Configuring Winboard engines - A graphical guide Part 2

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The interfaces

Now that you have setup Yace , you are ready to import Yace into any one of the two dozen interfaces that support Winboard engines. The instructions below work only if you have followed the steps in the last page . Basically, you should have downloaded and unzipped Yace, into c:\engines\Yace\

This page will take a while to load due to the large number of images. For now I cover the following Winboard interaces. More will be added, if time permits or on requests.

  1. Winboard
  2. Arena
  3. SCID
  4. Chessmaster 8000/9000


Winboard is where it all began. While other newer interfaces , are more user-friendly, Winboard still remains the interface of choice for many people to run engine matches, due to the fact that it is rock solid. Because almost all winboard engine authors use Winboard to test their engines for bugs, it's the only interface that is most certain to run properly.


Step 1: Run Winboard.exe once, you will see 2 options Gnuchess and GNUChes5 Xboard for the first engine and a similar choice for the second engine. See Figure 1.1 (left) . To add more options to the dialog box follow the rest of the steps below.


Step 2 : Exit Winboard. Browse to your Winboard directory and then open the file Winboard.ini with notepad (or any other text editor) by doubleclicking on it. See Figure 1.2 (right)


Step 3 : In notepad, scroll down until you see the portion relating to chess engines. See Figure 1.3 (Left).

Step 4 Edit the winboard.ini files until it read the same as in figure 1.4 (right). The first part, "Yace" (highlighted in the figure), refers to the exe file of the engine. In this case, it's Yace.exe. You don't need to add the extension (.exe) unless the engine name has more than one period in it (for example, QChess1.5.exe).

Step 5 The line after /fd=" refers to the directory where Yace.exe resides. The quotation marks are not strictly needed but won't hurt. They are necessary if the path or the exe file has a space in them (E.g c:\program files\Yace). Similarly, to add Yace to the list of options for the second engine, you do exactly the same, except that instead of fd/= you add /sd=" as shown in Figure 1.4. Save the file and restart Winboard.

Step 6 You can now select Yace in the dialog box now. See Figure 1.5 (below)



arena-1 Arena is a free interface by Martin Blume that supports Winboard and UCI engines. Arena supports a whole host of features including support for ICS, auto232player and automated tourneys. Arena is constantly being updated, so some of the screenshots below might be slightly different if you are using a different version (this guide is based on 1.0).


Step 1:  Select New engine in the Engines pull down menu
See figure 2.1 (left).

Step 2: This will open the UCI or Winboard? engines dialog box window. This will  give you a choice to choose between setting up a Winboard or UCI engine. See figure 2.2 (below). Yace works in both modes, but since this article is about setting up Winboard engines, select Winboard.


Step 3:
The windows explorer will then be automatically opened and you should browse and select Yace.exe which lies in the directory c:\engines\Yace. Click open. See figure 2.4(below).

Step 4 : If you followed the instructions properly, Yace will automatically be set up and loaded up in Arena. But let's take a closer look at the Yace settings in Arena. Go to Engines and click Manage (or press F11). you will be seeing something like figure 2.4 (below).

Everything that is needed will be filled  The fields for name, author , ini-file (see Step 5) have being filled in for you automatically, because the Yace package that you downloaded  includes Yace.init which Arena uses to extract information. In additon , Arena also comes with a list of common engines for automatic setups.

If the engine you are using does not have any such file, you can fill in the information you need manually.Altough the only compulsory field is the command line field where you type in the path to the exe file.
The country field is a non-mandatory field, but Arena can use this value to play national anthesums of the country if you download the song pack! Similarly the logo file is not necessary but nice to have.


Step 5 Options continued :  Click on the Special tab for more options, see Figure 2.5 (below) The ini-file field actually refers to the name of the configuration file of the chess engine, As explained before this file need not neccessarily have a ini.extension. In this case though it does. Change the value in the Ini-file to c:\engines\Yace\Yace.ini (if it isn't already); This isn't strictly necessary, but can be very useful as we shall see.The init string field can be left blank unless you need to add some additonal parimeter like -xboard or send the OPL number for Chessmaster. You can also change other options like adding a GUI book, in the Books tab. Consult the Arena FAQ for more details. Click the Ok button and we are done.    


Step 6 : Click on the select tab, highlight Yace
Paderborn in the available engines window, click on the arrow to tranfer it into the Active engines (max 2) window. If you have more than 1 engine setup, you can add another active engine.Now click on Okay. See figure 2.6 (below)


Step 7 : Wait for the engine to load up.Then click on the analysis button for Yace to start the analysis. The VCR controls below the board, allow you to move forward or backwards in any game. If you wish to make moves not in the game, click on the edit button. See figure 2.7 ( below).


Additional comments:

Arena has quite a lot of options that you can play around with. But I will mention only 2. Click the analyze button again, so that Yace is no longer analyzing.

