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Site map > Help

Frequently asked questions

New users may wish to firstly read the basics in the getting started section.

FIBS interfaces

If you are having a specific problem, please see our troubleshooting section.

About FIBS

The Games

How This Server Works

Ratings and Experience


About FIBS

What is FIBS?

The First Internet Backgammon Server (FIBS) was created by Andreas (marvin) Schneider in 1992. It allows Internet users to play backgammon in real-time against real people (and even some bots). There are players of every conceivable ability logging onto FIBS, from absolute beginners to grand masters.

If you are familiar with Telnet and don't mind an ASCII board you can connect immediately Telnet://fibs.com:4321. However, most Fibsters today use a graphical interface to allow the easy 'point and click' approach, see the connecting to FIBS page. And FIBS is totally free!

What are the system requirements to play here?

Basically, you need a computer with an internet connection. Beyond that, you can access FIBS through any Telnet program. But to get the best experience you will need to download and install a graphical interface (also called a front end or client). There are several FIBS clients available covering all computer platforms. See either the browser based or downloadable interfaces.

Is FIBS compatible with WebTV?

No, sorry. This is because you must download a client or front end program to interpret the Telnet instructions.

How much does it cost to play here?

FIBS is free. However you can help, see Who pays for FIBS?

What types of games are on this server?

Just backgammon, both match play and unlimited. Match lengths can be from 1 point to 99 points (limited to 9 points until you have 50 experience points). Many players participate in various tournaments and leagues organised by devoted volunteers. There is also an option to play unlimited length matches, these allow for beavers and racoons but not the Jacoby rule (glossary). See also How do you play backgammon?

How do I connect to FIBS?

There are three different types of connections. Browser based interfaces work directly on the web (using Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc), download interfaces are the most popular and there are various available, or you can directly connect using Telnet without an interface (recommended only for those already familiar with using command lines).

How do I sign up to play at FIBS?

Each interface has its own section for creating a new account. Please refer to the interface help pages for your chosen client for more information. To create an account through Telnet you need to connect to FIBS at port 4321 (telnet://fibs.com:4321). Login using the login name guest then type name [username] where name is the word 'name' and [username] is the login name you want to use. The username may not contain blanks ' ' or colons ':'. The server will then ask for your password twice, please make sure that you do not forget your password as there is no way to recover a lost password! You can also register prior to using any interface using this java registration page, and there are detailed instructions for playing via the JavaFibs Applet. See also What if I forget my password?.

How do I terminate my account at FIBS?

There is no formal termination procedure, just stop logging in. Unused accounts get deleted after about six months.

What's a browser based interface?

These don't require any downloading and can work directly on the web. JavaFIBS applet works with most browsers that aren't ancient or, more specifically, with any browser that fully supports Java 1.1.5 (but unfortunately doesn't currently work on Apple Macs). Prior to using JavaFIBS applet you must already have an account with the FIBS server which you can create with the registration page. ParlorPlay is another browser based interface and it works on all platforms. You need to register with both ParlorPlay and the FIBS server.

What are the FIBS download interfaces?

The three most popular and still supported for Windows are 3dFiBs, JavaFIBS and RealFibs. Classic Apple Mac users have MacFIBS for OS 7-9. Linux and Mac OS X users have JavaFIBS. On the connecting to FIBS page you'll find a full list of Windows clients plus others for Unix, Linux, cell phones and palm tops.

What are FIBS commands?

All interfaces use them and you can enter them yourself, look for either the command or terminal window. These commands are useful to all Fibsters and essential to Telnet users. For example, do you know about waitfor or whisper? See also What is the Terminal and how do its commands work?

The Games

How do you play backgammon?

Backgammon Galore has the rules and other useful information.

Is the doubling cube supported on this server?

Yes. All matches are played using the doubling cube. If you prefer to not use the doubling cube, playing one point matches is recommended, which is equivalent to playing a single game of backgammon without using the doubling cube (and gammons and backgammons are the same as single losses).

Is the Crawford rule in effect?

