Here is some chess960 compatible software. If you know of any good programs I’ve missed, let me know.


These engines are all very strong (ratings list here).

  • Stockfish (Free: Linux, Win, Mac, Android, iOS)
  • Houdini ($: Win)
  • Komodo ($ for latest / Older versions are free: Linux, Win, Mac, Android)
  • Shredder ($: Linux, Win, Mac)
  • Fire (Free: Win)
  • Critter (Free: Linux, Win, Mac, Android)

Databases / Engine hosts

Position generators

Although the database programs above can generate starting positions, the following are standalone solutions:


Position notation

Forsyth–Edwards Notation (FEN) is the normal way of compactly describing a chess position in text. The “KQkq” part of the FEN indicates who has castling rights (and in which directions). In a game of chess960, it is possible (although rare) to obtain positions where FEN notation would be ambiguous about which rook is the castling rook (see the example here). The solution is to use X-FEN, which is backwards compatible with FEN.

Game notation

Chess960 games can be recorded and shared in portable game notation (PGN). The only required additions are the [FEN] and [Variant] tags. For example, in addition to all the normal PGN tags, the following might be added;

  • [FEN “nbqrknbr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/NBQRKNBR w KQkq – 0 1”]
  • [Variant “Chess960”]

There is no need for X-FEN since FEN can fully describe every chess960 starting position. X-FEN is reserved for those special cases where the castling rook is ambiguous (which can only arise in actual play).