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                     Introduction to the Internet Chess Club

                   (C) Copyright 1998-2006 Internet Chess Club, Inc.

Welcome to the Internet Chess Club (ICC). On the ICC you can play chess, get
a rating, watch others play, study games, participate in many special events
and tournaments, and get to know people from all over the world. Thousands
of people (many with little computer experience) have played millions of
games on the ICC. This note tells you what the ICC can do and how to use it.

Here's a table of contents for the rest of this note:

     0. Overview
     1. Starting a game
     2. Playing
     3. Communicating with other players
     4. Listing players and games
     5. Observing games
     6. Further reading
     7. Contact Information

0. Overview

Here are some of the things the ICC offers:

   * ICC helps you find appropriate opponents and acts as the referee: it
     checks the legality of moves, maintains a clock, handles draw offers,
     and determines the outcome of the game (checkmate, stalemate, draws by
     repetition, etc.).

   * A variety of communication modes are available. These include observing
     games, kibitzing and whispering in these games, special interest and
     help "channels" for talking to a group, talking one-on-one, and the
     ability to send a message to a player who is not currently logged on.

   * The ICC also maintains a small database for each member. It includes a
     player's ICC rating which is automatically computed (in several
     different categories), a history of recent games, biographical
     information, and a library of favorite games. There is also a
     searchable database of millions of the games played on ICC.

   * The ICC has graphical interfaces for all major computer platforms
     (Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, and more). This software will display one
     or more graphical chess boards, and allow you to make moves with your

You control what happens by means of a set of commands, which you type
on your keyboard.  The graphical interfaces reduce the need for typing
commands, but all the commands can be used with any graphical interface.
(Some graphical interfaces require that a typed command begin with a
slash (/) in some modes.)

There is an on-line help file for every command. Typing "help seeking", for
example, will display the help file for the seek command.  "commands" lists
the names of all the files describing ICC commands.

The purpose of this note it to introduce you to the ICC command set. This
note contains enough to get you started on the ICC. As you spend more time
on the ICC, you will gradually learn how to use its more sophisticated
features. You can get started using the system after just a few minutes.
(The process of obtaining and installing graphical interfaces is explained
in other documentation. The underlying command set described here works
for all interfaces.)


1. Starting a game

The following commands control the initiation of a match:

     5-minute, 1-minute, seek, play, match, accept, decline

Typing "5-minute" is a simple way to start a blitz game.  The system will
automatically pair you with an opponent and start the game.  All games
on ICC are played with a chess clock.  In a 5-minute game, you have
five minutes total to make all your moves.  When you move, your clock
stops ticking, and when your opponent gets your move (there may be some
network delay), his or her clock starts ticking.  If you run out of time,
you lose!  For those who like ridiculously fast games, there's "1-minute".
5-minute and 1-minute games are always rated (in their own category),
are only for human players (no assistance from computer chess engines or
databases), and if you get disconnected during the game you lose.

You can also use the command "seek" to get a game.  This command is
more flexible; you can specify the time control, whether the game should
be rated or unrated, and more.  A time control specification has two
parts: the initial time (in minutes), and the increment (in seconds).
The increment is added to a player's clock after each move.  Games
will be rated in different categories Bullet Blitz or Standard,
depending on the time control.

For example, say the player Darooha types "seek 3 5".  This informs
everyone interested that Darooha is looking to play a match with 
a time control of 3 5.  They might see something like;

      Darooha (1435) seeking blitz 3 5 rated ("play 8" to respond)

Anybody can now respond to this by typing "play 8", which will initiate a
rated match with the given time control.  (Some graphical interfaces have
a graph with a colored dot for each "seeking" notice.)

If Darooha had wanted to play an unrated game, he could have used the comand
"seek 3 5 u". Seek can also be used to specify a rating range, as explained
in "help seeking". You can post more than one seek ad, and "unseek" will remove
all of them. "sought" lists all the seeking ads.

You can also specify a wild chess variant by number, e.g. "seek w17 5 5".
See "help wild" for a list of the chess variants available.

A completely different way to start match is by using the "match" command.
"match Doggie 2 8 r" proposes a rated match with Doggie with a time control
of 2 8 (a blitz match). The "r" indicates rated, "u" would indicate unrated.
This command gives Doggie the message that a challenge has been issued.

Doggie may now accept this match with "accept Darooha" (assuming it was
Darooha who sent the challenge) or with "accept" if Doggie has only one
pending challenge.  Doggie may also decline the match with "decline" or
"decline Darooha".

Every player is always either open or closed. The command "open" toggles you
between these two states. (Also, the command "set open 1" opens you, the
command "set open 0" closes you.) An open player is one who is interested in
playing a match, a closed player is not.  If your are not open, and someone
challenges you, the challenge will be blocked.  There are also ways
to allow only challenges which meet certain conditions, by setting your
variables wopen, ropen, and formula.

