While downloading some games I came across some files in ChessBase format:

  • .cbv
  • .cbf
  • .cbh

I would like to know if is is possible to convert these files to .pgn format without using proprietary software and how it can be made.

  • Remove all special annotations. Copy all games to another pgn file. Simple.
    – Arun J
    Feb 14 '16 at 18:30

Well since the protocols creating cbv, cbf and cbh formats are not made publicly available, one will certainly not find any such conversion tool (i.e. unclear how they are encoded to reverse them to pgn).

Other reason maybe that the difference between all these formats is just due to an "incremental encoding" that is being used, which means that for it to be possible to go backward, to a pgn format, only the chessbase engine can do so!

Until a way around this is found, you can use playchess free program or easier the chessbase light (which is free), where using

choose file->new database and create pgn files

will allow you to obtain pgn formats again.

  • 2
    I downloaded CBLight2009 and it has worked. Thanks! PS: there are detailed instructions here.
    – lodebari
    Sep 28 '14 at 16:23

I wrote a cli tool to extract .cbv archives. And you can use scidb to open the resulting .cbh file. Scidb will eventually support opening .cbv archives directly.

  • Reading about it - sounds like it does not actually convert resulting CBH to PGN, does it? Just wanted to double check since it might be misleading given the main question.
    – Joe
    Oct 8 '18 at 17:13
  • You indeed need to use the both tools I mentionned. uncbv is used to convert the .cbv to the files contained in the archive (which could be .pgn but is usually .cbh with many other files). Then, you can use scidb to convert the .cbh file to .pgn.
    – antoyo
    Oct 10 '18 at 15:00
  • It works for me like a charm, thanks for the cli tool !
    – Olorin
    Jan 17 '20 at 19:09

Here is a simple way to do exactly what you want:

  1. Open the .cbv file in ChessBase Reader
  2. Select all the files you would like to convert to .pgn (Ctrl-A to select all files)
  3. Go to File at the top left corner and press Selection To Text file
  4. You will receive a popup where you should select PGN under Format and press OK
  5. Save the .pgn in your designated area and that's it!

You now have a .pgn database!


There is now a CBH to PGN app for Android (only handles CBH files, not cbv) - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.chess.cb&hl=en

I personally would like to see this available as a command line utility on windows.

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