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ChessBase - Efficient work with a chess database

Chess databases are essentially tools for working with lots of data. ChessBase is essentially a tool for storing, organizing, analyzing, sharing, chunking, ..., etc. data - that is, chess games in many different ways.

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

Suitable for ChessBase 12 or later.



I'll show you how to organize your work and access to data in ChessBase well.



The main database window is where we start our work to edit, merge, delete and backup chess games.


The default is the Tile View, which appears like this:

Click to enlarge (works with any image)

To switch from one view to another, you can make your selection at the bottom of the database window.

For example, when you click Details, the chess database window looks like this:


You can customize the appearance of the chess database window according to your preferences by choosing smaller or larger icons, sorting the chess games by clicking e.g. Games, Date or by choosing another option like Usage or Title.

Create a new database

Go to the Database ribbon and select Home - New.


In the file window that appears, select the directory in which the database will rest, give it a name, and then press create new.


A new icon will appear in the database window.


When creating a new chess database, we can choose the format in which this new chess database will be created.

The default ChessBase chess database format is *.CBH. I recommend this format for creating and using chess databases because it allows the fastest work while maintaining optimal size.

Other chess database formats used are:


*.CBF is a database type in old versions of ChessBase.


*.PGN (Portable Game Notation) is a non-proprietary database format that is used by almost all chess applications.


*.CBONE, which is a self-contained, single file that can be useful if you are creating databases containing few chess games.


*.CBCLOUD, is the format used when you create a chess database in the ChessBase Cloud.



Especially if you will be using multiple chess databases, you will probably want to give the chess databases an adequate appearance. To do this, right-click on the icon and select Properties.


In the new window that opens, the database name will appear in the name field.

On the left side in the same pane, you can select the type of database you want. For the purposes of our course, in this case let's choose Analysis and click Ok button.


This way, the database you are interested in will become visible faster.



Folders


The folders panel will always contain My Databases - Your database, which contains your databases and directories.


My Databases lists the databases you access most often. My Databases always includes a reference database and a Clip Database.


To place a database in My Databases, simply open it with the Ctrl-o key or select Home - Open in the database view.


  • MyInternetGames contains the games you play on PlayChess server.

  • My InternetKibitzing contains the games you watch pn PlayChess server.

  • MyInternetMachineGames appear if you play with a computer on PlayChess server.

If you want these databases to live in My Databases, just open them or drag to My Databases folder.



Open the chess games database from the My Database folder


Double-clicking on the database icon/symbol opens it and displays the game List window, a list of all the chess games in that database. Some of them may even contain millions of games (Big / Mega Databases).

If you want to open chess databases that are not in the My Database folder, then go to the main database ribbon and select Home - Open.

To open a database, you can (like in windows explorer) highlight it (single click) and press the enter key.



Delete a chess database

There are two possibilities. You can delete the icon without deleting the database itself, or, disregarding that, you can physically delete the database.


To remove the icon from the database window without deleting any data: Right-click on the icon - Remove... or simply click on the icon and press the delete key.


To delete both the icon and the data, click on the icon - select the Maintenance tab on the ribbon - select Delete all files ... or right-click on the icon - select Delete all files.



Folders


A window to access folders appears by default in the upper left corner of the database window. To turn it on or off, choose View - Folders.



Database path - Opens directories and database contents on the local hard drive in the "Database" section.


This PC - Opens directories at a higher level, and so allows access to external drives as well as the computer's UBS / DVD.


Public Documents - Opens a location where you can store, for example, shared files with other users of the same computer or users connecting to that computer over a network.


Network - Allows you to access files located on networked devices, for example NAS devices.


OneDrive - Personal - Opens the network location of the OneDrive you signed in to.


Game History - Lets you view all the files you have access to in ChessBase by date.


Shop - Database summarizes just that, databases you have purchased.


Cloud Databases - With ChessBase, you can store your data not only on your own hard drive, but also on our ChessBase servers. This allows you to access your data from different devices without having to copy or reinstall your databases. It is even possible to share your databases with other users as a cloud database.

This has the following advantages:

  • You can access your opening repertoire or saved games from anywhere without using ChessBase.

  • You can put games in the cloud so that your friends and teammates can access them via a web browser.

  • You can publish the database to the web with a single click.

These are new features that make sharing chess data much easier.


My Databases - returns you to the most used and familiar view of databases, the view of your favorite databases.



Database Preview


You can view the list of games in the database without opening it. In the Database - View - Database Preview



When you click on a database to highlight it, games from that database will be displayed in the database preview window. You can scroll through this list and even open a game directly by double-clicking on it. You can organize game information by right-clicking on the column above the game entries.


You can also add a quick board to play the games right there: - Right-click on any game - List Format - Quick Board.


Below on the image is a view of the game list with Quick Board enabled.



The games list window


When you open the database, the Game List window appears, a scrolling list of all the games in the database. When you first create the database, it will not contain any games. As you enter more and more games, the chess games database program - ChessBase - will become more and more useful.