"pending" lists your current match offers.


2. Playing

You will probably be using a graphical interface to play games on the ICC.
If so, then moving is simply a matter of using your mouse to specify which
piece to move and where to move it. Castling is expressed by indicating the
movement of the king.

Whether or not you're using a graphical interface, you can always move by
typing the move in standard algebraic notation, which is useful to know
anyway so you can read the move lists.  Examples:

    Nh2           move a knight to h2
    Ng4h2         move the knight on g4 to h2
    e5            move a pawn to e5
    O-O           castle short (kingside)
    gxf8=N        pawn on g7 captures on f8 and promotes to a knight
    d3-e4         a move from d3 to e4 (this isn't standard notation but works fine)

You will be told if your move is ambiguous, and also if making that move
would leave your king in check.  Castling short is "O-O" and long is "O-O-O".
Promotion is to a queen, unless a different piece is specified.
See "help notation" for more details.

The "takeback" feature allows you to takeback moves (with your opponent's
permission). If you desire, you can give your opponent 38 seconds more time
on his/her clock with the command "moretime 38".  But most players are
naturally competitive and won't do either of these.

To give up a game, type "resign".  (Do not just disconnect.)

To offer a draw, type "draw" and then make your move.

To offer to adjourn the game, type "adjourn".

To offer to abort the game, type "abort".

The "pending" command notifies you of all pending offers or draw
possibilities (such as repetition or 50 move rule).


3. Communicating with other players

Among the commands that govern communications, the most important are:

     tell, +channel, -channel, shout, sshout, i, say, kibitz, whisper, message

"tell Doggie Hello!" sends the message "Hello!" to the player named Doggie.

Tell is also used to talk to channels. "tell 250 Hello everybody" will send
your message to everybody in channel 250, and echo the channel number and the
number of people who received the message. Your message will appear to
everybody in channel 250 as:

       Doggie(250): Hello everybody

There are hundreds of chat channels, some designated for certain topics
and groups.  For a list, type "help channels".  You can join channel 113
(for example) either by talking to it or by typing "+channel 113".  To leave
channel 113, type "-channel 113".  You can be in many channels at once.
Channel 1 is the help channel, so that's a good place to ask questions.

"shout Hello!" sends the message to all players. (Actually, every player has
the option of turning off shouts.) It echoes the number of players who
received it. Only registered players are allowed to shout. "i" is a command
that issues a special form of shout. "I like chess!" will generate the shout
"--> Darooha likes chess!", if your name is "Darooha".

"say Hello!" sends the message to your opponent (if you're playing) or to
your previous opponent (if you're not playing). "kibitz Hello!" sends the
message to all players and observers in the game you're playing or
observing, and "whisper" does the same, but doesn't include the players.

"message darooha I want a tic-tac-toe feature" will leave a message to the
player named "darooha". When Darooha logs in, he will get the message.


4. Who is on, and what games are happening?

Some basic commands for finding out what's going on on the ICC are:

     who, finger, games, events

To see a list of players who are currently logged onto the ICC, type
"who".  Usually there are so many players on that this will only show
a partial list.  This command takes a number of optional parameters
(also called arguments), detailed in "help who" and "help who1".
There's no need to learn all of the details, but here are a few examples
of what you can do with this command:

     "who T"  -- Show me all the titled players (GM, IM, FM, etc).

     "who *H" -- Show me all the administrators logged in, excluding computers.

     "who 17" -- Show me the top 1/7th of all players all the players ordered
                 by their ICC ratings.

Here's an example of the result of typing "who c80!", listing the 32
players currently in channel 77 (the Japanese language channel):

  3023 mihiz(GM)        2216 SuurSuomi     ----^Wildbull   
  2849.FrozenShade(IM)  2196 AttackingTal  1611 Oxymoron   
  2764:Kgarde           2066^WattsPrince   1549^MikkoL     
  2658^Melekone(IM)     2012^jyrkip        1490 hockeyking 
  2416#Piiroja          2012.kleineme      1461^HarrierS   
  2400 SamiStar         1915^murdererman   1454^simplicitas
  2323.sigma            1865.kajjohan      1144 CEO        
  2319^HUR              1792^Blangis       ++++:guest1059  
  2299^jossu            1792.Zimo          ++++.guest1071  
  2236^TsingisKhan      1777.jdudarhs701   ++++#guest16    
  2235^nenchess(C)      1754^tigcapa       

  32 Players displayed (of 2632). C = Computer.

To the left of each name shown, you will see a rating (or "----" if the
player has never played, or "++++" if the player is an unregistered guest)
Between each name and rating, is a symbol indicating the current state
of the player:

  ^   That player is currently playing a game.
  #   That player is currently examining a game.
  .   That player is idle for at least 5 minutes.
  :   That player is not open for match challenges.
  ~   That player is currently giving a simultaneous exhibition.

