Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nerd or Dork?: Watching Chess Match Replays

A friend thought that my mention (in the tChess Pro review) about "watching chess replays" buried the needle on the dork-o-meter. I realized that people who don't follow these things are probably imagining lengthy YouTube videos of men in tweed jackets smoking pipes and pondering the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

That would be incredibly dorky. Even I'm not that far gone. (Yet.)

I'm actually talking about PGN files, which I mentioned in the review without explanation. PGN stands for Portable Game Notation, and it's a file format that allows people to record games and then play them back on any device that supports the format.  Thousands of classic games from Chess history are thus preserved electronically, and can be played back, move by move (often with commentary or annotations) to help people study games.

Here's an example of a PGN report of Fischer V. Spassky 1972 Game 4. Put it in a text file with a .PGN extension, bring it into a piece of software that supports the format, and you can play the game back move by move.

[Event "Reykjavik WCh"]
[Site "Reykjavik WCh"]
[Date "1972.01.05"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "4"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "Robert James Fischer"]
[Black "Boris Spassky"]
[ECO "B88"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "89"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Be7 8. Be3 O-O 9. O-O a6 10. f4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 b5 12. a3 Bb7 13. Qd3 a5 14. e5 dxe5 15. fxe5 Nd7 16. Nxb5 Nc5 17. Bxc5 Bxc5+ 18. Kh1 Qg5 19. Qe2 Rad8 20. Rad1 Rxd1 21. Rxd1 h5 22. Nd6 Ba8 23. Bc4 h4 24. h3 Be3 25. Qg4 Qxe5 26. Qxh4 g5 27. Qg4 Bc5 28. Nb5 Kg7 29. Nd4 Rh8 30. Nf3 Bxf3 31. Qxf3 Bd6 32. Qc3 Qxc3 33. bxc3 Be5 34. Rd7 Kf6 35. Kg1 Bxc3 36. Be2 Be5 37. Kf1 Rc8 38. Bh5 Rc7 39. Rxc7 Bxc7 40. a4 Ke7 41. Ke2 f5 42. Kd3 Be5 43. c4 Kd6 44. Bf7 Bg3 45. c5+ 1/2-1/2


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