Chess for Android: version 6.1.1

I am gradually rolling out version 6.1.1 of Chess for Android to Google Play. Besides some internal cleanup and refactoring, the major new features are:
simple FICS client (see details at Connecting Chess for Android with FICS)improved electronic chessboard support (DGT/Certabo/Millennium)rudimentary DGT chess clock support (shows moves) The FICS interface is simple, in line with the design philosophy I have always followed so far.  Despite the simplicity, the client is fully functional, and I have started to enjoy playing online over an actual chessboard myself. Hopefully others will find the combination of an electronic chessboard and online play just as enjoyable!
A big thank you to my testers! Writing a client from scratch was a non-trivial task, and took a long time. Having awesome testers was extremely helpful during the initial development. Any remaining bugs are mine, of course. Please send me the details if you find one.

DGT 3000

This beautiful DGT 3000 chess clock just arrived! I can't wait to start hacking and find out what features I can implement for Chess for Android connected to a DGT chess board and this clock. In particular,  am hopeful that the combination of online chess on FICS with an electronic chess board and clock will provide a very pleasant chess playing experience! 

It took me a bit longer than planned, but I finally finished the alpha version of a FICS (Free Internet Chess Server) interface in Chess for Android. Either play directly on a phone or table, or first connect to an electronic chessboard (DGT, Certabo, and Millennium) to play over an actual chess board with people online.
To connect to FICS, long press the notation window in Chess for Android to open the extended menu. Then select "Connect to FICS" and login as a guest or using your register username and password. The formula string can be used to filter out match requests. For example time >= 5 & inc = 1 only accepts games with at least five minutes start time per player and exactly one second increment per move. The formula syntax is explained in more detail on the FICS help page.
Once connected, your username or temporary guest name is shown at the bottom of the screen. Match requests that pass the filter are shown in a dialog with the player names and game paramet…

Chess for Android: version 6.0

I am rolling out version 6.0 of Chess for Android, through the usual Google Play channel. The new features include:
Two new sets of chess pieces by Maurizio Monge (who very kindly gave explicit permission)Ability to enable/disable saving engine annotations in the PGN fileOpening the draw/resign dialog now requires tapping one king then the otherSimpler permission model for "older" Android versions The last change, adding bluetooth and network permissions, is needed so that pre-api23 versions of Android can also connect with electronic chessboards over bluetooth or with remote chess engines over a network socket (the latter is also needed for an upcoming FICS client I am working now). From api23 onward, users can selectively enable or disable such permissions. Pre-api23, however, it was an "all-or-nothing". Changes like this have unfortunately the danger that some users will uninstall, but in the long run I believe I can better serve the full customer base this way.

Maurizio Monge Chess Art

I received several requests to incorporate some of the beautiful chess art by Maurizio Monge in Chess for Android. Maurizio did a great job creating attractive, yet very playable chess figures. Also, he kindly makes this art available to all, although I received explicit permission from him to use the art in my application. So the next version of Chess for Android will feature the fantastic "fantasy" and very funny "eyes" piece figures.

Checkers for Android: Endgames

Now that Checkers for Android supports a position setup editor, analyzing textbook studies has become a lot simpler. This has increased the significance of the small built-in endgame tablebases of my app as well, as can be seen in the study below. Here, starting from what is known as the "first position" in checkers, Checkers for Android, playing with the black pieces, announces its inevitable loss in 30 moves!

Checkers for Android: Position Setup

I finished a position setup feature for Checkers for Android, similar to what was already in Chess for Android. This feature allows users to copy interesting checker problems from textbooks or other sources and play from there to improve their game. In addition, I added an option to show the square labels to make playing out variants from textbooks a bit easier for players that are less familiar with the numbering scheme.

Since I recently also added a feature to export games as PDN, this implied I also had to implement FEN setup for games that do not start from the initial position. An example is shown below (note the FEN tag, and the empty first ply since it is white's move in the given position).

[Event "Checkers for Android Game"]
[Site "United States"]
[Date "2019.01.19"]
[White "Checkers for Android"]
[Black "Self"]
[Result "*"]
[PlyCount "0"]
[Setup "1"]
[FEN "W:W9,K32:B13,K1"]

1...  *

Checkers for Android: Certabo Support

Although the Certabo electronic boards are mainly intended for chess, the flexibility of the identifying chips makes them suitable for 8x8 checkers as well (draughts, or American checkers, with slightly different rules from e.g. 10x10 international checkers). Therefore, I am planning to add support for Certabo boards in Checkers for Android as well. The 34 identifying chips can be used for the 24 regular pieces and 10 kings for promotion (using special purpose pieces avoids stacking the regular pieces). A 3D printed set can be used for this purpose (a continued hat-tip to my brother-in-law Gerard Harbers for making all the chess and checkers sets for me!).
The general idea is illustrated with this picture. Please let me know if you like this upcoming support!

Chess for Android 10 Year Anniversary!

I can't believe it, but Chess for Android just passed its ten year anniversary! In November 2008, it appears for the first time on the -then-called- Android Market, together with Reversi for Android. Checkers for Android was soon to follow. The Android Market was later renamed Google Play.
Working on this GUI has been a lot of fun, even though it took all spare time away from further developing my chess engine BikJump. But pioneering support for third party engines (at a time nobody was compiling for ARM), both UCI and XBoard, accessing endgame tablebases on SD card, adding PGN and setup features,simplifying engine setup through Chessbase compatible format and the Android Open Exchange format, using OCR apps to read chess positions, translating text to other languages, maintaining an online manual, and recently adding support for Certabo, DGT, and Millennium electronic chessboards has been just as rewarding. I have compiled many engines for Android back in the days, ran full tour…

Chess for Andoid: version 5.9

I am enthusiastic to announce that I am rolling out version 5.9 of Chess for Android on Google Play. New features include:
Configurable tags for PGN export (player, ELO, event)Ability to offer draw or resign (click king twice to enter menu)Support for Certabo electronic chessboards The application now supports connecting to any of the DGT, Millennium, and Certabo chessboards (let me know if there are others). I have a second instructional video on this topic on YouTube. As usual, looking forward to your constructive feedback!