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To play chess on a Gentoo machine you can use xboard to handle the graphics (e.g., show a chess board and pieces) and a chess engine such as crafty, 'arasan, phalanx or gnuchess, to play the moves. I prefer the first two engines over the last, as gnuchess is not capable of starting to play from an arbitrary game position.

If you want to open and edit chess databases, you can use scid or chessx.



Start with:

emerge -av xboard


Start with:

emerge -av eboard


Continue with

emerge -av crafty

See for further info:


Recently phalanx is easily available through portage.

emerge -av phalanx


There is no ebuild for arasan, but compiling is trivial. See for the sources and some further info. I installed arasan in /usr/local/games/arasan-8.4.0.

Last steps

After emerging crafty you will get the following message:

Code: emerge output
Remember, in order to play games, you have to
be in the 'games' group.
Just run 'gpasswd -a <USER> games'

So add yourself to the games group.

xboard and crafty are installed in /usr/games/bin/. For some reason the executable rights appear to be incorrect. Therefore go to /usr/games/bin/ and do chmod a+rx crafty xboard.

The directory /usr/games/bin may not be in your $PATH variable. If so, append it to your path by typing

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/games/bin/

(when you use bash).



To run, type:

xboard -fcp 'crafty xboard hash=12M hashp=5M resign=25'

The resign option controls how quickly crafty will resign. Higher values make crafty more stubborn.


To run, type:

xboard  -fcp "/usr/local/games/arasan-8.4.0/arasanx -H 8000"

Change the path to the /path/to/arasan if necessary.

You might want to change some of arasan's default behavior. To establish this, edit the arasan.rc file, which is in the directory /path/to/arasan. For instance to turn resignation off, set

File: arasan.rc
# True to allow computer to resign, false if you want it to never resign



Missing Fonts

Some People get an error like this:

X Error of failed request:  BadName (named color or font does not exist)

The reason is, that either both, the font-adobe-100dpi and the font-adobe-75dpi are not installed, or more likely only the 100dpi package is missing, but the fontpath to the 100dpi fonts is given in the xorg.conf. To solve the problem, first make sure that you have installed the font-adobe75dpi package. If not:

emerge -av font-adobe-75dpi

If you want the 100dpi-fonts too:

emerge -av font-adobe-100dpi

Then change the /etc/X11/xorg.conf, that the pathes look like this if you only use the 75dpi-fonts:

Section "Files"
       FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/75dpi"
       #FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/100dpi"

or like this if you use both packages:

Section "Files"
       FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/75dpi"
       FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/100dpi"

Finally restart your xserver.


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