My name is Adam Hanna. I’m an amateur programmer and a terrible chess player and I’d like to change the way the chess community stores and accesses its data. Currently, the chess community uses portable game notation (.pgn) files. This file type was invented in 1993 and is a relatively good method of storing information; however, I firmly believe that (now some 20 years after the invention of the pgn) better options exist.

The Problems: This section outlines the problems that I see facing the chess community.

  1. There exists no free, open and easily accessible database of important chess games
  2. Contrary to popular opinion, the .pgn file type is not the most friendly format for machine processing, storing and analysis of chess games

My Vision: My vision of the future is one where an open, SQL database of important chess games is maintained by the chess community. This database should be comprehensive, accurate, easily accessible, easily analyzable and most importantly, free.

I want to emphasize that I don’t want to replace the .pgn with another format. The .pgn is an incredibly useful file and will most likely play a major role in the chess community for many years to come. Rather, I think another method of data storage should be introduced to compliment the .pgn. For example, a properly constructed SQL database might be a much better method of long-term data storage than a .pgn file.

My Plan: My plan is made up of three phases. These phases are detailed below. These phases need not, necessarily, be completed independently of each other.

    Phase 1 – Compile and clean a comprehensive set of historical chess games

    Phase 2 – Design a SQL database to store the data

    Phase 3  Build a website through which the database can be downloaded and queried

I envision that Phase 3 will be much more than just a website. I envision a community, or maybe even an official organization, that will ‘operationalize’ the database: maintain it and keep it current by uploading data from the latest tournaments, etc. I also envision that, eventually, a graphic user interface (GUI) will be built so that the database can be accessible to everyone, not just those who can run queries in SQL.

Want to Help? Great! My e-mail address is openchessdata at gmail period com


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