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My name is Bill Forster, and I am a programmer living in Wellington, New Zealand. The Tarrasch Chess GUI is the result of me finally realising that it makes sense to combine my interests in chess and programming. I released the original Tarrasch Chess GUI (which I now call Tarrasch V1) in 2009. I started this blog in September 2010, soon after setting out on the big job of upgrading Tarrasch into a real chess GUI. These efforts (and this blog) eventually produced Tarrasch V2, released in September 2011.  To download the Tarrasch Chess GUI, visit

I am now working on Tarrasch V3. To find out a little more background information, look at the first two posts on this blog,

Starting at the middle



38 Comments leave one →
  1. Anshuman permalink
    March 16, 2011 3:36 am

    I am indeed impressed by your cute program which makes me wonder – what does this program NOT do basically?
    I have used Lucas Chess and Haundrix chess in the past and if possible I may test the new alpha version and suggest improvements?
    I really do not know if I need to (can?) give suggestions OR only report any bugs…
    However I wish you all success in your endeavor and count me in in case you need any suggestions for implementing in the future.
    Offhand what I really might look forward is the capability of having two computers play each others in a LAN or internet in a variety of ways, like specific positions or with specific depths etc… since I keep looking at openings that are in my repertoire.
    Best wishes and Thanks once again.


    • March 16, 2011 4:55 am

      I am not sure if you want a copy or not. But hey, whatever, I’ll email you the download info just in case!

  2. larry dayton permalink
    March 23, 2011 3:49 am

    I would definitely be interested in the version 2 you have been working on. I like the simplicity of this program, and the interesting setup for book moves. I wanted to add an engine which was easy enough. I could not add a book, however, since I could not find any that were simply pgn files. I do have the Rybka book but can’t seem to get your program to read it. In any case, I would like to see your new version and will definitely give you feedback on it. Thanks and good luck.
    Larry Dayton
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    • March 23, 2011 4:06 am

      Yes, sorry the book feature is pretty simplistic and will remain so for now. Basically .pgn is the only open standard, others are proprietary, closed and binary. So with the best will in the world I can’t interpret them. Vendors do this sort of thing to achieve lock-in.

  3. Alexandru Damian permalink
    March 28, 2011 9:13 pm

    I would like an alpha version of Tarrasch 2.0. I will be sure to report any bugs that i see, and i am a current user of Tarrasch v1.

  4. Kshitiz permalink
    March 31, 2011 6:59 pm

    Hi, I have the V1 of Tarrash 2.3.2a. Will you please email me the download information for Version 2?

    • March 31, 2011 9:18 pm

      Please note that 2.3.2a is a Rybka version number – nothing to do with Tarrasch. This comment really belongs with one of the posts on Tarrasch V2 alpha test. WordPress doesn’t allow me to move it though. I will email alpha test instructions now.

  5. Jorge Aguirre permalink
    April 17, 2011 2:32 am

    I’d like to send me Tarrasch V2 alpha test

  6. July 7, 2011 10:13 am

    Please send me a link to Tarrasch V2 alpha test too. Great software!
    Thanks!!! (tripleexclam!!!)

  7. July 7, 2011 1:15 pm

    Thanks for Tarrasch 1. I would like to try V2 alpha. My email is

  8. Chad Bam permalink
    August 9, 2011 11:24 pm

    Hi – I’d love try test drive (and report back) the alpha for v2. Can I?

    • Chad Bam permalink
      August 9, 2011 11:26 pm

      To clarify, I’d love to test drive the alpha version for Tarrasch V2. Can you email me the download info? Great work and please keep it up!

      • August 11, 2011 12:06 am

        Thanks for this enquiry. Until very recently I would have said, yes here’s the download link, please try the alpha version. But just at the moment I am really working intensively to deliver a much more stable version (a beta version if you like) really soon. The target is end of next week. The truth is, I am pretty embarrassed at the quality level of the alpha version. It serves as a demo for Tarrasch V2, but I really don’t like having something I wrote out there that has so many bugs. I am pleased I kept it to a very limited release, and I ask you to be patient for just another week or so. If I don’t deliver by then, I will release at the very least an improved alpha version.

