Free Chess Software

Chess Programs & Utilities

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Chess utilities and programs for playing - freeware or shareware. Chess publishing resources have pages of their own: Chess Fonts and Chess Diagrams where you also find utilities for showing games interactively on webpages using Java Script or Java applets.

Updated 16. October 2011

Chess Programs Tournament Man. & ELO Readers & Viewers Database & Conversion
Anaconda
Arasan
Chenard
Crafty
GnuChess
Rebel

Chess Problems
Explorer
MateMaster
Natch & iNatch
Problemist
Retractor

Chesspairing
Sevilla
Swiss Perfect
Tournament Coverage
Vega
ELO Rater
ELO calculation (Danish)
ELO2000

Live games broadcast

Correspondence Chess
DBSChess
ECTool
MailChess

Chess Set
Filemate 4.1
GM-View
PGN Web Editor
MINI-PGN
Pgn Reader 1.52
Haundrix Chess

Screen Savers
Chess Saver
Playing Chess-7

Interface
Arena
WinBoard & pixmaps
Schachmatt

ChessBase Light
CDB database
ChessPad 104
Jose database
Scid database
ChessDB database
Yahoo to pgn
YahooChess2pgn
Pgn-Extract
Pgn Notation Converter
PGN Manager
PGNUTILS
PgnGlue.bat
Conversion of files to/from different databases.

Macintosh Chess

Homepage * Nørresundby Chess Club * Chess Graphics * Chess Publishing * Download index * Links * What's new?

Chess Playing Programs

With the hardware of today commercial chess programs are very very strong, but you can get licked for free! At Chessopolis you'll find links to many more free chess playing programs. Some are strong, some are weak. Today there are quite a few programs with no interface of their own - they rely on the use of an interface like WinBoard. The programs below just serve as an appetizer.


Anaconda Chess

Freeware by Frank Schneider. Windows
A strong program (former Gromit)! Anaconda can use endgame tablebases, and you can edit the evaluation functions if you want to experiment. It is possible to play Fischer-chess (random initial position).
Download from: http://hobblefrank.homepage.t-online.de/AnacondaChess/index.htm


Arasan

Freeware by Jon Dart. Arasan is a Windows-program available in two versions: 16 and 32 bit. Size of the zip-file is about 1 MB. For those interested in programming, the sourcecode is available (C++). Minimum hardware: 386 processor and 4 MB RAM.
Link: http://www.arasanchess.org


Chenard

Freeware for Windows/Linux by Don Cross.
Cannot compete with the stronger programs, but nowadays who can? Besides beeing free it requires little diskspace. You can also download the source code in C++.

Link: Don Cross' website
Can also be found at: Pitt Chess Archives


Crafty

Freeware by Robert Hyatt, who made Cray Blitz (World Champ 1983-89). Some claim Crafty to be the strongest freeware program of today, and new versions seem to come in a steady flow. There's a version for DOS and a version for LINUX, and the DOS-version should run nicely under Windows 3.* and 95 (where an addition makes it possible to run in 32 bit). The playing strength improves significantly by the use of opening books and tablebases for endgame.

Program and extras can be downloaded from: ftp://ftp.cis.uab.edu/pub/hyatt
It is strongly recommended to start by downloading the readme-file, because all the different possible additions take up several MB space. At http://au.geocities.com/cafelattegames/chess/ you can get help on how ro set up Winboard as an interface for Crafty.


GnuChess

Freeware. Windows 3.*/95.
"Gnu" is a scientific project, a programming language, a cult, a... Search the www (e.g. newsgroups) for info.
Pitt Chess Archives


Rebel Decade

Freeware. DOS-program.
A weaker version (appetizer) of the commercial program, but not bad at all.
http://www.rebel.nl/edsoft.htm (676 KB)

Interface

Graphical interfaces for chess engines (programs with no interface of their own) and/or for playing on the web.

