08 July 2010

Scid @ Mark's

As I mentioned in Diagram Testing, Testing, 1-2-3, I rely on two types of chess software: (1) to manage chess games and (2) to manage chess engines. While I appreciate that most good programs that do (1) also do (2), I like to keep the functions separate. This lets me work on the notes to a move without interfering with an engine that is calculating a different move.

I recently had good reason to evaluate Scid: A Free Chess Database App. I looked at it a few years ago without being convinced that it could do a better job than the software I was using at the time. This time I came to the conclusion that it was the best alternative.

My requirements are relatively simple. I need to enter moves, variations, and comments in PGN files. I prefer PGN files, which are formatted text files, over proprietary formats because the files can also be manipulated using software that understands text. This is useful for making summaries of PGN headers, for making bulk changes to comments, and for managing transpositions. I also need software that understands the concept of a null move, i.e. where one side skips a move. This is important for threat analysis and for managing games in progress.

Scid handles both PGN files and null moves without too many limitations. I was able to incorporate it into my preferred method of analyzing a chess game without making too many concessions. The package has a few quirks and booby traps that require constant vigilance, but none of these are so serious that I can't work.

Although Scid is marketed as a 'Chess Database App', I haven't yet needed to use it that way. Here I also have a preferred method of working and will try the database functions on a real game as soon as I get the opportunity.

No comments: