5

The best free, downloadable chess database I've found is Kingbase (http://www.kingbase-chess.net). It only has games since 1990. I also have the Android Chessbase Online app, which also appears to only have relatively newer games. The only source I know of that has historical chess games is www.chessgames.com (but I don't think you can download the entire database into something like SCID).

Why are these older games so hard to come by?

  • Another (not downloadable) online database is database.chessbase.com – muclux Jan 21 '18 at 8:19
  • For years, I have had the same question. A few hours of search years ago taught me that, apparently, no chess player had ever compiled a large database of master games and published it as open source. Apparently, players who have done this work all ask to be paid for it. (I have not done it, have I? I can hardly volunteer someone else to do it, regrettably.) – thb Jan 21 '18 at 17:40
  • Somebody has to enter those old games into a database, which is more work than nowadays where many tournaments have electronic boards that save the games automatically into a database. Also chess has developed since then and many of the games are only of historical interest. – user1583209 Jan 21 '18 at 19:53
4

I invite you do it yourself...

https://github.com/student-t/ExtractPGN

This is my Python repository for web crawling chess games. I use it to extract PGN chess games from Chessgames. This is an example of the games I extracted:

It's trivial to change the code such that you extract all games from chessgames (entire database) into a single PGN file. I believe you're a programmer, so that shouldn't be an issue for you.

  • The github link is broken. – Qudit Apr 9 at 23:11

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