Julia's Fairies


Computer programs for chess composition

I’m going to speak about some of the most popular solving programs for chess composition. Of course, I can comment only the programs I use, so I’ll start from them. But first of all I’d like to tell THANK YOU! to all the programmers, who spends their time to write these programs, to improve them, to answer user’s questions and who still have to hear our critics sometimes…


Popeye is a chess problem solving and testing software which supports orthodox and fairy chess genres. The program was originally created for MS-DOS in 1983. Under Windows it works in command prompt. The last version is available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/popeye-chess/files/

The advantages:

  • support of fairy stipulations
  • support of fairy pieces
  • support of fairy conditions and combinations of them
  • fast solving

Inconveniences, the users might have:

  • no user interface
  • no graphics
  • some frequent problems users have (topic of further discussion)

I’m going to show on the examples (for Windows):

  1. How to install popeye
  2. How popeye works
  3. How to avoid some frequent problems the users have
  4. How to use interfaces programs together with popeye

 …Read more…


WinChloe is a software devoted to chess problems written by Christian Poisson. The program supports fairy pieces, conditions,  shows themes, has a big database. It is really very powerful! Also, I’d like to add a comment that Mr. Poisson replies to the emails very promptly!

The advantages:

  • support of fairy stipulations
  • support of fairy pieces
  • support of fairy conditions and combinations of them
  • searches and shows themes
  • has graphical interface
  • has a database of more than 400 thousands problems
  • has options for filtering problems and adding queries
  • has diagram images in graphics and RTF(for publishing)

Problems, the users might experience:

  • not very friedly user interface (without a good help)
  • at one time can be used on one computer only (unless you buy the 2nd,…etc license to use it simultaneously)
  • in case of a crash of the program or your Windows, the program in some cases corrupts the database currently opened (do make backups often!!)

I’m going to show some actions you can do with this program, and also useful options and settings of it. Please also leave your comments/questions for me to know what might be useful to write about!

 …Read more…


Ankona is a web-based program for diagram imaging, storing and solving chess problems, written by Ilja Ketris (Latvia). The site ankona.ch is commissioned by the WFCC. The program uses web interface, has it’s own databases of problems and authors, uses popeye as a solving engine. So, at Ankona you can use all the pieces and conditions which uses popeye. This is my primary soft.

The advantages

  • You can work with any web-browser from any computer to use the program
  • You have your own database of problems accessible from any place
  • Graphical interface for diagrams
  • Solving interface with popeye as a solving engine
  • Supporting fairy stipulations, conditions, pieces – whatever popeye supports
  • Possibility to make problems private and public, to share your problems online with other users.

The disadvantages

  • Fairy pieces have to be entered into diagrams using notation
  • The server might be overloaded and too slow for solving

…Read More…


Olive by Dmitri Turevski is a free open source cross-platform graphical front-end for Popeye chess software and more. Named after the fictional character Olive Oyl, girlfriend of Popeye the Sailor.

Windows self-extracting archive you can download from http://www.yacpdb.org/#static/olive. Currently available:  olive-0.13.6.exe

Highly recommended! Hopefully, some more details will come….


Jacobi by François Labelle can solve fairy proof games. The program is a web app that runs in your browser and requires no installation. It can solve proof games that Popeye struggles with, which by itself is a good enough reason to add Jacobi to your toolbox. There are also new possibilities like allowing undefined pieces in the diagram of a proof game.

How to try Jacobi for people in a hurry:
– Find an example problem that interests you from the documentation page.
– Click on the corresponding “Load in solver” button.
– On the solver page, click “Start”.
(François Labelle)

See also an article:  Solving program Jacobi equipped with constraints – a new tool to check proof games
(by Michel Caillaud, Nicolas Dupont, François Labelle)

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October 14, 2018 08:00

Спасибо огромное, постараюсь разобраться потихоньку.

October 14, 2018 11:07

I think it is okTime to upgrade with Olive, Jacoby, Dugan’s Chess Composer.

October 14, 2018 11:08

Meant Diyan’s chess composer

Joshua Green
Joshua Green
April 15, 2020 01:08

As far as I know, Popeye is currently being developed on GitHub at https://github.com/thomas-maeder/popeye and that’s where the latest version can be found.

Hannu Harkola
Hannu Harkola
May 26, 2020 19:33

I recommend Teddy as an interface to Popeye. It can be downloaded from http://problemskak.dk/.

August 10, 2020 16:53

How can I add a little functionality to POPEYE?

Geoff Foster
Geoff Foster
August 12, 2020 02:25

Download the source code and change it. You will then need a compiler.

shankar ram
shankar ram
August 13, 2020 11:27
Reply to  Geoff Foster

You will also need a fair degree of C programming skills!;)

February 19, 2023 19:53

If you are into orthodox SPGs, you might want to try Stelvio: https://www.thbrand.de/stelvio-seite/

shankar ram
shankar ram
February 20, 2023 14:50
Reply to  Reto

As members of the Chess problems and studies Discord server are aware, Reto has been quietly developing and testing this new program over the past year. It was finally released as v1.0 on 27-Jan. It appears to be the fastest PG solver yet! Give it a try! As it is Java based, it runs ok on multiple platforms – Windows, Linux, Mac. It should be possible to run it on Android too, though I couldn’t succeed.

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