glChess is a core part of the Gnome Games package that contains small amusing games, ideal for a quick break. It is completely simple and straightforward to use, and offers little configuration options, no lessons or database of any kind, no edit position mode or analyzing abilities, no internet game and only one engine.
Although you can’t do much about the lack of advanced features, you can easily add more engines and make this little game more fun!
Launching glChess takes you on a ready-to-play game versus GNU Chess in easy mode. You can set some preferences concerning the game itself like the duration, side of choice, AI difficulty, and also some optical options like the fullscreen or 3D board mode.
Chess engines are basically programs that are designed to calculate chess positions and moves, and perform actions based on their strength and special configuration that can be about risk taking, position vs material decisions, use of opening book database, exchange ratio etc. All these, but especially the playing power, make each engine different, and give it a special playing character that makes it unique.
glChess includes GNU Chess as its default chess engine, but it can be used with any other CECP and Universal Chess Interface compatible software. This means that you can use glChess as an interface for these engines to use and play against you. This could add some pluralism in the answers of a standard play of yours, offer different tactical approaches for similar positions and generally enrich the experience you get from a chess application.
How to install?
The easiest way to install a chess engine for glChess is to search and get it from your distribution’s package manager. The other way to do it is to download every engine from its website and place the binary under /usr/games and glChess should see it and offer it as an option in the “Opposing Player” selection menu.
Some engines that work with glChess are: GNUChess, Sjeng, Amy, Crafty, Faile, Phalanx, Glaurung, HoiChess, Diablo, BBChess, Fruit, Amundsen, Stockfish, Toga II and Boo’s Chess Engine.
Stockfish is a very powerful open source engine developed by Tord Romstad. The latest 2.3.1 version is second among 364 engines in the Computer Chess Rating Lists with 3239 ELO running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ (2.4 GHz).
The program originated from another open source program by Romstad named Glaurung. Stockfish was forked from the 2.1 version of Glaurung and can theoretically use up to 32 CPUs! This chess engine is a true A-Class AI that offers similar or even greater power in some cases compared to commercial and costly engines.
Fruit chess engine proved its worth in the 2005 World Computer Championship were it came second, demonstrating at the same time a unique style of play that makes it a great addition to every chess engine collection.
Fruit comes with its own two opening books, which it can use in any GUI including glChess, and supports Nalimov Endgame Tablebases. You also won’t have any problems with time management issues as Fruit supports all time controls such as x moves in y minutes, or game in x minutes with increment.
Sjeng is a Belgian chess engine that was the base for the creation of the highly successful Deep Sjeng that won two World Computer Speed Chess championships in 2008 and 2009, and two Internet Computer Chess Tournaments in 2010 and 2011.
It is specialized in playing crazyhouse chess that involves 4 players on one board, and even gained the first place in the relevant category in ICC and FICS. Sjeng also plays bughouse, suicide, losers and giveaway. Who wouldn’t appreciate such a crazy engine?
Crafty is the old schooler, winner of the 1983 and 1986 World Computer Chess Championships. It is constantly improving getting stronger and stronger as years pass, and this was very much proved when it finished second in the 2010 Fifth Annual ACCA Americas’ Computer Chess Championships.
Crafty is a very strong, mature and stable engine that offers a solid opponent for every genius out there. It can take advantage of multicore processors and also uses Nalimov Endgame Tables.
GNU Chess is an open source chess engine created by the hands of Stuart Cracraft who initiated development in 1984. Other people stepped in and took their development in their hands releasing version 2,3,4 and 5. It was never considered especially powerful until version 6 that was released last year, based on Fruit!
Although version 5 branch is still under development and improvement by a team of people, version 6 is considered perfect for its high performance even on low specs machines, and its compatibility and stability.