I'm looking for a software where I can demonstrate games in a lecture. The software shall have these features:

  • usable without internet connection on a Windows 10 PC
  • free
  • input and save a game as pgn easily
  • import pgn possible
  • possibility to easily draw arrows and mark squares
  • add variations by moving pieces
  • an engine with multi-pv showing at least the best four lines
  • bonus: engine can be chosen by me

I've tried these: Arena (no arrows), LucasChess (no variations), Scid vs PC (no arrows), Tarrasch (no arrows), Chesspad (no arrows), Lichess studies (not offline, no choosable engine), Chessity (not offline)

UPDATE: David Miedema's answer tells me that there is a comment window in Scid vs PC, that I can draw arrows and I can even mark squares with any of a lot of signs and colors. Marking squares on the main board with ScidvsPC is a bit clumsy - you have to mark them on the comment board first and then press a button to transfer to the main board. Also, I found out that you can add marks and arrows and one engine in Chesspad.

UPDATE 2: In between I found out that ChessX would also suit my requirements quite well. So there are ChessX, ScidVsPC, Chessbase Reader and Chesspad which would seem to be ok.

UPDATE 3: I added the two requirements: to input and save games. I took those to be a given.

  • also Lichess can be installed locally - as its opensource - downside - installation requires advanced IT knowledge.
    – Drako
    Jul 31, 2020 at 10:26

4 Answers 4


Did you already give Scid a really good look?

Drawing Arrows

Arrows can be drawn in two ways. In the Main Board, hold Control and click on the start square and then end square. Or in the Comment Editor arrows can be drawn (and erased) by dragging between two squares.

Of course there is Chessbase in many sorts and sizes. You're probably able to find an old version for free if you search well.

Hope this brings you a bit closer.


I have asked a similar question before: Can I host lichess server to my local machine to use the study offline?

Because I was obsessed with lichess-study, I had chosen to use it offline. If you are on a Linux (or Mac) machine, I think that's the best option you have. If you are on Windows, then installing lichess on localhost is a bit tricky and also time-consuming.

In that case, I think it's better to grab a look at the software, called Lucas Chess.

It's FREE, open-source and as well as very feature-packed. There, you can choose your own engine as you like, can draw the arrow for better understanding and also can encircle squares as your requirements in the latest edition. Hope the developers will include more features in the upcoming editions of this frequently-updated project.

Here are a few screen-shots of the software:

lucas 0

lucas 2

enter image description here

  • I know and use LucasChess, but could not find a modus operandi where I can demonstrate a pgn, have an engine running, being able to draw arrows AND try sidelines all at the same time. With the pgn viewer mode you can draw arrows and marks and have a kibitzer (=engine) window but I did not find a way to try sidelines there.
    – Wickie
    Aug 1, 2020 at 8:23

Chessbase Reader is free, and will do all of this. It took me forever how to figure out how to draw arrows on the board, though - it's not obvious (click-and-drag the mouse while holding down ALT, CTRL+ALT, or SHIFT+ALT to get different colored arrows).

  • I like Chessbase Reader but I could in two hours not find a way to save a game which I have input. Is there a way? The help function mentions a "save as new game" item, but it is not there. May it be lacking in Chessbase Reader or am I doing something wrong?
    – Wickie
    Aug 2, 2020 at 11:55
  • Ah - I'd missed the part of your requirement that includes saving games. Chessbase Reader can't save anything. If you want to save, you have to upgrade to the full (paid) Chessbase software. I only ever use Chessbase Reader to demo existing PGNs. To edit and save, I use Analyze This on Android. Which is free and is also really nice (and can also draw arrows and stuff), but it runs only on Android, which is not what you're looking for.
    – patbarron
    Aug 2, 2020 at 14:20
  • Ah, I see... Thank you... I didn't mention the requirement to save pgns at first, as I took it for granted.
    – Wickie
    Aug 2, 2020 at 17:02

Acorn Chess meets some of these requirements but not all. Firstly it is not free but you can download a free trial and the license cost is one time only not recurring.

It is written in Java and so runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux.

It works offline - it only uses internet if you want to check for updates. It supports board annotation with arrows and circles in tutor edition. It has a built in engine with 6 levels. It also supports saving games to PGN. Loading of PGN's is coming as is a position library database.

Disclaimer: I developed Acorn Chess as I couldn't find anything that met my needs.

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