Popeye is a chess problem solving and testing software which supports orthodox and fairy chess genres. The program was originally written for MS-DOS in 1983. Now we use it in command prompt of Windows. I’m happy to present here a short history of Popeye by Thomas Brand. Thanks a lot to the author!

The last version of Popeye is available at:


The advantages of Popeye:

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

For the beginners:

please look here if you need some instructions

about the installation and examples of how popeye works.

Inconveniences, the users might have:

  1. some frequent problems users have
    • popeye window closes in case of “End Problem” phrase at the end of your notation – so, you can’t even see the result – the solution is gives;
    • popeye window (actually – cmd-window of Windows) has not enough size to show a long solutions – so, sometimes you can’t see a part of the solution;
    • PASTE option doesn’t work for popeye window – so, you have to input your notation (problem) manually every time for solving;
    • it is not so convenient to copy the result of the solution from the popeye window to any of your documents.
  2. no user interface and graphics

To avoid these problems you can:

  • optimize your work with popeye using cmd-commands or batch scripts as I will explain further
  • use some interface program for popeye
  • combine using of interface program and popeye program

Optimize your work with popeye

Not all of users know, that in general there’re 2 ways of running  popeye in Windows.

  1.  You can have popeye icon on your desktop, and run it as any other program. The black window of command prompt will be opened with popeye running and waiting for your problem to be manually entered. It works, but here you will have all or some of the problems I’ve shown above.
  2. You can run popeye in command prompt of Windows. In menu START you choose Command Prompt. In this case you will get the black window of command prompt (cmd.exe window), where you can manually run your popeye (pywin32.exe, pywin64.exe, py.exe). This option avoids the problems you have in the 1st one!

The advantages of the 2ndoption:

  • the popeye window doesn’t close after solving of the problem – you can see the result of the screen;
  • you can have the results at the screen or in the file;
  • you can give an input for popeye manually, or using [PASTE] menu, or using a file with your problem for input;
  • cancelling the process of solving (ctrl+c) doesn’t close the popeye window, but just stops the current solving.

2 methods  how to run popeye  for the 2nd option:

method 1: cmd-commands

method 2: batch scripts

Starting cmd-window in Windows, running popeye manually from there and using all the advantages it gives. For some of you it might be a bit complicated from the 1st time, but please Read More to see the examples. You can put all the commands you need into the one script-file, put this script on your desktop and run it as any other program. Such scripts in Windows are called the batch scripts. Of course, it’s more convenient to use the ready scripts! I’ll give you a little explanation about these scripts and also several ready scripts for download – Read More!

Personally, I’d recommend you to use the scripts!

For those of you who is going to install popeye now, I’d suggest to do it in the directory C:PY-459 and to change the name of the executable file to py.exe. In this case you’ll be able to use my examples of using cmd-commands or batch scripts without any change.

Interface programs

Some people would prefer to have a graphical image of the diagram with ability to compose a problem on the computer, using computer graphics.

Of course, there’re many different programs for chess composition. Many of them use popeye as solving engine. You can write me about the interface programs for popeye which you use – and I’ll add a link to them with a short description. Myself I’ll make an accent to the programs which support fairies well.

For now, I’d like to mention 2 of them:

  • APwin – to be installed on your computer – Windows graphical front for Alybadix and Popeye.
  • Ankona – to work online! – web-based storing and solving program.

Combining interface programs with Popeye

Here I can mention only Ankona for now. As I’ll write in Ankona subsection – the online work has some plusses and minuses. Ankona is good for making diagrams, for storing and sharing your problems. But one of the minuses is that solving online might be very slow as the solving program works on the server and is used by many users in one time. I’d tell, that problems with solving start in case of more than 3 moves.

But Ankona has one option you can use – it shows Popeye input for your problem. So, you can compose your problem on Ankona, but instead of solving it there – choose “Show popeye input”  – and you’ll get a notation for popeye, which you can simply copy in your local running popeye-program. To have popeye-window supporting [Paste] option – read about how to optimize your work with popeye, using cmd-commands or batch scripts for running popeye.