WinBoard

Freeware by Tim Mann. WinBoard (or XBoard for Unix) is a graphical user interface for chess. You can use it as a PGN-viewer or to play chess on the Internet (e.g. at Internet Chess Club). Many freeware chess programs use WinBoard as their graphical interface.
Download WinBoard from Tim Mann's Chess Pages (2.1 mb).


WinBoard/XBoard pixmaps

Freeware by Eric de Mund
Eric has made some pretty pixmaps for WinBoard/XBoard. Eric's page.


Arena

Freeware by Martin Blume. Windows.
Arena is a graphical user interface for chess programs (engines) and has become quite popular. Arena is compatible to various protocols and has an extensive homepage with support, forums and more. The Arena Homepage.


Schachmatt

Freeware by Stefan Immich. A simple Java interface for playing on a chess server. You need the (free) Java runtime environment 1.2 or newer from SUN Microsystems. Download Schachmatt from http://www.3d-engine.de/schachmatt.zip (521 kb). Select "Use folder names" when you unzip.

Live Games Broadcast

Palive

Freeware by Eric Bentzen. Windows.
Broadcast games live on the Internet. Just update a pgn file when new moves are made and Palive will create and upload webpages automatically. In principle it doesn't matter whether you update the pgn file with a text editor like NotePad or advanced software that monitors electronic chess boards. See The Palview Pages for more information.

Macintosh Chess

Some have asked for links to Macintosh programs. Being a PC-user it is difficult to describe Mac programs, but a good Mac-link is: Google Web Directory with freeware to download, such as:

Chess Playing Programs

Sigma Chess 6.1.3, Glaurung and more.

pChess Added 16. October 2011 is a basic chess programme for Macintosh OSX, with graphics and a built-in FEN Viewer. It supports Fischer games, copy/paste of FEN positions, and SAN Notation. Audio and Visual Brain features let you listen and see as it evaluates moves. pChess homepage.

Databases

jose 1.4.4, SCID and more.

There are also links to shareware and commercial programs.

Readers And Viewers

A mixed collection of programs to read, edit, record and view chess games (usually pgn files).

Chess Set

Freeware by Roger Musson. The program is just a chess set: board and pieces. You can use it for playing through games (or whatever), and when you want to go astray in some variation, simply tell the program to remember the position and you'll not have the usual trouble finding your way back.
Download from: Pitt Archives (33 KB).


Filemate

Shareware. ASCII and PGN reader/editor. With Filemate you can read, play through, record, edit and save games. Handles several file formats. The unregistrated version has some limitations.
Download from Pitt Chess Archives: Filemate (281 KB)


GM-View

Freeware by Karl-Heinz Milaster.
PGN-viewer with a large board. Program and installation in German, but everything is pretty straight forward. Download from GM Schach (1.04 mb).


PGN Web Editor

Freeware by Andrew & Paul Lapides. A new idea: an online (Java) pgn editor! If you go to Lapides' website, http://members.shaw.ca/lapides/pgnedit/pgnedit.html, you can record, edit or view pgn-files. Once the page is loaded, you can disconnect.
The analysis board is a great idea: when you want to record/edit a variation, you just copy the game position and play through the variation on the second board. The pgn is saved by copying the generated text to the clip board and pasting it into your own editor or word processor.


MINI-PGN

Freeware by Gary J. Allard. Win 9*. A handy program for playing through games in PGN-format (1.840 KB).

The author's homepage has vanished into thin air, but you can download the program from http://www.filegate.net/chess/chs-util/minipgn2.zip.

Pgn Reader 1.52

Freeware by Keith Fuller. Windows.
Chess game reader (games in PGN-format).Can be used with your www browser.
Download from Pitt Chess Archives: Pgnrd152 (72 KB).


Haundrix Chess

Freeware by Alex Ignácio da Silva. Windows/Linux.
An open source chess game reader (games in PGN-format). Several piece sets to choose from. One-click move input. Move history view with standard algebraic notation and figurine symbols. Import from/export to PGN file format
Download from Haundrix Chess.

