This is a good place to ask about GNU Chess. I can give you some
information and hopefully answer your questions to some extent.
GNU Chess is a program to play chess against the computer, or to let the
computer play against itself. It includes a frontend for interactive
playing, or it can be used as a chess engine from third-party frontends.
Its built-in good old frontend is purely textual. It also includes an
enhanced frontend that we can call graphical or pseudo-graphical, based on
Unicode chess points. This is good for usage from a terminal.
When used as a chess engine, a typical partner is XBoard, a fully-fledged
graphical frontend, and it can be used from many others.
GNU Chess runs on GNU/Linux, Unix and Mac OS X, but not on Windows, at
least not the official version. I have heard of variants that can, but I
don't have any information about them.
Its chess engine is quite powerful, based on Fruit 2.1. The program can use
a book, especially for openings, but this is optional, so you can easily
disable it. It does not include end-game knowledge.
Of course, the chess engine includes an evaluation function. It is
recognizable, but it is not a plug-in that you can change without
rebuilding the whole program. The evaluation function, though not trivial,
is relatively simple, and it does not account only by itself for such a
strong engine, which also comes from the search algorithms.
You can modify the program as long as you can write C. Technically
speaking, it is C++, but it is "virtually" C code.
BTW, I personally started a modification of the program some years ago in a
way that could be interesting for your purposes, but unfortunately I did
not finish it: a running mode based on an "external" evaluation function
written in the Scheme programming language. If you are interested in it,
you can find a start point of this idea in the repository.
Whether GNU Chess is what you are looking for or not, I could not say it
for certain. That depends on your skills in GNU/Linux, C and chess engines
among other factors. Just let me know if I can help you more.
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