WinBoard: Chessboard for Windows

A (not completely) updated description with the release of version 4.5.0.

“For the ultimate WinBoard Experience”

New features since WinBoard 4.2.7 that are implemented in Alessandro Scotti’s Winboard_x are highlighted in red. New features in the WinBoard 4.3.xx series by H.G. Muller are highlighted in green, that in the unified 4.4 series in blue. New additions for series 4.5 are in purple.


WinBoard is a graphical user interface for chess. It displays a chessboard on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves game files in standard chess notation. WinBoard serves as a front-end for many different services, including:

Getting Started

WinBoard starts up in one of three major modes: chess engine mode, ICS client mode, or game viewer mode. You cannot change modes while WinBoard is running, but you can access all the game viewer features directly from the other two modes. Also, you can start WinBoard several times to get multiple chessboard windows running in any combination of modes.

You will usually run WinBoard by choosing an item from the Windows Start menu that runs it in the mode you want. If you just double-click on WinBoard.exe, you get a startup dialog asking which mode you want. If you choose chess engine mode, you can then select from the installed engines; if you choose ICS client mode, you can then select from a list of known chess servers. More advanced users can customize these lists or type in WinBoard command line options directly.

After starting WinBoard, you can make moves in several different ways. To move by dragging, press the left mouse button while the cursor is on one of your pieces, move the cursor to another square, and release the button. You can also move by clicking the left mouse button once (press and release) over one of your pieces, moving the cursor to another square, and clicking again. You drop new pieces on the board when setting up a position by selecting from a context menu. Press the right mouse button over a square to bring up the menu in Edit Position mode; no menu will come up in modes where dropping a new piece is not permitted. In games with piece drops, such as bughouse or shogi, the pieces you hold for dropping are displayed next to the board, and you can move them to the drop location the same way you perform normal moves. You can also make moves by typing them in standard algebraic chess notation. Either a dialog box will pop up for you to type into, or in ICS mode, your typing will be redirected into the ICS interaction window.

When using an engine, the right-most mouse button allows you to see on the board what the engine is thinking about. Pressing the button shows the deepest position of the engine’s most recent analysis. Moving the mouse vertically while keeping this button pressed down will make you do step through the principal variation, and allows you to see how the engine thinks this position will be reached.

When WinBoard is iconized, its icon is a white knight if it is White's turn to move, a black knight if it is Black's turn.

Next to the main window, WinBoard does use many auxiliary windows for dedicated tasks. We mention the Engine-Output window (formerly analysis window) for a better display of the thinking output of engines (which you can then right-click to play out the selected PV in the board window), the Game-History window (where the game is displayed in SAN, and where you can double-click a move to call up the corresponding position in the board window), the Evaluation Graph window (where you see a graph of engine scores vs. move number, and can call up the corresponding position in the board window by clicking a point on the graph), the Comment popup (where you can right-click variation comments to play them out on the main board, or add and edit comments), the Game-List window (where you see an overview of all games in a game file you loaded, and can select a game for loading by clicking on it, and limit the list to games you are interested in by filtering). These auxiliary windows can be opened or closed as the need arises.

Additional Information


Shortcut Buttons

Command Line Options

Initialization Files

Installing Chess Engines





Frequently Asked Questions