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2006-11-11 19:18
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OpenChess for PalmOS

OpenChess for PalmOS

OpenChess is a Chess game, Opening Trainer and Chess data base for the PalmOS platform. It supports Palm devices with OS 3.0 and above (2 MB main memory required) and uses separate layouts for Grayscale, Color and HiRes (OS5 and Sony Clié OS4) devices.

OpenChess has a clear and easy-to-understand user interface. While playing you will see the board, coordinates, the last move in SAN notation and a couple of buttons to reach the most used functions with only one click. For example, you can turn the board, switch side, ask for move suggestion (hint) or display material differences at any time. OpenChess will support Drag and Move - you can make a move with just dragging a piece to the new square. A clock will display how much time the playing side has consumed so far. The same clock will be used to indicate the progress for computer moves. Additionally, you will be able to change background colors and piece sets. New piece sets can be either downloaded or you can even create your own one, provided you have bitmaps of your favorite pieces (OpenChess Pieceset HowTo).

OpenChess 3.0 will contain native support for most resolutions of PalmOS devices with PalmOS 3.0 and above. New in version 3.0 is:
  • 320x480, color on PalmOS 5 (i.e. Tungsten T3)
  • 240x320, grayscale on PalmOS 3.5 (i.e. HandEra 330)
  • 240x320, color on PalmOS 5 (i.e. Qool QDA-700)

Dynamic input area (also called HiRes+) of such devices will also be used by OpenChess, now.

All games played against the computer or by yourself can be loaded and saved to the OpenChess palm database (PDB) and exported as PGN file to the Memo Pad application. Furthermore the board edit mode allows for setup of any legal board position, including information about castling and en passant possibilities. An opening book with 241 opening lines is built-in the OpenChess.prc - in addition, opening books can be loaded onto the device as palm database.

In Player vs. Player mode you can record chess games including variants. In this mode you can go back and forward and recall all positions played. Additionally, it is possible to start a chess engine in order to evaluate the current position.

OpenChess is released under GNU/GPL (Open Source) and hosted at: SourceForge.net Logo


OpenChess comes with a built-in engine which is based on GNU Chess 2. This engine runs on all PalmOS versions in origin Palm 68k code. As latest devices are on PalmOS 5 and have an ARM CPU - OpenChess 3.0 also supports chess engines with native ARM code for faster move calculation. These engines will be distributed as separate PRC files. This allows loading of several different chess engines as well as balancing memory consumption. Currently, the following engines are available:
  • Scorpio 1.6 (supports also Time/Game settings)
  • Fruit 2.1
  • Toga II 1.1a
  • GambitFruit 4bx
  • Phalanx
  • GNU Chess 2 (built-in engine in ARM code)
All ARM engines (except GNU Chess 2) reached an ELO value of 2300 and above in the BT2450 test - for details refer to the result list .

As OpenChess supports an open concept for chess engines it is possible to port any chess engine to OpenChess as long as the code is available in C/C++.

PC Tools and Conduit

As OpenChess uses PalmOS data bases (PDBs) for Opening Books and Chess data bases PC tools are available to convert PGN files into PDB files and vice versa.

A conduit is also available - this syncronizes a PGN file on you PC with the OpenChessDB on you device.

As the programs do not yet belong to the Open Source project all OpenChess supporters can requested a test version by the OpenChess author.

Opening Training

Not only for ambitious chess players OpenChess offers an Opening Trainer which allows for easy training of opening books or your own opening repertoire. Knowing openings by heart saves a lot of time in chess games and avoids mistakes in the first phase of a game.
If you want to learn more about openings just search the Web (i.e. chess opening repertoire).
Besides the internal Opening Book you can load additional Opening Books onto the device as palm database (PDB). Usage of separat Opening Books for playing as white or black is supported as well.
Opening Books for OpenChess can be created from any PGN file (multiple games, their variants and comments will be considered) - see PC Tools for details.
In addition you can check out the tracker section of OpenChess's Sourceforge page.


Currently, OpenChess is available in 10 languages. The main PRC file (OpenChess.prc) contains all English descriptions except for the help texts. These texts are delivered in the English translation file. Additionally, the following languages are available:
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch
  • German
  • Spanish
  • French
If you run a support program for the letters of these languages, you can use the translation for OpenChess as well:
  • Polish
  • Hebrew
  • Russian


1988 (GNU Chess 2 for DOS)

GNU Chess 2 for DOS was released by John Stanback - it is still used as engine in OpenChess.

31-Aug-2002 (OpenChess Alpha 1)

The very first release of OpenChess for PalmOS was released by it's creator Son Altesse.

22-Sept-2002 (OpenChess Beta 2)

This was the last release by Son Altesse. It became really famous and has been downloaded multiple thousend times from many different places in the net.
Except from a posting a couple of days later - this was the last action of Son Altesse in regards to OpenChess. However, his Web page is still online. But I have never succeeded in contacting him...

02-Feb-2005 (Version 2.0 Beta 1)

Olaf Richter took over the OpenChess project at sourceforge.net and released OpenChess for PalmOS 2.0 Beta 1. It was based on OpenChess Beta 2 and the changes and patches of
  • Roberto Gordo Saez
  • Peter McMahon
  • Manfred Joerg
In addition, many bugs were fixed and new features were added, i.e. an Opening Trainer.

18-May-2005 (Version 2.0 Final)

The project status turned 'Stable' for version 2.0! Besides of many bug fixes and new features OpenChess is 100% compliant with the chess rules and comes with multi-language support. Let me say thanks at this point to the translaters:
  • Olivier Caleff
  • Jordi Tarragó

14-Aug-2005 (Version 2.0.1)

First bug fix for OpenChess 2.0 with support for two additional languages. Many thanks for translation to:
  • Ignaas Claeys
  • GianLuca DeMichelis

08-Apr-2005 (Version 3.0 Beta 1)

Release of the first unstable 3.0 version. The highlights are ARM engine support, game recording and many user interfaces improvements.
Special thanks go to Pascal Georges who has created several ARM engine adaptations for OpenChess and helped a lot in the definition of the ARM engine interface.

10-Jun-2006 (Version 3.0 Beta 2)

This Beta contains some bug fixes as well as new ARM engines. Again: thanks to Pascal Georges - he did all the great work to port so many engines to OpenChess. Also, first translations are included, many thanks for translation to:
  • GianLuca DeMichelis
  • Yuval Melamed
More translations will follow...

01-Nov-2006 (Version 3.0 Beta 3)

This Beta contains latest bug fixes as well as some additional translations, many thanks for this efforts to:
  • Mirosław Buczma
  • Ignaas Claeys
  • Thomas F. Glufke
  • Dmitry B. Sidorov
  • Uwe Walschus

21-Jan-2007 (Version 3.0 RC 1)

The first release candidate comes with the latest bug fixes, supports 10 languages and features a new icon set. Additional thanks for their support go to:
  • Ben Dunkle
  • Nicolas Normand
  • Alfredo Camara Rosado

28-Jan-2007 (Version 3.0 RC 2)

Fixed bug on Sony Clie devices running Palm OS 4

29-Dec-2007 (Version 3.00)

Fixed bugs and final icon set


Please refer to Forums and Bug report (use links at top of this page). In other cases please send a mail to robolaf(at)freenet.de.

Last Update 29-Dec-2007.

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