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ChessBase - Preparing for an opponent

It is 1980. You have just found out that in the next game of a chess tournament your opponent will be a strong player who occupies the first place in the table. The stakes of this game are very high for you. If you win, you'll gain a higher chess category and a lot of ELO rating points. If you lose... you'd rather not think about it further. You only have one day, and the game is tomorrow. In that one day you want to get the records of all the games played by your tomorrow's opponent in the last 2 years. You don't know if you will have enough time to analyze the debuts and continuations and the plans your opponent uses in the middle game. Ufff. Big of it and only one day... Maybe your colleagues can help you? .... And if not ? ;-)

In the days when no one believed that a computer could win against a human in a game of chess, preparation for a game of chess with a future opponent was... "analog" and took a lot of time and often involved many chess players to work together. Unfortunately, not everyone had a friend who played and understood chess at the level of a master or grandmaster.

Today, when chess players have access to databases of chess games and specialized software to work with such databases, preparation for a game against another chess player takes a maximum of a few tens of minutes instead of one or up to several days as it did in the past.

This is part 1 of a 5 part course on the ChessBase program.

Suitable for ChessBase 12 or later.

This is part 2 of a 5 part course on the ChessBase program.

Suitable for ChessBase 12 or later.

In this part of the course I will show you how to use the ChessBase program to effectively prepare for a game against another chess player.

Prepare Against...

The first step will be to select the base where your chess opponent's games are.

In this example, I select Correspondence Database 2020 by right-clicking on it and selecting Properties...

Click in the Reference-DB field.

Notice that this will be followed by a change in the icon representing the Correspondence Database 2020.

Confirm by clicking on the OK button.

Select the function Prepare Against in the Home ribbon.

A new window appears that lists the players whose games appear in your database, in my case Correspondence Database 2020.

Of course, ChessBase is, as we know, a chess game database tool, which means you can sort the data in many ways, not just by date. Above the list of games there are column headers. Clicking on them will immediately sort the data by that field. You can use the sort function to sort the games in the database by the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO) code, by score (if you're only interested in white or black wins), by author (which comes in handy to find games that are annotated), by game length, or here, as we'll do now, by ranking Elo.

You can scroll through the list of players until you reach the name of your opponent or, better yet, use the search function in the lower left corner of the window or the Filter List function on the ribbon. Type in the name of your opponent, in this case: Schulz Klaus Juergen.

By highlighting a player's name, you can see all of their games, as well as a scrolling list of tournaments they have participated in.

Highlight your opponent's name and press the Enter key. A picture of your opponent and pertinent information about them will appear on the screen.

After clicking on the Elo Profile button, a window will appear with a graph of the changes in ranking over time.

Clicking the Esc (escape) key closes the window with the ranking graph.

Clicking Esc (escape) key closes the window with the ranking chart and returns to the ID-Card window.

What happens when you click on the Dossier button I will present in the course content below.

  1. Clicking the Esc key closes the ID-Card window and returns to the window with hihlighted your opponent name.

  2. Clicking the Esc key closes the ID-Card window and returns to the window with the opponent's name highlighted.

Highlight one of the tournaments for eg. BdF-Bronze 08 email

And press T to view the interactive table.

If you wish, you can choose any chess game played in this tournament to open.

I chose the chess game Schulz vs Ottesen. Double-click on this game to open it.

OK. Again, let's return to the window where your opponent's name is selected (the easiest way is to use the Esc key).

We are greeted by the now familiar sight of a list of chess players' names, in which the name of our future chess opponent is marked: Schulz Klaus Juergen.

At this point of preparation the ChessBase program will show how powerful a tool it is in a chess player's work.

From the Players ribbon let's choose the option Prepare against white.

On the new screen that has appeared you have immediate access to all the games in the database in which Schulz Klaus Juergen played with white.

As you can see, when playing white he prefers 1.d4 which he has played on the first move in 97 chess games and scoring 57.2% of games won. An important piece of information is that 1.d4 was last played in 2018 which means that he has used this opening relatively recently and there is a good probability that he will choose 1.d4 in the next game that Schulz Klaus Juergen will play in white.

After answering 1...d5 the opponent always plays 2. c4 and continuing with 2...c6 3. Nf3 his opponents answered in 14 games with 3...Nf6 and in only one game with 3...e6.

And at this point in the chess game we can prepare a surprise for Schulz Klaus Juergen in the form of a move he has not yet played against, and for me and maybe also for you my dear reader - it is well known.

After 3...g6 we get a position that is very well known to me. Knowing what variant I'm going to face, I can spend as much time as I want to study the continuations in depth, using the chess engine or opening book suggestions in ChessBase and my own knowledge - to prepare the best lines against my opponent.

Player statistic

With a chess player's name highlighted in the Players tab, you can view their scores.

Click Player statistic on the ribbon, or right-click on a player's name and select Player Statistic.

  1. The first column shows the total score of Schulz Klaus Juergen against each opponent. You can sort by name, number of games or score.

  2. The second column lists the tournaments he has participated in. You can sort by tournament name, date, score, or call up the Table for the highlighted event.

