The Best Free Chess Games for Linux

Play chess for free on your Linux desktop

Linux supports many implementations of the classic game Chess, but they vary significantly in quality. We highlight four of the best.

Chess pieces on board
Toshiro Shimada / Getty Images
01
of 04

Simply Chess

Simply Chess
What We Like
  • Available on Steam.

  • Convenient notification system.

  • Cross-platform with a large player base.

  • Great community.

What We Don't Like
  • Visuals could be better.

  • Not open source.

Simply Chess distributes through the Steam platform. It's available for most major Linux distributions — install Simply Chess by searching through the free games.

This cross-platform game runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. This feature is important because it guarantees that there are is a decent number of players in the online chatrooms at any given time. Simply Chess is first on this list not for the visuals but for the fact that you can find like-minded people to play the great game with.

The actual game interface is very good. When you click a piece it will tell you all of the positions to which the piece can move.

02
of 04

Dream Chess

Dream Chess
What We Like
  • Available in the distribution repositories.

  • Open source.

  • Challenging computer opponents.

What We Don't Like
  • No online play.

  • Feels somewhat limited overall.

If you aren't concerned about online gameplay, install Dream Chess from the package manager for your distribution. The visuals for Dream Chess are more pleasing to the eye than Simply Chess.

Play against the computer or one of your friends but both players have to use the same computer.

The controls are easy to use. Click the piece and click where you want to move it to. Unlike Simply Chess, however, you aren't shown exactly where you can place the pieces.

The AI gameplay is very good and actually somewhat difficult even in easy mode — but if you make a mistake you can always backtrack using the context menu.

03
of 04

Brutal Chess

Brutal Chess
What We Like
  • Available in the distribution repositories.

  • Open source.

  • Simple skill levels.

What We Don't Like
  • No online play.

  • Features are limited.

Brutal Chess is also available from your Linux distribution's package manager.

The board and pieces are very pleasing on the eye.

The features are lacking compared to the previous options, however. There is no multiplayer option and you can only play against the computer. The game offers three skill levels.

This is a decent lightweight version of chess with a nice game board.

04
of 04

GTK Board Games

GTK Chess
What We Like
  • Available in the distribution repositories.

  • Open source.

  • Loads of games.

  • Great for basic games.

What We Don't Like
  • No online play.

  • Not that visually appealing.

  • Lacking in features.

The GTK board-games package is included not because the implementation of the Chess game is great, but because you get lots of different games and they take up hardly any disk space or memory. The GTK board-games package comes with a few dozen different games.

The actual implementation of Chess is basic and it's not yet fully implemented. It doesn't offer multiplayer mode but there is a fairly decent AI and the rules seem to be well developed, including the ability to castle.

Not as visually pleasing as the other chess games but for a bit of quick relief, while you're waiting for a large file to download or waiting for a video to rip, this is a decent option.