Each game has a number, and as you enter them, they will be numbered sequentially. You can see the names and ratings of each player. Scores, length, ECO codes, as well as the tournament name are also available. You can click on any column header to start sorting, so it's easy to sort by ECO code, game length, player name, score, rating, etc.


The games list window tabs


Almost all databases will open to a list of games, but some, such as Mega Database (from ChessBase) on first use, will open to a text summary. You can select the games list view using the tabs.


The Players tab contains an alphabetical list of all players in the database. Find (or search for) a player first, then click on his name. Here are all of that Players games.


The Tournaments tab also provides an alphabetical list of events related to the database. Click on the Tournaments name and the Games and Players will be shown on the right side of the window.


The Annotators tab lists everyone who has annotated a game. It is also a searchable list, so you can search for your favorite annotator or sort by the number of annotated games.


The Sources tab lists games by source. Here you can find all the games that were included in each issue of ChessBase magazine.


Under the Teams tab, for example, you can find the names of members of any team. For example, here, the 2019 Poland team.

Working with other tabs is the same way.


Move game / games to another database


You will certainly want to copy games from one database to another database. The actions described here do not remove games from the first database (the one you are copying from). We make copies of the selected games and move them to a separate database.

You can select a game in the Game List by clicking on it once.

You can use that game as an anchor and use Shft-Click to highlight a series of games. You can highlight individual games with a series of Ctrl clicks.


In the example on the screen below, it was right-clicking on the game selecting Edit and then selecting Copy.


Then in the My Databases window after double-clicking on Clip Database (example empty database)


Click on the Paste button


And confirm copying the game by clicking OK button in the newly opened window.


The previously selected chess game was copied to the Clip Database.

A chess game or multiple chess games can be copied between bases using drag-and-drop.



Deleting games


The way to delete chess games is to select them in the Game List and press delete ... or on the ribbon Home - Delete or right click on a game Edit - Delete.

When you do this, you will see that the game is still there, but grayed out and with a line through its text.


ChessBase knows that you may have pressed the delete key by mistake and therefore requires additional steps to physically remove the game from the database.

In the database view, right-click on the name of the database that contains the deleted games you want to permanently delete - Tools - Remove Deleted Games.



Removing doubles


In the Database window, right-click on the database name - Tools - Find duplicate games.


A window will appear where you have different options to choose from. Some doubles games will have different spellings in the name and tournament fields, some will have different lengths due to adding extra moves or skipping moves in one of the games. Some games may be annotated.


You will be prompted to create a new database where new games will be placed.



Clip Database


Clip Database works much like a clipboard for games that are placed there for transfer to another database. The information is stored there temporarily, pending deletion.

You can drag and drop (copy and paste) games into the Clip Database, but you can perform this transfer to the Clip Database more efficiently by pressing F5. This will move any highlighted game or group of highlighted games into the Clip Database.


To move games from Clip Database to another database, copy and paste or drag and drop them or simply drag the Clip Database icon to the target database icon.



Opening a game


To view the game, simply double-click on it or press enter after highlighting it.

When you do this, the chess game will open in a new window.



Players index / Player Encyclopedia


ChessBase maintains a Players Encyclopedia containing pictures and data of over 120,000 players. The encyclopedia is also online.

To view it, go to Home - List Player Encyclopedia.

You can automatically update the player encyclopedia that you have installed.


ChessBase regularly publish an updated version of the encyclopedia with new players and updated Elo ratings. Depending on your settings the program accesses the encyclopedia on the server and updates the encyclopedia that you have stored locally.

Player Encyclopedia brings up a search window with a variety of options. List Player Encyclopedia shows an alphabetically ordered list of international players.


I have opened game Wojtaszek-Pert from the 22.11.2007 WCH Blitz Moscow. Note, that the game window contains pictures of the players.

ChessBase since version 12 stores this data on a server and recommends entering player data over the Internet rather than locally.


You can control the flow of player data in Options - Encyclopedia.

The path represents where the local data is stored, but by default the data is accessed from the ChessBase server.



Playback of the game


You can open the game by double-clicking on the row that contains the game information.


To view the moves made in a game, you can use the arrow keys to move forward or backward, or even up or down the game. ChessBase recently added a slider that appears below the board.


To activate the slider, right click on the chess board and select Board design - Slider.


Click Slider and then OK button.


Here is overview game with Slider.


Overview


ChessBase offers still other ways to see the game.

  • In the list of games: right-click on the game name, select Overview.

  • With the game highlighted, press "o" key.


Clicking on any board will open the game at that location.


You can also get a more detailed overview with smaller boards by clicking the Board button at the bottom of the overview screen.



Replay game automatically


After clicking on the game row and selecting Replay games automatically.


The selected game will open in the following window. You can adjust the playback speed and also pause the playback if you want.



Playing through a game containing variations


If the game includes variations and notes, it is possible to play the variations. When you are done playing a variation, you can easily return to the game.

