An unexamined life is not worth living.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Scripting Your Chess Database

Scripting is a relatively common feature in many software packages (think of Excel Macros), so it is unfortunate that no chess software package has ever exposed it – until now! When staring at databases with my games, I’ve often had desire to do things like

  • Create a diagram right before every move that has a question mark, if that blunder was made by a player with a give name
  • Export games to a different format
  • Add a diagram for all games after every 5th move for convenient printout and practice of visual replay
  • Calculate an average number of blunders per game, compare the average between two sets of games (e.g. my blitz games and my slow games)
  • Find out in how many games do I stay in my repertoire until move 15?
  • Find out who of the top 10 players has an opening repertoire most similar to mine

These are features similar to what’s available in ChessBase’s and Chess Assistant’s of this world, but not quite the same. If you are a programmer, with access to the code of the tool - adding them this is not too hard. But if you are a mere user, without source code, you are out of luck completely. With scripting however, you at least have a chance. In addition to being able to do some new things, your powers multiply in other ways:

  • It is easier to interoperate between programs and use the power of multiple packages – e.g. you can export data into Excel
  • It becomes possible to automate several repeated UI manipulations and tie them into one script
  • Users can share their scripts between each other and you get features added to your tool added more often and for free

Aquarium Scripter is coming out very soon (rumour is - tomorrow) and I can’t wait to read reviews and if those are good - get an official copy of it. The features are described here, and I have to imagine (from the first blurry screenshot) that instead of a plain list of games

we now still have a plain list of games, but also an ability to run scripts against selected games!

Now we are getting somewhere!


  1. So, have you tried the scripter yet ? I downloaded the latest Aquarium and there are quite a few changes, especially to the GUI. Seems quite an improvement.

  2. No, not yet, moreover, I am not really an Aquarium user to begin with, so I would not notice UI improvements. But I am planning spend time with it over Christmas and see if I can write a script that is either useful to myself, or even one that can be shared with others.

  3. Good luck ! I will have to work out what I want to do first !

    I mostly use Chess Assistant for databases purposes with classifiers and CQL. Aquarium was part of the deal and I admit to finding it too much at times. CAs BGA does just a good a job IMHO and is simple to use !


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