Creating an online chess note book


Creating an online chess note book

A great way of improving your game is to maintain a chess note book containing your chessic insights. There are are number of different ways of going about this. Many players choose to store and annotate their games in chess products featuring a database.  Others maintain word processing documents (using Microsoft Word) to store their insights.

In this article we'll explore a completely online method which doesn't rely on desktop software.  We'll focuses on Internet methods using freely available web services.   These days many of us are never to far from a computer or device with Internet capabilities.  So, it's worth exploring how we can leverage Internet enabled devices to augment our chess studies.

Before we explore available solutions we'll take a moment to consider our basic requirements. 

  1. An ideal solution would allow us to create, edit and view our notes using a web browser from machines at home, school or at the office.  
  2. We'll need a solution which allows us to store rich text (text with colors and formatting such as bolding and italics) in addition to chess diagrams and images. The ability to store voice notes would be a nice plus.
  3. The solution should allow us to easily search our notes. 
  4. And last but not least - the solution should be free - chess books and study aids such as chess products are expensive enough.   

We'll cover solutions which easily meet our stated requirements. There are certainly other solutions but the ones I'll describe are simply the ones I'm familiar with. 

Online Word Processors

Google Docs
Google has a set of products called Google Docs, which are ideally suited for creating online documents. Using Google Docs you can create, edit, search and share your online creations. 

Like Google Docs, Evernote is a product that allows you to create and edit documents. The service is free up to a point.  With the free service you get to upload 40MB of notes (my own usage doesn't exceed 2-3 MB per month) beyond that a premium service is available for only $5 dollars per month for a 500MB monthly upload allowance.  For text documents the free 40MB allowance is incredibly generous, however if you're uploading lots of high resolution images then you may exceed the monthly limit.

I'm a devoted user of both Google Docs and EverNote.  Which product I use depends on specific circumstances. For example, Evernote offers you web and desktop clients as well as an iPhone application for "on the go" document creation. I'm writing this article using Evernote on my iPod touch while sitting in the mall as the family shops. 

Both gDocs and Evernote allow you to cut and paste portions of websites directly into your documents. You can even drag photos from a web page and drop them directly into your Google Document or EverNote.  It's difficult to imagine the process being any similar!  These features allow you to easily augment your notes with information you find on the web. 

Chess Diagrams
Once you settle on an Internet enabled word processor you'll need a way of creating and inserting chess diagrams into your documents.  I've indicated that both Google Docs and Evernote allow you to simply drag and drop images from a web page onto your documents.  However, in many cases you'll need to create your own diagrams from your own games and experiences.  

You can certainly create chess diagrams using desktop chess software, but what if the machine you're using doesn't have chess software installed? Ideally you can create diagrams online while working with tools like Evernote and Google's Documents. Fortunately there many sites which offer online chess diagram creation services with more or less the same types of features.  Simply do a Google search for "Chess Diagram" to find such tools.  Naturally I favor my own, - a free service which offers high quality diagrams with support for square highlighting and multiple diagram sizes. 

The benefits of creating and maintaining your chess notes online are indeed numerous.

1) Services like Google and Evernote are considerably less likely to lose your notes than you would be by simply storing them on your laptop or desktop  computer. The reason for this comes down to a sophisticated computer process known as replication. Both Evernote and especially Google store (replicate) your data onto multiple backup systems.
S) storing your notes online allows you to access them from any computer (of device such as your mobile phone)
3) This method of maintaining your chess notes is ideal for use with the new generation of netbooks - those 200 dollar mini laptops with Internet access.

To learn more about the services featured in this article visit:


Hey, thanks for all the hints.

So the 40MB on Evernote is per month?  That's more than I'd need, that's for sure.

I keep a chess notebook, but so far I've been doing it the hard way, with a spiral-bound notebook, pasted in diagrams, and handwritten notes.  I usually just keep notes on the transition between the middle and endgame of my games, because that's where I have the most trouble.

I'll have to give this a try.



Will install evernote for my iPod Touch and tell you how it goes 



(I'm currently doing it the old-fashion way)


I've a pretty neat home-grown html+javascript solution based off Jeremy Ruston's Tiddlywiki.

Really simple and easy to use and you can carry this journal in your thumb-drive wherever you go.

Message me and I'll email you a zip file.


Thanks for this.




This is a great help.  What if I wanted to embed a playable widget, so that a student could walk through a series of moves?  I can attach a single position, which is great, but what if I wanted to show a final position, and let the user step through the moves that got him to this position?


Would be especially nice if it were a built-in feature in  Would like to make a couple private notes on each game, like what I learned from mistakes and missed opportunities.


I've uploaded it (my Tiddlywiki chess journal) to as a freebie download