Yes, the Crawford Rule is active by default. There is an option to turn the Crawford Rule off, but both opponents must agree and have the rule turned off for this to be in effect. Each client program has its own way of handling this. Please refer to the relevant help pages for your chosen client. The Crawford Rule states that "When a player comes to within one point of victory, the next game is played without a doubling cube. Further games after that revert to normal." This rule is used in almost all backgammon matches everywhere, including FIBS.

How are the dice generated?

There is a single random number generator that feeds all the games as they are requested by the rolls.

Is FIBS cheating with the dice?

No. Honestly, these are just random dice. People regularly become convinced they see "non-random" rolls occurring on various servers and also in live games. This might be due to remembering unusual sequences more than other patterns or lack of patterns, and of course random doesn't mean they're always different rolls and not unusual events.

Also, sharp players often look more lucky since they're carefully playing the odds and ensuring that most dice rolls are good for them. Duplication and diversification are essential tactics for winning at backgammon. Don't underestimate the strength of checker play strategies.

If you're really convinced the dice are fixed then try playing a bot, such as gnubg, locally on your computer. You'll probably also feel that it's similarly cheating at the dice. Then change its settings so that you can enter dice manually and play more matches while rolling out the dice yourself. If you repeat this a few times you should then see that the bot is actually a rather strong player regardless of who controls the dice.

Some resources on this topic are Backgammon Galore articles and ZoneDice. And there's also the official complaint form, if you still think the dice are wrong.

How This Server Works

How do I play a game?

When connected to FIBS your username appears in the Players List in any of three states: Ready, Not Ready and Away. Ready means you are ready to play a match and either other users may invite you or you can invite them (if they are also ready). Not Ready and Away both mean you are not available to accept invites. With Away a player can leave a message which is sent to anyone who contacts them. Not all interfaces allow you to directly set your away message, though you can always use the Terminal.

When an invite is issued and accepted both players are then playing and the board in your relevant interface becomes active. At the start of the match (or each game within a match) FIBS rolls dice in the background to determine who goes first. There is no option for Automatic Doubles. The match is then played out to the end. At any time a player can leave the match by typing leave in the Terminal, but it is polite to inform your opponent first should you wish to do this. After the Leave command is used the match is saved and can be resumed at any time convenient to both players. Each client has different methods for inviting, accepting and setting the default (prefered) match length. Please refer to the relevant instructions for your client for more information.

How do I move my checkers?

Each client program has different methods for moving. Please refer to the instructions relevant to your chosen client.

How do I end my move?

Each client program has different methods for ending your move. Please refer to the instructions relevant to your chosen client.

Can I undo or make trial moves before I end my move?

Yes. Most clients allow you to move checkers around (within the constraints of your roll, obviously) until you are happy with a move. Please refer to the instructions relevant to your chosen client. It is not possible to do this with Telnet.

Can I play a timed match here?

Currently there is no way to limit the time length of a match on FIBS.

What are unlimited matches?

These are literally what they say - there is no end to the match! You can play for 20 points, or 1000 - it's open. No experience or rating points are gained from unlimited matches. You start an unlimited match with an opponent by inviting in the same manner as you would for any other match. Most clients offer the unlimited option as a specific button, but you should refer to the instructions relevant to your specific client to check on how to do this. An unlimited match is saved in the same way as any other match, and should be resumed in the same way (refer to your instructions to resume or save a match). Please be aware that if you have a saved, unlimited, match with someone and you take on a non-limited match with them, the saved unlimited match will be lost. Unlimited length matches should only be offered to consenting players - it is considered bad ettiquette to offer an unlimited match to someone without asking them if they want to play it first.

Can I customise the way my interface looks?

Yes. Each client program is customisable. Options vary from client to client, but include things like board size, play direction and many other functions. Some clients allow you to download different boards and it is possible, within some, to create your own. Please refer to the instructions relevant to your chosen client.

Can I resign a game?

Players may offer to resign in three ways: normal - the value of the cube gammon - twice the value of the cube backgammon - three times the value of the cube Resignations can be offered at any time during play, and for any value.
Please note: there is an issue of etiquette where resignations are concerned. For example: Should your opponent be bearing off before you have all or nearly all your checkers home and there is still some chance for your opponent to win with a Gammon, it is considered impolite to offer a normal resignation. However, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. The only way to resign a complete match is to offer a resignation high enough to cover the remaining points to be played. Please refer to the instructions relevant to your chosen client for details on how to issue a resignation.

