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PBeM Server Tutorial

This document is intended for those who are new to the server and want to get started right away without wading through all of the help documents for all of the various commands. In most cases, you can simply cut and paste the example commands, and then edit the appropriate fields (such as userid and password).

Remember, all server commands are issued by sending email to with the command in the subject line, not the body.

Signing up on the server:

The first thing you need to do to play games on the server is to sign up. To do so, you must first choose a userid and a password. The userid identifies you and is used when issuing challenges and move commands, and the server uses it to keep track of your ratings and games played, etc. As a matter of form it should be based on your real name, such as your first name by itself or your first initial and last name. You must also choose a password. This can be anything you want as long as it contains no spaces, quotes, or colons. Make sure to pick something that you can remember, because you will use your password every time you issue a movement command. This is to insure that no one else can make a move for you.

The general form of the signup command looks like this:

        signup userid password [ e-mail address(es) ]

You do not have to specify any email addresses unless you want the server to communicate with you at an address other than the one that you're sending the signup command from.

Suppose that your name is Fred Smith and you want "chocolate" to be your password, and you want all PBeM related mail to be sent to You would sign up by sending email to with the following as the subject line:

        signup fsmith chocolate

You would now be known as fsmith on the server. Now you are ready to start playing games. At this point you can move to the web interface if your game is supported there and you prefer clicking to typing e-mail

Finding players:

In order to play a game on the server, someone must issue a challenge command for that game. In order for that to happen, you must find out if there is anyone interested in playing the game you want. There are two ways to do this. You can use the broadcast command to send a message to everyone on the server, or you can send a message to the PBeM mailing list at You were added to the mailing list automatic- ally when you signed up.

Suppose you are still Fred Smith, and you want to play chess. You can send a message to the mailing list at with a subject like "Chess games wanted" and a body something like this:

        Hi! I am new on this server, and I would like to play chess. If anyone
        is interested, my userid is fsmith.

You could instead use the broadcast command to send a message to all PBeM members by sending a message to with a subject line of:

        broadcast fsmith chocolate

and a similar body. However, sending a message to the mailing list is the preferred method.

Issuing a challenge:

As a result of sending the above message, you might find yourself with several chess games awaiting your first move. This is because people have used the challenge command to challenge you. However, you might get some responses from people inviting you to challenge them, so you should know the challenge command. Also, you may have seen a message sent to the mailing list from someone else looking for challenges in a game you're interested in playing.

The challenge command differs from game to game, because some games on the server have different variations or can have more than two players. Thus it would be a good idea to read the help topic for the game you want to play. The challenge command for chess looks like this:

        chess challenge userid1 userid2

The first userid is the person who will be white, and the second will be black. So suppose you want to challenge a user whose userid is karlvonl, and you want to be white. You would send a message to with the following as the subject line:

        chess challenge fsmith karlvonl

What's next:

Now that you are in at least one game, you are ready to start making moves. You will make a move each time the server sends you a board update telling you that it is your turn. However, because the move command and movement notations differ greatly from game to game, this command is out of the scope of this tutorial. At this point, you must look at the help topic for your desired game.

Most games have at least two help topics. One has all of the commands for the game, and the other explains the rules. The commands topic is usually just the name of the game, while the rules topic is the name with ".rules" appended to it.

To learn the rules to chess, send a message to with the following as the subject line:

    	help chess.rules

To see all of the server commands for chess, you would send the command:

        help chess

Simply issuing the command:


will give you the main help page for the server, including a list of all of the games that are available, and all of the help topics for them.

For an explanation of the rating system used on the server look here.

Enjoy the server!


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