Looking for a simple chess "engine"

I have been looking for a chess “engine”, to play human vs human on two computers, with no luck. I have found nice frontends (knights, eboard, xboard…), I found what look like “AI engines” (crafty, gnuchess…).
I don’t want AI, I just want a stupid server program to connect 2 chess frontends on two computers.
(and I don’t want to use a FICS service : no need to use cloudy services, I just want to play with my friend the room away).

Do you know a FICS compatible server program ?
on freechess.org there is no free server software, only clients… no good.

That would be ‘stockfish’. I remember some former customer using it on openSUSE. Should work with xboard, and cutechess.

Stockfish seems an inteligent (AI ?) engine.
I just want to connect two humans clients.
For example, in Eboard and Knights, I have in the menu “connect to other server”, but no “Start server”.

If you simply want to play chess with another player, then you might not need a chess engine.
Frontends often do more than simply display the board, legal piece moves may also be embedded, plus keep a record of moves played.
And, there can be additional features, too…
Like a chess clock.

IMO by far the best and most versatile “frontend” is Arena.
The code is proprietary but free, so you won’t find it in the openSUSE repos.


The Linux version works fine the last time I checked although it’s in perpetual Beta.

If you choose to install Arena, like most other frontends you’ll be prompted to set up any engines which might be included or point to an engine installed separately… But an engine is only used if a computer player is set up or you want computer analysis.

Other FOSS frontends which have been around for a long time are available in the openSUSE repos, and some of them may work, too. Unlike Arena, they won’t likely have many features but could probably be used to set up a peer to peer networked game.


I would like to believe you, but as I said in Eboard and Knights, I have in the menu “connect to other server”, but no “Start server”. Did I miss something ?

(Arena : no thanks. Proprietary, evil, etc…)

Maybe run the docker version of this: https://github.com/ornicar/lila/wiki/Lichess-Development-Onboarding

Can you provide some information about your “eboard and knights?”
The only chess eboard I know is the well known and long available eboard

If the above, it’s a very simple frontend with no “smarts” to support any kind of game play (AFAIK), further explanation is available on its webpage… Which describes connecting to your choice of Internet Chess Servers (free)


I read your original post again,
Is there a reason why you don’t want to use a freechess.org server?
It’s free, and it avoids all the usual things less technical people have problems with, ie setting up a server, configuring network connectivity and/or sharing, besides security issues.

You can play a game connected to freechess.org with just a web browser.
You can also install a variety of frontends if that is what you want… And yes of course you can’t download a “server” from freechess.org because Users aren’t expected to run the server end.

The following contains some content about running your own chess server

Lichess is an alternative to FICS, maybe this is more to your liking…


I found the following which is perfectly free and seems to work just fine for 2 players…


Real simple instructions…
The White player clicks on the button to start a game and enters some unique name for the game, which is accepted if hasn’t ever been used before.
Until a black player connects to the game, the screen just waits.
The Black player clicks on the button to join an existing game, entering the game name White created.

Once the Black player has joined, the board appears with correct orientation for both White and Black.
I didn’t test the play for bugginess, but it does accept only legal moves.