The option “Opponent” under “Engine settings” tells the program who is playing a game at all. The following settings are possible:

  • Computer – Computer -The engine plays against itself until the game is over or the user interrupts it
  • Player – Computer – You have the white pieces, the computer plays black
  • Computer – Player – You have the black pieces, the computer plays white
  • Player – Player – The human player leads both the white and the black pieces. The program only checks the legality of the moves and constantly analyzes the current position
  • Autoplayer – This option enables the automatic play of two computers on two different computers.

chessacademy engine wahl des gegners

If a setting is selected where there is a human player, it is possible to enter information about the game header: player name (one or both) and tournament.

If you want to save a game played against the Chess Academy engine (or WinBoard or MCS engine), make sure that the option “Save game played in:” is enabled. Just mark this function with the mouse or the keyboard. Then press the button and select one of the offered databases where the game should be saved. If you want to save all your games in separate databases, you can create a new database. You can also manually enter the name of a new or already existing folder.

By default, only the main variation of the game is saved. However, under “Save” you can specify the best variation for each move, the position evaluation or text comments should also be saved.

Please note: if a WinBoard, UCI, or MCS compatible engine is activated instead of the native Chess Academy engine (see: Support of WinBoard Engines, Support of UCI Engines, and Support of MCS Engines) the “best variation” will not be saved in chess notation but as a text comment (if “Save text comments” is enabled). The reason for this is the large number of different display types for chess notation. If the option “Save the played game in:” is activated, all games are automatically saved in the selected database during autoplay. If you have preselected a different “opponent” mode, you must first finish the game and then save it manually.

The Mode option under Engine Settings in the Engine main menu allows you to set the game mode.

The following settings are possible:


bluebook open The “Serious game” mode

This mode is the actual game mode. In this mode you play against the program under fair conditions.

chessacademy engine ernsthafte partie

In this mode, however, some things that you quickly get used to when playing against computers are just not allowed. For example, the “touched – led” rule applies; you must also move a piece that you have clicked on. Also, of course, you can’t take back moves. The Permanent Brain is always switched on. All games played in “Serious” mode should be saved in databases. By the way, this is the standard game mode.


bluebook open The mode “Sparring game”

These settings are used for training or fun games. The engine plays a little weaker than in the “Serious Game” mode.

chessacademy engine sparring partie

“Sparring” means very practical tactics training for most users and provides a more realistic game experience than any handicap setting. Touching pieces, entering moves for the opponent (to select the interesting continuations with the help of the engine) as well as turning on and off the Permanent Brain are allowed here. Simply turn these options on or off by clicking the appropriate boxes. In this mode, you can also preselect one of four different game styles: Aggressive, Solid, Defensive, Risky.

The option “Chess coach is watching” can now also be activated in sparring mode via the “Coach” menu. In this case, the coach will switch on whenever Chess Academy believes in a bad move on your part. A corresponding Chess Academy Coach dialog window will show you the (supposed) bad move, suggest a better one, and give you the choice to either continue the game without any change or retract your last move.

First of all, you have to set the maximum analysis time of the coach. Here you have the choice between “time per move” and “fixed calculation depth”. These settings only apply to the coach and have nothing to do with the actual “thinking time”. Of course, the quality of the move suggestions of the chess coach depends directly on the available time or search depth. Additionally, you should set a threshold value (the difference between the rating for your move and the rating of the best move Chess Academy would play) in hundreds of pawns. So a value of “150” means a rating difference of 1.5 pawn units. The set value should not be too low so that the coach does not constantly intervene.

Please note: the coach only works in the game “Man vs. computer” or “Man vs. man” (see: Opponents). In auto-analysis mode or in test mode this option cannot be activated, nor if another engine than the Chess Academy engine is active.


bluebook open The “handicap game” mode

This mode is designed to even the odds between two opponents of very different strengths. Is the Chess Academy engine perhaps too strong for you? Or vice versa!? With the handicap options, it is possible to level these differences in playing strength.

chessacademy engine handicap partie

Options such as touching pieces, entering moves for the opponent (to select the interesting continuations with the help of the engine), as well as turning the Permanent Brain on and off are allowed here.

Simply check or uncheck these options by clicking on the corresponding boxes. You can also change the original Chess Academy values for the pieces. Just use the mouse to move the scroll bar in the desired direction. Alternatively, you can use the tab key and the arrow keys to change the settings. The range is basically 0 to 10 pawn units.

