picochess v0.9k – Reconnect

For long picochess can deal with a not connected board or clock for example in middle of playing or at beginning. But i wasnt too happy with the result from v0.75 onwards. Especially if the time is running and you lost the connection the display was flicking before. Now i changed it abit and i think its better. Even picochess deals now better with these situations please try to not pull out the cable or turn off the dgt hardware in middle of operation 😉 Thats the main focus of this release but as always i also did more:

  • armv6 engines – for RaspberryPi Zero basically i copied the standard armv7 engines to the armv6 system of zero’s. If you use such a zero you now have more engines to choose between
  • engine elo – you can now setup the engine’s elo on the engine.uci file which makes it alot easier to include new engines and showing the correct elo rating in pgn file or at webserver.
  • arasan 20.3.0 – Updated to the official version. On picochess v0.9j i already included this engine – but it was not the official version that time
  • vajolet 2.4 – a new star on the engine land 🙂 Its now part of the engines list, even its not on top8 (for easy queen choose). vajolet is very strong, sadly doesnt have levels.
  • setpieces (speak) – Wilhelm came up with a wish that he wants the last move be spoken again in case the clock displays a “set pieces”. This wasnt hard to do and i think its an useful feature so i implemented it in short time. Dear users, if you read this: please provide your wishes what you want from picochess. I have always an open mind to listen user use cases. I cant promise to fulfill all, but im trying 😉
  • rodent III esp. Tal – another update of this special engine. There is now also a nice persona inside called “Tal” the former chess world champion. Tal is very well known for his attacking style. This persona tries to play like him. I think, its very enjoyful to play against.
  • documentation updates and more



  1. Hi Jurgen,

    You asked for a wish list and use cases for Picochess and you’ll find mine below. First however, I want to thank you, Jean-Francois and Shivkumar for your tremendous effort developing and maintaining Picochess. I mostly use DGT and Picochess to record two player games (Observe mode) but several times I get fragmented PNGs. This happens mostly during Blitz games. As far as I can tell the Pi require a certain amount of time to record a move and if the subsequent move happens to quickly it isn’t recorded correctly. I wonder if a special two-player mode can be developed that minimizes the Pi overhead (for example doesn’t load engines, etc) that would make the Pi fast enough to record rapid Blitz games properly. I’ve tried RabbitConnect, RabbitQueen and LiveChess 2.0 but I find them cumbersome and inadequate.
    I imagine a PicoChess system where (like now) you can use special pieces to set time control. Next, in the starting position identify the players by name using a predefined “Players list” like:
    Player1 Hans Ka3, Qb3
    Player2 Jason Ka3, Qc3
    Player3 Mark Ka3, Qd3

    Player20 Kelly Kd3, Qf6
    The player with white pieces will use the white King and Queen and the player with black pieces will use the black King and Queen.
    Result recorded (like now) with Kings on the central four squares.
    Please add a timestamp in the PGN for each new game.

    Best regards,


    • Hi Hans,
      good to know that someone also using the Observe mode 🙂 I tried this and played this game:

      [Event “PicoChess game”]
      [Site “Ettlingen, Germany DE”]
      [Date “2017.11.29”]
      [Round “?”]
      [White “precju”]
      [Black “Rodent III 0.229 64-bit/GCC 5.4.0 20160609 (Tal)”]
      [Result “0-1”]
      [WhiteElo “-“]
      [BlackElo “2920”]

      1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Nf3 Be7 0-1

      So, there is a date (cause its forced by pgn standard) and there is no place for a timestamp. Where do y expect this to be listened?

      Concerning yr broken pgn: My test shows no problem. If i move so fast the “ok zug” not coming, picochess will respond with “set pieces”, and the game doesnt continue. Is that what y mean with “broken”?

      Do y play with “ok messages” on or off? What cock (xl, 3k, pi) y using?
      If its slow, thats cause of the clocks and not cause of engines. The clocks needs some time to display information.

      Concerning players name. Well, the problem is how to make picochess knowing the names at first? Somehow i must enter “Hans”, “Kelly” etc inside picochess before i can even think to use special pieces. Please dont forget the main UI for picochess is the clock (not the webserver), so some features are hard to implement even its easy for a standard pc software.

