How To Play Chess Inside Facebook Messenger

Instant messaging solutions have been known to be multi-faceted for quite a while now, offering everything from the exchange of texts and photos to collaborative drawing and games. Still, it came as a surprise to us when we learned Facebook’s very own IM has a chess game hidden inside it, as the social network has never openly advertised it as a feature, maybe because it seems to have been added as an afterthought – an Easter egg left for the more inquisitive among its user-base.


Facebook Messenger’s secret chess game doesn’t feature the conventional interface. The game is invoked and played using commands. That may not sound very user-friendly, but it allows you continue chatting with your friend(s) within the same thread without interrupting your game and vice versa, which makes it ideal for casual matches. Neither you nor your friends will have to send needless game invites to each other just to have a chess-off every once in a while.

Here’s what you need to do to get your chess on in Facebook Messenger:

1. Open a Messenger thread (existing or new) on the Facebook website or within the Messenger app on your mobile device.

2. If the message thread has a single recipient, simply type “@fbchess play” (without the quotes) and hit Send. This will start a new game of chess, with the FBChess bot randomly assigning colors and selecting either you or your friend to play the first move. In a thread with multiple recipients, you’ll have to specify your opponent with the “@fbchess play [FriendName]” command.


Note: Enter “@fbchess help” to have the short list of available commands displayed right within the thread. It should make things easier.


3. To make a move, use (SAN) Standard Algebraic Notation. If you aren’t familiar with SAN, all you need to do is scan through the list of commands displayed by entering “@fbchess help”. For example, to move a pawn to cell e4, enter “@fbchess Pe4” (or simply “@fbchess e4”), to move knight from b-file to d2, enter “@fbchess Nbd2”, and so on.


4. If you’re move is valid, the chess bot will reply with an updated board and list of moves made. You can, at this point, request another go at your last move by clicking the Undo option in the bottom-right corner of the board or by entering “@fbchess undo”, which your opponent may accept using the same command.


5. All that’s left now is to play until someone wins, resigns (“@fbchess resign”) or offers a draw (“@fbchess draw”), which the opponent will have to claim (“@fbchess claim draw”) to end the game.


You can also view your chess stats (wins and draws) against a particular friend with the “@fbchess stats” and “@fbchess stats [FriendName]” commands, and continue games from other threads by entering “@fbchess continue with [FriendName]” or “@fbchess continue from [ThreadName]”.

Now, go checkmate your mates. Be careful starting games inside group chats, though, unless you’re really, really confident or just immune to embarrassment.

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Sameed Khan

I write, game, design at times, and revel in sarcasm. You can find me on Twitter.