You can also influence some positional factors here: Center control, piece mobility, king safety, passed pawns, weak pawns, and exchanges.

Again, use the mouse to move the scroll bar in the desired direction, or use the tab and arrow keys to select the desired setting. The engine will use the new settings for the next calculations.

Use the Reset All button to reset all settings to their default values.

The current time control is always displayed in the window header.

Please note: if the option “Allow opponent’s moves to be entered” is enabled, the Chess Academy engine will always use the entire available time (even for book moves or mates) to allow the user to enter a move for the engine. Not all of the options described above are supported by all enabled WinBoard, UCI, or MCS engines. So if you are not using the native Chess Academy engine, it is quite possible that changes to the above values will have no effect on the game.

The “Time Controls” option under “Engine Settings” allows you to set the desired level of play. Chess Academy offers the following setting options:

Tournament – The default setting for time controls, where a player must make a certain number of moves in a given time.

chessacademy engine zeiteinstellungen turnier

After the prescribed number of moves, the program usually continues with a second, different time control. Therefore the program offers you the possibility to preset up to three different time controls. For the “Rest of the game” setting, enter the maximum value 999 in the Moves box. Check the “Different time controls” function to specify different time controls for white and for black. This can be useful, for example, to compensate for differences in playing strength. Otherwise, identical time controls are set for both sides.


Blitz Chess – In this setting, each player is given a fixed, usually shorter, time in which to play the entire game.

chessacademy engine zeiteinstellungen blitz

Usually, blitz games are scheduled for 5 minutes, while rapid chess games (also called rapid chess) are usually scheduled for 30 minutes.

Previously, rapid chess games were called active chess by FIDE. In the USA it is also called “Action-Chess”, in England the additional term “Quick-Chess” is in use. Check the “Different time controls” function to specify different time controls for white and black.


Moves/Time – The time control is similar to the Tournament setting, but here all time controls are set uniformly.

chessacademy engine zeiteinstellungen zuege zeit

Simply specify once how much time each player gets for a certain number of moves. After completing the corresponding number of moves, the same number of moves must be made again in the same time. Check the “Different time controls” function to specify different time controls for White and for Black.


Time per move – Here you can specify a fixed time per move for the program.

chessacademy engine zeiteinstellungen zeit pro zug

Check the “Different time controls” function to specify different time controls for white and black.


Time per game – Similar to the previous setting; however, this setting sets a fixed time for the entire game.

chessacademy engine zeiteinstellungen zeit pro partie

Check the “Different time controls” function to specify different time controls for white and black.


Equal time – With this setting, the engine is not given more time than the human player needs.

Understandably, this time control can only be given to the program. The setting can be useful for your own training.


Timer – With this setting, the time taken by a player is automatically added to the opponent’s time. You only need to enter the initial time.

This setting can be useful for your own training.


Fischer watch – A special setting introduced by ex-world champion Robert James Fischer.

chessacademy engine zeiteinstellungen fischer uhr

The complete game must be completed within a certain time, but after each move a given time is added to the player. This reduces the risk of losing on time shortly before the end of a game or spoiling the game by making bad moves. Select the “Different time controls” function to specify different time controls for White and for Black. You need to enter the default for the game and the time penalty per move.


Fixed calculation depth – the search depth of the chess engine specifies how far ahead the program calculates (defined in half moves, allows to select from 1 up to 32 half moves).

chessacademy engine zeiteinstellungen feste rechentiefe

The program does not examine all moves equally deeply. Promising continuations are examined more deeply to get a more precise evaluation. Please select “Unlimited search depth” to allow an unlimited search depth, in this case, the program calculates until:

1. a mate is found;

2. the calculation is interrupted manually by the user (Drag! command in the Engine menu).

Here you can set the clock display in the Engine window. For the game types “Time per game” and “x moves in y minutes” you can choose between already used time and countdown mode for both the total thinking time and the time for the current move. The countdown method is not possible for “fixed search depth” and “fixed time per move” (hourglass), nor for “time per move” or “same time” for the display of the total thinking time.

At the top of the window, you will always see the current game mode.

Note: Not all of the settings described above are supported by all activated WinBoard, UCI, or MCS engines. So if you are not using the native Chess Academy engine, the engine you are using may not process the time controls correctly.

