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WinBoard Alien Edition
(a fork that supports general board games)

A Peer-to-peer connection adapter (let two
WinBoards play against each other over the internet)

XBoard now available in GTK+ version

NEW!!! Rule descriptions of all variants supported by XBoard NEW!!!

WinBoard and XBoard

The latest stable WinBoard versions can be downloaded from the WinBoard forum,

The Windows executable comes with an installer, which contains a completely configured WinBoard setup (including protocol adapters and example engines, ready to run out of the box.

Older versions used to be hosted at:

WinBoard forum (WinBoard 4.3.16)

Alpha and beta versions, (with many new features!)

for testing by the adventurous:

latest WinBoard beta version

The following package with specially configured WinBoard versions are quite old, and most of what they can do can now also be done by the latest standard install.

WinBoard Xiangqi install configured with Xiangqi as default variant

WinBoard Shogi package configured with Shogi as default variant

WinBoard Alien Edition + Nebiyu engine for many Chess and non-Chess variants (e.g. Checkers, Amazons, Reversi, Go)

A Graphical User Interface for Chess in all its forms

WinBoard is a GUI for Chess-like board games for Microsoft Windows. The corresponding version for Linux and Mac is called XBoard. Its function can best be described as "electronic Chess board": it provides you with a representation of board and pieces and ways to manipulate them, but it does not have the intelligence to distinguish good moves from poor moves. It just acts as an intermediary between intelligent entities that do, and allows those to communicate their moves to each other, while allowing an audience to see what is going on.

As these 'intelligent entities' can be either humans or computer programs ('engines'), which can either run locally on your own computer, or be present elsewhere, connected through the internet, there are many ways to use WinBoard:

The best part is that all of this doesn't only work for orthodox Chess, but for a virtually unlimited number of Chess variants. The World's major forms of Chess (Xiangqi, FIDE, Shogi, Makruk) are known to WinBoard, as are many other popular variants (Suicide, Crazyhouse, Chess960, Gothic Chess), but in addition there are very flexible possibilities to configure board size and participating pieces. There even exists a special version of WinBoard ('the Alien Edition') that can also do most of this stuff for board games that are not Chess variants, e.g. because they have different methods for capturing, move multiple pieces per turn, etc.

Now that I have joined the official XBoard development team at GNU Savannah, the function of this page has been largely taken over by the official XBoard home page there. Especially the "what's new?" pages there are highly recommended reading. They not only give a good overview of the development history of XBoard, but are also useful as a quick user guide for operating the various features. On these pages I will focus more on developments in progress, and for supplying software packages that bundle WinBoard with elected engines, configured for a specific purpose. Such as for Xiangqi, Shogi, Chu Shogi, or with a special multi-variant engine.

Recent history of WinBoard development

The current version of GNU's popular Winboard GUI started as a fork from Tim Mann's WinBoard 4.2.7, at the time development of the latter had stalled. First Alessandro Scotti implemented some new graphics capabilities, and auxiliarry windows, creating Winboard_x. Then I took his version, and made it able to handle more different piece types, and larger board sizes. I also improved the support for variants with piece drops, such as Crazyhouse and Bughouse.

In addition, I included various adjudication possibilities for engine-engine games. WinBoard can adjudicate theoretical draws, award 50-move and repetition draws (after an adjustable number of moves or repetitions), adjudicate trivial draws such as KBKB. It can also test draw and win claims by the engines for validity. The move legality testing is improved to the point where it should be 100% reliable, as I also added code to keeps track of castling rights and en-passant status.

WinBoard is for example aware of pieces occurring in Capablanca Chess (ArchBishop and Chancellor), Shatranj (Alfil and Ferz), Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) and Shogi (Japanese Chess), so that these games can also be played with legality testing on. (Although the legality testing in the latter two might be not as strict as with Western Chess.) In total there are now 22 different piece types, including the 6 standard types from orthodox Chess.

Two board sizes ("middling" and "bulky") have predefined bitmaps for all these new piece types, and a third size ("petite") has most of them. The capablanca pieces are available in any size between "petite" and "bulky". One board size ("moderate") has bitmaps for traditional Shogi pieces. At all sizes, however, the piece representation can be arbitrarily defined by the user through font-based rendering. In the latest version (4.7) it is even possible for the user to define his own piece bitmaps.

After these improvements, which I released as WinBoard 4.3, I became involved with the official GNU project. There we merged the until then unreleased changes that still existed in the GNU repository into Winboard 4.3, producing WinBoard/XBoard 4.4 as a sort of reverse take-over. Since then many new features were added. XBoard, which had always been lacking in menu dialogs to control its settings, was equiped with a complete graphical user interface. Possibilities where added to load and install engines from the menu, and change them during the session. A versatile tournament manager was added, which can play games concurrently to exploit modern multi-core computers.

Some screen shots:


This shows XBoard playing a (normal Chess) engine-engine game, with the engine-output, move-history and eval-graph windows open.


Main window of WinBoard, using a marble theme for the board, configured to display engine logos.


WinBoard in size "petite", with the auxiliary windows open, and a marmoleum board theme.

Shatranj, the Arabic precurser of modern Chess:

This shows board size "middling", which has built-in bitmaps for the Elephants and General.

Xiangqi, in traditional oriental representation

This shows WinBoard in board size "middling" using font-based rendering with a true-type Xiangqi font and bitmap background with wood texture. WinBoard is fully aware of all Xiangqi rules, including the complex Asia rules for perpetual chasing.

Indicating target squares

WinBoard and XBoard can indicate target squares of any piece you pickup, as shown here in a Xiangqi game.

Courier Chess, a Medieval intermediate between Shatranj and Modern Chess :

Capablanca Chess, with Archbishop and Chancellor:

Crazyhouse or Bughouse, a game with piece drops:

To effect drops the pieces can simply be dragged with the mouse from the holdings to the board.
Promoted pieces have a slightly different appearence, borrowed from pieces occurring in other games.
At other sizes these promoted pieces are somewhat demagnified versions of the normal Chess piece.

Shogi, with a Westernized representation of board and pieces:

Shogi in traditional Japanese representation:

(available only in board size "moderate")

Xiangqi (Chinese Chess), with Westernized board and pieces:

A mini variant:

Courier Chess at board size "Petite":

XBoard Engine-Settings dialog

UCI engines running under Polyglot (v 1.4.46b or higher) will get their UCI options transmitted to XBoard, so they can be configured through this XBoard menu. Below you see how this dialog looks for Glaurung, which has quite a few options. The Polyglot options appear also in this dialog.

XBoard file-selector dialog

XBoard now has a decent file-selector dialog, which allows you to browse for a file, while displaying the contents of three levels of directories.

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