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Normal Topic Is there such a thing as a good chess GUI? (Read 805 times)
WarpRulez
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I Love ChessPublishing!

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Joined: 09/05/15
Is there such a thing as a good chess GUI?
12/06/15 at 16:56:00
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I have been using Arena 3.5 for several months now, and while it has most of the features I would desire from a chess GUI, it's really horrible as a software.

Besides the program being horribly designed (eg. options are scattered all over the place, and really hard to find oftentimes), the major problem is that it's extremely unstable and buggy, and often decides to start crashing on startup. When it goes to this mode, it will just crash every single time it's started, which means it can't be run. From time to time it will crash in a different manner and just delete some settings file it has, and then it might run (but then I have to go through all the settings once again and set them back to what they were). The crashing problem is so bad that it's basically unusable, which is why I'm looking for an alternative.

What I like about Arena, and thus what I would like to see in a more stable/better GUI:

- I can add any UCI engine to it. (Very basic functionality, but not all GUI's have this.)

- I can either play moves (confusingly by selecting the "edit" button), or set up a position from scratch, and have an engine analyze the current position. (Again, very basic, but obviously a must have.)

- I can select two engines, a time control setting, and have the engines play against each other with the press of a button (without needing to go through the process of setting up an engine tournament.) I can also equally easily make an engine play against itself.

- While the engines are playing each other, the GUI will show various information about what the engine is currently doing, such as its current main variation, the current eval, nodes per second, nodes calculated, tablebase hits, and so on.

- I can easily set up an engine tournament using various engines, similar to the TCEC tournaments. The results are constantly being updated into a results table, etc. I can easily and fully configure what gets saved from the tournament matches and what doesn't.

- I can make the GUI show engine evals always from white's perspective (a setting that I have really grown to like.)

What I would like to have, and which Arena does not:

- A crystal-clear user interface for setting up the two players. In other words, I configure the white player (human, engine, other settings) and the black player (human, engine, other settings). In Arena you can't do this. If you have two engines selected, it will effectively put one of them to play as white at random. There seems to be no way to tell to it which engine should play which color.

I have tried scid-vs-pc, but it's almost as obscure as Arena is (if not even more so), and it lacks many of the features I describe above, from what I see. (For example, and unless I missed something, you can't just select two engines and have them play against each other by the press of a button. You have to set up a single-game tournament for them. And during the tournament, and again unless I missed something, it will not show any info whatsoever about what the engines are doing. No PV's, no evals, no nodes-per-second or total nodes, no tablebase hits, nothing. And even if there is a way to make it show those things, it's rather telling that it's very non-obvious how to do that.)
  
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