Screen Savers

Chess Saver

Shareware. Windows/Mac.
Displays games. Reads PGN files. 30 days trial. Download page Chess Source (535 kb)


Playing Chess-7

Freeware by Alexander Sizenko. Windows.
Displays games from a PGN file. Download page Style-7 (1 mb)

Correspondence & Email Chess

Utilities for the correspondence and email chess player.

DBS Chess

Freeware (Win 3.1 version) and shareware (Win 9x) by David B. Sugden.
DBS Chess is a Windows program that records both the game moves and all the analysis of your correspondence chess. It allows you to prepare emails using the clipboard to send text to your email program. It can handle a very wide range of formats and international notations. The Win 3.1 version is now freeware, the Win 9x is shareware costing US$20 for registered (registration good for all future versions). Downloads are 450/510 kbytes respectively.
The program can be downloaded from the authors homepage: David B. Sugden's homepage or from ftp://ftp.pitt.edu/group/chess/UTIL/


ECTool

Shareware for the correspondence or email chess player by Andres Valverde Toresano. Win 3.*/95. There is also a freeware lite-version.
The program keeps track of your games. Games can be analysed on screen, and positions can be saved in BMP or GIF format. Reads and saves PGN. Sends and receives email. The unregistrated version has some limitations.
Link: ECTool Homepage.


MailChess

Freeware by Uwe Auerswald. A program for correspondence chess by email. Lots of useful features for handling games, mail, tournaments etc.
Homepage & download: MailChess (1036 kb).

Database & Conversion

ChessBase Light

Freeware from ChessBase. Windows.
ChessBase Light is a free version of the database program ChessBase 6 however limited to a maximum of 8000 games in one file. Reads and saves PGN and CBH (ChessBase' own format).
You can find CB Light (2.62 mb) on http://www.chessbase.com by chosing "Support" and "Downloads".


CDB

Freeware by Peter Klausler. Windows 9*.
CDB builds databases of chess games and positions and keeps track of all known moves in a position as well as game statistics. Games are added from the user interface or by importing PGN, text, NIC, ChessBase or Chess Assistant. Positions can be analysed with Crafty.
CDB also works fine as a PGN-browser and is a useful tool for conversion from different database formats to PGN.
Download from ftp://ftp.pitt.edu/group/student-activities/chess/UTIL/ or directly from http://www.chessopolis.com/cdb-1_5.exe (398 KB).


ChessPad

Freeware by Mark van der Leek. Win 9*/NT.
A handy and easy-to-use database. There's no limit to the number of games, but with more than 250.000 it gets a bit slow. ChessPad has its own file format, but reads and writes PGN. There are several search options, but you cannot search for a certain position.
ChessPad can export games and diagrams as HTML or in RTF-format, that can be imported by most wordprocessors. For diagrams and (if you like) figurine notation you can choose between different true type chess fonts. Games and diagrams can also be exported for use on webpages. Compared to commercial products this excellent program has a few limitations that are unimportant for most players - and it's free!
Download from ChessPad Homepage (902 kb).


Jose

Freeware by Peter Schäfer. Windows, Linux and more.
A complete chess database program with a nice looking interface and many possibilities. For instance you can have a program like Crafty analyse the game. Jose is written in Java, which slows it down just a bit, but at the same time this means that the program isn't confined to one platform only (e.g. Windows).
Which file to download depends on your operating system, but Windows users should download "jose-10-windows-jre.exe" (almost 28 mb) that has all you need (including Crafty!). If you have Java version 1.4 installed already, you can save band-width and go for jose-10-windows.exe.
Read about Jose and download from the author's homepage.


