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A program for broadcasting chess games live on the Internet


Palive is a freeware program to broadcast chess games live on the Internet. It was first used at the Swedish championships 2001 and has since been rewritten almost from scratch. To use Palive you also need Palview version 4, Andrew Templeton's pgn to html/JavaScript conversion utility.

For each game you want to broadcast you must create a pgn file, a simple text file with chess moves. When a new move has been made it must be appended to the file and then saved. To do this you can use a simple text editor, Palive's text editor, a chess database (e.g. ChessBase), a chess program or sophisticated software that monitors electronic chess boards. It really doesn't matter what you use, as long as it can write and save a pgn file.

In "auto mode" Palive will monitor selected pgn files, and when a file has changed (i.e. saved with a new move or an updated time tag), the file will be converted to html/JavaScript by Palview and uploaded to your server as a webpage with a playable chess board. The pgn files can be uploaded too, if you so wish.

Once started, the process will run automatically until all games have finished. If something unexpected should happen, Palive will flash an alarm and tell you what the problem is. This could be a broken Internet connection or bad pgn created either by you or software monitoring electronic chess boards.

With Palview you can design the look and feel of the finished html pages in every detail, and the visitor can replay the game with no need for a real board. The html page will refresh automatically, if the visitor so wishes, and once the game has finished the auto-refresh will be switched off.

It is also possible to annotate the games as they are being played and any variations will be re-playable too. With pages created by Palview the visitor can move the pieces on the board as he wishes (analysis), which is a nice feature if you're watching games online, or if you're a commentator with an audience and the webpage is projected on a larger canvas.
If the source pgn file has any comments or variations (for instance time tags in the pgn move text made by software monitoring electronic chess boards) you cannot annotate or comment the html files. As of now Palive cannot distinguish between comments made by you and comments from another source and will make a mess of it. We're trying to solve this minor problem.

The Chess Clock

If you use DGT electronic chess boards and clocks, the DGT software can insert time tags into the pgn file and Palview will display how much time the players have used. The time tags are written as described in Alan Cowderoy's paper An Extension to the Pgn Standard and in Andrew Templeton's Palview Manual.

December 2003, Eric Bentzen