Can I save a game in progress?

Yes. If for any reason you need to leave before a match is completed you can simply log off, or you can type 'leave' in the Terminal CLI. The game will be automatically saved. It is polite to inform your opponent first, before doing this in order to avoid being considered a dropper (see My opponent left and will not finish my game, what can I do?). When you and your opponent are both on FIBS next, and it is convenient for both parties, you can resume your match from where you left off. Most client programs offer the resume option in the same dialog box as the invite option - however, you will need to refer to the instructions for your chosen client to find out how it handles resuming. Please be aware if you accept a new match from a player you have a saved match with, or if you invite them to a new match, your saved match will be erased.
There are people who drop games (i.e. disconnect) if they think they are loosing the game, so their rating will not be affected. To check the status of a player, you can use RepBot to check for the amount of saved games, among others. Please keep in mind that if you drop a game, you will probably also wind up reported to RepBot.

Are there any tournaments played on FIBS?

With the introduction of TourneyBot there are tourneys played regularly on FIBS. The type of tourneys played spreads from "blitzes" (1 ptrs with 3 ptr final) to some very long tourneys. Please refer to TourneyBot to check for current tourneys. There are several third party servers not directly connected with FIBS that run tournaments, such as Fibsleagammon.

How can I examine my matches using Snowie, JellyFish, or GNU Backgammon?

Each client offers different ways of exporting or saving match moves. Please refer to the instructions relevant to your chosen client for details on how to export a match. For example, with JavaFibs2001 and GnuBG, just use the "Match Converter" under menu "Tools". Import it into GnuBG using "Import" and format ".mat".

What are bots?

Generally, bots are computer programs serving a special purpose. There are bots playing backgammon, organizing tourneys, keeping players reputations and so on. There are various computer opponents online on FIBS at any one time. Each plays with a different strength and is programed to play different match lengths. A list of all the bots and links relevant to them is available here.

What is gnubg?

This is a free and opensource backgammon bot that plays exceptionally well, see www.gnubg.org.

What is the Terminal and how do its commands work?

In each interface there is a Terminal window or a command line interface (CLI). This is used to issue commands directly to the FIBS server. Most terminal commands are duplicated in most client programs by buttons or menu options, however not all are. The easiest way to find more about the commands available is to log on to FIBS and within the terminal window or CLI of your interface type *help commands* DO NOT type the * symbol. This results in a list of all available commands and basic instructions on how to use them. Each command has its own help available. To get help on a specific command type *help (command)* DO NOT type the * symbol and substitute (command) for the relevant command you are interested in. Through the terminal it is possible to run a dice test, to see the ranking and position of any player - in fact, as FIBS was initially designed to run purely as a Telnet server, every element of playing and existing on FIBS is available with CLI commands. However, most players use graphical interfaces to take over the generally used FIBS functions. For instructions on the Terminal or CLI section of your chosen interface, how to find it and how to use it, please refer to the relevant help sections. Here is a list of the commands also.

How do I talk on FIBS?

There are several ways to chat with other users on FIBS. Whilst all the methods work in all clients, they each handle them differently. Some have seperate windows for public and private chat, others require you to type the talk command (shout, kibitz, tell, etc.,) first. Please refer to the help page for your client for specific instructions. There are five ways to talk with other users. In all cases your user nickname will appear before your message. 1. Main, public chat or shout area. All talk here is seen by everyone online. 2. Game chat, called kibitz. This is seen by, primarily, your opponent but it also visible to anyone actually watching your match. 3. Tell. This is a message sent directly to the player you wish to talk to.You can send a tell to anyone who is online, regardless of their status (ready, not ready, etc.,) and regardless of whether they are playing a match or not. 4. Say. This is identical to kibitz. 5. Whisper. Sometimes, whilst playing, other users may watch your match (usually these are friends come to see you!). Anything said using whisper is only seen by those watching the match, not by your opponent. Please note, FIBS is case sensitive, so if your client requires you to type a username after a chat command you must get the it accurate - capitals or lowercase as required.

