Chess and Computers

This page is a summary of how computers can be used to support your chess playing.  It is only a brief introduction to the software and resources that are available.

1. To store and play through chess games

1a. PGN files (Portable Game Notation files)

PGN is a universal text based file format that is used to record a chess game in standard algebraic notation. A single file can store a single game or as many games as needed (e.g. thousands), and can be easily created and edited in any text editor such as Windows Notepad.

There are many programmes and website that can read a PGN file and display the game on a board. For example the viewer at or can be used to play through pgn files or list of moves.

A pgn file of your own games can easily created by typing the moves in a text file or you could use this online editor to create your pgn file

1b. Other file formats

As PGN files are simple text file they are not efficient at storing very large numbers of games. There are a number of other chess file formats which are supported by proprietry software such as: chessbase, chess assistant.

1c Where to get free collections of PGN files

A PGN file of IM/GM games from FIDE tournaments during the previous week can be downloaded for free from The Week in Chess (TWIC) website

PGN Mentor also have freely downloadable PGN files

There are also a number of commercial websites where one can search for chess games, view them online and in some cases download then, for example:

2. Keeping track of games

The are a number of chess database programmes which can be used to:
a) sort a large number of chess games by opening
b) generate tables of win/loss/draw statistics for any opening variation. The larger your database the better.
c) sort and filter games by any criteria such as date, player, result
d) find a particular position so that you can see whether it has occurred in master/GM play and which moves were played.

There are a number of chess database programmes widely available.  One of the most popular is ChessBase which can be bought from the London Chess Centre.  However a free easy to use programme is SCID which can be found at

3. Analyse games and positions

Chess playing programs are now much better than many human players.   Typically analysis programmes integrate with PGN viewers and chess databases, so that a particular position can be analysed for the best moves.

For more information look at:

Fritz - commercial software which integrates with ChessBase.
Crafty Chess -  FREE software which came 2nd in the world computer chess championships.