Usage

Setup the starting position

Place the pieces in starting position. It doesn’t matter if you have the white or black pieces in front of you. Both ways will work. Keep in mind that with black pieces in front of you the (printed) coordinates of your dgt-board also reversed. You can now start a game by moving a piece or press the lever to let picochess start as white.

Its also possible to play a chess960 (Fischer Random Chess) game. Just set up your chess960 position. Please choose “Stockfish” as your engine, cause the other engines dont support chess960 mode. Before or during your game you can also change your settings like book, time, engine, and many more (see details below). These settings are safed and reloaded, so you start with your old settings first. Settings can be changed by placing the white & black queen at the fields a4-h6 (you must be in the starting position) or by using the clock buttons (no matter the board position). With the queen placing you can change some default values, whereas the clock buttons offers the complete options.

Playing/Training Modes

When using these modes, please be patient and don’t rush moves. Allow a few seconds for the scores and moves to appear. If you see any bug when rushing moves, let us know on the mailing list.

  • Game mode (enabled by white queen on A5). This is the default mode. You can play against the computer. The clock displays the remaining thinking time for both sides. Press the second button to show the position evaluation, expressed in centipawns. Press again to show a hint (“ponder move”).
  • Brain mode (enabled by white queen on B5). This is same as Game mode but the computer is using the permanent brain to think ahead on your thinking time.
  • Analysis mode (enabled by white queen on C5): the computer is watching the game, it does not play itself. The clock continually displays the best move for the side to play.
  • Kibitz mode (enabled by white queen on D5): the computer is watching the game, it does not play itself. The clock continually displays the position score (right aligned) with the search depth (left aligned).
  • Observe mode (enabled by white queen on E5): the computer is watching the game, it does not play itself. The clock displays the remaining thinking time for both sides. Press the second button once to show the position evaluation, twice to show a hint.
  • Ponder mode (enabled by white queen on F5): the computer is watching the game, it does not play itself. The clock displays the best move for the side to play in a 2 secs rotation with the position score together with the depth. So, this mode is a combination of “Analysis” & “Kibitz”
  • Remote mode (enabled by white queen on H5): this mode will allow you to play against someone over internet. The remote player using the webserver whereas the other player using the pieces as normal to enter moves. A detailed documentation will be provided lateron.

Game mode is the regular mode. If you used one of the other modes, you can return back to game mode by putting the extra white queen on A5. You can also press the fourth button to enter the menu (afterwards choose the Mode submenu) to toggle over the modes (Qa5-Qf5,Qh5 only working in the starting position) see below.

The position score will always be displayed in centipawns from White’s perspective. A negative score means black is ahead. If you have a DGT XL clock (or a Revelation II) the maximum score displayed it +/- 9.99

Choosing skill level

Put the extra black queen on the 5th rank of your DGT board to select skill level. The skill range of ​​the currently selected engine is devided by 8 meaning a5 (easiest level) towards h5 (strongest level). Some engines support ELO level or even personalities instead of skill levels. If no skill level is selected, PicoChess uses the highest level if nothing choosen before or your last selected level by default. (Remove the extra white queen if it is still on the board). Please notice that not all chess engines support levels.

In case of “stockfish7” engine:

  • Level 3 estimates about 1000 Elo (Absolute beginner)
  • Level 9 estimates about 1750 Elo (Mediate club player )
  • Level 20 estimates about 3100 Elo (Advanced tournament player)

Another way to choose the skill level is by entering the “engine” menu with the clock buttons. Detailed explanation is below.

Choosing opening books

Opening books are set with the extra black queen. (Remove the extra white queen if it is still on the board)

  • A3 - No book
  • B3 - ECO A - Flank
  • C3 - ECO B - Semiopen
  • D3 - ECO C - Open
  • E3 - ECO D - Closed
  • F3 - ECO E - Indian
  • G3 - Fun
  • H3 - Varied (Default)
  • A4 - GM_1950 (> 2500 ELO GM games from 1950 till 2013)
  • B4 - Performance
  • C4 - Stockfish optimized book v 2.11 by Salvo Spitaleri
  • D4 - Anand
  • E4 - Korchnoi
  • F4 - Larsen
  • G4 - Pro
  • H4 - GM 2001

Another way to choose the opening book is by entering the “Book” menu with the clock buttons. Detailed explanation is below.

Choosing the engine

engines are set with the extra black queen. (Remove the extra white queen if it is still on the board)

  • A6 - Stockfish 7
  • B6 - Texel 1.06
  • C6 - Arasan 20.2
  • D6 - Rodent III
  • E6 - Zurichess luzern
  • F6 - Floyd 0.9
  • G6 - Sayuri 2017.09.29
  • H6 - Galjoen 0.36

Setting up time controls

Picochess supports 3 variants of different time controls (Move, Game, Fischer). You can choose them by placing the extra white queen. (Remove the extra black queen if it is still on the board). Another way to choose the time control is by entering the “Time” menu with the clock buttons. Detailed explanation is below.

