19 July 2016

Publishing chess games online in 2016

It's time again to look at options for publishing chess games online, as the post Publishing Chess Games in 2013 (updated) is still helpful but now significantly behind the latest tools, especially after ChessBase made a recent huge update to its replayer.

My criteria for using an online publishing tool haven't changed.  Here are what I consider to be necessary features:
  • Display full annotations (symbols and text)
  • Variations contained in annotations are displayed on the board
  • Board and annotations must be visible together (the board cannot scroll off the page)
  • Board should be flippable (White or Black can be displayed at the bottom)
  • Can use either mouse or arrow keys to go through the moves
  • Can publish a full game as part of a self-contained blog post 
I'll again use the first annotated game published here (Annotated Game #1, a simul encounter that I drew against GM Walter Browne), as the sample for four major common online publishing tools for comparison.  I'll put the ChessBase one last, since it's the most advanced and also the most recent.  If readers have a different favorite replayer than one of the listed ones, I'd be interested to see comments as to why, along with the URL.

Technical notes:
  • Many game replayers will need to have some of their functions linked/embedded in your blog's stylesheets (CSS), which can be done relatively simply via copy-and-paste of the app-provided CSS code into your blog's template in the "<head>" section.  For example, in Blogger you can paste text there by selecting the Design - Template - Edit HTML menu options.  
  • IMPORTANT: one common issue to be aware of is that using the https (secure http) protocol with blogs that support it (such as Blogger) often won't allow some game replayers to function, as they link in different ways to external sites to run the necessary code, and you can get a warning message about mixing https and http protocol items.  The only solution sometimes is to view the blog via http or https, whichever is supported by the replayer tool.  For example, the first three publishing methods work fine with http, but ChessBase does not; with https, the first and third tools do not function, but Chess.com and ChessBase do work (see below)
  • It's also worth noting that the replayers will likely not work across all browsers, for example the Aquarium 2015 replay board works fine on my tablet, but not on my Android phone in the mobile browser view; the web version works, but is too tiny to see.
1.  ChessOK Aquarium 2015 - this publishing tool is the one in current use on this site and represents a big improvement over the previous Aquarium iteration (Aquarium 2012); the old format can be seen in the above link to the 2013 post.  It's worth noting that there's now an Aquarium 2016 version in release with a few extra program features, but nothing new for publishing is highlighted.  In terms of the game display, the board is standard size and stays put in the brower window while the text and annotations, which are large-size for good readability, scroll up and down (an innovation that appeared in the previous version of the ChessBase replayer).  Documentation of Aquarium's publishing functions is minimal but adequate.  Here's my simple outline of the procedure I use for this blog:
  • Copy your game in PGN format (most database programs have this as a one-button function).
  • Go to the Sandbox tab in Aquarium, clear it, then paste the game.
  • In the menu ribbon, go to Web Export - iBook HTML for Blog, hit OK on the dialog boxes.
  • If it's the first time you're doing this, then you should copy the provided stylesheet links at the top for insertion into your blog's template. Otherwise, just copy only the game code. Paste it into your blog post (using an HTML view of the post).

