Your Move for iPad

[Your Move for iPad]Your Move for iPad

Solid FICS client, with great UI

Rating by Mike D: 4.5 stars


Your Move by red82 Software is a cheap FICS (Free Internet Chess Server) chess client. It doesn’t play chess against you, or analyse games, or store them for later searching. It is a pure chess client. And a nice looking one at that. A good bargain at 69p.

You can connect to FICS as a registered user or as a guest. The default guest name it creates for you is prefixed by YourMove, so that’s a handy way of spotting people using this interface on the server. Currently only FICS is supported, which is fine since it is the largest free chess playing server on the planet.

A refined chess interface

The interface feels classical, you get the aged paper look for the panels, antique faded wood surrounds and a classical yet elegant set of chess pieces on an excellent contrast vintage green and pale brown board. It’s the complement to playing a serious game of chess, and should suit the regular serious player.

By default the sound is off, so they need to be turned on to experience the recognisable plink of pieces as they are swooshed across the board.

The interface is fixed into portrait mode, so seeing a landscape mode working in a later version would be welcome.

Online realtime chess

The list of games and challenges are – like other chess clients – cached, so finding the right game parameters and accepting challenges requires a little patience and a little luck. Although, you can create your own seeks which seems a little easier way of finding a game. As an out-of-practice non-regular player, I prefer looking at existing challenges rather than creating my own.

The game interface is lovely, perfect for the standard blitz game. However, the nature of touchscreens, means that lightning and zero-increment games are a little fraught. So I opt for a little increment per move to iron out these environmental factors.

As you are playing the game, it keeps track of moves, as well as the standard stream of FICS chatter. I’ve played a few games using the tap-tap approach: tap a piece and tap the destination. I don’t know if sliding the pieces can be done, but I don’t feel this is an intuitive way of moving the pieces.

[Your Move for Ipad - playing online]

There’s some nice little touches; when you tap a piece, all the destination squares it can go to are subtly highlighted. Unfortunately, sometimes this feels like you’ve touched the wrong piece.

Currently there’s another tiny glitch that when making a move, an adjacent piece can disappear. This is a little worrying in blitz when your strongly centralised knight suddenly disappears. But it does reappear about a second later. Possibly just a repaint issue with the application, and I hope it’s fixed soon – blitz is stressful enough thanks.

Sharing games played

One unusual touch is that the share feature doesn’t do the standard send via email; it insteads sends the game to a site called Chess Pastebin – not a site I’ve come across before. It’s essentially a public dumping ground for chess games. From the interface you can see the game on Chess Pastebin, this opens the iPad’s browser to show your game. The simple interface allows you to play through the game in typical JavaScript fashion. Chess Pastebin also allows you to get the raw game as a PGN, as well as offering you a way to embed the game into your own website as an iframe.

I’d prefer a send-via-email of the raw PGN, but having the Chess Pastebin option is remarkably useful. It can be shared by merely sending the URL of the pastebin entry, much like every other Pastebin clones out there. Except that it’s chess-aware, so you get to play through the game, flip board, and get the raw PGN.

Observing other games

Watching other games in progress is also supported in the interface, and here Your Move shows it’s strength. You can watch several games at once, and swiping to get from one board to another. So you can watch multiple games in progress. Though, you can hear the plinks of pieces being moved it isn’t obvious which board has moved.

[Your Move for iPad - watching]

Another surprising oversight is that if you’ve just joined a game as an observer the game score starts at the current move. There’s no obvious way of seeing all the previous moves in the game score. Navigating the current game is limited to tapping on the moves displayed in the game score. It’s fully-supported features like this I look forward to seeing in future releases.

Recommended iPad app

Overall, this is a very decent and usable FICS chess client. Certainly an improvement over Chess Wise Pro for iPad in usability and general feel. It’s a great first version.

There’s room for extra features that will make it a top-notch chess client:

  • Being able to save games to a database or PGN file, or emailling it. (Although the Chess Pastebin is definitely a keeper feature)
  • Grab the entire gamescore of a game being observed so that it can be navigated (some forward and back buttons wouldn’t go amiss too)
  • Access to the FICS command line for better filtering of games, e.g. finding tournament games being relayed through FICS.
  • Support both portrait and landscape orientations, landscape is more natural to sit back and watch games in progress.

