Adrien Regimbald
Faile's Webpage


Faile is covered by the MIT license, you can read about it in the file license.txt which should have come with this distribution.

For the installation, I will assume you will be using Faile with Winboard (see section on Graphical Interface).

If you downloaded the file, create a directory for Faile (I will assume c:\faile14), and extract all files from into Faile's directory. If you wish to use Faile with the graphical interface WinBoard, please read the Graphical Interface Mode section below. If you don't wish to use WinBoard, you should read the Command Line Mode section below.

If you downloaded the file faile_1_4_4.tar.gz, you will need to compile the program on your own. There are 3 sample makefiles:

  1. "makefile" for use with MSVC++ 6.0
    To build: nmake
  2. "makefile.ppro" also for use with MSVC++ 6.0 but optimized for Pentium Pro and above CPUs
    To build: nmake -f makefile.ppro
  3. "makefile.gcc" which should be sufficient for most *NIX systems
    To build: make -f makefile.gcc

Faile should compile using most compilers. If you have any difficulties, please e-mail me.

Graphical Interface Mode

Faile currently does not have its own graphical interface. However, it does support the use of WinBoard as an interface. To run Faile with WinBoard, use the following command or make a shortcut for it for your convenience (assuming you have WinBoard installed in c:\winboard):

c:\winboard\winboard.exe -cp -fd "c:\faile14" -fcp "faile.exe"

Faile will also work under Xboard. Use a command such as the following to run it under Xboard (assuming that Xboard is in your path, and you have Faile compiled in $HOME/faile14)

xboard -cp -fd "$HOME/faile14" -fcp "./faile"

Faile supports the issuing of commands after every game when on an ICS when using WinBoard/Xboard - simply place the commands which you want issued in the gameend.txt file!

Note: you will have to use WinBoard version 4.0 or better, or Faile will not function correctly. Faile should run with Xboard (versions 4.0 or better). If you wish to use Faile on an ICS with Xboard, you will need to have built it with configure --enable-zippy.

Not all WinBoard features are implemented yet, but more support is planned for the next version.

Command Line Mode

I recommend using WinBoard / Xboard to play against Faile, but if for some reason you are stuck using the command line version, there are some things which you will need to know.

Faile will recognize almost any "reasonable" variant of SAN or coordinate notation.

When you are using Faile, you can type "help" for a short description of the commands, here is what you will see:

diagram/d: toggle diagram display
exit/quit: terminate Faile
go:        make Faile play the side to move
new:       start a new game
level <x>: the xboard style command to set time
  <x> should be in the form: <a> <b> <c> where:
  a -> moves to TC (0 if using an ICS style TC)
  b -> minutes per game
  c -> increment in seconds
nodes:     outputs the number of nodes searched
nps:       outputs Faile's NPS in search
perft <x>: compute raw nodes to depth x
post:      toggles thinking output
xboard:    put Faile into xboard mode


Faile is an expert to master strength chess program, depending upon the machine you run it on, and it's FREE!

I also hope that Faile will be useful to those trying to make their own chess program, or are simply curious as to how one works. Faile's source is relatively small, while at the same time being full featured, neatly coded, and well documented.

Hash Options

By default, Faile uses ~ 8MB of hash size. Faile will, in general, play better with more hash allocated. However, you must be careful, as if you specify more hash size than your machine can handle, Faile will be using virtual memory, accessed from your hard drive, and performance may actually suffer severely. You can change the amount of hash which Faile will use like this:

faile -hash <size in MB>

So to use 32MB of hash, you would do the following:

faile -hash 32

Note: the actual amount of RAM used by Faile may be slightly smaller than what you specified, because Faile may not be able to evenly allocate up to that much memory without going over the size specified.

Opening Book

Faile's default book is based upon a collection of GM games, designed to cover all ECO lines.

To make your own opening book, first create a PGN file of all of the games which you wish to make the opening book for. Please clean up the PGN file before giving it to Faile, as Faile's PGN parser can't handle comments/ variations/NAGs/etc. I suggest to clean it up that you use extract like this:

extract -C -N -V -s -o<output PGN file> <input PGN file>

After you have your desired PGN file, use Faile on it like this:

faile -mbook <PGN input file> [<max ply>]

The max ply is optional, and will be set to 20 if you don't set it to any value. The largest allowed max ply value is 40. The output file will be faile.obk and if you wish to keep a copy of an old faile.obk, make sure to back it up before making a new opening book, as the old one will be overwritten if it is not.

An example of creating a 30 ply book with the file games.pgn:

faile -mbook games.pgn 30

Please note that while creating an opening book, Faile will use up to 32MB of RAM. The process may also take a long time depending on how large of an input file you use, and how fast your computer is.

Feel free to make your own opening book for Faile, and be sure to contact me if you create an interesting book - I may even put it up on Faile's web page if I think it is a nice book!

Current Work

I am not yet finished with Faile, and I will still be working on it for some time to come. Some of thing things that you may see in future versions:

  • more WinBoard support
  • a slightly improved evaluation function
  • more opening book support, perhaps learning
  • pondering
  • some improvements on the search algorithm
  • Faile's own user interface (not too sure on this one..)


You can use Winboard to have an account for Faile on FICS!! Please see the winboard documentation for how to do this. If you do make an account on FICS, please let me know! :) Before you get an account on FICS, be sure to read all of the appropriate documentation on FICS, such as help computers and help computer_app.

Dedication & Thanks

The following people (in alphabetical order) have helped me out tremendously over the time I've spent working on Faile, whether it was general programming help when I was learning how to code, suggestions for search techniques, bug detection/testing, etc.

  • Yngvi Bjornsson
  • Dann Corbit
  • Andrew Dados
  • Stefan Hildingstam
  • Marcel van Kervinck
  • Carsten Kossendey
  • David Lee
  • Gian-Carlo Pascutto
  • Matthew Shoemaker
  • Sam Slutzky
  • Brian Wickman

I am dedicating Faile to David Lee, who constantly encouraged me to keep improving Faile, was always helping me out whenever I needed someone to do test games/opening books/etc, and was also always there for me when I was having personal problems. I couldn't have done it without you Dave!


Faile seems to be relatively bug-free, but if you notice any bugs, be sure to contact me!

There are some potential trouble spots though:

  • Faile may take a while to check for input during search, or it may not be able to at all if you have defined #ANSI and recompiled Faile yourself. If you are using the pre-made version of Faile, please wait a moment or two after resetting the game before starting a new one.
  • There are a number of unsupported WinBoard/Xboard features, these will hopefully be supported in the future.

Faile is not perfect, but I hope that you enjoy it! :)