Other Options

/ncp or /xncp, or /noChessProgram true|false

If this option is True, WinBoard acts as a passive chessboard; it does not start a chess program or connect to ICS. This option also sets clockMode to False. Default: False.

/mode or /initialMode modename

If this option is given, WinBoard selects the given modename from the Mode menu after starting and (if applicable) processing the loadGameFile or loadPositionFile option. Default: "". Other supported values are TwoMachines, AnalyzeFile, Analysis, MachineWhite, MachineBlack, EditGame, EditPosition, and Training.

/variant varname

Activates preliminary, partial support for playing chess variants against a local engine or editing variant games. This flag is not needed in ICS mode. Recognized variant names are:

normalNormal chess
wildcastleShuffle chess, king can castle from d file
nocastleShuffle chess, no castling allowed
fischerandomFischer Random shuffle chess
bughouseBughouse, ICC/FICS rules
crazyhouseCrazyhouse, ICC/FICS rules
losersLose all pieces or get mated (ICC wild 17)
suicideLose all pieces including king (FICS)
giveawayTry to have no legal moves (ICC wild 26)
twokingsWeird ICC wild 9
kriegspielOpponent's pieces are invisible
atomicCapturing piece explodes (ICC wild 27)
3checkWin by giving check 3 times (ICC wild 25)
xiangqiChinese Chess (on a 9x10 board)
shogiJapanese Chess (on a 9x9 board, with piece drops)
capablancaCapablanca Chess (10x8 board, with Archbishop and Chancellor pieces)
gothicsimilar, with a better initial position
caparandomAn FRC-like version of Capablanca Chess (10x8 board)
janusA game with two Archbishops (10x8 board)
shatranjAncient Arabic Chess, with Elephants and General replacing B and Q.
courierMedieval intermedite between shatranj and modern Chess (on 12x8 board)
falconA patented Chess variant with two Falcon pieces (10x8) board
berolinaPawns capture straight ahead, and move diagonal (legality testing off!)
cylinderPieces wrap around the board, as if it were a cylinder (legality testing off!)
fairyA variant in which all pieces known to WinBoard can participate
knightmateKing moves a Knight, and vice versa
makrukThai Chess (shatranj-like, pawns promote on 6th rank)
superSuperchess, a shuffle variant with B+N, R+N, K+N and Q+N compound
greatGreat Shatranj, whithout sliders, on 10x8 board (legality testing off!)

In the shuffle variants, WinBoard does now shuffle the pieces, although you can still do it by hand using Edit Position. Some variants are supported only in ICS mode, including bughouse, and kriegspiel. The winning/drawing conditions in crazyhouse (off-board interposition on mate) is not fully understood, but losers, suicide, giveaway, atomic, and 3check should be OK. In crazyhouse, WinBoard now does keep track of off-board pieces. In shatranj it does implement the baring rule when mate detection is switched on. In xiangqi it does implement the rules for perpetual checking and chasing (in Two-Machines mode).


This volatile option will cause shuffling of all pieces on the back rank, even in variants that normally have a fixed opening setup, according to the setting of the /defaultFrcPosition. It will remain in effect untill you select a new variant. In variants with normal castling, corner Rooks and King will be exempted from shuffling. Color-bound pieces such as Bishops will be kept on differently colored squares.

/boardHeight height

Allows you to set a non-standard number of board ranks in any variant. If the height is given as ‘-1’, the default height for the variant is used.

/boardWidth width

Allows you to set a non-standard number of board files in any variant. If the width is given as ‘-1’, the default width for the variant is used. Width a non-standard width, the initial position will always be an empty board, as the usual opening array will not fit.

/holdingsSize size

Allows you to set a non-standard size for the holdings in any variant. If the size is given as ‘-1’, the default holdings size for the variant is used. The first size piece types will go into the holdings on capture, and you will be able to drop them on the board in stead of making a normal move. If size equals 0, there will be no holdings.

/defaultFrcPosition number

Specifies the number of the opening position in shuffle games like FRC. A value of ‘-1’ means the position is randomly generated by WinBoard.

/pieceToCharTable characterstring

The characters that are used to represent the piece types WinBoard knows in FEN diagrams and SAN moves. The string argument has to have an even length (or it will be ignored), as white and black pieces have to be given separately (in that order). The last letter for each color will be the King. The letters before that will be PNBRQ and then a whole host of fairy pieces in an order that has not fully crystallized yet (currently FEACWMOHIJGDVSLU, F=Ferz, Elephant, A=Archbishop, C=Chancellor, W=Wazir, M=Commoner, O=Cannon, H=Nightrider). You should list at least all pieces that occur in the variant you are playing. If you have less than 44 characters in the string, the pieces not mentioned will get assigned a period, and you will not be able to distinguish them in FENs. You can also explicitly assign pieces a period, in which case they will not be counted in deciding which captured pieces can go into the holdings.

A tilde as a piece name does mean this piece is used to represent a promoted Pawn in Crazyhouse-like games, i.e. on capture it turns back onto a Pawn. A + similarly indicate the piece is a Shogi-style promoted piece, that should revert to its non-promoted version on capture (rather than to a Pawn).

Note that promoted pieces are represented by pieces 11 further in the list.

You should not have to use this option often: each variant has its own default setting for the piece representation in FEN, which should be sufficient in normal use.

/rsh or /remoteShell shellname

Name of the command used to run programs remotely. If this option is not given, WinBoard uses its own built-in implementation of the Unix rcmd protocol (the protocol used by rsh).

/ruser or /remoteUser username

User name on the remote system when running programs with the remoteShell. The default is your local user name.

/userName username

Name under which the Human player will be listed in the PGN file. (Default is the login name on your local computer.)

/delayBeforeQuit number

/delayAfterQuit number

These options specify how long WinBoard has to wait before sending a termination signal to rogue engine processes, that do not want to react to the ‘quit’ command. The second one determines the pause after killing the engine, to make sure it dies.

/ini or /settingsFile filename
@ file-name

See Settings.