This is the home page for the pgn-extract program, which is a command-line program for searching, manipulating and formatting chess games recorded in the Portable Game Notation (PGN) or something close. It is capable of handling files containing millions of games. It also recognises Chess960 encodings.

A full description of pgn-extract's functionality is available and included with the sources.

Here you can find the C source code and win32 binary for the current version. pgn-extract compiles and runs under Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. This program is made available under the terms of the GNU General Public License (Version 1).


The program is designed to make it easy to extract and format selected games from a PGN format data file based on a wide variety of criteria. The criteria include:

  • textual move sequences;

  • the position reached after a sequence of moves;

  • information in the tag fields;

  • fuzzy board position;

  • and material balance in the ending.

Over the on-going 20+ year course of its development, it has also added lots of features for controlling what is output (e.g., different algebraic formats, EPD, no move numbers, restricting game length, etc.)

The program includes a semantic analyser which will report errors in game scores and it is also able to detect duplicate games found in its input files.

The range of input move formats accepted is fairly wide and includes recognition of lower-case piece letters for English and upper-case piece letters for Dutch and German. The output is normally in English Standard Algebraic Notation (SAN), but this can be varied.

Extracted games may be written out either including or excluding comments, NAGs, variations, move numbers, tags and/or results. Games may be given ECO classifications derived from the accompanying file eco.pgn, or a customised version provided by the user.

The program is designed to be relatively memory-friendly, so it does not retain a game's moves in memory once it has been processed. This also makes it suitable for bulk processing very large collections of games - it can efficiently process files containing several millions of games.

Use the --help argument to the program to get the full lists of arguments.

New in recent versions

These are the main changes in the most recent versions:

  • Added --underpromotion to match games with non-Q pawn promotions.

  • Match wider variations of text in the Variant tag to designate Chess960 games.

  • Added --nobadresults to suppress games with inconsistent result indications.

  • Added --allownullmoves to accept null moves in the main line.

  • Added -Tf for command-line FEN pattern matching.

  • Added --plycount to output a PlyCount tag.

  • Extended --markmatches to output a FEN encoding at the match position.

  • Better support for Chess960 encoding of castling.

  • License updated to version 3 of the GPL.

Available Files

You can take a copy of the full source and documentation as either pgn-extract.tgz or Alternatively, a win32 binary is available.

Name Description Size Date
GZipped tar file of the complete source of the latest version of the program.
Includes usage documentation, Makefile for compilation and eco.pgn file for ECO classification.
380K bytes  07 Oct 2017 Zipped file of the complete source of the latest version of the program.
Includes usage documentation, Makefile for compilation and eco.pgn file for ECO classification.
530K bytes  07 Oct 2017
pgn-extract.exe win32 binary of the latest version of the program. 660K bytes  07 Oct 2017 Zipped version of eco.pgn. 32K bytes  May 24 2013
eco.pgn File of openings with PGN classification.
This file is already included in the source archives.
254K bytes  May 24 2013
COPYING GNU General Public License (version 3). 35K bytes   


Feedback and suggestions for further features are always welcome, although I can't always promise to undertake significant development work.