  9. Chad Bam permalink
    August 11, 2011 11:33 am

    Okay, understandable. I’m happy to wait another week for a better product! Until then…thanks.


  10. Philip Juleff permalink
    August 14, 2011 12:24 pm

    I am interested in Tarrasch V2, and would like instructions for download if possible.
    Philip Juleff

    • August 15, 2011 4:15 am

      Philip, I am going to ask you to wait more days. Please see my new blog post for an explanation. Thanks!

  11. David permalink
    August 18, 2011 3:03 pm


    I found your Tarrasch GUI today while searching for one that was easy to use and install an engine on. It is simple, and I can use it to analyze just fine, but the one problem I have with it is opening PGN files. I tried opening a PGN of a game from, for example, and I couldn’t play through the moves or see any indication that Tarrasch even opens PGNs. Is there a way to open/view PGNs with Tarrasch, or will that come in Version 2?

    • August 18, 2011 11:22 pm

      David, Tarrasch V1 has no facilities to read or edit .pgn files. This was a big shortcut I took to get something useful “out there” reasonably quickly. The good news is that Tarrasch V2 is all about fixing that problem. You are in luck actually, today is the day I launch a beta version of Tarrasch V2, it should be available to download on in a few more hours!

  12. September 7, 2011 5:04 am

    Hi Bill,

    nice to see another computer chess nutter from NZ. 🙂

    Graham from CCRL (also a NZer)

  13. sixcookies permalink
    October 20, 2011 7:18 am

    Hi Bill,
    I am enjoying version 2 of Tarrasch since I moved from PC to a mac and I am now running it via a windows emulator.
    For your wish list; I wondered if you would ever consider allowing an option for engines to play each other, e.g. an extra button beside the row of “setup position, play white and play black” such as “engine match”. Click on the button and maybe select the two engines to play with some time per move and then watch the game and enjoy the kibitzer analysis.
    People may have requested this before and it does deviate from the playing against an engine, but just a thought for version 2.1?
    All the best

    • October 20, 2011 8:33 pm

      Hello Mr Cook, (sorry I am on a short holiday, I can’t look up my records and I don’t trust my memory re your name). An engine v engine feature has often come up. Lots of computer chess people are into that. Unfortunately it’s a big job. If there’s a Tarrasch V3 then it will have engine v engine for sure.

  14. Benjamin permalink
    December 9, 2013 11:02 am

    Really looking forward to new versions of Tarrasch!
    Its a great and handy tool that I just often to analyse my games.

  15. Will permalink
    February 28, 2014 4:28 am

    Dear Bill, I downloaded Tarrash this evening and tried it out and I like it very much, it’s very simple, it works very well, it’s really great, thank you very much. I have one question about one of the 13 training positions, it is the one with the 6 blacks pawns plus R and K against the 7 white pawns plus R and K – are you sure that this can be won? : -). I tried many times and now I feel frustrated. Best regards, Will (Ireland).

    • March 1, 2014 4:47 am

      Sorry, I don’t have time at the moment, but I will reply properly to this question tomorrow (Sunday NZ time).

