In 1986 the chess world changed, monumentally. Chess knowledge migrated from the pages of books and magazines into the electronic world of the computer. Whereas people were used to spending 80 percent of their time searching for material, and 20 percent studying it, suddenly, thanks to ChessBase, everyone was able to spend 20% searching and 80% studying it. World Champion Garry Kasparov immediately saw the potential. “This is the biggest advance in chess study since Gutenberg,” he famously said, when he saw ChessBase.
Now: ChessBase 17 is here!
Now, 26 years later, we have arrived at version 17 of our database program. And it is not just an update, with minor improvements over ChessBase 16. No, it has a wealth of new features, and introduces you to a new dimension of chess study. You will find improved analysis functions, a new more efficient data format, a powerful new search mask and the very exciting feature of finding beauty in games.
While it is true that many of you could be excited about the new version of ChessBase, and will be definitely interested to know more about its features, so that you can make an informed decision about purchasing it.
Below are some of the main advances, which are very substantial. But before reading them we would heartily recommend you to watch the video where the makers of ChessBase 17, two of the main programmers of the software – Matthias Wuellenweber and Mathias Feist show us some of the most important features. Just maximize the video and sit back to learn all about the new features. You will not regret it.
The main features of ChessBase 17, explained by the makers of the software
Now I will describe the main new features for readers who do not have the time or inclination to watch the extensive video presentation above (which should definitely be the first choice). Note that in the following you can click on all the screenshots to enlarge them for better view.
1. Determining the beauty of games
You now have a database of ten million games, but how do you find the really exciting hidden treasures in it? In earlier versions of ChessBase there were some approaches to this: The search for combinations. But it was not always possible to find the most beautiful games.
ChessBase 17 attributes “beauty” to each game, in four stages. Beauty is awarded between zero and three medals in a new column of the game list. This makes each database sortable by beauty, i.e. the spectacular games are at the top. This is only possible in the new data format (2CBH). We will talk about this format later in this article.
I decided to try this function on the games between Arjun Erigaisi vs Gukesh in ChessBase India’s recent Originals Death Match 2.0. I clicked on the “Set Beauty”…
and ChessBase 17 immediately tells me which games I should look at first
You can set the beauty values once for your large databases. This takes a few hours, because every game has to be replayed, and every position has to be examined. A fast computer can handle about 600 games per second.
I found a very interesting use of this feature. Let’s say I have been very keen to study the games of Alexander Alekhine. So I open my Mega Database and search for the games of Alekhine. Then I select all the games of Alekhine and paste them in a new 2CBH format database. The Mega Database 2023 comes in 2CBH format, so you would not even need to create a new database for using the set beauty button on the games of Alekhine. I have 2328 games of Alekhine in a new database now. I go to the games tab and click on Set Beauty button as shown above. It takes roughly two seconds for the entire process to be done.
The great Alekhine was an amazingly aggressive player, and he has so many beautiful attacking games to his credit. The most attractive ones get three medals.
Trusting the Beauty ranking I selected the game Duras vs Alekhine. Now I can click on the Replay Training button, take the black pieces and guess the moves played by Alekhine. In this way, I am guaranteed that I will enjoy the game and understand all its subtleties.
But there is another thing that can be done in ChessBase 17, which is Detect Sacrifices! There is a red button to the bottom of your screen.
Once I click on the “detect sacrifices” button, all the positions that have a sacrifice are automatically marked, and I can use this as training material.
The white bishop has moved to b7. The training function wants to know: how did Alekhine as Black finish the game?
Answer: Black pushed his pawn down the board to f3, and after Bxd5 f2 is just game over!
You can see how just two clicks – Set Beauty in the Database and then Detect Sacrifices when you open the game – can give you the key moments in the games of any database.
This is great for training material, and it can help you to better understand the games of many world class players.
The full functionality of this new feature is only available in the new 2CBH data format. But in all other database types (including PGN) you can search for beautiful games: to do this, click on “Beautiful games” in the advanced search mask. This will find all games with at least one beauty medal.
The advanced filter will find beautiful games even in the CBH or PGN formats
2. New Engine Analysis
The output of engines has been running unchanged for a long time, in the form that was introduced in ChessBase 2.0, under MSDOS over 30 years ago: variations, evaluations, all of this quite dry. This has now changed.
Earlier you would see variations and the engine would tell you what the best move is. However, ChessBase 17 describes in natural language the idea behind a move, and why is it winning or losing. It explains the logic behind the moves. Here are typical examples: “White gets a dangerous passed pawn on e6”. Or “White sacrifices a bishop”, “Black has a resounding attack”, “White gets the majority on the kingside”. “Both kings are weak”. “Manoeuvre Nd2-f1-e3-d5.”
A few more features are:
1. You move the mouse arrow on a variation and the position appears on the main board.
2. Alternatively: you can place your cursor on engine variations and then play the moves with arrow keys. The chess board’s background turns slightly lighter, indicating that you are not in the game. As soon as the mouse cursor leaves the engine variations, the current game position is back on the board, and the arrow keys again execute the move of the game.