  3. The third column contains the number of games and overall score in each ECO line. You can sort by White, Black, or as here by ECO code.

Clicking OK button or by pressing the Esc key, closes the Statistics window and returns to the window with hihlighted your opponent name.

Now, pressing the S key - will open the statistics window along with the graph.

It is possible to search directly from the dialog box for the results of a specific player.

While typing the first letters of the surname, ChessBase will show the chess players from the database

These are the statistics for the chess player Schulz Klaus Juergen in the Correspondence Database 2020.

The choice of colours is selected under White / Black or Both

On this screen we see the main statistics, e.g.

  • The number of chess games played (231)

  • Number of victories 51 which gave 22.1%.

  • Etc.

Among the important information that can come in handy when preparing for an opponent is the Performance score, which in this case is 2342 Elo when playing white and 2243 Elo when playing black. This tells us that Schulz Klaus Juergen plays much stronger with white by as much as 99 Elo points.

On the left side of the window we can choose other options that will be useful during the preparation.

For example, by clicking on Endgames the ChessBase program will show us the most often played endings by a chess player - in this case the endings are Rook vs Rook, Rook and Bishop vs Rook and Bishop, etc. according to the data on the graph.

The Length/ Years/ or Eco boxes give the length of the games, the number of years in which they were played, or an overview of the games according to the Chess Informant rating system.

Here is an example of a breakdown of the games by the years they were played.

In the chart the bottom axis gives the year, the left-hand one gives an overview of the number of games played.

How long pieces remained on the board is shown by the Piece survival function. Below is an example of the results board.

Take the white queen on d1 as an example.

The white queen survives in 55% of games and remains on the board statistically until the 44th move.

Another example: the pawns on a1, b2 remain in play in 72% of the games until the endgame, which means that the player in the vast majority of chess games prefers to play with these pawns until the endgame (pawn a2 to 64 moves pawn b2 to 57 moves).

Statistical data for selected chess games

If we are interested in detailed data about chess games selected according to specific criteria, it is enough to select chess games in the list of games in the Games window by e.g. CTRl+click or by sorting according to e.g. player name, Elo rating or chess opening type ECO. Below in the example, chess games sorted by ECO and selected against the D43 key (15 chess games).

Click the S key and a familiar window will appear containing detailed statistics for the fifteen games selected earlier (ECO D43 by chess player Schulz Klaus Juergen).

Any further analysis of the data may follow the methods described above in the body of this course.

Clicking OK button or by pressing the Esc key, closes the Statistics window and returns to the window with highlighted your opponent name.


By selecting Players from the ribbon and clicking on Dossier:

ChessBase will create a complete Dossier of the selected chess player, in this case Schulz Klaus Juergen.

A window will appear with an option to enter additional parameters.

When you generate a dossier you can set some parameters, mainly to determine how detailed the report will be, Or simply click OK when the box below appears if you do not want to set any parameters.

Below is a description of some of the parameters.


Select the level of detail for repertoire analysis from coarse (only a few lines, terminating early) to fine (many lines, terminating late). In the report the player’s repertoire with white and black is given, with the best and the worst lines highlighted. You can click each line that is given to retrieve the games.

From year

You can limit the investigation to only the recent games of a player by setting this value.

First name length

This determines how many letters of the first name will be given to uniquely identify players. Using just a few letters (e.g. one) will produce neater columns on low resolution displays.

Max. photographs

This limits the number of photos that will be included – otherwise in the case of celebrities like Kasparov and Anand there may be pages and pages of portraits.

Career highlights

Retrieves the best tournament results of the player and his most spectacular games.

After (possibly entering parameters) clicking the OK button, the ChessBase program will start processing data creating a complete Dossier of a selected chess player.

Dossier will include complete personal and chess profile of a player. The report contains biographical data and pictures, statistics on the player’s games, his or her openings, career, results against individual opponents and a selection of spectacular positions for training purposes.

Report generation assumes that a reference database is defined and ChessBase has access to the player encyclopedia.

Of course you can click in all the highlighted fields to see more detailed data, e.g. to see your chess games against a selected opponent, to check your results in a particular chess tournament or to see the chosen continuations in white or black games.

By analyzing the Dossier of a chess player, we can also easily and quickly deduce how to prepare for the opponent.

In the discussed case we see that the chess player Schulz Klaus Juergen achieves the weakest results after the opening game 1. Nf3 and after the continuation 1...d5 2. d4 after the move 2...e6 his results are 0.0% This means that it is worthwhile playing against this chess player to prepare a further game plan after the continuation 2...e6

After generating a complete Dossier of a selected chess player, the ChessBase program will automatically open two windows with the games played by him in white and black for our convenience.

In both windows we can see various statistical data, e.g. about the popularity of the chosen openings, the percentage [ % ] and the number of chess games won in a given continuation, etc.

Below is a window with chess games in white color.

Such powerful knowledge synthesized in a readable form using the ChessBase knowledge program, can certainly help you prepare for your opponent.


This is the end of the course:

ChessBase - Preparing for an opponent

I invite you to choose the next course :-))



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