    • March 2, 2014 10:19 pm

      Hi Will. This position (I assume you mean K+R+6 v K+R+5 – not K+R+7 v K+R+6) appears in the excellent book “Secrets of Practical Chess” by John Nunn, on page 128 in my 1998 edition. Basically the book explains why this is a good training position, and I will quote extensively from the book by way of an explanation. Incidentally before I start doing that, I will point out that it is hardly surprising you don’t win this position against a strong engine. In my own chess training with a strong grandmaster we tried as a team to beat Houdini 1.5 from a similar pawn up ending and basically failed every time! It doesn’t mean the exercise isn’t useful. So, returning to Nunn; “An ability to win positions such as this is fundamental to successful chess….situations in which you win a pawn for essentially no compensation are very common…..I showed this position to some of the world’s leading grandmasters, including Karpov, Kramnik and Andersson, and asked them to estimate their winning chances as White, assuming an opponent of equal strength. The answers were all in the range 80-90%. The general feeling was that such a position should objectively be a win, and the ‘missing’ 10-20% represented the probability of making a mistake oneself rather than the probability of running into exceptionally good defence. A search of 500,000 games revealed 94 clear-cut examples of this type of structure (3 vs 3 on one side, 3 vs 2 on the other, no doubled pawns and pawns not blocked). The result was 72 wins, 19 draws and 3 losses(!). The 77% success rate was slightly lower than the GMs thought, but at their level technique is better and so, assuming that the position is objectively won, they would be more likely to round up the point.”

      Nunn goes on to talk about the failure of standard reference works to cover positions like this (they tend to cover simplified positions with clear cut solutions), creating a practical difficulty for the keen student. He mentions that Fine’s Basic Chess Endings does contain some helpful advice, but notes that the plan recommended there was not to be found in any of the 94 games revealed by his database search! He then presents his preferred model example of how to win the game, which is a Nunn vs Fritz5 training game (I’ll transcribe the moves and email it to you if you ask me) . I’ll finish by returning to quoting Nunn again, with a paragraph that probably inspired my “Training Positions” feature in Tarrasch; “This, incidentally, provides an example of using computer programs for training purposes. It is possible to set up simplified, idealized positions and play them out against the computer. The best method is to play the same position several times for both colours, trying different ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. This kind of experience cannot be gained in over-the-board play.”

  16. Atul Desai permalink
    June 19, 2014 7:18 am

    Tarrasch is a good program. I request for one thing, i like green board, so is it possible to change the board colour to green? Such a change will be appreciated.
    Thank you for the application.

    • October 17, 2014 10:37 pm

      I am sorry I somehow failed to answer this one in a timely manner. In a word, no, sorry. The rather inflexible graphics is a problem that I acknowledge. Unfortunately graphics programming is not a strength of mine – I could easily have spent all of my Tarrasch programming time trying to create a board that was resizeable, optionally labeled with co-ordinates, had custom colours etc., but then I would never have got the program out the door ! I decided on a compromise that enabled me to create something useful for a decent audience, if not everyone.

  17. October 17, 2014 5:07 pm

    Hi Bill,
    I am a volunteer chess coach in Savannah, GA usa. I work with kids who are between 8-12. One of the milestones in their learning is basic checkmates. Your program is a great solution (with the built in Set Position list).

    For my training purposes, it would be nice if there were a way to edit the menu of training positions (in Commands > Set Postion). I could then populate it with puzzles and topics that fit our current training. A toolbar icon for Set Position would be nice too. Maybe consider adding these to your features/ideas list ?

    Your audience may not be large but your work is appreciated.

    Thanks and Best Regards

    • October 17, 2014 10:52 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. Feedback like this keeps me motivated to keep working on the program ! In fact I enjoyed this message even more than most positive and encouraging messages, because I think Tarrasch already has the feature you are looking for ! You can add extra training positions to the list, this is customisable. It’s not one of Tarrasch’s easiest to find and use features – that’s a reflection of the “basic things should be easy — complex things should be possible” principle I try to follow. Have a look at the “How do I make new training material ?” question in the Tarrasch FAQ at Do some experimenting and don’t hesitate to contact me again if you run into trouble. In fact please report back even if you don’t have any problems!

