Welcome to the FICS Basic Help page

If you are here then this is probably the first time you connected to the Free Internet Chess Server. This page will help you to connect for the first time to FICS, and to register as a FICS regular player. It will also show you how to make the first step in FICS, such as play your first game, ask for help online, get a graphical interface (GUI).

If you have never played chess in your life, if the words "castle" or "en passant" leave you confused maybe you want to have a look at The Rules of Chess page.

When you are acquainted with FICS you may want to know about other features. More information can be found looking at our Help Pages. In the meantime we strongly recommend that you read the rest of this page before connecting for the first time.

  1. Connecting to FICS
  2. Playing a chess game
  3. Seek: an alternative way to find a game
  4. Registering on FICS
  5. Getting HELP on-line
  6. Graphical Interface

1. Connecting to FICS
Connecting to FICS is very easy: the best thing you can do is download a graphical interface as explained later in this page.
If you want to have a quick look at FICS you can try telnet clicking here. Bear in mind that on many platforms telnet does not work correctly, and that many providers do not allow using telnet, so we strongly recommend using a graphical interface. If you anyway decide to give it a try you will be prompted for an username: just enter the name you like and hit the return/enter key. If you are asked for a password, then you have chosen a name someone else is already using (for example do not use
MAd since the author of this page already has taken it). In this case just hit return/enter and try another name.

If you get an error message that reads something like

application not found

it means either that on your computer lacks a telnet application, or that your browser is not set up correctly and cannot find the telnet application, or that the contract with your provider does not allow the use of telnet.

Web TV users are currently unable to connect to FICS, you can look at this site for more details on this.

2. Playing a chess game on FICS
Once you have connected you will probably want to play a chess game, after all FICS is a chess server. The first thing you need to do is find an opponent, thus type


this will show you a list like this:

2452  ftou(GM)           1798 .SergeZ             1393  stupido(C)
2278 .Wroclaw(C)         1700  MAHAPU             1388 .Bjack
2093 .Binford(*)         1659P tura               1372P isten
2087 .pur                1655P Slap               1331P paraplan
2085E.KirkH(C)           1647  Tlund              1320  mulesmurf
2078  Jaki               1528 .smate(C)           1007P.Junke
2052 .JagorCrafty(C)     1522 .Eremos              923 .Palmy
2024  RubiCap            1515  finnian             793  gohst
2006  PlamenS(FM)        1473  accel              ----  MistressX
1992 .JPComp(C)          1459  ChessFactory       ----  SkyShark(C)
1959  Okrale(C)          1447  Plok               ++++ .bwporterxxxg
1880  Mogambo            1430  MaxFactor          ++++ .GrahamCracker
1875  Wronskian(C)       1420  wouter             ++++ .GuestEHHR
1870E.woof               1416  Dutchi             ++++ .GuestMZYR
1825  salex              1414  Annemi             
1818  endgameplayer(TM)  1401  Bungy              

that contains all the people willing to play a chess game.
Players who have their name followed by a (C) are not human players but computers. The number on the left of each player is a rating that reflects his strength. If you want to play against one of these players, say MAd, all you have to do is type:

match MAd

If after a while nothing has happened then MAd is probably doing something else and he is not looking at the computer, so you can try playing vs. someone else using again the match command. If instead MAd is ready to play and accepts your challenge you will see on the screen a chess board like this:

Game 14 (TheDane vs. MAd)

     1  | R | N | B | K | Q | B | N | R |     Move # : 1 (White)
     2  | P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P |
     3  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
     4  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |     Black Clock : 2 : 00
     5  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |     White Clock : 2 : 00
     6  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |     Black Strength : 39
     7  | *P| *P| *P| *P| *P| *P| *P| *P|     White Strength : 39
     8  | *R| *N| *B| *K| *Q| *B| *N| *R|
          h   g   f   e   d   c   b   a

where P, N, B, R, Q, and K are white pieces and *P, *N, *B, *R, *Q, *K are black pieces. As usual your color is the color of the player at the bottom of the chessboard, black in our example. On your right the time remaining to you and to your opponent to complete the game is shown.
You can now enter the moves in algebraic form; e.g. e2-e4, Ng1-f3 or simply e4, Nf3. Remember the server only understands English algebraic notation:

kNight N
Bishop B
Rook R
Queen Q
King K

Of course if you are using a graphical interface a board will appear and you will be able to enter the moves using your mouse.

