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Old 06-22-2009, 02:20 PM   #1
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Chess forum FAQ v1.4 - updated Sep 5 2011

Welcome to the Chess and Other Games forum! This forum is for discussion of games such as Chess, Go, Draughts, and any other similar games. This FAQ is an attempt to answer some of the most common questions in and about this forum.

What this forum is not for:
"Forum games" such as werewolf are discussed/played in the Puzzles and Other Games forum, which overlaps in subject matter with this forum.
Backgammon is discussed in the Backgammon forum.
Poker is discussed in most of the rest of this site.
Gambling games other than poker -- try the Other Gambling forum.
Chess related beats and brags and other posts that don't deserve a thread of their own belong in the Chess BBV thread or the Low Content thread.

Glossaries of chess and go terms
If you are unfamiliar with a chess term try this wikipedia page. For go terms, this page at Sensei's library contains links to definitions and explanations of some common go terms.

How does chess notation work?
Algebraic chess notation is very simple to learn and understand. It should be one of the first things you learn if you want to discuss chess online. This page provides a simple walkthrough.

Where can I play real-time chess online?
There are probably 100 sites where you can play real-time chess online, with varying amounts of features. The most popular serious sites are FICS, ICC, and Playchess. FICS is free while the other two require a yearly membership fee. While Playchess is the bigger of the pay sites, ICC has more features including training videos, simultaneous exhibitions by strong players, and many more master-strength players playing blitz chess. To get the most out of these sites, you will also need to download an interface from the site. ICC and Playchess have their own proprietary interfaces while BabasChess is currently the most popular interface for FICS. is growing in size and features and now offers workable real-time chess that you can play in your browser. The interface is still a little slower than dedicated interfaces and there are few strong players. Membership is free but you have to pay for extra features. Still, it may be the best of the no-download sites.

Of course everyone has their own preference as to which site you should play on, and some people feel quite strongly about "their" site. Perhaps you should try them all and see which one you like best. Here is a thread where the merits of ICC and Playchess are discussed.

Where can I play correspondence chess online?
Correspondence chess used to refer to chess by mail. Now it is mostly played by email or web interface, but over a matter of days or months instead of minutes or hours. Some popular sites are RedHotPawn, ItsYourTurn, and For really serious cc players, there's the International Correspondence Chess Federation which runs World Championships, awards Master and Grandmaster titles, etc.

Where can I play a real life tournament?
Ask at your local chessclub. If you're in the USA, the US Chess Federation has information online about clubs and upcoming tourneys. Most other countries have the same.

How does the chess rating system work? What does it mean when someone says he's rated 1900?
You get a rating by playing some rated games, in a tournament rated by a chess federation such as the USCF. You may also need to pay a membership fee. Every federation's rating system is slightly different, so a rating of 1900 is meaningless unless you know what body gave it. However the FIDE (international) and USCF (USA) ratings are usually quite close. As a very rough guide, think 800 = beginner, 1500 = competent player, 2000 = strong amateur, 2500 = grandmaster, 2800 = world champion material.

What are chess variants? Where can I play them online?
Many people have developed variations on chess, although none of them have ever threatened the popularity of the classic game.` Two of the most popular are bughouse, which is played by teams of 2 players with 2 chessboards, and Fischer-random chess or Chess960 which is played with the pieces "shuffled" on the back ranks. Many of these variants are available on ICC and FICS.

How do I get better at chess?
Play chess, solve tactics problems, read chess books and articles, play through master games with commentary, analyse your own games alone or with the help of a stronger player, post your games here for feedback. Recommending specific books or articles is beyond the scope of this FAQ, but here are some threads where the question was discussed.
Chess book recommendations

How do I post a game in a thread?
If possible, post your game in PGN. Any chess program will produce this for you. This makes it easier for other players to copy and paste and play back in a program of their choice. If you want to include diagrams, you can use any chess software or the online diagram generator or game replayer on the site. You can also use the game replayer to post a link to a game that other posters can click to play through.