      • October 30, 2014 2:44 pm

        Thanks for the info. I will use the existing feature as you suggest.
        btw-I am now waiting for the School IT people to (allow me to) install Tarrasch. This is a slow process but we have to go thru the the School IT group to install programs. I am looking forward to having the kids practice checkmate with Tarrasch and will send an update when it happens.
        In the meantime I thought of a potential issue related to our IT ‘procedures’: ….Since the Book.pgn file is in the Tarrasch program folder I may not be able to change it (due to School security issues). Maybe a feature allowing that file to be located elsewhere (my documents) would be useful. Thanks Again.

      • November 2, 2014 12:57 am

        Please note that you can put the book anywhere you like, it doesn’t have to be in its original location. Also note there is a .zip version of Tarrasch V2, with exactly the same feature set, on the website. Just unzip this anywhere and run, no need for any formal installation.

  18. Chris permalink
    November 6, 2016 3:12 am

    I have been using Tarrasch for several months to record my own analysis in online correspondence (that is, turn-based) games. I love the way it lets me record variations and sub-variations, with comments. Thank you for producing such a useful program; I am looking forward to Version 3!

  19. January 6, 2017 12:24 pm

    Hi, sorry when my English isn’t that good. But I hope you’ll understand what I’d like to know concerning your excellent program. How can I set engine parameters? There are some fields that can be filled, but when I do so there isn’t any effect. Mostly I would like to have multiple analysis lines (MultiPV). Hope you can help me. Currently I use different versions of Komodo 5-8 and Stockfish 7-8. Best regards!

    • January 6, 2017 4:10 pm

      Rainer, your English is very good. Sorry, Tarrasch insists on a fixed value of 4 lines of analysis for MultiPV. This is one of its limitations. Maybe this will change in 2017. I hope you are using Tarrasch V3. Possibly if you comment again you could reply to the most recent blog posts rather than this old one – that way any discussion is more easily located in time. Thanks for your interest.

  20. Chris permalink
    January 23, 2017 3:05 am

    Tarrasch version 3 is even better than the previous version! Thanks again for all your efforts. Hope you won’t mind this small bug report:
    I’ve noticed that when there is enough content (usually in the form of subvariations) in between two moves in the same line, Tarrasch is unable to move the cursor backward (using up-arrow or mouse wheel) within the line across the big block of content.
    It would be great if you could add an item to fix that behavior to your “to-do” list. I’ll be happy to supply an example PGN that demonstrates the behavior, if you’d like.

    • January 23, 2017 10:47 am

      Hi Chris, thanks for the bug report. I am very happy to receive bug reports from users simply because when I discover simple bugs myself (more often than would be ideal) it’s very discouraging. “Tens of thousands of downloads and nobody every noticed this? Maybe only one in a thousand of them is actually using the program?” Please send me the illustrative .pgn. I am travelling at the moment, but I have noticed a few more small problems myself and I will issue another bug fix release – hopefully with your bug fixed too – probably in March. Also, if you don’t mind please prefer commenting on more recent blog posts when possible – thanks again.

  21. Chris permalink
    March 16, 2019 2:02 am

    I am still loving Tarrasch, but recent versions have introduced a behavior that i don’t like, and I’m not sure there is a way around it.

    Here’s what happens:

    I open a PGN file, representing an online correspondence game that I’m playing. I add some analysis.

    Then I open another PGN file. I get prompted by Tarrasch to save the first one. It doesn’t make sense to me that I should get that prompt.

    Then I add some analysis to both files.

    When I quit Tarrasch, it prompts me to save — but it saves both games to *one* of the PGN files.

    This isn’t what I expect. I’d prefer that Tarrasch treat all my files, and the games therein, as separate units, and not as things to be commingled.

    I far preferred the “old” way of doing things, where each file opened created a new instance of Tarrasch. I can understand why you might have wanted to change that, but would it be possible to preserve the files as separate files, rather than combining them?

    Thanks for anything you can do.

  22. Jure Markovic permalink
    January 24, 2021 11:03 pm

    Tarrash is a really nice and fully functional chess GUI, but I wish to see more then one chess set. Please add Merida, Alpha and Regular chess figurine sets at least. Thank you in advance.

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