Scid

Freeware by Shane Hudson. Windows, Unix, Linux.
A nifty database program that reads PGN and EPD. You can search using filters, export games etc. Crafty can be used as analysis module. The user interface seems a bit simple, but works and is easy to use. To use the program with Linux/Unix you need Tck/Tk (8.0 or higher) and a C++ compiler. The Windows version is ready to run once you have installed the interface Tcl/Tk (2,5 mb). Explanation and download (722 kb) on Scid Homepage.


ChessDB

Freeware by Dr. David Kirkby. Windows, Unix, Linux.
A project based on Scid (see above) and with several enhancements. For instance ChessDB supports more languages, and you can download pgn files directly from The Week In Chess (TWIC) and ICC. See the program's homepage for further information and download.
Link: ChessDB homepage.


Yahoo to pgn

Free service by Ben Marini and Douglass Davis.
Online conversion of Yahoo Chess Game Notation to PGN, so games played at "Yahoo" can be read by most chess programs.
Link: http://www.douglassdavis.com/pgnchess2006/.


YahooChess2pgn

Freeware by 'Black Eagle'.
Converts Yahoo Chess Game Notation to PGN, so games played at "Yahoo" can be read by most chess programs.
Download from http://www.baydsoft.com/yahoochess/default.asp?p=chess (248 kb).


Pgn-Extract

Freeware by David Barnes. DOS/Unix/Linux.
This utility extracts and manipulates games from PGN-files. You can use many criteria and search/extract doubles, positions, players, move sequence, ECO-codes etc.
Download from http://www.cs.ukc.ac.uk/people/staff/djb/pgn-extract/ (313 kb).


Chess Game Notation File Converter

Freeware by Dimitris Siskopoulos. Windows.
Pgn files are written with the English letters for king, queen etc. (KQRBN). With this program you can convert the letters to other languages. You can also manipulate fields (the header lines with information).
Download from http://www.code.gr/chess-converter/ (73 kb).


PGN Manager

Freeware by Eduardo Suastegui. DOS.
An excellent - and fast - utility for handling PGN files. Join, split and filter files.
Download pm.zip (98 kb) from our site.


PGNUTILS

Freeware by Tom McCormick. DOS.
A suite of useful PGN utilities. New version October 2006.
Download PGNUTILS (962 KB) from this site.

Several excellent programs for handling pgn files: automatically clean up syntax errors, remove comments, remove unnecessary tags, remove games by players who have < 2500 ELO, fix Linux/Unix pgn files for use in Windows and much more.


PgnGlue.bat

Actually you don't need a multiple stars program to merge (append) pgn-files. The following DOS tip will do the trick fast and easy (thanks to Lars Venø Jakobsen). Make a text file with two lines:

for %%f IN (*.PGN) DO type %%f>>collect.out
ren collect.out collect.pgn 
and save it as "somename.bat" in the pgn file folder. Be sure your editor doesn't append "txt" to the file name (like "somename.bat.txt"). The extension must be "bat". When you double-click on the icon, all pgn files in the folder will be collected in one file, "collect.out" which is then renamed to pgn. You can even filter the files; if for instance you write (a*.pgn) only files with "a" as first char will be merged. It also works from the command line in DOS, but then you must remember to rename the file. Just replace the double "%%" with a single "%", like in:
for %f IN (*.PGN) DO type %f>>collect.out

Useful programs for conversion of different file formats (chess databases)

You can find more conversion utilities (to/from more "exotic" formats) on
ftp://ftp.pitt.edu/group/student-activities/chess/CONV.

ca2pgn3.zip Chess Assistant to PGN.
cb2pgn.zip ChessBase to PGN.
cba16.zip CBASCII v. 1.6 (16-bit version). ChessBase to PGN & back. Unzip with pkunzip -d switch.
cba3216.zip CBASCII v. 1.6 32-bit version for Win 95/NT. ChessBase to PGN & back. Unzip with pkunzip -d switch.
cb2nic.zip ChessBase to NicBase.
gam2cb.zip ChessGenius 4/5 GAM files to ChessBase.
nic2cb.zip NicBase to ChessBase.
nic2ca.zip NicBase 2 or 3 to Chess Assistant.
nic2pgn.zip NicBase3 to PGN. NicBase2-files must first be converted to NicBase3 with NicTools3.
pgn2ca.zip PGN to Chess Assistant.
pgn2cb.zip PGN to ChessBase.
pgn2nic.zip PGN to NicBase 3.