To the right of some of the names you will see some symbols in parentheses.
These are the player's title.  For example the (GM) title indicates
that mihiz is a Grandmaster, which is the highest title.  Titles like this
are awarded by the international chess federation FIDE, not by ICC.  There
are also some special ICC titles:  (*) for administrators, (C) for computers,
(TD) for tournament director robots, and (DM) which is a temporary designation
given to some players as a prize or so that their kibitzes will stand out.

To find out information about a specific player, use the "finger" command.
Here's the result of "finger NDShort":

Information about NDShort(GM) (Last disconnected Sat Jan 05 2002 16:25):
          rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Bullet      2640  [8]   142   126    19   287   2890 (11-Dec-2000) 
Blitz       2960       2496  1528   515  4539   3241 (07-Dec-2001) 
 1: Nigel Short , MBE.
 2: Olive farmer in Messinia.
 3: Chess columnist for the "Sunday Telegraph".
 4: Honorary Fellow of the Bolton Institute.
 5: Bass guitarist ( retired ) of "The Urge".
 6: Player

"Bullet" and "Blitz" are two of the rating categories.  The [need] column
indicates how many rated games he needs in that column for his rating
to become active for this month or week.  Only active ratings are listed
by the "best" or "best bullet" commands.

Below the rating information are the personal notes of this player. 
You can set your notes using the "set" command, e.g. "set 1 Hi, I'm new
here, and would like to make friends."

The games command shows you information about all the current games. Here's
part of the output of "games":

 40 2041 Jonus       1977 capivara   [ br  5   0]   4:20 -  4:42 (38-37) W: 11
 24 2187 buctooth    2518 ratbert    [ br  5   5]   4:51 -  4:24 (39-39) B: 10
 47 1699 Karpov      2744 Kamsky     [ sr120   0]  Ex: (adj) Karpov Kams W: 57
           48 games displayed (45 played, 3 examined).

To summarize the information in the first line, from left to right: The game
number is 40. Jonus is White and capivara is Black. Jonus' blitz rating is
2041 and capivara's is 1977. The game is a blitz game, and it's rated. The
time control is 5 minutes with a 0 second increment. The current state of
the clocks are 4:20 for White and 4:42 for Black. It's White turn move, and
the move about to be made is move 11. 

Type "events" for a listing of top games to observe, tournaments to
join, and other notable things going on at ICC at the moment. 

Type "help events" or "help events2" for a listing of events scheduled
for the next few days.


5. Observing games

Each game has a game number. This number is shown at the left end of each
line printed by "games", and is also displayed whenever any information
about a game is presented.

It is possible to watch the progress of one or more games. This is called
observing. If you're observing a game, each time anything happens in that
game, your display is updated. The commands that govern this are


"observe 2" turns on observing of game 2. Alternatively "observe Doggie"
turns on observing of the game played by Doggie. "unobserve Doggie" stops
observing Doggie, and "unobserve" turns off observing of all games.


6. Further reading

There are many other features that have not been described in this note. All
of these features are explained in help files, which can be obtained with
the help command. The complete list of file names available with the help
command are partitioned into two sets. Those that describe particular
commands can be listed by typing "help". The names of those that present
other information can be seen by typing "info".

Here is a list of some of the information that's available in the help

"help lists" -- How you can be notified when certain people connect, and
     when certain people start a game, how you can avoid playing
     certain players, how you can block communication from certain
     players, how you can make alises to streamline typing long
     commands that you commonly use.

"help vars" -- Lists all the user-settable variables. These control such
     things as whether you hear shouts, whether you hear kibitzes, the
     default time control used by seek and match if the time control is
     omitted, and many other things.

"help examine" -- How to play over (post-mortem) games on ICC.

"help channels" -- This lists all special interest channels, and their
     corresponding topics.

"help set" -- Explains how to set all of your variables, including the
     notes appearing when somebody fingers you.

"help libraries" -- How to maintain your own personal library of games.

"help search" -- How to find games in ICC's large database of GM and IM

"help simul" -- How to play simultaneous matches on the ICC.

"help event" -- List of exciting events in the next week, which you also
     see when you login.

"help tournaments" -- Lists upcoming tournaments, and explains how to join

"help wild" -- A list of chess variants you can play on ICC.

"help fees" -- Explains the fees.

"help abuse" -- Things not to do.

"help atmosphere" -- ICC's policies regarding offensive language, and
     personal attacks.

"help definitions" -- Defines a number of terms used in the ICC.

"help commands" -- A list of the most used commands with a short description.


7. Contacting the ICC

If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us.

    email:         mail:  Internet Chess Club
    phone: (412) 436-5558 USA               PO Box 5485
    FAX:   (412) 521-5575                   Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA
    web: 2014-01-14 BrianSP edited via web form