By Davide Nastasio
I decided to step up my game to the next level, and one cannot be considered serious if he doesn’t use all the technological means at his disposal for learning and improving. In this case, I decided I needed the latest version of the famous Chessbase database program (previously I had Chessbase 12). I discovered in Chessbase 14 there are some new features which are extremely useful. I got it with Megabase 2017.
Megabase is a database of all games played in the last 500 years. The first game presented in the database is from 1475! The database has nearly 7 million games with regular updates, which keeps it current with new games. Especially useful for those who have an opening repertoire and want to see if there are any novelties.
I’d like to share my excitement and outline some new features I found quite interesting in Chessbase 14. One friendly GM recommended that I watch games with a big rating gap. Generally these games are played in open tournaments where the first and second rounds typically see players rated 1900-2100 playing against those rated 2500-2700.
The friendly GM told me to watch at least 500 games with such a gap. I found a collection of PGNs from the latest tournaments which had some, but it was tedious at best trying to find them within a file with 2,000 to 4,000 games. In chess at the moment we have a case of TMI (Too Much Information), as GM Soltis likes to call it.
Instead, with Chessbase 14, finding the games I needed was just a matter of a few clicks. Let me show you how I did it!
I opened my Megabase 2017 and clicked on Filter List.
Then appeared the Filter Games mask. I left the rating between 2500 and 3500, and clicked on “difference.” After that, I wrote 600 and clicked OK.
Surprise, surprise! In few seconds, the Megabase 2017 gave me over 8,000 games to watch which had such a rating gap! This is one of those games which I found particularly interesting, because over and over I saw how the GM had a better vision and calculating skills compared to the amateur, especially when evaluating the final position after many exchanges.
The funny thing of creating such a database is that I found also the upsets, like when a 1900+ rated player beats a former world champion in a simul:
Mr. Fong likely tried to repeat the result in another simul given by Smyslov, but this time the former world champion was ready and punished him quickly!
But the surprises are not finished. There are two players which are my favorites, one is Bronstein, the other is Spassky.
In the last couple of days I felt the craving to watch Spassky’s games, similar to the craving for chocolate! But I didn’t know which games. I wanted to watch exciting games, like a collection of Spassky’s gems. But such a book has not yet been written. So what to do to satisfy this chess desire? Once more Chessbase 14 is where to turn to for satisfying this kind of craving!
I opened my trusted Megabase 2017; opened the search mask; entered “Spassky, Boris” in the first game data window and 1-0 as result; then on the Position tab, I clicked on “sacrifice”; and once more hit Okay!
The result was more than 180 games where Spassky had played a sacrifice!! Yes, Chessbase 14 can create the book of my dreams at my request with a few mouse clicks! Here is one of the games with sacrifices, played by Spassky against another great player whose name is used to describe one of the branches of the opening we call The Sicilian: the famous Taimanov.
I plan to make another database only of sacrifices played by Kasparov, and then those by Bronstein and Spassky.
Obviously, I don’t use the new Chessbase 14 only for searches, although such searches can give some exciting results. I felt the need to read some books to help my improvement. One of these books is My Best Games of Chess 1908-1937, written by Alekhine.
I created a new database: Alekhine_Best_Games, and began manually (instead of taking the PGN from somewhere) to input the games. Here I discovered a neat feature in the new Chessbase 14: while inserting the moves for each piece, if I touch a good square, a not so good square, or a definitely bad one, the square will be highlighted based on the likelihood of success of the move. Green is for good, orange not so good, red bad, and when it becomes brown or black that means a checkmate is near, so that move shouldn’t be played.
It’s amazing how different hues of green or orange can show how good a move is. And this is important also for the opening. Here we can see how Fritz15 in Chessbase 14 evaluates the different developing squares for the Ng1 and the Bf1.
Now, just for pleasure, I began to collect chess books; but let’s say that I’m on a trip, and I cannot bring with me 200 pounds of books. How would I enjoy games annotated by Alekhine?
Yet again, Chessbase 14 with Megabase 2017 gives me the possibility to have all this chess knowledge on my computer. I open Megabase 2017, go under the annotator tab, look for Alekhine, and I find 110 game annotated by him. I select them all, copy them, and make a new database with just the games annotated by Alekhine. That is like having a chess book written by Alekhine.
GM Ftacnik has annotated 4,961 games! While Mihail Marin, one of my favorite GMs, 1500 games!
I’d like to show one last cool new feature (and there are many more): It’s called tactical analysis. It can be used to analyze a single game, or many games. If used for one single game, one just needs to open the game and go to the tab analysis.
Then click on tactical analysis, and a new window will open.
The game will be automatically analyzed, and some training questions will be created. Chessbase 14 will also define the type of endgame, and show the strategical maneuvers of some pieces.
But the interesting part is not a one-game analysis. During the day I play several games online, then at night before going to sleep, I highlight the games I played and have them analyzed.
It can take few hours, for this reason I do it at night. In the morning, I find the games ready for review. They are already labeled with medals, which indicate the type of tactics, sacrifices, or strategical maneuvers I can find inside. There are also many training questions to solve for both sides. For example, in the following position the blue arrows were created by the engine which analyzed the game to show the strategic idea White had:
Once I open the game, I find some points where I need to guess the correct move, as in the following image:
If I don’t find the right move, the program doesn’t let me continue to see the game, making this kind of training quite useful to see my common errors, and how to solve them.
The real advantage of this training is relative to the improvement of our own games. This means the middlegames and endgames we should focus our training on. Such training should be based on the themes and patterns we would encounter originating from our opening repertoire. If we try to learn by watching games, such a system is passive and will not offer a huge benefit. If instead we play our games, then we ask the engine to analyze them, and the engine creates training questions. This method is quite an interactive, and a focused way of learning!
Time to conclude this review. Chessbase 14 is an essential tool every serious student must have in order to progress on his chess journey. I hope you will enjoy this new Chessbase 14 as much I am enjoying it now! And at the same time reap the benefits of such a tool for studying in your chess progress, and your games.