When annotating games, I sometimes want to add a comment which starts from a position that is different from the current position.

1. d4 d5 2.c4 { Our previous game went 1.e4 c5 ...}  


25. Bf3 { Here I remembered a similar position from a famous game: <some fen notation>}

When writing/printing this is no problem. But when I want to generate playable pgn for a website, this doesn't work.

Attempting this in pgn would look something like:

>[White "Game 1"]
>[Black "?"]
>[Result "*"]
>1. d4 d5 2. c4 (1. e4 c5) *

>[White "Game 2"]
>[Black "?"]
>[Result "*"]
>1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 ([FEN "rnbqkbnr/ppp2ppp/8/4P3/2Pp4/5N2/PP2PPPP/RNBQKB1R b KQkq - 0 4"] 4... Nc6 5. a3 Nge7 ) *

However, this format is not accepted by my chess program (Chessbase) and also not according to the PGN standard.

Does the PGN standard support something this?

What should I do in order to manage to generate playable pgn for a website?

  • It should work. Can you please post your PGN file and where it crashed?
    – SmallChess
    Nov 9, 2017 at 15:12
  • If chessbase can't create the behavior from the program, it will hardly create it from pgn. If it can create such a behavior, create it, save it as pgn and look at the code...
    – hoacin
    Nov 10, 2017 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


You can't do this in PGN, not the way you want it.

There are some tricks that publishers (especially Everyman) use to create their "PGN ebooks":

  • They split the book over many different PGN games. You'd say "Here I remembered an earlier game that had a similar position; see X vs Y after this game."

  • A variation that starts at move 1 has to start at move 1: 1.d4 ({Our previous game went} 1.e4 c5) 1... d5

  • Null moves can be added as --, to show threats and such: 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 ({With the subtle threat} 3... -- 4.Qxf7#)

  • You can have several variatiations all starting with the same move, or all with the null move, as poor man's paragraphs.

  • If all else fails, just leave it as text. People still buy paper books so it can't be that bad...

Note that the variations I had, with a comment starting before the first move of a variation, may be something that not all software supports; I'm not sure. It used to be possible to enter comments like that with older versions of Scid but newer versions make it hard to get to the point where you are still in a variation, but before its first move. I think it's legal PGN though.

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