23 June 2015

Early Chess Newsgroups

In a recent post, Early Chess on the Web, I documented some methods for finding 1990s(++) web pages. Then in Origin of 'Chess Engine', I extended one of those methods to answer a 1990s-era question. One more method should be documented : finding 1990s forum-style discussions, i.e. navigating the newsgroups. The history of those early forums is described in Wikipedia under Usenet Newsgroup and Google Groups.

Like other early Internet archives, some unknown percentage of the original content has been lost, but the remainder provides answers to basic research questions. The grandfather of the chess newsgroups is rec.games.chess (rgc). The earliest post I can find is from


I would like to have a source for chess programs. Please e-mail if you have an accesss to a public domain one. • Chess programs wanted (December 1986).

In 1995, rgc was split into four newsgroups, named 'rec.games.chess.*'. The main newsgroup was


Then when do people move to rec.games.chess.misc? -- Update you .newsrc file or check you site. The rec.games.chess.* hierarchy is up and flowing! • The split has been approved (June 1995)

The three other newsgroups created at the same time were:-

Of the alternative newsgroups, I've already used the most important in the 'Origin of Chess Engine' post, aka gnu.chess. The earliest surviving post here is


At S.C.'s request, I have updated the /u/emacs/gnuchess.tar.Z file on prep to his current version ftp'd from venera.isi.edu. • gnu chess updated (December 1988)

And that's pretty much everything it takes to start exploring the newsgroups. I'll be using these tools in a few future posts related to the history of chess computing.

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