Chess Problems

Programs for handling and solving chess problems.

Explorer

Shareware by Jan Nowakowski. DOS or Windows.
Solves problems with mate, selfmate or helpmate. More than 3 moves requires a lot of patience.
Link: Explorer Homepage.


MateMaster

Freeware by Frank Schindler. Windows.
MateMaster solves conventional mate problems. The board position can be copied/saved as a bitmap.
Link: MateMaster Homepage (1.6 mb).


Natch & iNatch

Freeware by Pascal Wassong. DOS/Linux.
Natch solves retrograd analysis problems by constructing "proof games" - the shortest possible game leading to a certain position. Natch is a command line utility, but there is a Java based graphical interface, iNatch (110 kb). To run iNatch you must have SUN's Java Runtime Environment 1.3 (or higher) installed.
Link: The Natch homepage (119 kb).


Problemist

Shareware by Matthieu Leschamelle. Windows.
Used to be be freeware, but that's history. An all-round program for the problem enthusiast. Problemist solves directmates, helpmates, selfmates and reflexmates. You can rotate positions, print diagrams and much more. With Problemist come 2 true type chess fonts.
Link: Problemist (306 KB) and you can download more than 100.000 problems.


Retractor

Freeware by Chad Whipkey and Theodore Hwa. Win 95/NT.
Program for solving and composing retrograde chess problems. In retrograde analysis the task is to deduce which moves lead to a given position - in a sense you play backwards. Sample problems (a lot!) can be found at The Retrograde Analysis Corner.
Download from http://xenon.stanford.edu/~hwatheod/Retractor/ (157 KB).

Tournament Management

Chesspairing

Freeware by Harald Lögdahl. Windows.
Makes pairing with Swiss, Nordic Swiss and Monrad. An older Swedish version has been tested thoroughly - seems like a great program. Download from http://home.swipnet.se/rullchef/chessp/ (2.19 MB).


Sevilla

Freeware by J.P. Hendriks. Windows. A tournament management program for chess and other sports. Supports Swiss, Keizer, Round Robin and more. Download from JBF Software (1.26 MB).


Swiss Perfect

Shareware (49$) for Windows. The well known swiss pairing program. There is an older DOS-version (freeware) which doesn't comply with all the new FIDE rules, but is OK for local tournaments. An evaluation copy (30 days) can be found at:
http://www.swissperfect.com (ca. 540 KB).
From the same page you can download the FIDE swiss rules.


SP2HTML

Freeware by Jonathan Paxman.
A program for tournament coverage on the web. The program takes a SwissPerfect database file, and generates a static HTML website containing pairings, standings and crosstables in a fairly nice format for web publication. To use the program you obviously need to use SwissPerfect for pairings.
Download from http://sp2html.paxmans.net/ (1,1 mb).


VEGA

Freeware by Luigi Forlano. Windows/Linux/DOS.
A program for swiss pairing and ournament management. Nice intuitive interface makes the job easy. Options for printing crosstables, board cards etc.
Download from Luigi's VEGA homepage (598 KB).


ELO Rater

Freeware by James Garner. Windows.
ELO Rater is a Club Rating Utility Program, designed to automate implementing a USCF style, or Harkness style Rating system for small chess clubs or groups.
Download from ELO Rater homepage (920 KB).


ELO calculation

Freeware by Finn Larsen. DOS. Danish program for ELO calculation. In Danish, but most of the action is self-explanatory. On the other hand you could learn Danish and enjoy Hamlet, Søren Kierkegaard, H.C. Andersen, Karen Blixen, Niels Bohr and others in their native lingo...
Download ELO-rating (20 KB).