3. The colourful new “Buddy engine”
The buddy engine analyzes the positions of the engine variation and determines whether moves are forced. Forced moves are marked with a coloured square (a square is the well-known symbol for “only move”). A forced variation is immediately recognizable: it looks quite colourful.
It is useful to find forced variantions: For example, you can use this feature to select a slightly “worse” move in the opening preparation, but one that requires the highest level of accuracy from your opponent, because everything is forced. This line can have higher practical chances of winning than a move, which is perhaps a third of a pawn better, but easy to handle.
Buddy speeds up the search
For years players have been used to switch engines to analyse at least two variations. In the two-lines mode you can see if the best move is the only possible one. But that has a price: a multi-variant search runs slower than the single-variant search.
With Buddy in ChessBase 17 the one-variant search makes sense again. The buddy simply looks at the current position and tells you to what extent the engine move is forced, i.e. that it is the only reasonable one. The name Buddy was chosen because it acts as a buddy of the main engine. It uses only a quarter to a fifth of the hash and CPU resources, leaving the main machine with almost unlimited power. In most cases, the auxiliary engine is sufficient to check that the main move is far superior to the next-best move. Ant this allows the main engine to go much deeper in the single-variant search it is conducting.
Buddy’s commentary symbols come in different geometric shapes and colours:
- The left/top colour shows the rating of the best move.
- The second colour corresponds to the second-best move: Green = move leads to advantage; Yellow = roughly balanced; Red = losing
A vertically split shows that the best move is trivial, diagonal from left top to right bottom means: not trivial, but easy to find. Diagonal from right to left bottom means the move appears later in the search, so it is harder to find.
In the above image: 21.Nf4 is a winning and the best move. After the second-best move, White is also good. 23.Nxh5 is clearly the best. If White does not take on h5, the advantage is gone. Black has to take back, but that is still losing, as shown by the red mark.
Note that Buddy calculates slower than the main engine, becaues:
- It looks at many moves, and therefore has less computing time per move;
- It only uses one CPU.
This can lead to discrepancies if the main engine detects a different sharp move at great depth. However, this is not a problem in practice, because you understand that immediately, and it in fact indicated an interesting property of the position (complexity). When you see the discrepancy, you simply switch (with full hash tables) to the two-variant search.
4. The new data format
The CBH format, which has existed since ChessBase 6.0, has reached its limits. The new format removes all boundaries. For example, there are no more limits on player names, tournament identifiers, etc. The “2CBH” format requires fewer files and uses modern caching methods of the operating system. Furthermore, there is no longer any need for search boosters, the updating of which repeatedly caused performance problems.
2CBH is conceptually simpler and therefore more robust. Functions such as reorganizing therefore sometimes run twice as fast as in the old CBH format. The new format requires more space on the disk, which is relatively unimportant with today’s disc sizes. With the new format comes new functionality.
5. Interactive search mask
This is new and very powerful: the search mask runs interactively for most important search requests: before the actual search starts, it anticipates what you are looking for. The search topics Player, Tournament, ECO, Material and Position are easier to enter.
The new standard search mask
The new search works differently from the old search: If you enter “Caru” under Player, games of “Carucci”, “Caruso” and “Caruana” are found with the classic search mask. With the new search mask a selection list appears:
Caruana and Nepomniachtchi are found! If you simply click OK, the first player in the list (with the highest number of games) will be selected. Or you can click the one you are looking for.
The new way of defining the material for a search. The material balance is given by clicking the buttons on the right, once each for the queens and minor pieces, six times each for the pawns. Searching for games in which this material distribution occurred takes just a few seconds, even in a very large database.
6. Interactive Position Input
The blindingly fast search functions makes it possible: when you enter a position, the games in which the matching parts of the position occurred are displayed on the right, after each change is made. If you start entering a position from a chess book or magazine, chances are you will see the relevant game from your database. When you spot it in the list a single click is all that is required to complete the full position from the game.
Add English screen shot!
Chessbase 17 + Mega 2023
They definitly go together, to make for the ideal training ane study package:
The ChessBase Mega Database 2023 is the premiere chess database with over 9.75 million games from 1475 to 2022 in high quality. Packing more than 110,000 annotated games, Mega 2023 contains the world‘s largest collection of high-class analysed games. Train like a pro! Prepare for your opponents with ChessBase and the Mega Database 2023. Let grandmasters explain how to best handle your favorite variations, improve your repertoire and much more.
You can buy Mega 2023 separately, but the package of both programs will be offered to you tomorrow at a special price, as one of our attractive Discount Day offers. Be sure to visit our D-Day presentation, where you will also find countless other products at 25% reduced prices.
We hope that this has made it clear: ChessBase 17 is not just a small update, where problems in the previous version are adressed and corrected. It truly adds a completely new dimension to chess study.