Browne, Walter - ChessAdmin

Result: 1/2-1/2
Site: Las Vegas
Date: ?
B19: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 main line
[...] 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.¤c3 dxe4 4.¤xe4 ¥f5 5.¤g3 ¥g6 6.h4 h6 7.¤f3 ¤f6 This sub-variation is relatively rare in practice, with Nd7 being played most often. I evaluate it as just as sound and less famiiliar for most White players, making it good for Black. 8.¤e5 ¥h7 9.¥c4 e6 10.£e2 ¤d5 This last sequence is essentially forced after Ne5, which is White's all-out attacking attempt. 11.¥b3 ¤d7 12.¥d2 £c7
My personal opening book is 12...a5 13.a4 ¤xe5 14.dxe5 £b6 15.O-O-O O-O-O as the a5/a4 moves give the Nd5 an outpost on b4 if needed. In general, the idea is to exchange the e5 knight and castle queenside, with the queen deployed to either b6 or occasionally c7, depending on white's play. In the actual game, this is the point where I did not remember the book continuation, although I did remember the idea behind it.
13.O-O ¤xe5 14.dxe5 O-O-O 15.h5 ¥c5 16.¦ad1 ¦d7 17.¦fe1 ¦hd8 18.¥c1 £b6 This illustrates why the normal move earlier is Qb6 rather than Qc7, that would have saved a tempo on the position. 19.c3 ¤e7 20.¦xd7 ¦xd7 21.¥c4 ¤d5 This rook exchange sequence gains Black the d-file and reduces the number of heavy pieces available for White to attack with. 22.£f3 £d8 Both Fritz and Houdini at this point prefer Qc7, which in words means the queen pressures e5 and also helps cover the 7th rank on defense. While doubling up on the d-file looks good, the points of potential rook invasion are at this point well covered by White. 23.¤e4 ¥xe4 24.£xe4 ¥e7 Not the best. Houdini recommends f5 first, which would prevent a future queen invasion on h7. 25.g3 Prevents any funny business from Black on h4 25...¥c5 26.¢g2 ¤e7 It would be better to anticipate the queenside pawn advance with Bb6 27.b4 ¥b6 28.a4 ¦d1 29.a5 Qe2 is necessary to prevent the tactical shot on f2, which however... 29...¦xe1
I also miss. 29...¥xf2!?30.¢xf2 ¦xc1 31.¦xc1 £d2+ employs a queen fork and highlights the value of the queen on the open file.
30.£xe1²30...¥c7 31.£e4 This allows the black queen to penetrate, thereby fully offsetting white's space advantage and two bishops. 31...£d1 32.¥e3 £xh5 33.f4 ¤d5 Houdini says a6 would have been slightly better, although I thought getting the knight into play was more important at the time. 34.¥xa7 ¤xc3
Here both Fritz and Houdini originally thought that 34...£g4 was better, as the queen stays active near white's king with the possibility of advancing the h-pawn to attack. However, Houdini eventually came around to my way of thinking. Both moves are essentially equal.
35.£d3
35.£h7!?± was Fritz's evaluation, although I wasn't afraid of it at the time, believing my piece activity would compensate. Houdini agrees with me.
35...¤d5 36.b5 £g4 Fritz agrees taking the pawn too early is bad.
Not 36...¥xa5 37.bxc6 bxc6 38.¥xd5 exd5 39.£a6+ ¢d7 40.£xa5 £e2+ 41.¥f2 £e4+ 42.¢h2+⁠−
37.¥xd5 exd5 38.bxc6 ¥xa5??
Unfortunately I didn't remember this and admittedly was a bit flustered by White's apparent attack. Better is 38...£e6 39.cxb7+ ¢xb7 40.¥d4²40...¥xa5
39.cxb7+??
Both Browne and I missed 39.£xd5 and White wins 39...£e2+ 40.¥f2+⁠−
39...¢xb7±40.¥e3 £d7 At this point we have reached a dead-even endgame where neither side can hope to make progress with good play. 41.£d4 ¢c8 42.£c5+ £c7 43.£xd5 ¥b4 (This allows white too much space. Better was 43...£b7 44.£xb7+ ¢xb7) 44.f5 After this move, either Qc2 or Qb7 allows Black to comfortably hold. Something like Kh2 could have been tried to keep the queens on and white's space advantage.
Powered by Aquarium

2. Chess.com's Game Editor is an online tool that is relatively simple to use - link to instructions - but you need to ensure that you are using the old version of the site for publishing if you don't have a Chess.com blog, as the new version won't show all of the necessary functions in the GUI.  It has a clean look and good aesthetics, but it still doesn't display the evaluation symbols (+/-).

    
3. Knight Vision PGN Publisher - this was what I used as my first publishing tool.  It is easily accessible online, had all of the features I wanted and was simple to use and customize, if not the most aesthetically pleasing.  It uses Shockwave Flash (which may be an issue) and was last updated in 2013, but is still working.



4.  ChessBase

The biggest change in online game publishing is the recent (early July 2016) unveiling of a completely redone ChessBase replayer.  The previous version was well done aesthetically, in my opinion, but lacked a "flip the board" feature and was not blog-friendly.  The new version has a completely new display method, one that includes a large separate scroll window in the webpage that also allows you to maximize it for a near full-screen experience.  Major other new features are intended to emulate working in a ChessBase software environment, including an ability to drag-and-drop pieces on the board to create your own variations, toggle engine (Fritz) analysis on, annotation tools, and the ability to save or download the game in PGN.  Feature descriptions and instructions can be found at the above link and look easy - just copy the style sheet info into your blog template and then paste PGN data in between an embed code.

[EDIT] After a number of tries, it appears that the ChessBase viewer will not function with an http view of the blog and only works with https.  (There's also a typo in the style sheet code in the linked instructions, if you just paste it in it will cause an error message in Blogger due to a missing "/" or "</link>" at the end of the first HTML code line).  You can see the https blog post view in this link, which correctly displays the ChessBase viewer.


