How to Generate a PGN File Containing Game Annotations Within

How to Generate a PGN File Containing Game Annotations Within

FM Schemato
Nov 17, 2015, 12:06 PM |

One of the keys to chess improvement is the habit to analyse your own games (see image, published by Chessbase). Those who do this will sometimes want to share their work with others, or just save it for future reference. The most universal file format for these purposes is called PGN. All professional players use a program like Chessbase to manage their game databases, and that is indeed a great tool. However, many amateur players do not own such a program, but still want to annotate the occasional game. For them the following step-by-step guide is written. It should work under any operating system, but you possibly have to be a premium member on for some of the steps.

Generating a PGN file of an annotated game

  1. Open your browser, go to and log in.
  2. If you have played the game you want to annotate on, then move the mouse pointer over "Home" and click on "Game Archive". Open the game by clicking on "View" in the appropriate line. Click on "Analyze in Live". Proceed with step 4.
  3. If the game was played somewhere else, then move the mouse pointer over "Home" and click on "Live Chess". Click on "PLAY LIVE CHESS!". Select the "New Game" tab and click on the arrow at the end of the time control line (the top left line in the tab) to open a drop-down menu. Select "Analysis" from this menu and click on "Start Game". Enter the names of the players, then click on "Start Analysis Board". Enter the game you want to annotate by moving the pieces on the board.
  4. To include a variation, go to the appropriate point in the game by clicking on a move in the notation box. Enter the variation you want to show by moving the pieces on the board. You can do the same with sub-variations.
  5. When you have entered all your variations, be sure to promote the game itself back to mainline status by clicking on the last move that was actually played in the game.
  6. Click on the "PGN" button and then click on "Current". Press Ctrl+C on your keyboard to copy the highlighted text.
  7. Open any simple text editor like WordPad for Windows. You may need to specify that you want to create a new file. Press Ctrl+V on your keyboard to paste the text into the editor. 
  8. To insert a verbal comment before or after any move, first type a pair of curly brackets { } one space before or after that move and then write your comment within these brackets.
  9. To add more information about the game, you can use the game header (the lines in square brackets, known as tag pairs) from the PGN file example below as a template. Just change the text within the quotation marks.
  10. To add special Chess Informant style annotation symbols, you can type a dollar sign immediately followed by a specific number. These are known as numeric annotation glyphs (NAGs). The Wikipedia article on NAGs provides a list of the numbers. For example, the "$4" in the PGN file given below codes for "??", indicating that Black's fifth move was a blunder.
  11. Now select "File" and then "Save as" or something similar in your text editor. Choose a folder to save your file into. Select plain text (*.txt) as the file type, but as the file name, enter a name of your choice immediately followed by ".pgn" (note the dot). Confirm these choices by clicking on "Save" or some similar button. You may encounter a warning that formatting might be lost, which can be ignored.
  12. Voilà, you are now the proud owner of your own annotated PGN file. E-mail it to your chess friends, use it for posting your analysis on your blog or in a forum, or just tuck it away for later use.

PGN file example

[Event "Biel-B"]
[Site "Biel"]
[Date "1988.??.??"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Zapata, Alonso"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2480"]
[BlackElo "2555"]
[Annotator "Jochens,Arne"]
[PlyCount "11"]
[EventDate "1988.07.??"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "SUI"]
[EventCategory "8"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1996.11.15"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 ({The mainline runs} 5. d4 d5) 5... Bf5 $4 {This had actually been recommended somewhere in print.} 6. Qe2