3. Seek: an alternative way to find a game
Sometimes you look for a game and match several players but they do not answer your request, or decline it. Don't lose your heart, FICS provides the seek / sought command to find an opponent in an easy way. If you type


you will see something like this:

  0 2394  JPCrafty(C)         2  12 rated   blitz         0-9999 
  1 2526  blik(C)             2   0 rated   lightning     0-9999 f
  3 1662E MAd                 2  12 unrated blitz         0-9999 
  5 1692  Imi                 3   3 rated   blitz         0-9999 m
  9 1692  Imi                 2   5 rated   blitz         0-9999 m
 12 1692  Imi                 5   0 rated   blitz         0-9999 m
 13 2124  JagorCrafty(C)      5   5 rated   blitz         0-9999 f
 16 2124  JagorCrafty(C)      5   0 rated   blitz         0-9999 f
 22 2124  JagorCrafty(C)     10   0 rated   blitz         0-9999 f
 24 2224  blik(C)             5   0 rated   blitz         0-9999 f
 30 1563  ragaman             3   0 rated   blitz         0-9999 m
 31 1563  ragaman             2   2 rated   blitz         0-9999 m
 33 1563  ragaman             1   3 rated   blitz         0-9999 m
 35 1472  xnatex             30   0 rated   standard      0-9999 
 39 ++++  GUEST               3   0 unrated blitz         0-9999 

Every line in this list (seek-list) corresponds to an advertisment of a chess game. For example in the first line the computer player JPCrafty, with rating 2394, is looking for a rated blitz game. You will have 2 minutes to play the whole game, and you will get extra 12 seconds after each move you make.
If you have not registered you do not have a rating, therefore you cannot play rated games, but you can play
unrated ones. In our example the registered player MAd and the unregistered player GUEST are both looking for an unrated game. If you want to play against one of them all you need to do is type play ads_number so if you want to play MAd you will type

play 3

while if you want to play GUEST you will type

play 39

If you get a message like

Bad index given; no such ad.

the user you wanted to play with, has already found an opponent and you have to play someone else.
Sometime there is no game in the seek-list that satisfies you: in this case you can add your own request to the list, by simply typing

seek time increment

For example if you have typed seek 5 15 you are looking for a 5 minute game where after every move the player is given an extra 15 seconds (the increment). If you want to check that your ads has been properly placed in the list simply type sought all

4. Registering on FICS
Registering on FICS as a regular player is again very simple just click here and follow the intructions. You will be asked what is the name you want to have on FICS, your email and your real name. Your name and email will remain confidential. We like to remind you that FICS is a free server, that is we do not charge for any of the facilities provided by FICS.
You will still be charged for your internet connection by your internet provider and phone bill by the phone company (if applicable). FICS itself does not charge.
Should you have any problem to register, you can ask for help by sending an email to FICS support.

5. Getting HELP on-line
If you need help once you are connected to FICS the best thing you can do is get in touch with a system administrator (admin). Admins are marked by a (*) by their name, and you always find which ones are connected typing

inchannel 0

You can then use the tell command, for example:

tell MAd Hi I need help

to contact an admin and ask for help. Should you get no answer the admin is probably busy so you'd better try another one.
Another very useful way to ask for help is using the help channel. Type:

tell 1 Hi I need help

to let everyone in channel 1 know that you are looking for help. Also to be found in channel 1 are service representatives (SR) whose duties are to provide detailed levels of assistance in getting newbies started on FICS. Service representatives are marked by (SR) after their handles. You may communicate with an SR by using the tell command.
If you need help, just ask. No question is too stupid, and you'll usually find someone who can answer it. We remind you, however, that channel 1 is for help only, so please do not use it to chat with other players.

6. Graphical Interfaces
After playing a few games you may wish you had a real board rather than a text one. FICS provides graphic boards for nearly all operating systems and connections protocols. Click here to find the one which is best for you. As an example of what an interface looks like, if you have Windows 95 and a standard internet connection you can try CClient What you will get is something like this:

CClient Image


One final word: FICS is free and available to players of all ages, irrespective of sex, country, religion and so on. We want it to be as friendly as possible so please avoid acting in any way that can be seen rude or offensive to anyone. If you think you have been wronged talk to an admin rather than have a quarrel with another user. Everyone is most welcome to come and play on FICS, but bad behaviour will not be tolerated. Guidelines on what it is expected from players can be found by typing:

help abuse

Please stop a minute to read these help files. Also we remind you that these files provide only general guidelines and admins reserve the right to deny access to the whole server or to revoke certain priviledges to anyone.

Back to FICS Homepage

Created, 26 october 1998, by MAd
Last revised, 16 december 1998, by MAd