by Steve Lopez

There's a lot of chess information available on the Internet in a variety of formats. One of these is called EPD (Extended Position Description) format; it's just a convenient way to provide a board position (rather than a full game) in an ASCII text notation. For example, here's what the board position after 1.e4 looks like in EPD format:

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq e3 0 1

This was designed as a way for chess players and chess programs to pass board positions back and forth for analysis. You'll frequently see posts to Usenet chess newsgroups or other message boards containing these EPD positions.

There's a quick, easy way to copy and paste these board descriptions into ChessBase or any of our playing programs (Fritz, Hiarcs, Nimzo, Junior). Just highlight the EPD line from a post or webpage and hit CRTL-C on your keyboard. Then open ChessBase, go to the Game menu, select "Setup position", and click the button marked "Paste FEN". You'll instantly see the position appear on the board in the "Setup position" window. Click "OK" and you'll now have an "Enter new game" window with the proper board position on it taken from the EPD file. You can then save the position into a database just like any other game.

The procedure in the playing programs is very similar to this. Clip the EPD notation by using CTRL-C as described above, fire up your playing program, click on the Board button, select "Setup pos...", and select "Paste FEN". As described above, you'll see the board position appear; you can then click "OK" to go back to the main window. The position will be on the chessboard and you can save it into a database.

Once you have the position set up in this manner, you can have your playing program analyze it by hitting ALT-F2 (to start "Infinite Analysis" mode). In ChessBase, you can start any of your analysis engines and let them chew on the position.

You can also copy positions in EPD notation to e-mails or Internet posts. Let's say you're playing through a Mikhail Tal game and he performs a startling sacrifice. You want to post the position to the Net to see if anyone can find the combination. Just go to the position at the start of the combination, go to "Setup position" (as described above for your particular program), and select "Copy FEN" (this is equivalent to hitting CTRL-C to send the position to the Windows Clipboard). Then, at the point in your e-mail or post where you want the position to appear, just hit CTRL-V to paste the notation into your message.

Sometimes you'll download complete files full of EPD board descriptions. You can import these into a database quite easily using one of the playing programs. Just click the Database button, load the database you want to bring the positions into, then right-click in the game list. From the menu that appears, select "Import EPD". A file selector box will appear that lets you go to the folder in which you have the EPD file. Double-click on the file name and all of the positions will be imported into the current database.

ChessBase doesn't support the import of files containing multiple EPD positions (you'd have to open the EPD file in a text editor and paste the positions one at a time as described at the beginning of this article); if you also have one of the playing programs, you can always perform the conversion there and open up the database in ChessBase.

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes. If you love gambits, stop by my Chess Kamikaze Home Page and the Yahoo Chess Kamikazes Club.