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Home * Board Representation * Mailbox

A fantastical mailbox [1]

Mailbox, (Offset board representation [2]) a square-centric board representation where the encoding of every square resides in a separately addressable memory element, usually an element of an array for random access. The square number, or its file and rank, acts like an address to a post box, which might be empty or may contain one chess piece. As pointed out by Harm Geert Muller, not only the embedded 10x12 board, but various implementations are all mailbox, independently from elements in the array for padding that can act as a sentinel value [3].

Pro & Const


  • Easy, straightforward to understand and implement
  • Suitable with same efficiency for any size of board, from one can be fitted on 64-bit integers to much larger

Except for high level chess engines, mailbox is quite suitable for other chess software when computing speed is not hard requirements such as chess tools, chess GUI since it is much easier to develop and maintain. It is also easier to support multi chess variants which boards’ sizes are quite different.

Newcomers are suggested to implement their first chess engines using Mailbox thus they can get some basic knowledge and skills before starting more complicated chess projects.


  • Programming must use many loop and branch commands such as for, while, if
  • Hard to store patterns and match them



See also


Forum Posts

External Links


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