You can preset the playing strength at which the computer plays via the “Playing strength” menu item under “Engine settings“.

chessacademy engine spielstaerke

You can choose from the following settings:

  • Beginner
  • Club player
  • Advanced
  • Expert
  • Master
  • Grandmaster
  • Custom

With each setting (exception: Custom) the hash table size, search depth and other parameters change automatically. You can, of course, define all of the above parameters yourself, but in this case the playing strength will automatically be displayed as Custom. In addition, you can influence the playing strength by choosing an appropriate playing level, or the time the engine is allowed to calculate.


The Chess Academy engine deliberately makes various mistakes in this setting, so that even a weak player has a chance to win.

Club player/hobby player

In this setting, the program is no longer so easy to beat. However, it still makes mistakes, so a hobby player / inexperienced club player should have winning possibilities after a hard fight.


This setting was created to play against an intermediate or advanced club player and is accordingly difficult to beat.


This setting was created for playing against a strong club player/expert, who is very experienced in chess.


This setting was created specifically for playing against a professional chess player with master strength.


This setting was created for playing against grandmasters.

Note: In order for the chess program to actually reach grandmaster strength in several positions, you must have a very fast computer, for example with a modern Pentium or AMD processor and with 16GB of RAM or more. In each game level (exception: user-defined levels) the values for hash size, search depth, and other parameters are set automatically. If you change these values, you will automatically end up at the custom game levels.

Select the Custom setting to set all game-level parameters manually. To change the hash table size of the program, enter a value between 1 and 200 MByte. Here you can also set how many main variants you want to see. In fact, it is also a search depth display. Here the program shows all found main variants in the special search window.

Note: Not all setting options described above are supported by all registered WinBoard, UCI or MCS engines.

bluebook open Maximizing the playing strength

For optimal engine performance, specifically, check the following settings:

Make sure that Chess Academy is the only loaded application and that only the engine is running. If other applications are open (even if they are partially inactive), the playing strength will decrease because the extraneous applications take up computing time and memory on your computer.

By default, Chess Academy sets the hash table size to a value of 8 MB. This value remains set until you change it manually. However, this value is relatively low, and in general, it can be said that the Chess Academy engine plays stronger when the value is higher. If a 5-stone endgame arises on the board, use the external endgame databases of Ken Thompson or Nalimov Tablebases.

Please note: The Chess Academy program also supports 6-stone Nalimov tablebases.

To easily set the analysis options, the “Auto Analysis” entry is provided in the “Engine Settings“.

auto analysis mode settings2

For each move, Chess Academy can specify the following values: position rating, best variant, thinking time, and/or search depth.

These are added to the move as variants, text comments, and ratings. The information is displayed in the engine window and in the game editor. However, it is not possible to analyze and manually change a game at the same time.

From the Save menu, you can select the information you want to save, i.e. best variation, position rating or text comments. It is possible that the game has already been commented.

Then you can select the function “Delete existing comments”. If this function is turned off, car analysis information will be added to existing comments, otherwise, they will be overwritten.

Next, set the minimum time for the analysis (time per move or fixed search depth). For high-quality analysis results, you should give the engine as much time as possible. You can also instruct the engine from which move to analyze a game.

Select “Current position” to tell the engine to analyze from here. This feature is very handy when analyzing variants from the game editor. If you call the auto-analysis from the game list, the “starting move” is set according to the default settings. With the button “Position after…” you can define the move from which the analysis starts and the move right. In the same way, you can define up to which move is analyzed. This is done again via the button “Position after…” exactly as explained in the previous section.

Select “Current position…” to define the number of half-moves to be checked, starting from the current board position. The values “from” and “to” can be combined so that you can define any desired analysis width.

Chess Academy can automatically analyze all moves or only those of one color. You have to select “all”, “white only” or “black only”.

Last but not least, you can also perform a tactical error search or check tactical solutions in the auto-analysis. This is commonly called a “blunder check”. However, Chess Academy goes one step further and allows not only the search for gross errors (blunders) but also for bad, good, or excellent moves. The desired options can be found under “Mark move as…” and specify the “Rating difference”. Again, the value is given in hundredths of a pawn, i.e. if you enter e.g. -150, a move with a difference of 1.5 pawn units is considered a gross mistake. Negative values are therefore errors, positive ones represent good moves. Of course, the values for gross errors/excellent moves should significantly exceed those for good/bad moves. The option is inactive if another engine than the native Chess Academy engine is in use.


Start auto-analysis mode

auto analysis mode settings1

Please select Auto Analysis from the Engine menu.

chessacademy keyboard Alternatively: keyboard shortcut Alt+Z.

Chess Academy can automatically analyze all moves or only those of one color. You have to select “all”, “white only” or “black only”.