Choosing a interface is like choosing a religion, the one you like is always the best! Kidding aside, deciding which interface is best for you, is a difficult task, if you haven't tried many of them. Rather then giving you my subjective opinion about which interfaces are the best, I have decided to compare these interfaces by listing some of the most commonly asked for features.Updated to include Jin Chess. Updated to include Babaschess. Varese will be reviewed later.
The contenders are :
Left out of the survey are Fixation (a Macintosh interface, used by about 3-4% of Freechess users), Eboard (a Linux interface) , ChessPartner/ChessVision (commercial), Lightningrulez and Flumboard (which are modifications of Winboard), Inemsis - a cclient modification and rarely seen or newer interfaces like Freak , Checkmate ,Interchess and Arena .
Most of the popular interfaces are surprisingly similar and many functions are available in all of them. Examples including choice of move input (Click or Drag and drop) ,Multiple Profiles/Login scripts
|Autosave Game||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes (Game logging can be configured using a script)||Yes|
|Number of piece sets||One||Four (including two 3d sets)||Ten (More can be converted)||Thirty four||Eight||Seven||One||Three sets/four boards||Thirty eight pieces/Twenty-five board|
|Customisable Sounds/Events||16||14||14||100 (including ptells)||30||23 (mostly taunts)||No||No||43|
|Customisable Right Click menu||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Ability to run Chess Engines||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Others||Supports cutting and pasting of PGN games from clipboard||Instead of multiple Windows, each windows is arranged in a tabbed format||Speech, built in lecturebot, Encrypted Chat||Personal "tell" censors||Shareware, $12 to register||"Spy feature" to keep tabs on others||Uses only your browser||Runs using Java,Flexible scripts||Mutiple timers,dockable windows, Tabbed chat window for multiple private conversations|
Interfaces with this feature will automatically save all games played on the server into one PGN File. Of course, you could set automail = 1 and PGN =1 to automatically send all games to your email box, but why risk the chance of them being lost in the mail when your interface can save them locally?
Some people think premove is a form of cheating, others think it is a must-have for playing in lightning games.There are many forms of premove, but basically it allows you to prepare a move during your opponent's turn so as to respond instantly to your opponent's move.Of the interfaces considered, only Winboard, Thief and Slics have this feature. More advanced interfaces allow you to chain premoves so if your opponent is using premove too, you can answer his premove with a second premove! (eg Babbachess). Another pemove mod, allows you to set up multiple premoves for the same move. If the 1st premove is illegal , the second one will be used.
Smart move is a close cousin of Premove. It allows you to click on a square or a piece, and if there is only one legal move, the interface will play it.
While typing "sought all" shows you all seeks in progress, CClient,Slics and ChessMachine creates a graph that tabulates this information along 2 axes, usually player rating and time control.Other Icons show whether the game is unrated, the type of Chess variant and/or whether the seeker is a computer.By filtering or zooming in into certain sections, this can be useful for quickly scanning the types of seeks available. However sought graphs generally use up a lot of bandwidth since it polls the server to update the sought graph. Please read news 377 for CClient users.
Multiple Boards are a essential must-haves when playing bughouse, to keep tabs on your partner. Interfaces that allow multiple boards enable you to watch 2 or more games at the same time (including one of your own). Other interfaces in this survey without this feature still support multiple boards viewing but will switch back and forth from one board to another when a new move is made.
Each interface is unique of course, and this survey is just a general guide to help you find what you want by comparing some common asked for features. A interface is more than the sum of it's features and other factors such as user friendliness, look and feel,stability,speed etc is difficult to rate objectively and hence is left out of the comparison. Interfaces which may have many features could be overly complicated, difficult to handle for example.
In the end, choosing which interface you like is a personal choice, that cannot be made just by reading this article. I encourage you to try as many as you can, untill you find one that you like best.
If you have any comments about this article, please email me.
Interface reviews - Perhaps inspired by this original article, this series of articles by Jason reviews each interface and compares them together in a big table.