ELO2000

Excel 2000 spreadsheet by Christopher Hinman.
For personal ELO calculation. Insert opponents' ELO, results etc. and your new ELO is calculated.
Download: ELO2000 (8 KB).

Collection of free chess software




 
CDB - CDB doesn't limit databases to a size of 8000 games like Chessbase Light. It also converts CBF files used by Chessbase to PGN format. You can add games to the database by importing PGN, text, NIC, ChessBase, or Chess Assistant files, or you can add games from the user interface.

ChessPad - With ChessPad, you can create, edit, and view PGN databases. You can also plug in a winboard-compatible chess engine to play against, or analyze games.
Jose - Jose Chess Database is a graphical chess tool with an attractive interface that you can use to store chess games in a database. You can plug in a chess engine and play against it or use it for analysis. You can also view games and edit variations and comments.

Scid - With the Scid database, you can maintain a database of chess games, search games by many criteria, view graphical trends, and produce printable reports on players and openings. You can also analyze games with any WinBoard-compatible chess engine, and even use Scid to study endings with endgame tablebases.

BabasChess - BabasChess is an amazing Internet Chess Client for Windows. It combines ease of use with powerful features for advanced users, and integrates a fast and customizable playing environment with a powerful PGN viewer/editor. It also supports chess engines so that you can analyze positions and games or play against the computer.

Winboard/XBoard - XBoard and WinBoard are graphical user interfaces for chess. You can use Winboard/Xboard as a front-end for chess engines such as Crafty, GNU Chess, or Comet. You can also use it to connect to chess servers, like FICS, and play against people from all over the world, observe games, or just chat. Winboard/Xboard also serves as a viewer and creator for game files recorded in pgn format.

Arena - Arena is a popular Graphical User Interface for chess programs (engines) by Martin Blume. It runs on Win95, NT4 or higher Microsoft OS versions and is compatible to Winboard protocol I, II, UCI protocol I, II, Chess960, DGT electronic chess board & DGT clock XP, Autoplayer, FICS (Free Internet Chess Server) and much more.

Nagaskaki - NagaSkaki is a free, fully functional chess program. It features different personalities with ratings ranging from 2300 to 1472. The program shows the best possible move and evaluates the current position. An opening book is included, and it also has the ability to load and save pgn files. The software runs on Windows 98, NT, and XP.

ChessBase Light - ChessBase Light is a version of ChessBase 6.0 that is free to download. You can save, copy, convert, annotate, print, search, analyse, merge and classify games. It supports CBH and PGN format, but there is an 8000 game limit for each database.


More details about some version of those freeware programs

Fritz 5.32 
Fritz 5.32
http://www.top-5000.nl/dl.htm?file=dl/fritz532.zip 
The program comes with the old, but strong, fritz 5.32 engine, and fritz 6 can be used from
Chessbase light. There are also a few other free Chessbase engines for download. Aside from playing against fritz, you can use program to analyze your games, study opening statistics, and organize engine matches. One of its most useful abilities is to create and search large databases in either pgn or cbv format. You'll need an opening book such as the hand-tuned RybkaII.ctg.You could download a large database from Norm Pollock's site, or view the latest games from The Week in Chess.

n.b. to install in Windows 7, right-click on 532Setup.exe, choose Properties, select theCompatibility tab, and Run this program in compatibility mode for Windows 98 / Windows Me.

Useful Short Cuts


F11 (main window) to view the opening book.

F2 (while playing) for the coach's suggestion.

T (database window) for the tournament table.

O (database window) for a game overview.

Ctrl Y to have Fritz analyze and comment a game.

Limitations


The only shortcoming of this program is that it doesn't handle UCI engines. Not bad for free!

