by Steve Lopez

Once you've logged on to the server and familiarized yourself with the panes, it's time to play a little chess. To play a game, you can make or accept a challenge. There are two types of challenges -- personal challenges (directed at a specific player) or a general seek (a "global" challenge that any player in the same room is free to accept).

To issue a general challenge (a "seek"), click on the "Formula" button at the bottom of the "Challenges" pane to get the Formula dialogue:

We looked at this dialogue last week, but here's a brief review of the parameters:

Once you've set your parameters in this dialogue, click "OK". Then click the "Seek" button to issue your challenge to the other players in the room you currently occupy.

Conversely, you can also accept seeks issued by other players. Just click on the player's name in the Challenges pane and then click "OK". If you'd like to propose different terms (such as a different time control) to a player who has issued a seek, click his name and then click the "Modify" button. This will provide a dialogue in which you can propose different terms for the game.

You can also challenge a specific player to a game. Click on a player's name in the Players list (in the Information pane) and then click the "Challenge" button. Obviously, you'll want to choose a player whose status is showing as "Idle" rather than "Playing".

If you want to use a chess engine to play a game (either by itself or as a means of helping you find a move), you can do this only in the Computers Allowed room. While in that room, go to the Edit menu and select "Playing mode":

This dialogue lets you choose whether to play games in the Computers Allowed room as:

Note that you're given additional parameters if you choose computer play -- you can select the engine you want to use (as well as engine options for that particular engine), the time controls for the game (see ETN for December 30, 2001 for a discussion of time controls), and settings for automating the accepting and giving of challenges.

Once you've accepted a challenge, or your challenge has been accepted, you're kicked back over to the main Fritz7 screen, where you'll play your game on the chessboard (just as if you were playing against Fritz or another chess engine). After the game, your rating will change according to the result of the game. For a discussion of chess ratings and how they're determined, click here.

You'll also see your ranking ("Pawn", "Knight", etc.) change over time -- the more games (and the more often) you play on the server, the faster this ranking will change.

The Playchess server will keep track of a number of different ratings for you, depending on the type of game and the time controls used:

If you go to the View menu and select "Rating", you can see a list of your current ratings in the categories in which you've participated. These will be denoted by file tabs at the top of the display. Clicking on a tab will display your rating in that category as well as some statistical information about your results.

Playing chess on the Playchess server is fun and easy, and opponents from around the world are waiting to challenge you!

Until next week, have fun!

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