It is not uncommon for the players themselves to reveal their thoughts right there, explaining why they played the move they did or why a different move might have been better or worse. In the screen excerpt below, playing through the Meijer-Marseille match, 1903, Mr. Alapin was the Annotator. I have just pressed the right arrow after white's 28th move and, as you can see, the game contains a variation at this point. I can continue the game by pressing the right arrow, or explore the variation first by pressing the up arrow. Of course, at any time I can just move the mouse arrow to select the variant I want to play or analyze.



Backup your database


In the Database Window, highlight the database you want to backup, and then select the Maintenance - Backup Database.


You can also right click on database name and select Tools - Backup Database



View game history


You can view recently viewed or modified games. After loading any game, select Home - View game history.

Then, on the day I clicked View Game History 02-Thursday, ChessBase displays 32 games.



Checking the integrity of a database


In very rare cases, files can become corrupted (storage failure, power surges).


It is a good idea to first back up the database and after that check the integrity of the database.

The integrity check will provide a report on the database and offer to correct any errors found.


To check the integrity of a database, select the database name in the Database window, then select Maintenance - Chess Integrity.


Or you can right-click on the database name select Tools and Check Integrity.



Create and save your games


After creating a new database or using an existing one, you can open it by double-clicking on the icon in the main database window. You can also open a new game window with keys CTRL+n.

Of course, the new database is empty.

This will bring up a new game board. The new screen, the game board view, has a special ribbon to help you introduce new moves and new variations, as well as tools to help you examine and evaluate all positions.



Heumas - Enter moves with single clicks


You can drag a pawn or figure to a destination, but ChessBase includes a heuristic called Heumas that suggesting moves.

The heuristic move assistant Heumas is responsible for suggesting plausible moves during game entry. It is the move input assistant and is itself a small, fast chess engine. Using Heumas allows you to enter most moves with a single click of the mouse.

So click on d4, and the pawn will move to that square. If more than one pawn or figure can move to the selected square, ChessBase will offer a suggestions. You can press the right mouse button to select other possibilities.


When you enter Options - Engines, you can change the Heumas settings.


You can switch it off if you want.


Heumas Ply determines how deep Heumas looks into the position. With depth the quality improves, but this also requires more processing power.

  • Heumas Ply sets the search depth for the Heumas function.

  • Assisted Analysis: switches on or off this analysis function.

  • Legal moves carries out a search for legal moves.

  • Singe click-entry: This corresponds to what in older versions was the version of the Heumas function which was implemented. This works with or without Assisted Analysis. With Assisted Analysis the function can be activated with a right click while holding down the left mouse button. Should Assisted Analysis be deactivated, then instead of it the legal moves of a piece can be shown. In this case all the squares are highlighted alike, in grey. If a piece only has a single move, one-click entry can then be activated immediately.

  • Forced Moves entry: Insert the only possible move



Correcting misplaced moves


If you enter an incorrect move, don't be afraid. You can go back and enter the move you want.

When you enter a new move, you gain several options. If the new move 2 is a variation, select New variation. If the new move is to become a mainline, with the old move 2 as its variation, select New Main Line. If the first move you entered was an error that you want to replace, select Overwrite. If you need to replace a move in the middle of the game without affecting the rest of the score sheet, select Insert.


There will be times when you need to correct more than just a move. If you have incorrect moves in the middle of the game, enter the corrected variants, then, on the Game Board ribbon, select Insert - Exchange Moves.

The moves from the variant will replace those from the game, as long as they are all legal.


You can also insert pairs of moves into the game. Enter the new moves as a variation at the insertion point, then choose Insert - Insert into Game. ChessBase will insert them into the game, as long as all the moves are legal.



Saving game

When you are done entering your game or just ready to save your work, go to File - Save and click Save:


Or use the Ctrl-S keys or simple click the diskette icon at the top left of the ChessBase window.


This will bring up the following window:

You can enter player names, tournament name, game date, result, and other information.

ChessBase already has an ECO (Encyclopedia of Chess Openings) code assigned

to the game precisely because it first introduced enough data into the game to recognize a variant. If you want to change the ECO code, open the game and use the Ctrl-S keys.


It is best not to change games in large databases because each game has many indicators.


If you must change games, make sure they are in smaller databases or in a copy of a large database. If necessary, create a new database and move the games you want to change before making changes.


Edit Game Data


Game listings are only fully useful if the information entered is consistent and correct.

For example, instead of the name Carlsen Magnus you will enter Karlsen Magnus, then you will not find all the games of this chess player. ChessBase can make it easy to edit the data and fix any errors that may have occurred.


To change one or more game information, select Home - Edit Game Data.

You will now see a dialog box that gives you the opportunity to make any necessary changes.


Correcting many games one by one can seem very time consuming. ChessBase has a feature to automatically correct player names. Click on the Players tab, and then select Improve Player Names.

When you save a game, you can type in a few letters of your name and then click on the question mark.

This will allow you to look up the chess player's name in the ChessBase Player Encyclopedia.



Improving Tournament Data


To improve tournament data and spelling, highlight the database, then select Maintenance - Improve.