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Please feel free to leave your comments/questions below (English, Russian, Latvian)! I can add some more info later, based on your comments!

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April 17, 2012 22:10

Работать с Popeye гораздо проще используя графические оболочки
Fancy: http://free.of.pl/c/ccintorun/g/fancy.htm
Olive: http://code.google.com/p/olive-gui/

July 8, 2012 01:10

Can you list the commands for each piece, stipulation, board size, etc.? thanks!

January 7, 2016 10:45

You can use Scacchi Painter 2 to test your problem with popeye. you can find it at: http://www.accademiadelproblema.org/forumtopic.aspx?topic=747

Ekkehard May
March 30, 2016 02:19

Chessdiagrammer 10 is out now.
It’s not only a program for creating diagrams [including a template system similar to Microsoft Word], but also a Shell for Popeye and Chest for solving problems.
Kind regards, Ekkehard

March 30, 2016 09:41
Reply to  Ekkehard May

It is just 45 euros.

Ekkehard May
March 30, 2016 12:02

The Basic version is freeware. In this version, all functions for solving problems [including fairy chess] are now available. As an chess problem enthusiast, i changed this as a gift to all problemists.
If anyone has questions about my program, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Greetings, Ekkehard

March 30, 2016 19:56
Reply to  Ekkehard May

If it is freeware it is wonderful news!

Ekkehard May
April 30, 2021 13:21

Chessdiagrammer Version 13 is out now.
The Basic Version is free of costs. You can use the program as a Popeye shell.
You are welcome to try out, if my program could be helpful for you.
Kind regards,
Ekkehard May

May 12, 2021 20:00

Hi Julia, great work here ! Wondering if you or one of your subscribers can help me re: popeye. I have to migrate a popeye configuration on to a new Windows 10 PC. It begins with an .inp file called Aufgabe.inp

protokoll         outph4
Autor              unbekannt
Quelle            ebenso 
Forderung      h#4
Steine            Weiss 
                      kh7 se2 bd6
                      kh5 de1 sg8 bb2 bd7 bf7 bh2 bh4
Option            inte 1 weis

A double-click on this file opens it in Notepad++(NPP) when NPP is closed it calls a batch file called popeye.bat. This batch file has only two lines.

c:\popeye\win64py.exe %1  

Once it has run Notepad++ relaunches with the output file “outph4” to which it appends after each loop of the sequence. I guess that the %1 is the argument that connects NPP to win64py.exe and feeds the contents of Aufgabe.inp into it which then processes it and outputs to NPP. I cannot find what connects %1 to Aufgabe.inp and I cannot see how the termination of NPP is able to launch popeye.bat, I have searched within NPP for installed plugins including pyNPP without success. A new installation of popeye and NPP on the new PC followed by copying popeye.bat and Aufgabe.inp across keeping the paths and the “open with” properties the same does not work. NPP closes with no further activity. All help greatly appreciated. Feel free to criticize my assumptions and correct me. The end user wishes to stay with popeye so suggestions outside of that scope won’t help.
Kind regards
Barry aus Berlin

Geoff Foster
Geoff Foster
May 13, 2021 01:48
Reply to  bwl

To run Popeye, use the Windows “Run” command. For example, if the Popeye files are in the C:\Popeye directory and the input file is Aufgabe.inp then the command is:
C:\Popeye\pywin32.exe C:\Popeye\Aufgabe.inp

shankar ram
shankar ram
May 13, 2021 09:34
Reply to  bwl

Try one of the Popeye front ends. May be more convenient than batch files.

Joost de Heer
Joost de Heer
May 13, 2021 10:28
Reply to  bwl

You probably have a default app for ‘.inp’ registered, which runs a batch job. That batch job will replace ‘%1’ with the filename of the file you’ve opened.
In an English language Windows 10 you can find the default app in Settings – Apps – Default apps – Choose default apps by file types.