-formatting macros for TeX. METAFONT is a font generator program for TeX. For general information on all of these, and pointers to reference manuals, see the FAQ list posting in comp.text.tex.) Once you have the chess package, you'll need to 3a) be able to use METAFONT to generate chess fonts starting from the programs contained in the package; 3b) be able to install the LaTeX macros in your TeX system; and 3c) learn the macro language to format chess texts. Activity 3a can become tiresome if you do not have any help from a TeX wizard. Using LaTeX to write chess text is not very simple, but the results are worth the effort.
4) FEN2DIAG version 3.32 is a set of Word macros which allow the user to input a position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN), or paste a position in
from any chess application which uses FEN, then generate a chess board diagram using a TrueType or Adobe Type 1 font (assuming that Adobe Type
Manager is installed) which contains chess symbols. If the font contains border characters FEN2DIAG allows the diagram to be
generated with or without borders; a powerful feature is a custom macro which works with the Alpine Electronics chess fonts (Linares, Hastings,
Zurich) to generate diagrams using any of their six border styles.
FEN2DIAG is that it can be customised, via a .INI file, to work with any chess fonts including ones which it doesn't "know" about. The macros currently work with Word for Windows 6.0, 95 or 97. Full installation instructions are provided. The free Cheq TrueType font is supplied with the ZIP file; the macros
support 22 freeware and commercial chess fonts in all. FEN2DIAG is FREE and can be ftp'ed, as FEN2DG33.ZIP (~60K), from: and mirror sites.
or from the Chess Word Macros and Fonts Web site maintained by Hans Bodlaender:
Web Page Information Available on Chess Publishing: An excellent resource on chess publishing is Chess Word Macros and Fonts.
It reviews a variety of fonts that are available both those commercially available and those that are freeware. They are found and discussed on: Chess Word Macros and Fonts

Subject: [24] Trivia

How long is the longest possible chess game?
The basic idea is a player may claim a draw if fifty moves elapse without a capture or a pawn advance. Ignoring the special cases where more than 50 moves are allowed by the rules, the answer is after Black's 5948th move, White is able to claim a draw. The simple calculation is (<Pawn_moves + - + <Drawing_interval_grace_period) * <Drawing_interval, or (16*6 + 30 - 8 + 1) * 50 = 5950; we're able to trim two moves from this total by observing that sequences of Captures/Pawn_moves must have (at least) 4 alternations between the two players.

Subject: [25] Common Acronyms

Subject: [26] Rules

Official Fide Rules Text 1997 or
Fide Rules 1997 html
Changes in Fide Rules 1997

Subject: [27] Variants

Over the centuries, many variations of chess have appeared and more have been invented recently by gaming enthusiasts. Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. (28 South Main Street, Rutland, VT 05701) has published a general book on the subject: _Chess Variations: Ancient, Regional, and Modern_ by John Gollon. Two of the most popular alternatives to our version of chess are known as Chinese Chess (or shiang-chi or xiangqi) and Shogi (or Japanese Chess). Ishi Press International (76 Bonaventura Drive, San Jose, CA 95134) sells good books on both of these games. (_Chinese Chess for Beginners_ by Sam Sloan and _Shogi for Beginners_ by John Fairbairn. Another book on Chinese Chess is "Chinese Chess" by H.T. Lau published by Tuttle Press. A relatively recent variation of chess is called Ultima and is described in detail in the book _Abbott's New Card Games_ by Robert Abbott. For more information on Chinese Chess visit the Newsgroup
A comprehensive book is David Pritchard's "The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants", published in 1994 by the author (contact him at Games & Puzzles Publications, P.O. Box 20, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4YP, United Kingdom). 383 pages, includes 1450 variants, including regional, modern, and commercial variants, with very detailed coverage of the important regional games (shogi and xiang qi) and the most widely played modern variants (kriegspiel, progressive, giveaway, etc.). 21.99 U.K. pounds (around $36 by credit card) plus postage).
For postal players, there are two highly active organizations which play variants : NOST (Knights of the Square Table) in the U.S. (founded 1963) -- contact Phil Cohen < for more information; and AISE (Associazione Italiana Scacchi Eterodossi) in Italy -- contact Alessandro Castelli, via Potenza 11, I-62010 Villa Potenza (MC), Italy, for information.
A magazine called World Game Review, in 1991 published a 99-page special issue devoted to chess variants. This included an index of 677 variants, with full rules for about 450 of those, plus addresses, bibliography, glossary, list of inventors, etc. It covers regional variants lightly (though lots of references are given), but is very strong on modern variants. It was widely praised in chess variant circles, and it is still available from the publisher, $10 postpaid from Michael Keller <, World Game Review, 1747 Little Creek Drive, Baltimore, MD 21207-5230.
A Web site containing information on chess variants has been established by HansHans Bodlaender, of the Department of Computer Science, Utrecht University.
""Chess Variants

Subject: [28] Disclaimer and Copyright Notice

The FAQ is compiled and posted by Stephen Pribut at "The rgc FAQ" is copyrighted 1995-1999. Before reprinting a FAQ article for monetary gain (or major portions of one), please obtain permission from the author of the article. The chess FAQ list owes its existence to the contributors on the net, and as such it belongs to the readers of Copies may be made freely, as long as they are distributed at no charge, and the disclaimer and the copyright notice are included. Some answers given may reflect personal biases of the authors and the chess FAQ listing's contributors. In cases where the answers name specific products and their respective manufacturers, these are not to be taken as endorsements of, nor commercials for, the manufacturer. Where cost information is stated this is based on "street" information, and is in no way binding on the seller. Unless otherwise stated, prices, addresses, and telephone numbers are in United States' terms. The answers contained herein pertain to discussions on the "" news group, and are by no means exhaustive.
The chess FAQ list owes its existence to the contributors on the net, and as such it belongs to the readers of Copies may be made freely, as long as they are distributed at no charge, and the disclaimer and the copyright notice are included.

Stephen M. Pribut