Can I leave a message for another player not currently online?

Yes. There is a sixth chat command - 'message'. This allows you to leave a private message for a specific user. The message will be delivered the next time the recipient logs on. Each client handles the message command and how to issue it differently, please refer to the instructions for your specific client for more information. Please note, FIBS is case sensitive, so when leaving a message you must get the username accurate - capitals or lowercase as required.

Can I watch a match in progress?

Yes.You can directly watch any user whilst they are playing (unless you have been blinded by the user you are trying to watch - see 'My opponent is making rude remarks. What can I do? for more information on blinding) Watching puts you in the same 'room' as the user you are watching and you can see all moves and dice rolls and all kibitz messages. When you start watching a user a message appears in the user and their opponents window telling them that you are there.You can't watch a match without the players knowledge. However, you can look at matches in progress. This command is also called Peek. It shows you the current state of play, but does not update or show any chats. It simply gives you a snapshot of the match at that specific moment. Neither player will know you have peeked. Every client handles watch and look (peek) differently, please refer to instructions for your specific client to get more information.

My opponent left before we finished the match, what can I do?

Unfortunately there is a small number of players on FIBS called droppers. These are users who are trying to artificially increase their ratings by never finishing a losing match. Whilst droppers are a nuisance, there is currently not a great deal that can be done about them. There are various ways to check if a player maybe a dropper - but please be aware that these are all advisory and in no way a definite rule. In some cases, droppers will have a very low experience rating and a relatively high personal rating. This could be because they only finish winning matches. Of course - it could be because they are superb players! Droppers tend not to exist in the FIBS community for very long as, after a while, their exploits become known and people will shout (or even send direct tell) warnings about them. Sooner or later they tend to disappear. However, it is important to excerise some discretion before directly accusing a player of dropping. Poor internet connection, ISP problems or personal reasons may cause a player to log off suddenly. It is generally considered good manners to wait until an offer to resume the match has been refused by the opponent before branding them a dropper. There is a BOT online that keeps records of players and the number of saved games they have along with details of other FIBSters who have vouched or complained about them. This is called RepBOT and more information about it is available here

My opponent is making rude remarks. What can I do?

There are 2 options to help you. You can 'gag' anyone. Once you have done this they will not be able to talk to you, and you will not see anything they say on shout or chat.You can't talk to anyone you have gagged. You can also 'blind' anyone. The user you blind will not be able to watch or look at your matches. Not all clients retain gag or blind settings after you log out, so you may need to reset them each time you come back to FIBS. Each client handles the gag and blind commands and how they are issued differently, please refer to the instructions for your specific client for more information.

Who pays for FIBS?

Using the FIBS server is free. There's no charge for registering or playing, there's no profit taken, and no salaries paid. But FIBS does have expenses for its connectivity. Since 1996 these expenses have been covered by Kit and Sally Woolsey. Our enormous thanks goes out to them!

Do you use either JavaFIBS or MacFIBS? These high quality software packages ask for small registration fees in return for your use of them. How many people know the real meaning of shareware?

FIBS might survive without your support, but the blue whale and many other animals on our planet may not. Please consider doing your bit to help: Save the Whales, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, World Wildlife Fund and/or others.

Ratings and Experience

How are ratings calculated?

Ratings are calculated according to the FIBS system. The calculation is made between both opponents rating and experience points. Here's a good article by Patti Beadles explaining the FIBS rating system. add calculation formula here. For more on rating systems see here. There's one caveat, though, with those rating points: there are some people who try to get high ratings through unsportly means. The main tactics used are dropping matches just before losing (especially against bots), playing very new players who clearly have less than 1500 ability so give good equity, tricking your opponent into resigning, and focusing on just 1-2pt matches with weaker players since the FIBS rating equation appears a bit flawed there. How do you find out who to play and who to avoid on FIBS? It's not perfect but RepBot can help.

What are experience points?

Experience points are acrued at the rate of 1 experience point per match point played. Thus a 3 point match will gain you 3 experience points, regardless of outcome.

