ChessDB - a free Chess Database
ChessDB is a free chess database which can be used on Microsoft Windows, Linux, Apple Macs running OS X, FreeBSD, as well as most if not all modern UNIX versions. The program has translations into English, Spanish, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian and Swedish. The documentation is excellent, although currently most is only in English, but this situation is changing rapidly.
If have any questions after reading this web page, please subscribe to the Chessdbemail@example.com mailing list (you will need to subscribe before you can post to the list).
What a chess database can doIn addition to this fully-featured chess database, there are a number of others available both free and commercial. This section describes in very broad terms basically why they are useful. Chess databases in general provide:
- A convenient way to store your own games in a way where the right game can be quickly found. They can be sorted by a number of different criteria, and searched for quickly.
- A very time-efficient method to study, which will give the maximum improvement in the minimum time. The features which help you study vary from database to database. The specific features of ChessDB are given further down this web page.
- Access to statistics about both your own games and of GMs, which would be impractical to collect without a computer based chess database.
Main features of ChessDB
ChessDB is based very heavily on the highly successful Scid which was the premier free chess database. There are a large number of features. in ChessDB. It is not a cut-down/light/crippled (call it what you want) version of an expensive commercial product, but you get a complete fully functional program.
With ChessDB can:
- Enter games by either
- Moving the pieces with a mouse.
- Typing in the moves from a keyboard 1.e4 etc.
- Read games from a PGN file - the standard used for chess games. (In ChessDB 3.6.13 and later, it is possible to read all the PGN files in one directory, making it quick to import a lot of games.)
- Download them directly into ChessDB from The Week in Chess (TWIC).
- Import games from the history of anyone on ICC - you can rapidly download the recent games played by people whose games you wish to study. (FICS support will be be introduced by the end of March 2007).
- A combination of the above 6.
- Annotate the games by adding
- Text comments
- Add standard symbols such as !! (excellent move), ?? (blunder), =+ (black as a slight advantage) etc.
- Add coloured symbols to games, to indicate whatever you want. Lots of different symbols may be used, and lots of different colours
- Variations showing different lines which may have been interesting.
- Analyse a position with GM strength chess engines. For more information about chess engines, see http://www.chess-engines.org/
- Create Tournament Crosstables.
- Play against many different chess engines from very weak ones to strong chess engines such as Crafty and Toga II. However, ChessDB's roots in Scid are very much as a database more than a tool to play chess in. So ChessDB lacks some features you would want to play a decent game of chess, such as sensible time controls.
- Play two chess engines each other to find the strongest. Again, to be fair, this is not one of the tasks ChessDB was designed for, so if you are organising the next chess computer world championship, we suggest you look for more appropriate software. But for the occasional game, it works okay.
- Save games in either
- Standard PGN format
- HTML (for web pages)
- LaTeX (a high quality DTP/typesetting format)
- Set the pieces on the chessboard then use the
Board Search tool
to find games in a database which have either the
- Exact position - (all pieces on the same squares)
- Pawns - same material, all pawns in the same position.
- Same material, all pawns on the same files
- Same material and pawns, but they can be anywhere on the board
- Generate a rating graph showing the rating vs time of a player. (There can be two players on the same graph)
- Generate a player report, showing statistics of a single player with either the Black or White pieces.
- Classify games according to self defined criteria. (For example, rook endings, games with blunder, games with isolated queens pawn etc etc)
- Email games for correspondance chess, using the built in email client.
- Use the Header Search tool
to find games with specific data in the header, such as:
- Player names
- Player titles - GM, IM, FW, WGM, WFM, W
- Date or range of dates.
- ECO code
- and many other search criteria
- Answer questions like: Is it worth spending much time to study the move 4.Bd2 in the Nimzo Indian defence? The answer is it depends since GMs play 4.Bd2 in less than 0.5% of games with the Nimzo Indian, but players on ICC of about 1400 play it 40% of the time. Such data is useful.
- Verify the version in use is the current one or if it old
What ChessDB can not do (as of 2009-12-18)
There are things that ChessDB can not do, which other software can do.
- You can not easily use ChessDB to connect to chess servers such as the Internet Chess Club (ICC) or the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS) to play games. ChessDB can connect to both ICC and FICS - once connected you can download games played in the past, but unless you are willing to type in the commands to move, you can't use ChessDB to play games. Support for this might be added, as it will not be that hard to do, but does rather get away from the original concept of Scid, which was a chess database.
- ChessDB does not allow you to embed photographs or video clips into games, although ChessDB does allow you to add player photographs, which will be displayed when one of that players game is being viewed.
- ChessDB can not read proprietary file formats such as those used by ChessBase, ChessAssistant and Bookup. However, all these chess databases can save games to PGN format, which ChessDB can read.
Other chess databasesWe feel ChessDB will be the best choice for many people, but there are other chess databases around. Some of them include:
- The commercial company ChessBase sell a wide range of chess software. One of their best-known products is a chess database which is also called ChessBase (just to confuse you!) It is well known, but not cheap. It only runs on Windows. The current version (December 2006) is ChessBase 9. ChessBase also give away free a chess database called ChessBase Light It is severely crippled (only 8000 games per database), making it useless for serious work, but OK for the most basic of tasks. Again, this only runs on Windows.
- Convekta sell a chess database called Chess Assistant. The current (December 2006) is Chess Assistant 9 Like ChessBase, Convekta give away a light (or crippled) version, called Chess Assistant Light
- Another free chess database is jose. Like Scid and ChessDB, jose really is free and not simply a crippled version of a commercial product. Like ChessDB, jose is multi-platform, running under Windows, Linux, OS X and UNIX.
- ChessX is another chess database which is being actively developed
- The plagiarist Pascal Geroges has released a version of Scid, in which he took lots of code from ChessDB, but claimed he wrote it. See here for more information.
As you can see, there are a number of chess databases around. There can be little doubt that at the time of writing (May 2011), there is no better free database. Whether things like Chessbase are better depends on who you talk to.
BinariesBinaries (i.e. what most people call programs) which can be easily installed will be made available where possible. Currently we have
- Setup.exe for Microsoft Windows
- Mac OS X binaries for PPC (not universal) which were built on 10.4.8. I've not tested this myself
ScreenshotsThe look of ChessDB varies a little depending on the platform. Here are some screenshots under Windows, Mac OS X and Solaris (UNIX).
Screen shots taken with Microsoft Windows XP Professional
- Main Window
- Player Information
- Setting up the start board
- The built in help pages
- XP Pro with SP2 startup window (this is a bit large, so downloads slowly)
Screen shots taken with a Mac running OS X
Screen shots on a UNIX system (Solaris 10 in this case)
Bored of chess, and fancy something more lighthearted?
- Many chess players enjoy the game of GO, though I've never played it myself.
- Personally I'm quite interested in amateur radio. Check out my web site g8wrb.org for some things that interest me.
Website administered by Dr. David Kirkby
This page was last modified: July 15, 2011. 12:15:26 pm GMT