FICS - Free Internet Chess Server
8708 31ST Ave N
New Hope
Mn 55427


  Once you have arranged for a chess match, you begin playing and moving the
pieces around.  In order to move a piece during a chess match, enter the move. 
Each time you and your opponent make a move, the server updates the board
position and sends the new position to both you and your opponent.  It's that


  There are two ways to enter chess moves during a match.  Many users have a
graphics interface.  In this case, the user moves the piece on the graphics
board using the computer mouse, and the interface software translates this
move into chess notation and sends the move to the server for processing.  You
will not need to type anything when making moves!  Read the interfaces
information file for a few details about graphics interfaces (type "help

  If you don't have a graphics interface, you will need to enter your moves
using a keyboard.  In order to do this, you have to type your moves in a
format the chess server understands.  Chess players typically use one of two
different notational systems: descriptive and algebraic.  Of these two
systems, the server understands algebraic notation (since this system is more
international and universal).  (The server also understands a computer version
of chess notation; see below.)


  In algebraic notation, each square has a unique label.  Each rank is labeled
1 to 8, with the rank on White's side being 1.  Each file is labeled a to h,
with the file on White's left side being a.  So each square has a file label
and a rank label, with the file listed first.  In algebraic notation, each
chess piece has its own symbol: k = king; q = queen; b = bishop; n = knight; r
= rook; p = pawn (though the "p" is not really used).

  Here is a sample of a match position as displayed in the default style 1
(ascii symbols).  For this example, White is at the bottom of the board and
Black is at the top.  Symbols for chess pieces are in capital letters; the *
symbol means the piece is Black's.

     8  |   | *R|   |   | *R|   | *K|   |
     7  | *P|   |   | *B| *P| *P| *B| *P|
     6  |   |   |   |   |   | *N| *P|   |
     5  | *Q|   |   | *P|   |   | B |   |
     4  |   |   |   |   |   | P |   |   |
     3  |   |   | N | B | P |   |   |   |
     2  | P | P |   |   | Q |   | P | P |
     1  |   |   | R |   |   | R | K |   |
          a   b   c   d   e   f   g   h

  Black's king (*K) is on the g8 square; White's king (K) is on the g1
square, and so on.  It is Black's move.

  MOVING:  Suppose Black wants to move the knight (*N) from f6 to e4.  The
move to enter in algebraic would be Ne4 (or just ne4, since lower and upper
case letters are the same for the chess server).  Moving pawns is simpler; you
don't have to use the "p" for designating the pawn; just give the square the
pawn is moving to.  Suppose Black decides to move the pawn (*P) on the h7
square to the h6 square.  The move to enter would be h6 (Ph6 also works).  To
make a castle move, use O-O to castle on the king's side and O-O-O to castle
on the queen's side.  (If you are unfamiliar with what castling is, ask us.)

  ***Special Case***  AMBIGUOUS MOVES:  In some board positions, more than one
queen, rook, knight or pawn can move to the same square.  In this case, a
simple Qd4, Rd4 or Nd4 would be ambiguous: the server would not know which of
the two queens, two rooks or two knights to move.  What you need to do is
indicate which of the two pieces you want to move.  You can indicate which
piece to move in several ways --
  (i) include the piece's file or rank (whichever is unique and clear).  For
example, suppose Black has knights on c2 and e2; they could both move to d4. 
To move the knight on c2 to d4 you could type Ncd4, where the "c" serves to
tell the server which knight to move -- namely the one on the c-file.  If it
so happens that both knights are on the c-file, then you have to designate the
rank, such as N2d4 or N6d4.
  (ii) give the full description for the move, namely the type of piece, the
original square and the new square; for example, Nb6c4.

  CAPTURING:  In algebraic notation, captures are usually denoted by "x". 
Suppose, in the game diagramed above, Black wants to capture White's b2 pawn
(P) with the rook (*R) on b8.  Black would enter the move Rxb2.  However, the
server would also understand the simple moves (i) Rb2 and know that a capture
is, or (ii) RxP and know which square is meant, since the rook can capture
only one pawn in this board position.

  ***Special Case***  AMBIGUOUS MOVES:  It is possible, in certain board
positions, for both a pawn on the b-file and a bishop to make a capture on the
same square.  Unfortunately, the server may confuse a 'b' meaning the pawn on
the b-file with a 'b' meaning a bishop.  In this case, the move 'bc6' may be
ambiguous, and the server will not know which piece to move, the b-pawn or the
bishop.  If this ever happens to you, enter the pawn capture as 'pxc6'.
  Another case of an ambiguous move concerns which piece you want to capture. 
For example, does Rxb4 mean 'rook capture on square b4' -or- 'rook capture
bishop on rank 4'?  To avoid this problem, you can denote the capture as a
simple move from one square to another (such as Rb4) or give the full
information for a capture (such as RxPb4).

  To avoid problems with ambiguous moves, you can also use computer notation
... which is the next (and last) topic.


  Many computers want very explicit instructions on how to move pieces.  This
chess server does not require computer notation, but it understands it. 
Computer notation has the following format for a move:
    square_from - square_to
For example, in the above board position, moving the Black rook from b8 to b2
would be entered b8-b2.  Piece symbols are never used; only the squares.  For
this reason, moves typed in computer notation cannot be ambiguous!  They are
just longer to type.

See Also: interfaces  style

[Last modified: April 26, 1997 -- Friar]

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Last modified: Sun Feb 11 14:27:58 GMT Standard Time 2007