With those, I’d have to consider this app a must have chess client for the serious chess player.

Chess-wise Pro for iPad

[Chess-Wise Pro for iPad]Chess-wise Pro for iPad

Has FICS client, but crashy
and needs work on UI

Rating by Mike D: 2.0 stars

One of the features that attracted me to Chess-wise Pro was the FICS client. As persistent socket connections were once disallowed on iOS applications, Apple’s withdrawal of that limitation has meant that playing online chess against decent strength opponents is now possible; and enjoyable.

The ability to play chess online from the comfort of a sofa means casual blitz is possible. Tablets moves the serious chess player away from a mouse-dominated game towards something a lot more natural; back to the good old days.

Online play with FICS

In terms of online play, Chess-wise Pro doesn’t disappoint. Right off the homepage of the application there’s a button simply titled “FICS”. This logs you into the Free Internet Chess Server with a guest login, and you are then presented by a visual list of game offers. Tap one to select, and Murphy willing, you’re playing a game.

[Chess-Wise Pro iPad board]

The board is very decent. I’d prefer the last move notation to be clearer, perhaps not camouflaged in the app title bar. Since on a tablet there’s space around the board in both landscape and portrait modes I’d have preferred to see the last two or three moves listed.

I haven’t really played on FICS for about a dozen years, I use it just to watch relayed games of Super Grandmaster tournaments and matches. But I did play a few games for the purposes of this review.

I liked this form of online play. I actually played on FICS while on my commute into work on the train, over 3G. I am impressed that the connection didn’t drop, and I played several games.

I very nice feature is that Chess-wise Pro stores all your FICS played games into a PGN file for later review. A stonkingly useful idea. (Pity the games against the computer aren’t saved to their own database too!).


Chess-Wise pro also impresses with it’s chess database functionality. Initially this points to three online databased covering covering Tournaments, Matches and World Championships. Plus a database for your FICS games that’s populated automatically.

The Database button takes you to a navigatable list of PGN files. Selecing a database gives you a three column quick display mode, which allows you to skim through the selected database, play through the game. Export it to email or the clipboard (I have no idea how this is then accessible to other applications, I didn’t even know the iPad had a clipboard).

[Chess-Wise Pro iPad game search]

The database is definitely useful, but a little clunky. Searching for games between two grandmasters returns a list of results, but it’s missing the year the game was played, and it’s not clear what the order of games is. It’s these little details that hinder this being a must-have chess app.

Interface quirks and bugs

The user interface has a number of flaws and usability gaffs. It certainly needs improvement

The start screen is confusing.

It’s hard to tell what the difference is between a button showing one person, and an icon showing one person and a clock. Both take you to a board to play against the computer, one allows you to set the chess engines’ average thinking time per move, the other sets a time limit for both players. Personally, they are both facets of a timed game. The FICS button only makes sense for people who know what FICS is.

The start page has a button usefully titled Help, which contains a brief overview of the application. But inside the Help itself there is no obvious mechanism for exiting back to the start page. I had to force quit the application and restart to get back to the start page.

Thankfully it’s very hard to screw up the understandability of a chess board. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the icons around it. When you are playing a game, the house icon (recognisable as a home button) triggers a “New Game” dialogue. To get back to the start screen of the application you need to tap the icon that’s either supposed to be a target or a 2D tornado funnel.

Forcing the chess engine to move is done by tapping the rotate 180 degree icon. In other chess programs this icon is immediately recognisable as the rotate board option. Chess-wise uses an downward-pointing arrow for rotating a board, an icon I initially interpreted as a “force engine to move” button.

In play, a couple of times the chess engine has hung and refused to move. Most notably when it’s running out of non-losing moves. It’s almost like it’s petulant and skulked off. The activity indicator keeps animating, which suggests there’s some processing going on, but nothing happens, but the UI is still responsive.

In the analysis mode I’ve had a few weird crashes right after the analysis engine carries out moves like invisible white knight takes white queen on c3.

I wanted to like this particular chess app. The FICS client is the strongest feature here, and probably the prime reason for purchasing. The additional features are not at an acceptable quality level yet, which means there is a lot of potential for this application to be the one essential app for serious chess players. The UI needs improvement.