[Event "Simul"] [Site "Las Vegas"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Browne, Walter"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B19"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Fritz/Houdini"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] {B19: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 main line} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nf6 {This sub-variation is relatively rare in practice, with Nd7 being played most often. I evaluate it as just as sound and less famiiliar for most White players, making it good for Black.} 8. Ne5 Bh7 9. Bc4 e6 10. Qe2 Nd5 {This last sequence is essentially forced after Ne5, which is White's all-out attacking attempt.} 11. Bb3 Nd7 12. Bd2 Qc7 $146 ({ My personal opening book is} 12... a5 13. a4 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Qb6 15. O-O-O O-O-O {as the a5/a4 moves give the Nd5 an outpost on b4 if needed. In general, the idea is to exchange the e5 knight and castle queenside, with the queen deployed to either b6 or occasionally c7, depending on white's play. In the actual game, this is the point where I did not remember the book continuation, although I did remember the idea behind it.}) 13. O-O Nxe5 14. dxe5 O-O-O 15. h5 Bc5 16. Rad1 Rd7 17. Rfe1 Rhd8 18. Bc1 Qb6 {This illustrates why the normal move earlier is Qb6 rather than Qc7, that would have saved a tempo on the position.} 19. c3 Ne7 20. Rxd7 Rxd7 21. Bc4 Nd5 {This rook exchange sequence gains Black the d-file and reduces the number of heavy pieces available for White to attack with.} 22. Qf3 Qd8 {Both Fritz and Houdini at this point prefer Qc7, which in words means the queen pressures e5 and also helps cover the 7th rank on defense. While doubling up on the d-file looks good, the points of potential rook invasion are at this point well covered by White.} 23. Ne4 Bxe4 24. Qxe4 Be7 {Not the best. Houdini recommends f5 first, which would prevent a future queen invasion on h7.} 25. g3 {Prevents any funny business from Black on h4} Bc5 26. Kg2 Ne7 {It would be better to anticipate the queenside pawn advance with Bb6} 27. b4 Bb6 28. a4 Rd1 29. a5 {Qe2 is necessary to prevent the tactical shot on f2, which however...} Rxe1 ({I also miss.} 29... Bxf2 $5 30. Kxf2 Rxc1 31. Rxc1 Qd2+ {employs a queen fork and highlights the value of the queen on the open file.}) 30. Qxe1 $14 Bc7 31. Qe4 {This allows the black queen to penetrate, thereby fully offsetting white's space advantage and two bishops.} Qd1 $11 32. Be3 Qxh5 33. f4 Nd5 {Houdini says a6 would have been slightly better, although I thought getting the knight into play was more important at the time.} 34. Bxa7 Nxc3 ({Here both Fritz and Houdini originally thought that} 34... Qg4 {was better, as the queen stays active near white's king with the possibility of advancing the h-pawn to attack. However, Houdini eventually came around to my way of thinking. Both moves are essentially equal.}) 35. Qd3 (35. Qh7 $142 $5 $16 {was Fritz's evaluation, although I wasn't afraid of it at the time, believing my piece activity would compensate. Houdini agrees with me.}) 35... Nd5 $11 36. b5 Qg4 { Fritz agrees taking the pawn too early is bad.} ({Not} 36... Bxa5 37. bxc6 bxc6 38. Bxd5 exd5 39. Qa6+ Kd7 40. Qxa5 Qe2+ 41. Bf2 Qe4+ 42. Kh2 $18) 37. Bxd5 exd5 38. bxc6 Bxa5 $4 ({Unfortunately I didn't remember this and admittedly was a bit flustered by White's apparent attack. Better is} 38... Qe6 39. cxb7+ Kxb7 40. Bd4 $14 Bxa5) 39. cxb7+ $4 ({Both Browne and I missed} 39. Qxd5 $142 { and White wins} Qe2+ 40. Bf2 $18) 39... Kxb7 $16 40. Be3 Qd7 $11 {At this point we have reached a dead-even endgame where neither side can hope to make progress with good play.} 41. Qd4 Kc8 42. Qc5+ Qc7 43. Qxd5 Bb4 ({This allows white too much space. Better was} 43... Qb7 44. Qxb7+ Kxb7) 44. f5 {After this move, either Qc2 or Qb7 allows Black to comfortably hold. Something like Kh2 could have been tried to keep the queens on and white's space advantage.} 1/2-1/2

1 comment:

  1. Hey there. Thanks for posting this. I've been using chess.com's game editor for my site. I might try out one of the others to see which one looks better. The games you display look great, but I don't feel like paying for Aquarium...however, every time I see a game on your page, it makes me think about it.

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