SCID 4

SCID 
As the most fully-featured non-commercial chess program, SCID is an essential download for anyone with more than a passing interest in chess software. It is primarily a very good and very fast database program, with similar functionality to Chessbase, but it can also be used for play and training. The original program hasn't been developed by Shane Hudson since 2004; however, Pascal Georges continues development.
http://scid.sourceforge.net/ 
A good place to start exploring, once you've opened your database, is the Tournament Finder. This is an extremely powerful piece of kit, and better than the equivalent in Chessbase or Chess Assistant! You can filter the tournaments by Player (e.g. Topalov), Date (e.g. 2006), Average ELO rating (e.g. 2600), Country (e.g. ENG), Site (e.g. Linares), and Event, giving you an almost instantaneous overview of any information you could desire.

Right-click on a tournament to display the tournament Crosstable. There, click on a result to load or browse a game. Click on a player's name to display Player Information, from which you can display aRating Graph or create a Player Report. Another way to reach Player Information is via the Player Finder.

Open the Tree Window for database statistics on the board position, with button access to the Best Tree Games List and a graphical representation in the Tree Graph. The Statistics Window gives a breakdown by rating and year. Or navigate using the ECO Browser and then create an Opening Report.

And that's just for starters! There's also a Piece Tracker, a Repertoire Editor; Endgame Tablebase,Opening Book and Correspondence Chess windows; play on the internet or against an engine; and three training modes. Not to mention comprehensive database maintenance tools. There's probably other stuff, too!

Databases


Perhaps the best large free quality database is Million Base 1.74, which comprises the formerly commercial Rebel database brought up to date with The Week in Chess. For a more selective database (of about 575,000 games), Norm Pollock's PGNs are a good choice. For recent games, as well as TWIC, ChessOK provide a free weekly database for download. Another place to look for databases is on Lars Balzer's Chess Games Links.

Hints and Tips


Timeseal, which allows the clocks to be adjusted for lag when playing on FICS, can be downloadedhere.

Feedback


You can give the developers suggestions and report bugs on the scid users forum.

Chess Assistant 7 Light

Chess Assistant 7 Light 
This is one of the best downloads for the more advanced user in that it combines database software with an excellent engine interface, so that you can use one of the many free UCI engines for analysis or playing against. It has a good game display and analysis navigation, and perhaps the best database searches.
http://chessok.com/demo/ca/setup_calight7.exe 
Use Chess Assistant to play a game against one of the top UCI engines, to blundercheck one of the latest grandmaster games, or to manage a large database. There are some extra boards and piece sets from 
Chessassistance.com, as well as an opening encylopedia which can be best viewed as an ECO table. Other useful files, such as fonts, can be downloaded from here.

Useful hints


To install a UCI engine go to Engines/Engines setup.../Add... Choose Universal Chess Interface from the Type drop-down list. Press the button to the right of the Path box to browse to UCI engine .exe file.

Space or Ctrl-Space (game window) to start the analysis engines. Ctrl-Space gives many different ways to configure your engine output. Click in the Engine analysis to view the position on the board.

Shift F5 (game list window) split mode.

Engines/Engines setup.../Hint with arrows is useful for showing the current engine analysis graphically on the board.

Engines/Engines setup.../Personalities to edit the engine's built-in configurable parameters.

Open large databases (including chessbase files) from windows explorer by right-clicking on the file and using Open With CALight. This bypasses the 15,000 game limitation.

Use Base/Convert bases... to covert your large databases to Chess Assistant for Windows (.cdp) format. This will speed up searches considerably.

To Show List of Tournaments and Show Tournament Table you need to convert the base into .cdp format.

For player, tournament and ECO statistics, right-click in the games list and go to Statistics. This can be used as a player or tournament index for the database.

To merge games so that they can be viewed as an ECO table, create a new game, and, in the panel with opened databases, drag the dataset of games you want to merge into the new game.

Limitations


There are quite a few limitations when compared with the commercial product, but despite that, it is perfectly usable (especially with the large database workaround above). It doesn't have the database features of chessbase light, but the ability to use strong free UCI engines and to save games makes up for this. The internet console is of no use to non-members of the Internet Chess Club.