Should I reply to someone else's threads?
Yes. Regardless of your playing strength, feel free to contribute your thoughts. However, please respect the following etiquette guidelines:
1. Don't post analysis from your computer and pass it off as your own - say that you are using a computer engine and preferably say which one.
2. In a puzzle thread, consider posting your answer in spoiler tags, so that people don't accidentally see the answer.

I have some cool chess stuff to sell, or I want to give chess lessons for money. Can I spam the chess forum about it?
No. You can offer stuff for sale or coaching in the Marketplace or Coaching forums. Make sure you follow the rules there. If you like, you can put a link in this thread in the chess forum. If you want to pay to advertise on 2+2, contact an administrator.

What chess software should I use?
There are a lot of free and paid options for storing, playing through or analysing chess games. Some popular options:
Chessbase (Windows only) is the industry standard for chess databases. Chessbase light is free to use and has all the features you need to store your own games.
Xboard or Winboard is a basic interface for playing online or against an engine.
Scid is a completely free, open source database program.
Stockfish is an extremely strong free, open source chess engine that runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and maybe more.
Houdini is currently the strongest publicly available chess engine as of September 2011, though this changes all the time. Houdini 2 costs money; Houdini 1.5 (almost as strong) is available for free download from the site.

What are some other useful chess sites?
The Chess Tactics Server and Chess Tempo are two tactics training sites with slightly different approaches. and are online searchable databases of chess games. has hundreds of chess training videos. has up to date opening information from grandmaster contributors.
Chessbase has tournament coverage and news from the chess world
Chess Cafe has weekly strategy articles from a number of respected chess writers
The Week in Chess has a weekly digest of tournament results and downloadable games, very useful if you want to keep a database up to date. has daily articles from master and grandmaster players, mostly targeted at weaker players.

How good are computers at board games?
Draughts (checkers) has been totally solved -- the Chinook program will never lose a game of draughts.
Chess will most likely never be solved, but the best computers are ahead of the best humans.
Computers cannot compete with professional players in the game of Go.

Where can I play go in real life?
Although go is less popular in the Western world than chess, there may be a go club near you especially if you live in or near a big city. The sites of the American Go Association and the European Go Federation have information on go in the US and in Europe respectively.

Where can I play go online?
You can play Go online at the KGS go server or the Internet Go Server. Like the chess servers, you will need an interface to get the most out of these servers. The standard interface for IGS is glGo. Another interface is qGo, which is open source and available on more OSes. KGS has its own interface which is the only option.
The Korean server Tygem has high-level competition but is hard to get to for English-only speakers, though it does have Japanese and Chinese sites.
You can play correspondence go at the Dragon Go Server.

What are some other resources for learning and playing go? is an interactive server with thousands of problems arranged by difficulty and theme
Sensei's Library is a wiki with lots of information on the game, probably a good spot for beginners to start reading online
GnuGo is possibly the strongest free engine
GoBase is an online database of quality Go games.
Kombilo is a go database program
GoGoD is a very large database of professional go games and other information available on CD.

What are some resources for learning and playing Draughts/Checkers?
You can play online at Yahoo! Games
There are lots of live tournaments in the USA. Check out the website of the American Checker Association. There is also the English Draughts Association. This site includes a free copy of the opening manual Basic Checkers by Richard Fortnam.
A basic explanation of standard draughts notation is available here.
Jim Loy's site has some articles about the game.
The Checker Maven is an entertaining online checkers magazine, published weekly.

Where can I play other games online?
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but here are some links
Brettspielwelt is a free gaming portal which offers online versions of many board games, mostly German games such as Settlers of Catan, Lost Cities, Caylus, Carcassonne, Thurn und Taxis
Pogo is a web-based site for board and card games including Monopoly, Draughts, and Scrabble. Yahoo! Games is similar.
The International Scrabble Club is a server for online scrabble play. An interface, WordBiz, is required.
Metaforge is the official site for playing Stratego online

Last edited by RoundTower; 09-05-2011 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 06-22-2009, 02:24 PM   #2
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Re: Chess forum FAQ v1.3 - updated May 24 2009

To discuss the FAQ or make suggestions for it, please use the FAQ feedback thread.
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