© 1997-2021
John Saunders - British Chess Game Archive

Britbase Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: Saturday December 24, 2022 11:47 AM

Q. What is a PGN file?

A 'PGN File' (with the suffix *.pgn). PGN stands for 'Portable Game Notation'. It is a special format used for holding chess game scores and exchanging them between various chess-related software programs. Most proprietary databases now allow you to import PGN format files, so you should have little difficulty importing the files you find here. If you need some software to read the unzipped PGN file, then you should pay a visit to Eric Bentzen's excellent Chess Programs & Utilities page to find a suitable software program or have a look round the web. If you don't have any database software and cannot be bothered to get some, you can still open and read PGN files with a simple text editor (such as Notepad or the excellent Textpad). The format is eye-readable algebraic chess notation. So you can print off a PGN file and play through the games on a three-dimensional board and set. More technical information about the PGN standard at Wikipedia.

Q. What is a Zip file?

Some older Britbase downloads are 'zip files' (with the suffix *.zip), although I am systematically eliminating these and replacing them with simple PGN files. When a file has been 'zipped', it means that the data has been compressed so that download times are minimised. If you have a modern Windows operating system, the software for decompressing these files should be available on your computer as standard. If not, you will need to install a compression utility (often referred to as a 'Zip program') on your computer to unpack the PGN downloads from the 'zip files'. If you don't have a reasonably modern Windows OS or a compression facility, you can buy one (called WinZip) at, or perhaps look for freeware to do the same thing. Try entering 'compression utility' into the search engine of your choice.

Q. What is a Game Viewer?

As well as downloading PGN and Zip files, it is possible to view games 'in situ' on this site. I have standardised on the excellent PGN4WEB software, written by Paolo Casaschi, and am gradually getting rid of previous solutions. This may take some time and in the mean time you may find that some viewer links do not work. My apologies for this. Eventually I hope to have a viewer for all the games on the site.

Q. How do I use the PGN4Web game viewer?

If you navigate to a page with a PGN4web game viewer - here is an example, opened in a new window - you can see that it opens the first game in a PGN file. In order to load another game from the same file, click on the drop-down window just above the viewer and select another game. You can find more functionality by hovering over, and clicking on, squares on the board. For example, if you click on the f3 square, it will load the next game in the PGN file, or if you click on the c3 square, the previous game in the PGN file. To look at the next move in a game, you can click on the '>' button below the board, or alternatively the e1 square on the board. You can go straight to a move in the game by clicking on that move as shown in the notation in the right-hand column. Various other squares on the board conceal other useful functions, which you can explore at your leisure. One facility which I personally find very handy is to click on the c8 square: it displays the PGN of the current game in a new window, which can then be copied and pasted elsewhere, e.g. into a new game window in a database program such as HIARCS or ChessBase.

Q. What is a stub game?

Ideally, a tournament file will contain all of the games of a tournament, but there are many tournaments here where only a proportion of games is available. In some cases it can be useful to create and include stub games in a file. A stub game has all the header info - names of players, round number, ratings, etc, gathered from books, newspaper or magazine reports - but no moves (or perhaps no more than a couple of moves where the opening of the game is known but no further moves). Why include these? One reason is to be able to create a crosstable of the tournament. ChessBase software (and perhaps other chess software) has a facility to create a detailed crosstable from the header info of games. A second reason might be to aid a possible search for missing games. A chess historian might come across a game score with some data (e.g. names of players and/or date) which matches the header info found in a stub game. Some BritBase users like to have stub games, while others will find them a waste of time. It depends on your reasons for accessing a chess database. My policy is to include them if I think they might be useful to chess historians, but not if there is already sufficient information available on the tournament page for them to be surplus to requirements (for example, if there is already a complete crosstable which provides the same data).

Q. I've got some games to send to BritBase for inclusion in the collection. How do I do it?

Game scores from British and Irish chess competitions are always welcome, with a few caveats. They should be from over-the-board competitions, rather than correspondence, online or informal chess.

Acceptable file formats:

(1) PGN file (*.pgn) is preferred;
(2) Hiarcs Chess Explorer file (*.hce);
(3) ChessBase archive file (*.cbv) but only if created by ChessBase 16 or earlier.

Important caveat - new-format database files or archives (*.cbv) produced by the new-format ChessBase 17 software are NOT acceptable as they are incompatible with the software I use (ChessBase 14 & Hiarcs Chess Explorer). If you use CB17, it is easy enough to create a PGN database (link to the relevant place in the ChessBase 17 user manual), copy the games to that and send me the PGN file.

Once you have prepared a file for submission, please attach to an email - address given on this page.

Still not sure how to process game scores in ChessBase for submission to BritBase? Good news: I have prepared a technophobe's guide to sending chess game scores, with illustrations to take you through the process step by step.

© 1997-2023 John Saunders, Britbase