12 of the Best Free Linux Chess Apps (Updated 2018)

Chess is a recreational and competitive board game played between two players. It is a very popular game, played by millions across the world, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.

Chess has the virtue of being suitable for people of all ages. It has many positive attributes such as to help individuals develop their memory, improve and enhance their concentration, as well as logical thinking. It also promotes and improves imagination and creativity. Chess is one of those games that takes a few days to learn and the rest of your life to master, with the game being a never ending learning process, even for the top players.

The game is played on a square chessboard with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. Each player controls 16 pieces, and the object of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king.

Linux chess software generally is separated into a “front end” application and a “chess engine”. There is a wide range of chess-playing software for Linux, which can defeat most master players under tournament conditions. Computer chess has been a phenomenal success, aiding chess analysis, and allowing players to play when no human opponents are available. Other types of chess software include chess databases and tournament managers. Chess databases provide a convenient way to store your own games, a time-efficient method to study, and offers access to statistics about your own games and of titled chess players.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 12 top chess applications, identifying our favorite front ends, chess engines and chess databases. All of these tools are released under a freely distributable license.

So let’s explore the 12 chess applications at hand. For each application we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, screenshots, together with links to relevant resources. Start playing one of the greatest games ever devised. Play chess, have fun!

Chess Apps
PyChessAdvanced chess client following the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines
Cute ChessGraphical user interface, command-line interface and library
RaptorChess interface for (FICS)
StockfishStrong open source chess engine
CraftyHighly competent chess engine
ScidShane's Chess Information Database
SOSSChess pairing software
ChessDBBased on Scid with some enhancements
JinJava based graphical client for internet chess servers
joseDatabase with a graphical front-end for viewing and editing games
KnightsChess game for the KDE desktop environment
XiphosUCI chess engine with modern search techniques and multithreading

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Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.

You might notice the omission of Lucas Chess. It’s one of the finest open source chess software tools. Written in Python, it ticks another box. But it’s really difficult to get it running in Linux without resorting to using wine. If anyone is looking to create an AppImage, snap, or Flatpak for Lucas Chess, do let us know!

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