Then right click on the engine analysis window (the portion below the chessboard). This should bring up a menu similar to figure 2.8 (above).

If you click on configure engine, Arena will automatically open the file you configured in the Ini-file field earlier with your text editor. In our example, it will open Yace.ini. This allows you to easily edit and change the configuration of Yace (hash tables,learning etc), without leaving Arena.

BTW Arena only allows this option when Yace is not active, to prevent conflicts. This is the reason why I told you to turn off analysis first. Similarly when Yace is analysing you cannot access the install and configure window.

Another useful option is variation board. The variation board opens another secondary chessboard, which shows the best line that the engine has found so far. Click on the buttons before to move through the analysis. See figure 2.8(left)                                


scidlogoScid is a excellent free database by Shane Hudson. Scid also has excellent support for Winboard engines. SCID 3.4  comes packaged with Scidlet, a winboard engine by Shane Hudson, however you might still wish to import stronger Winboard engines like Yace into SCID to aid analysis of games. You can download Scid here. I would advise that if you have a version older than Scid 3.4 to download a newer version, because winboard engine compatiability has improved for newer versions.

Scid like most interfaces allows you to setup and run up to 2 winboard engines at the same time. For this example, we will be setting up the first analysis engine

Step 1 : Select  Tools , analysis engine. This pulls up the Analysis Engine List. (See figure 3.1) . Scid can use up to 2 engines at a time so you select analysis engine #2 for the other engine.


Step 2 : You now have access to the Analysis Engine list which shows all the engines you have set up for Scid.(See figure 3.2) . If you are using a Scid version 3.4 or greater,  Scid comes with a default chess engine Scidlet. Scidlet is pretty good but you can do better. Click on the new button to import a new engine.



Step 3 : In theName field, enter the name of the engine, in this case ; Yace. Next, in the command field, enter the name of the executable, in this case Yace.exe.(You can browse your computer looking for the exe file by clicking on "..." ). The next field named Parimeters is optional and can be left blank. Next enter the path to Yace.exe in the directory field. All the other fields, including the URL and ELO fields can be left blank. I have chosen however to enter the the url of the Yace download site in the url field (so I can remember where I got it), and a elo value (a purely arbitary value). You should have something like (figure 3.3) Click the OK button and you are done.

Step 4:
Now access the engines analysis list, by repeating step 1 above. The engines analysis list window should be similar to in figure 3.2 except that now Yace appears as an option.Highlight it, then click the OK button.This should call up the Analysis Window. (Figure 3.4). The image below shows Yace analysing the starting position of a game. As you go forward, Yace will continue to analyse the position on the board. For some engines, analysis does not appear immediately, and you may need to go forward one move or click the update button. If you wish to play a training game from the given position against the engine, click on Training then select time per move for the engine.




cm9000logo Chessmaster 8000 and 9000 support the use of Winboard engines. Chessmaster itself is actually powered by the Winboard engine "The King" by Johan De Koning. Chessmaster support of Winboard engines is stable and servicable, it allows you to play against the imported engine, or run a match between Chessmaster and imported engines. The screenshots below are taken from Chessmaster 9000, but Chessmaster 8000 users should see similar options.

Step 1 : Select Game and then Import Winboard engine in the pull down menu. See figure 4.1 (left).

Importing Yace
Step 2 : Fill in the full path to Yace.exe. In our example, Yace.exe is in c:\engines\Yace\Yace.exe, hence we fill this in in the Winboard Engine Filename field.  You can push the Browse button to search your computer for the file.

Fill in the Name field with the name of the engine. You can choose to allow Yace to use a standard Chessmaster opening book by checking the box, but in this case, we choose not. Hence Yace will automatically use it's own opening book.

You can leave the Command Lines Parameters field blank, because Yace doesn't need any. Check the tickboxes for Pondering if you want Yace to be pondering.

The checkbox for Use Endgame Databases refers to the use of Chessmaster's own special databases, this does not affect Yace's own use of Nalimov tablebases (which you can change in Yace.ini has mentioned before). Click OK, to complete the process.
See figure 4.2 (left).


Step 3: Now that you have installed Yace it's turn to play a game with Yace. Start a game as normal, and select a computer opponent, Yace should be now available for selection. If you have problems finding Yace, uncheck all the tickboxes except for Winboard engines. Now Select Yace then click OK. See figure 4.3 (above).


Step 4 : You can then turn on the Thinking lines windows to see what Yace is analysing.

1. As of March 2003, other strong freeware engines include List (Chessbase only), Rebel 12 demo (properity) ,Anacondan (CB only)
2. A few rare Winboard engines like Mad,lampchop or Phalanx, actually do not have configuration files. The latter 2 allows you to configure the engine by sending command line options.