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ExaChess Lite is a freeware version of ExaChess, a full-featured chess database. ExaChess Lite allows up to 256 games per file, reading and storing Chessbase (CBF) and PGN formats among others, and can be used with a variety of chess engines to play computer games or annotate existing games.

What's New

Version 4.0.2:
  • Improved opening tree display (smoothed fonts etc)
  • Engine analysis (during Analyze, Annotate, or Play) is now shown over two lines at the bottomof the move list, above the status line; Show Opening Tree or Show Captured Piecesget toggled off while engine analysis is being shown.
  • Fixed bug: Preferences now correctly retained between launches
  • Fixed bug: Opening more...


Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later

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ExaChess Lite User Discussion

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Pissnaround Member IconComment+94

just downloaded 4.02. tried playing a game and I'm getting a "this game is corrupted and can't be read" message. this is after selecting new game, moving a piece, and selecting go from the menu.

Reply1 reply
Version 4.0.2

No problems with 4.0.2 here (iMac 10.5.6 Intel). I first opened the earlier version, clicked on Check for Updates, but the resulting download indicated an error. So I closed the program and clicked on Download Now (above). I ran the program before copying to the Applications Folder and had no problems. I then completed the installation (copied the .app to Applications) and ran the program again. No problems. Perhaps you, too, tried to download from the earlier version's Check for Updates? If so, try downloading it again from this page.

Pissnaround Member IconComment+94

just downloaded 4.02. tried playing a game and I'm getting a "this game is corrupted and can't be read" message. this is after selecting new game, moving a piece, and selecting go from the menu.

Reply0 replies
Version 4.0.2
libecchio Member IconComment+86

This is a massive improvement on v3.x. The most important of all is that the board is easy to read at any scale with the "Gameknot" font; down with bitmaps! The database usage is as slick as ever, and the engine handling is now up-to-date (supporting UCI engines). As well as handling existing games I have no problem playing new games with computer opponents; that is not the case with some other chess database programs.

There are still a few shortcomings:

1. The icons (application and documents) are not up to modern standards;

2. The preferences screen needs clarification (for example, how fonts, board graphics and colours go together is unclear);

3. Some of the font rendering, particularly in the right-hand pane (game score), is messy;

4. Unless I am missing something, it is not possible to set UCI parameters against an engine which means that, for example, Glaurung 2.0.1 cannot be used with its opening book;

5. The game downloader - a nice touch which allows This Week in Chess games to be downloaded automatically - fails with "Where is BOMArchiveHelper.app?"

6. It is not clear where tablebases are stored, although they are referred to by the program.

7. The program insists on recreating a folder ~/ExaChess Games if it is deleted. (It contains various classic game databases and similar).

But these are relatively minor points - although I am not keen on the behaviour exhibited by 7 - and the program, in general, works well.

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Version 4.0b6
Anonymous Member IconReview

I've been a user of ExaChess for a couple of years now, first the Lite version, then the Pro.

As a chess database this is a real gem. Usability, functionality and performance are all first rate. You'll need to spend a fair bit of time (with the excellent user guide) to get the most out of it though.

I use it with a raw score PGN database of 3.7 million games, plus a heavily annotated PGN database (Chess Informant) of 100,000 games. It can cope with both fine. The way to do this is not to set up one big database but to use ExaChess's View facility to search and select over multiple smaller databases.

I compare it with Scid, a well-known and very good open source chess database. But you'll need to be technically savvy to get Scid up and running on a Mac, whereas ExaChess is a Mac app through and through.

It's difficult to make direct comparisons. In raw terms Scid searches faster and offers more fancy functions (e.g. crosstables, opening reports etc.) But I rate ExaChess the better - its user interface is so much easier to use so its real performance is better; ExaChess's Views are far more flexible than Scid's database switcher, and the fancy stuff doesn't actually count for so much. Scid is there in reserve, and ExaChess is the one on my desktop.

PS. One small treat. The PGN parser is excellent. I can go onto, say The Week in Chess web-site, click and drag down through a heavily annotated page, copy and paste it into a new game window in ExaChess, and there it is, straight into my database, nothing more needed. Try doing that in Scid, not a chance! Nor with any other chess program, Windows or Mac, I should think.

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Version 3.1.3
Anonymous Member IconReview

ExaChess is THE chess database for macintosh users. It is NOT, however, a chess-playing engine. It can be used as a front-end for a large number of existing chess engines, however.

I've been an ExaChess user for years. The developer of this program is extremely responsive to his registered users, and has gone the extra mile for me more than once when I had an unusual problem or special request.

The Lite version is a great tool for storing correspondence games and for doing analysis. The full "Pro" version you get with registration is the same program, but with limitations on databse size and publishing features lifted.

If you want to store your own games, analyze games, collect and search databases of other peoples games, build opening repetoires, practice openings, or publish nice looking chess literature, this is the program you want, hands down.

If, however, you are just looking for a chess opponent, I'd recommend SigmaChess, which is a real chess engine.

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Version 3.1.2
Anonymous Member IconReview

From my experience with previous versions, the main use is for storing and analysing games - which i found it very good at.

The engine wasnt very strong, but would be good for beginner/intermediate players. Advanced and expert would find it too easy. This may have also changed with the new version.

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Version 3.1.2
Anonymous Member Icon

Yup, that's is alogical.
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Current Version (4.x)


Downloads 15,974
Version Downloads 3,040
License Free
Date 22 Apr 2009
Platform OS X / PPC 32 / Intel 32
Price Free
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