PMICS for OS/2 Warp v2.1.1- by Steve Kelly

If you are like me and love your chess the same way you love OS/2 Warp, then wait no longer, my friend. Your ship has come in. It's called PMICS for OS/2 Warp.

PMICS for OS/2 Warp is a native OS/2 client for communicating with Internet Chess Servers. Internet Chess Servers (ICS for short) are telnet site chess clubs on the Internet. When one visits them, it's like going to the local chess club; you can talk to your friends, play chess, chat with others about games in progress, view a game being played by an International Chess Grandmaster... and all this while never leaving your home.

While there are web pages designed to handle chess, telnet connections offer response times and flexibility that web servers just can not match. And while it is indeed possible to use a simple telnet client to get to these chess clubs, the experience is far more enjoyable with an ICS client. These applications provide the user with a graphical chessboard from which to play with their mouse (much like you would play OS/2 Chess that comes with Warp), windows in which information from the chess server or from other users appears, and so on.

Chess, Presentation Manager Style

This is where PMICS for OS/2 comes in. PMICS, the native chess client for OS/2 Warp, requires only an OS/2 machine with an Internet connection. What makes PMICS so enjoyable to use is its status amongst the other available chess interfaces. Far too often, we, the OS/2 users, often have to make the grim choice between running native software with reduced features vs. feature-packed Windows software. In the land of ICS clients, the exact opposite is true. PMICS, by far and away, exceeds any of the currently available ICS clients available for any other operating system, in both ease of use and number of features (both powerful and subtle). Gone are the days of being envious of your WinFriend. In Internet chess, it's his turn to be envious of you.

Installation

Like most freeware, you have to do the installation of PMICS yourself, but the installation is very straightforward. You unzip it in a desired subdirectory, create a program icon for it on your Desktop, and that's that. When you first run PMICS, you will note that it already has one excellent chess server already configured, the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS). You can add more if you like, but FICS may well prove to be the only chess server you ever need. Just tell PMICS you wish to go to the site by double clicking on the entry, and presto, you're there.

Getting On-line

Once on-line, you will start seeing interesting things on your screen, all in various colors. This is one of PMICS's many features at work, displaying different types of information in different colors to make the swarms of data much easier to read. If you want to get your feet wet immediately, try typing "seek", which will send out a challenge to everyone on the server looking to play chess. You will soon find a chessboard popping up on your screen (GIF, 12.7k), indicating your challenge has been answered. Go ahead and play a game. You play by using a dragging motion with the mouse; it's very straightforward, as are so many of PMICS's features. However, at some stage you would be well advised to type, "tell 1 I'm new and would like some help." Others will fill you in on the ins and outs of using the command-driven chess server.

Features, Features, Features

After you become comfortable with playing chess on the server and start reading the help file provided with PMICS, you can get into setting its features. This is the area in which PMICS for OS/2 Warp shines far above the rest. Not only does PMICS display different kinds of information in different colors, it can even display this information in separate windows if you so choose. For example, if your best friend comes in, you can set up a private 'tell' window just for him, separated from the rest of the server chatter. Or you can define a window for the comments on a game in progress. Or you can set up a window for the help channel (where new players seek help from the ICS administrators). Or you can set them all up (GIF, 39.3k) if you want. PMICS can handle it.

Still, all these features mean little if they aren't easy to use. PMICS does an excellent job of making the complex very simple. (Just be sure to give the readme file a once-over at some stage.)

Other features of PMICS include using buttons to examine previously played games saved on the server, using point-and-click finger, challenges and histories of players currently on-line as well as point-and-click observations of games in progress, support for FICS Timeseal (a utility available that charges your clock only for the actual time you spend making a move, rather than having transmission times charged against you as well), login scripts, fully configurable colors and multimedia sound (MMPM is required for this), and numerous other features that leave all other available ICS clients in the dust.

New Features Now in Beta

The beta version currently being tested (I'm using v2.2 beta at this time) takes the most powerful of the ICS clients and widens the gulf between it and its nearest rivals. In addition to the above features (plus many I didn't mention), it adds things such as DDE of URL's to Netscape so that you can click on a URL, address or FTP item in someone's finger notes and have Netscape invoked for you (a very useful feature); intelligent point-and-click support which allows you to gather information on virtually any string you click on (namely user handles, server command help and URL's); full compatibility with the Internet Chess Club (known as ICC, a commercially available chess server); support for ICC Timestamp (similar to FICS timeseal); more servers set up in its default configuration; and other features just too numerous to mention. Paul Mitchell, the author of PMICS, has gone far out of his way to make certain PMICS remains the king of the ICS clients and is to be applauded for his brilliant effort.

Starting Points

The following servers in the United States are available:

The Free Internet Chess Server: telnet ics.onenet.net 5000

No fees required for permanent account. Do not let the free registration fool you (after all, PMICS is the best, and it's free, too), this high quality server is a great place to get your feet wet in the world of Internet chess. Many chess players make this server their permanent home. A powerful chess server administered well by a competent and friendly volunteer staff.
The Internet Chess Club: telnet chessclub.com 5010 (actually, any port number ranging from 5000-5099 will work)
You can visit this site for free as often as you like as a guest, but a fee is required for registration, which entitles users to view grandmaster lectures, participate in simultaneous exhibitions, ICC events, along with the usual benefits of unlimited play, ratings, etc. Its 6,000+ members and 20,000+ games played per day make this server the largest chess club in the world today.
There are other chess servers available as well. As you get your feet wet in the world of Internet chess you'll find out where they are. Half the fun is finding much of this information out for yourself, so I won't spoil it for you.

See you on the 'net.


 * PMICS for OS/2 Warp v2.1.1
by Paul Mitchel
download from the OS/2 Supersite (ZIP, 843k)
Registration: Freeware
Steve Kelly is an administrator on the Internet Chess Club, a USCF Expert Chess Player, APCT Postal Chess Master, and an enthusiastic OS/2 user. Any OS/2 user who wishes more information on how to play interactive chess live on the Internet should feel free to write him.

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