Move Time

Fixed time controls are set with the extra white queen. Especially in brain mode the engine might move quicker. (Remove the extra black queen if it is still on the board)

  • A6 - 1 second per move
  • B6 - 3 seconds per move
  • C6 - 5 seconds per move
  • D6 - 10 seconds per move
  • E6 - 15 seconds per move
  • F6 - 30 seconds per move
  • G6 - 60 seconds per move
  • H6 - 90 seconds per move

Game Time

Blitz time controls are set with the extra white queen. (Remove the extra black queen if it is still on the board)

  • A4 - 1 minute game
  • B4 - 3 minute game
  • C4 - 5 minute game (Default)
  • D4 - 10 minute game
  • E4 - 15 minute game
  • F4 - 30 minute game
  • G4 - 60 minute game
  • H4 - 90 minute game

Fischer Time

Fischer time controls are set with the extra white queen. (Remove the extra black queen if it is still on the board)

  • A3 - 1 minute game with 1 second Fischer increment
  • B3 - 3 minute game with 2 second Fischer increment
  • C3 - 5 minute game with 3 second Fischer increment
  • D3 - 10 minute game with 5 second Fischer increment
  • E3 - 15 minute game with 10 second Fischer increment
  • F3 - 30 minute game with 15 second Fischer increment
  • G3 - 60 minute game with 20 second Fischer increment
  • H3 - 90 minute game with 30 second Fischer increment

Clock button support (general)

There are now 2 states (one is the “game-playing” state, where you see the clock time or a move) and the other is the “menu” state. Entering the menu state can be done by pressing “>”. Leaving it with “<”. Entering the menu offers the last choosen top-level in menu (for example “Mode”)

If you are not inside the menu (clock showing moves, times), the function is as follows:

  • (<) button - showing the last move
  • (-) button - showing the last score (right aligned) together with the search depth (left aligned)
  • (=) button - start/stop the clock (user turn) or abort the search (engine thinking) or calculate an alternative move (engine showing its move)
  • (+) button - showing a hint move (user turn) or the current best move (engine thinking)
  • (>) button - Entering the menu
  • lever - switch sides If its users turn the engine will begin to calculate its move, otherwise the search is aborted (engine calculating) or the shown move is canceled (engine shows its move). In these cases its your turn.

If you already inside the menu (clock showing you menu or value items) the function is as follows:

  • (<) button - moving up a level inside the menu tree. If you already at top exists the menu
  • (-) button - showing the previous value inside the menu tree
  • (=) button - no function
  • (+) button - showing the next value inside the menu tree
  • (>) button - moving down a level inside the menu tree. If there is none, it accepts the choosen value and exists the menu

The next chapters decribe each top-level menu items in greater detail.

Mode Menu

See above at “Playing/Training Modes”. You can cycle the modes by pressing the “-” & “+” buttons like always inside the menu. Choose the mode setting by pressing “>” or exit menu again with “<” (without choosing something)

Postition Menu

Here you can setup a position. To enter this, picochess will answer you some questions. You can setup the position before you enter this menu or before you press >” at last step (=scan). With the “=” button you can shortcut the 4 levels (useful for similar positions). Here are the list of questions to be answered:

  • side - decides with side to move first
  • origin - is the board flipped (which side of board is white which is black)
  • chess960 - is this a fischer random position (used for castling) Please make sure your choose engine support 960 mode (right now only stockfish, galjoe)
  • scan - after accepting with “>” picochess will scan in the position (last chance to setup your pieces) and a new game will start

Time Menu

See above at “Setting up time controls”. First you have to choose between the 3 variants of different time controls (Move, Game, Fischer). Accept it with “>” then choose your time by cyling with “-” & “+” accept with “>” or go back to the time variants with “<”

Book Menu

See above at “Choosing opening books”. Cyle with “-” & “+” accept with “>” or go back with “<”

Engine Menu

Similarly to above you can cyle with “-” & “+” accept with “>” or go back to the time variants with “<”. You can choose alot more engines as with the queen. If the engine supports levels after accepting the engine you can select its level. Some engines have standard levels (for example from 0-20), and some engines support ELO rankings. The provided “rodent III” engine even support personalities. But the system is always the same. Cyle thrue the options and select with “>” or go back to former step with “<”.

System Menu

Here you choose between the following:

  • information - This is a submenu you see various informations like the current picochess version, your internal ip-adr (useful for the webserver) and your battery status (only useful if you have a BT board).
  • sound - controls the beeps of your dgt clock. You can change between “never”, “sometimes”, or “always”
  • language - sets the language of clock messages. You can choose between english, german, french, dutch and spanish
  • logfile - sends a debug log file to your eMail box. Thats for us developers to have a clue what is going on at picochess. Please use this only if you asked for it.
  • voice - selects the voice for the computer and user. Also you can change the voice speed factor.
  • display - selects the ponder-time or if you see confirmation messages

System shutdown

From the start position, replace the white king with the extra white queen; this will shut down the machine (takes a few seconds until the light turns off). You can also do it with only the two white queens on the board (on e1,d1).

System reboot

From the start position, replace the black king with the extra black queen; this will reboot the machine (takes a few seconds until the light turns off). You can also do it with only the two black queens on the board (on e8,d8).

PGN file support

All moves of the played game along with engine are stored at the end of the game. Every game played with picochess is stored in the /opt/picochess/games folder as “games.pgn” (name can be changed by ini). If you want to end it before and write out the pgn file including the correct result, you can do as following: Placing the two kings on opposite centre squares will signal a resignation: - If both kings on white, the result is white wins and the game recorded 1-0 - If both kings on black, the result is black wins and the game recorded 0-1

Placing the kings on adjacent centre squares on the same rank signals a draw and the game recorded 1/2-1/2. The 4 and 5 rank must be clear of other pieces - only kings.