I was as chess trainer with some young guys on a tournament, and wrote down some of their games. In nearly every game, there were wrong moves in it: king is in check, but does not move or react; making a move with a pawn more than one square, etc.

The strange thing now is, that I have not found any program (chessbase or other) that allows to write down the notation with wrong moves in it. Is there any program that supports that? I know, they should play only legal moves, but in a rapid chess game (of 7 year old boys), non-legal moves are common.

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    I can write such a program for money. Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 19:43
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    caissa.com/chess-tools/chess-game-viewer.php allows you to make illegal moves, but have not tested importing pgn.
    – Mike Jones
    Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 23:50
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    PGN is just a text file, so worst case, you can use a text editor. But that won't help when you try to use chess software to play through one of those games. Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 11:43
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    As others have indicated, Nothing stops you from just writing down illegal moves. PGN by definition is a (somewhat) human + (intended for) machine readable format. Violation of the latter means what you're jotting down is gobbledygook (from the machine's standpoint). I do appreciate the motivation though (having coached 5-7 year olds who used to bring back some horribly written move lists from their OTB games) This would actually be worth writing some fun software for. I can think of some heuristics to suggest "corrections" as well to repair a badly written game into legit PGN. :)
    – shivsky
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 13:26
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    Your question doesn't make sense because as many have pointed out pgn is just text and you can write whatever you like. What do you want to do with the pgn? Just play through the game in an engine? Then save as 2 pgns, one up to the illegal move and second with position after illegal move plus following moves. Do something similar if you want engine analysis.
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 15:43

4 Answers 4


PGN files are normal text files. You can generate it to somepoint using the software and then save the file, open it in a text editor (notepad, notepad++, ...) and continue editing there.

  • Well, kind of a solution. I would like to have the support of the machine, and I would like to tell the machine that the one move is the exception. So no, I won't accept that as an answer, thanks anyway.
    – mliebelt
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 15:27
  • That’s the best answer you will get. PGN is NOT designed for illegal moves. You CAN write PGN files manually – that was intended when PGN was invented. You can use a graphic editor. I have never found one that really edits PGN in the specified way but with some unspecified changes, so those are not really PGN editors. You may find even one that allows illegal moves, but that is no PGN anymore. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 21:15

Go to http://www.apronus.com/chess/wbeditor.php and switch to "position setup". On the chessboard act out the full game including illegal moves, it doesn't matter to this interface, and click "animated diagram" and then save the gif file as a record of the complete game. It can be converted later to a video file that can be viewed more conveniently than an animated gif.enter image description here

  • Looks interesting have to check it out. Thanks! !
    – mliebelt
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 20:56

I'm very late to this question, but I think I have something to add:

PGN was not designed for games that are played according to FIDE rules, which do allow illegal moves in game scores under certain conditions. PGN was designed for games that are worth recording.

(Read that again. It may sound insulting -- but it's actually in the specification of PGN)

The PGN specification, section 8.2 (which describes movetext section: the section of the PGN files where moves are placed) says:

Because illegal moves are not real chess moves, they are not permitted in PGN movetext. They may appear in commentary, however. One would hope that illegal moves are relatively rare in games worthy of recording.

While you are able to add illegal moves to a PGN file, you can't be certain that any PGN-reading tool will accept the resulting files, and display it any more.

There used to be a chess database program (on Windows) that allowed illegal move entry. It was called CDB, and written by Peter Klausler. I used it more then a dozen years ago, but I've lost track of it -- so I don't know if Google-hits I get now are for the same program, or if it even works on modern Windows releases.

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    PGN was invented when disk space was extensive. Today, each beginners’ tournament is recorded, and in the opinion of players, organisators, trainers, and, of course, parents, all those games are worthy of recording – in spite of the bad or even illegal moves that happen in such tournaments. PGN is developed further by the big chess database programms, but without adapting the specification. A lot of work has still to be done there. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 21:11

I am very late to this question, but I have used Chess Score Pad (for iOS only) to record my sons games for the past 7 years. Arbiters have been happy for me to stand behind my son and record the game with this software because it has no engine (and if you try and change to something else the PGN is closed - no more entry possible). The best part is it allows illegal moves to be entered. It's perfect for recording young peoples games!

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