One of the problems with PGN is that it requires ASCII, while names of players often contain non-ASCII characters. (And of course, many names are not written in the Latin alphabet ...)

The background to this question is the rendering of non-ASCII characters in Arena 3.5.1 (on Windows 7), as in the image below. The names for white and black are Mittelsträß, Jürg and 王, 玥, respectively. Arena reads the UTF-8-encoded file as if it were encoded as Windows Codepage 1252. Editors such as Notepad++, SublimeText and JEdit identify the file as UTF-8 (which is the default encoding of all my plain text files, anyway).

enter image description here

Here's an example PGN for testing:

[Event "Office Armageddon"]
[Site "Böblingen GER"]
[Date "??.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Mittelsträß, Jürg"]
[Black "王, 玥"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[Mode "OTB"]
[Termination "unterminated"]

1. d2-d4 d7-d5 2. e2-e3 c7-c5 3. Bf1-b5+ Bc8-d7 4. a2-a4 Ng8-f6 5. d4xc5 e7-e5 6. b2-b4 Nb8-c6 7. Ng1-f3 Qd8-c7 8. Nb1-c3 a7-a6 9.  * 

(SCID assumes a system encoding if a PGN is encoded in UTF-8 without a byte order mark (BOM), but the BOM makes no difference in Areana 3.5.1.)

So I'd like to know if there is a Unicode-compatible alternative (ideally UTF-8) that is supported by some chess programs. (If not, PGN needs an overhaul.)

2 Answers 2



if you read that, you will notice:

Screenshot in order for pgn4web to display those characters correctly, the PGN file should be saved in unicode UTF-8 format.

you can save PGN as UTF-8... Just open notepad > Save As... > Encoding and select UTF-8. and you can then add the appropriate player names! I've tested this, and it works with Arena Chess and a few others...

Hope this solves your problem. ~CSS

  • I'm surprised that this is supposed to work in Arena. UTF-8 is the default encoding for all my plain text files, including PGN. When a PG file contains an ü Arena renders it as ü (regardless whether I save the file as "UTF-8" or "UTF-8 without BOM"). Which Arena version are you using?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 22:46
  • @ChristopheStrobbe Arena 3.7.1 Alpha Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 0:14
  • I'll update my own version of Arena (3.0 Build 2542) in the next few days and test my UTF-8 encoded PGN again.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 10:31
  • I now have Arena 3.5.1 build 2861 (20/12/2015), on Windows 7 (32 bits), and ü is still rendered as ü.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 17:37
  • 1
    So, yes, pgn4web games viewer supports UTF-8 and even supports Chinese characters. Thanks.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 18:06

PGN databases created by ChessBase programs are encoded as UTF-8 by default, too.

  • Do you have an example of a UTF-8 encoded PGN file that uses non-ASCII characters? As long as you use only ASCII in such files, the UTF-8 encoding is irrelevant, as far as I know.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 18:35
  • 2
  • Yes, I created a test file for pgn viewers embedded in web pages with German special characters. The above website (sorry, hit <ENTER> to early) shows the results. And I have no problems to type non-Latin characters in CB 14. Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 19:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.