When are the winning points set for the match?

As soon as an invite is accepted FIBS calculates the winning/losing points for that match based on both opponents rating and experience. It makes no difference to the points won or lost if a player wins, say, a 3 point match 3-2, 3-1, 10-2 or whatever. The points for a win or loss, set at the moment of invite, remain the same.

How often are the player ratings calculated?

The ratings are updated immediately after the match is completed. The new rating and experience for each player is displayed in the players window on your client interface. If you can not see rating and/or experience points against a players name in the players window, please refer to your specific client's instructions.

Which matches are included in the ratings?

With the exception of unlimited matches, all matches played on FIBS gain or lose you rating points.


What if I forget my password?

Currently there is no way to retrieve a lost password. If you really have lost or forgotton your password you will need to start a new FIBS account and, unfortunately, start from 1500 rating, 0 experience.

Why doesn't my password work?

Passwords are case sensitive. Make sure that you are entering it correctly with upper or lower case letters and that Caps Lock is off. If you can't remember it any longer, see answer above.

I've lost my connection to FIBS but my internet connection is still on - what happened?

Occasionally there are server hang-ups (colloquially called FIBS quakes) that can cause several or all players to lose connection. This is relatively rare, but can happen.You should try to log back on to FIBS as soon as you wish and, if you were in the middle of a match, seek out your opponent and offer to resume the match. All matches are saved automatically when a FIBS quake occurs. You can check the status of the FIBS server here (probably not always up to date) or here.

My dice appear to be 'stuck'!

Sometimes FIBS commands between the client and the server get 'blocked'. Usually patience solves this problem, but on occasion you may need to issue a 'refresh board' command. This can be done through the Terminal or, with some clients, as a menu command. Please see the instructions specific to your client for more information. In extreme cases the refresh command may not work. It may then be necessary to either leave the game or to log off and back on again. In either case the match will be saved and you can resume it immediately. Please inform your opponent before leaving, so s/he knows about the problem and doesn't think you are dropping.

Everything is going very slowly.

On occasion the FIBS server can get somewhat 'bogged' down. This is colloquially refered to as 'lag' or 'server lag'. Whilst it is a nuisance and can seriously slow a match down, it will not affect the match in progress. Some players may experience lag whilst others are not - the internet, as we all know, is a wonderful but tenuous thing! If your opponent appears to have slowed unbearably or even seems to have stopped, lag could well be the cause. Generally a polite tell or kibitz asking what the problem is will get you an answer! Another, obvious, reason for slow play could well be that your opponent is new to FIBS and unsure of how their client works!

My opponent has been 'idle' for ages, what's happening?

Server lag can cause this (see Everything is going very slowly), also poor internet connection or ISP problems can be the cause. If a player's name is in the player list, or they are still present as your opponent, but have not moved for some while, it is possible they have been disconnected. Player names sometimes remain visible on the list after a sudden disconnection. It is considered polite to wait a few minutes for them to return and resume the match with you before moving on to another match. If you seem to be unable to get away from the 'stalled' match as it stands you may need to type 'leave' in the terminal or even log off and log on from FIBS altogether. In either case, the match will be saved by the FIBS server.

Where can I get help if this document doesn't answer my question?

If you still have questions or problems you might want to check the FIBS Board News Portal. There are forums for all kind of interface programs as well as forums where you can ask your question or keep up with developments, tourneys or other news more or less related to FIBS or backgammon. In any case you might consider registering on fibsboard if you plan to play on FIBS. You might also want to try to ask a question on FIBS itself, with the shout command, but please keep in mind that there are not only helpful people on FIBS, some people (aka trolls) at times try to make fun of newcomers asking for help or are outright unfriendly. Most people still will help you, but the experience can be frustrating.

One word of warning, though: at times some of the discussions carried on FIBS via shouts (i.e. readable by everyone) is, well, kind of "low level" and not for the faint hearted. If this disturbs you, you can use commands to gag and/or blind the offending people.

Enormous thanks to Jordan and www.dailygammon.com for allowing us to borrow from their FAQ. Main contributors: klic, GregS and alef.