Using your home chess engine anytime, anywhere

by Albert Silver
5/9/2017 – Recently, a grandmaster was explaining that one of the biggest problems when travelling was that analyzing on his laptop would eat up his battery in an hour or two at most. When asked why he didn’t just connect to his desktop, he said he was not a ‘computer whiz’ like some. Do you sympathize with him? If so, learn how incredibly easy it is to set this up with Fritz or ChessBase so you can access your personal desktop anytime, anywhere.

ChessBase Account Premium annual subscription ChessBase Account Premium annual subscription

At the airport, in the hotel or at home on your couch: with the new ChessBase you always have access to the whole ChessBase world: the new ChessBase video library, tactics server, opening training App, the live database with eight million games, Let’s Check and web access to


If you read about the high-tech setups top players have, accessing their computers at home from half way across the world, and thought that was for either the very tech savvy (or a tech savvy assistant), get ready to see just how easy it is. Not only will you see how simple it is, but I will share a couple of vital tips that could trip a new user (and are not in the Help file…yet!).

What you need

  • a copy of Fritz/Komodo/Houdini, or ChessBase 13/14 installed on both computers. Note: the same serial number that comes with your copy will work on two computers.
  • A working ChessBase Account or Playchess account – they are one and the same
  • A working internet connection for both computers (obviously)

Setting it up

You first want to set up the machine you plan to connect to, which you will see is not much more than a few clicks to do.

In Fritz (when saying Fritz, we mean the program, and not the engine), go to the Engine tab at top and click on Open Cloud Engines.

In ChessBase 13/14, just start the program, and click on the Cloud tab, and then Cloud Engines

You will need to enter your Playchess nickname and password to connect

A large list of machines that are available will appear, with the names of the engines, the hardware and more. These are other computers you can connect to for free, or for a fee. This will be covered in a future tutorial.

At the top, click on Offer Private engine

Choose the engine you want, and then Ok

A large window will open, now showing your engine, waiting for someone (you) to connect to and run it. As it is private, only you can see or connect to it.

If you want to add any names of other accounts to give permission (still private), you can add their names. Click Change Engine Data…

Then click on Private Users on the left, and Add, and enter the account name you want to add (or remove). Since this is private, no one but those names on this list will even see the engine listed, much less be able to connect to it.

Important: Turning off Sleep mode

It is vital that you disable Sleep or Hibernation mode for this computer, since what good will it do you, if it is inaccessible, ‘sleeping’, when you try to connect to it?

In Windows 7, you will need to enter Control Panel, then Power Management. Here set your computer to turn off the screen after whatever time you want, but set Sleep to ‘Never’.

In Windows 10, go to Settings…

… then System…

… then Power & Sleep, and set Sleep to ‘Never’.

Connecting to your computer from your laptop

Once your desktop is set up, connecting to it anytime you want is extremely easy.

Just as you did above, enter the Cloud Engines (Cloud tab in ChessBase 13/14, then Cloud Engines), using the same account you are logged in with in your other computer (or any account you added to the list)

In the list of engines, find yours, and double-click on it. Click Ok for any dialogue that opens, and you are good to go! The engine will run entirely from your remote computer, and will not use your laptop’s processor or battery.

Even if you close the engine, but not your connection, you can re-open it just as you would any engine. Just click on Add Kibitzer...

... and now on the right, you will see the Cloud engines you can open, added to the list of choices.

The next to you plan a chess trip, consider this choice. It means you can get all the power of your home computer, without needing to spend big bucks on a uber-laptop, or worry about battery life when analyzing with an engine. Once you've tried it a couple of times, you will realize how easy it is, and can be done quite literally in seconds!

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors

Asnasium Asnasium 5/13/2017 11:17
The correct solution, I believe, is spare batteries.
chaot2704 chaot2704 5/11/2017 10:44
I am really not that IT-specialist but for my understanding it would make only sense if someone provides a server which is usually build to run 24/7. I am travelling a lot, sometimes continously for weeks and i would not be able to sleep if my desktop-PC at home is permenant on - especially if it is overclocked to increase performance.
mrstillwater mrstillwater 5/11/2017 10:37
@Bertman, thanks for the response but I think diegoami summed it up well - there are a number of reasons other than cost not to do it, though even $10 is a waste of money when you can get probably get something virtually as good for less (if not free) on-line.
brabo_hf brabo_hf 5/11/2017 08:04
I let my PC run often during the night for doing analysis. However I feel that the backside becomes very hot. So I don't recommend to leave a PC running for days without extra precautions.

Some friend told me that his correspondence chess costed him yearly 500 euros of electricity power. That is a lot of money if you are not rich.
diegoami diegoami 5/11/2017 01:05
It is not only the cost, it just seems like a waste of energy and it might also be a fire hazard. I would feel nervous going away for a week leaving my home computer on, I would freak out if it died down on me and would wonder what's going on.
Bertman Bertman 5/10/2017 06:49
@mrstillwater - I think you seriously overestimate the cost of keeping your computer on 24/7. However, thanks for the excellent comment, as I am sure it is a concern others may also have as well. I will do a small follow-up tomorrow to break this down, but in a nutshell, leaving your computer on 24/7 while you traveled would cost you $10-15 (including analyzing from it) per week, depending on how powerful the machine is.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/10/2017 01:49
Wait a minute... is this article suggesting that there are (useful) things chess computers can do in chess that humans can't? Heaven forbid! I thought chess computers were "so limited" and "didn't understand" many types of positions.
mrstillwater mrstillwater 5/10/2017 10:32
How many people want to leave their desktop computer permanently on when they go away? You'd be better off just plugging the laptop in somewhere if you want to analyze with it, or using one of the many freely available cloud engines.