      After your answer, i think what to do. But in this moment, i can only implement NEW things not take too long cause im in v1.0 mode (= mainly stable, not new).

    • you can send to L.O.P”at”posteo”point”de exchange L.O.P with my nick name (take a look at introduction) – is that only on v0.9k?

  2. hello Jürgen, it was synonymous with e and j so 🙁
    these 2 warnings are repeated several times in the logfile
    WARNING board – _wait_for_clock: (ser) clock is locked over 2secs
    WARNING board – write_command: (ser) clock is already locked. Maybe a “resend”?

  3. Hi Jürgen,

    Thanks for your quick reply. For context I use a USB board and a DGT3000 clock. I did have the the Display set to show “OK move” but I’ll set it to “off” and see if that helps. I read the PGN file format has seven required fields starting with [Event] onward to [Result], but I noted that the file created by Picochess include two additional fields [WhiteElo] and [BlackElo] that I presume were added by Picochess. I therefore imagined a new field named [Time] would be acceptable, but it isn’t a feature that deserve any special effort.

    I think the Player List could be implemented by having a player-list.txt file in the Picochess directory alongside the picochess.ini file that is already being read by picochess.py. The player-list.txt file would be included with Picochess and prefilled with empty/dummy names for all allowed special pieces combinations. The Pi owner can then update the file with player names as needed such that the proper player names can be recorded in the PGN. It would be incumbent on each individual player to remember his/her specific special pieces combination and a printout of the file can naturally also be provided. The function should default to generic player at each new game and only use a specific name if explicitly indicated at the beginning of the game. Is there a description anywhere of which special pieces combinations are permitted or is that a special FEN combination that the programmer defines?

    • I will implement a “time” tag too – see §9.5.1 at http://www.saremba.de/chessgml/standards/pgn/pgn-complete.htm#c9 I want to stay with the standard and not invent my own tags (like timestamp).
      Hope that helps you – this i can do very quickly – next version i think.

      For the players name its right now only possible to give one(!) name (by startup parameter). I doubt picochess will be used by alot of different players at the same place (your use case). At least, people would vote for remote play, tournament time controls etc first, but i keep this idea for lateron when i improve the pgn part altogether/in general. Forgive me, but things cant be controlled by clock (as said before) together with lot of work & not clear improvement have to wait abit longer. Anyway, thats more a field of a pgn editor (here: changing user names) – i can never reach the functionality of such programs (=chess clock).

  4. Hi Jürgen,

    first of all thank you so much for your great work – I love picochess!!!
    Just two quick question if you don’t mind (couldn’t find an answer somewhere else):
    1. Is it possible to change the display of the moves to “long notation” aka e2-e4 instead of just e4 in pico chess.ini?
    2. Since one of the later releases all of a sudden some personalities for the RODENT engine are missing (eg. famous persons like Fischer, Spasski etc. Will they come back or can I manually activate them?

    Thanks again for the great work!

    • Hi Dirk,
      Concerning your questions:
      1) no, thats right now not possible (only if you use the XL clock). Its not too hard to implement this but i dont like this display 🙂 Same for big capitals (so, y see i sometimes do it, even i dont like it too much).
      2) The developer of RodentIII changed on v0210 to a new system. I cant find Fischer, etc there. So my answer is: As soon he release them, i can also offer them here.

  5. Thanks for the quick answer Jürgen!
    Ah – that’s what confused me: I saw a video with the xl clock but I have a 3000.
    Ok, i also don’t like the big capitals but regarding the display of the move it would help me (and a lot of other I think) to see and do the move on the board much quicker than with short display.
    But of course your mileage may vary and I appreciate that you at least listen (and even ask) for suggestions.

    Thanks again

    • Im not 100% sure y understood my (bad) english. I dont like this “capital letters” feature. I want the display to be with mixed letters (or short notation). But i still implemented this cause i try to make users on valid wishes more or less happy. Same for your “long notation”. It will be online with next release cause i already did it, ha.

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