Chessbase Light 2009

Chessbase Light 2007 
The new version of Chessbase Light may have been a long time coming, but it was certainly worth waiting for! Essentially a read-only version of Chessbase 10, with some functions limited to 32,000 games, it is state of the art software for browsing chess databases, creating statistics, and replaying games. If that weren't enough, it also comes with the latest Playchess server interface and a top quality database of 12,000 games. An excellent companion for Fritz 5.32!
http://www.chessbase.com/download/index.asp 
You can use this program for browsing and searching databases, small and large alike. The tournament tab gives quick access to a list of tournaments in the database: double click on a tournament for a tournament table. The player tab shows a player's tournament and game history: right-click on a name for player statistics or to create a dossier. You can also enter the database via one of the classification keys: openings, themes, tactics, strategy and endgames. If you set a large database as a reference database, you can view position statistics from it in the reference pane when you replay a game, or right-click on the board for an opening report or to provide a quick opening annotation. Games can be merged and viewed as an ECO table or as a tree: use the best book line pane to show frequent variations from the tree. Other functions include game statistics, piece probability, game overview and exporting to html. The Playchess server is a good place to play chess on the internet, and the best for watching live chess from top grandmaster tournaments.

Update: Chessbase light 2009 updates the 2007 version with a few new features from Chessbase 10: frequently played lines in the reference tab; show next move in the book pane; and the ability to search a subset of better quality games. Perhaps the most impressive addition is the ability to search and download games from the online database of 5 million games!

Hints and Tips


Use Fritz 5.32 to create databases, and save and copy games to databases!

If you want to view games beyond the first 32,000 in your database, e.g. from the tournament or player index, or from one of the classification keys, simply use the Clip button (or press F5) to copy the selected games to the clip database, and view them from there! Shift F5 opens the clip database, and Ctrl-Alt-V empties it.

To get search results beyond the first 32,000 games, create a new search in one of the classifcation keys (right-click, Edit/Insert new Key...) that will find all games, such as Year: 1500-2100. After classifying the key (Tools/Classification/Classify all Keys...), click on the new key you just created so that the games are displayed in the games pane, and search using the Filter button at the bottom of the screen.

You can use 
Shredder 6 as an alternative analysis engine.

When observing games on Playchess, set Help/Spy... to show with an arrow on the board a threatened move, and Help/Opening Hints... to show the best moves from the opening book.

Limitations


The program is read-only, which means you can't create databases or save or copy games to databases. Some functions are limited to the first 32,000 games of the database, for which you can use the clip database as a workaround. UCI engines are not supported. Playchess Nicknames only last for 30 days, after which you will have tostart again or enter as a guest.

Babaschess 4.0

Babaschess 4.0 
The Free Internet Chess Server (FICS) is one of the oldest chess servers on the internet, and is a very pleasant place to play and socialise. Babaschess is without doubt the best interface to use on it, and sets a benchmark for high quality software regardless of cost. Of course, the nicest thing is, it's free!
http://www.babaschess.net/ 
Traditionally, commands are entered as text in the text console, which is a very versatile and speedy way of doing things once you've learnt the language. Fortunately for those new to the server, you can access all the most useful commands and settings using the babaschess menus, by right-clicking, or through the info windows, such as the seek graph.

The interface is very highly configurable and windows, backgrounds, boards and pieces, move highlighting, sounds, console fonts etc etc etc can be tweaked and changed in countless combinations. There are also a few ready-made themes to try.

Babaschess supports UCI engines and its Analyze game, with its two score deltas for "?" and "??" annotations, is my favourite blundercheck from all chess software (although it would be nice if board sounds could be automatically turned off to stop it sounding like a machine-gun) !

Don't miss the additional graphic pack and the rating graph plugin downloads.

Visit 
http://www.freechess.org/ for more information about the Free Internet Chess Server and to register for an online username/handle!

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