Difference between revisions of "Chess Engine Communication Protocol"

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Revision as of 08:11, 3 March 2020

Home * Protocols * Chess Engine Communication Protocol

Chess Engine Communication Protocol (CECP),
also dubbed the XBoard or WinBoard protocol after the eponymous XBoard or WinBoard graphical user interfaces (GUI), is an open communication protocol for chess engines to play games automatically, that is to communicate with other chess playing entities.


A GUI supporting the protocol is known as XBoard or WinBoard, being for Unix (Posix) or Windows operating systems, respectively. Many other GUIs support the protocol, which is based on text commands, while requiring the engine to keep the state of the game internally. While the Universal Chess Interface is somewhat more popular today, the Chess Engine Communication Protocol protocol is preferred by some because it allows greater flexibility for the engine (for instance, in pondering).

How it began

Tim Mann in an Interview by Frank Quisinsky, April 2000 [1]:

Originally, xboard and WinBoard were simply graphical user interfaces for GNU Chess, then for GNU Chess and Internet chess servers. Because the GUI and the chess engine are separate programs, several people thought of the idea of connecting their own chess programs in place of GNU Chess, and they began to email me asking how to do it. I think the first person to ask was Shay Bushinsky, in November 1994. Over the years I received so many requests for this information that I was more or less forced into documenting and extending the ad-hoc engine protocol to support them. The document that exists now (chess-engines.html) evolved directly from the original email reply I sent to Shay. Unfortunately, because the protocol was never really designed, but just grew out of documenting the existing communication with GNU Chess, there are still several bugs and deficiencies in it today. It would be nice to make some major revisions, but then of course it would (at best) take a long time for the existing engines to convert over to the new protocol, so both would have to be supported, probably forever. 

UML State diagram


WinBoard/XBoard protocol UML state diagram by Alessandro Scotti [2] [3]

Version 2

Harm Geert Muller established a protocol Version 2 in September, 2009 [4], also covering Chess Variants and different board sizes.






See also

Forum Posts

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External Links

What is new in XBoard/WinBoard 4.9.0? by H.G. Muller
rshd-readme.txt by Dan Newman [7] [8]
Winboard/XBoard UML state diagram by Alessandro Scotti


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