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Scid vs. PC - 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 part of the course is prepared in Scid vs. PC version 4.22 in such a way that the vast majority of this program's capabilities can be used in previous versions 4.x.
(Scid vs PC 4.0 was released in 2010).

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

Let's start with...


Prepare Against...

Select the function Player Finder in the Windows toolbar.

Click to enlarge (works with any image)


Instead of the Player Finder, you can use the Player Report function from the Tools toolbar.

The difference is that by using the Player Finder function you will avoid a possible mistake while typing the name of the chess player you want to prepare against.

Let's enter the chess player's name - Spanton - in the Player field.

Press Enter or click the Update button.

In this example, we are interested in a chess player named Spanton, Tim R.

Let's click on the row with that name.

A Player Information window will open containing basic information about the Spanton, Tim R chess player.

At the very beginning of preparation, let's assume that we will be playing in the same tournament as our opponent ;-)

First, let's look for information on how our opponent fared in chess tournaments with a larger number of players (Open) in which he achieved a result of 2000 Elo or more.


Let's click on the Tournaments button.

Look for a tournament with the following criteria:

  • Played since 2015

  • With number of players minimum 40 and maximum 60

  • With number of chess games minimum 150 in the whole tournament

  • With average Elo rating at least 1800

Enter our criteria in the fields of the newly opened window.

Click Update button.


Click on each of the displayed tournaments and check the results of our future opponent, remembering that we are looking for one in which his score was at least 2000 Elo.

As you may have noticed, Spanton, Tim R - being 60 years old and probably having many years of chess experience - playing in the 2017 11.Highlands Open tournament achieved a score of 2049 Elo and finished in a good 10th place out of 46 players!

Let's check at least two chess games: one played against a Chess Master, the other against a player with a lower ranking. Maybe we will learn something important that will help us in our preparations.

Let's click on the box described in the table as 3b+ to view a game against a strong player from the top of this tournament.

After the new window opened, notice that Spanton, Tim R won a game against Pilschki, Sebastian - that is a player with a high championship ranking 2397 Elo.

This is a noteworthy result, but the win was probably "on time", i.e. the Chess Master most likely led to a winning position for himself on the chessboard at the expense of exceeding the available time.

The conclusion can be drawn that our future opponent, playing even against a chess master, can be self-controlled, keep his position and lead to a positive result.

Now let's check the game against another opponent.

Let's click on the box described in the table as 21w+ to view a another game.

In this chess game, Spanton, Tim R, playing white against an opponent of similar ranking, chose a closed opening, with the safe position of the white king protected by the white Bishop on g2.

Mid-game. Our future opponent without hurry leads the game skillfully maneuvering and leading to a winning position.

As we can see, the chess game ended after 41 moves with a convincing victory for white.

Very impressive!

We can conclude that our future opponent, playing against an opponent of similar strength, playing in a calm manner (closed opening), protecting his King, avoiding risks, trusting in his knowledge and many years of experience - is able to lead to victory.


In the Crosstable window, if you click on the name of any chess player, the Player Information window will display all the data from the database.

For example, after clicking on Plischki, Sebastian name...

We see that Spanton Tim R won a game against a Chess International Master who has repeatedly exceeded the 2400 Elo ranking.

Of course, by using the Player Information window function if we need it - we can at this point get the details of Plischki Sebastian chess career in the same way as described.

Detailed report

Now, we are interested in a detailed report about the chess games of Spanton, Tim R chess player - and to obtain it we click on the Player Report button.

The Player Report window opens.

Assuming that we will play black, we select the option Color: White.

We're interested in the opponent's chess moves from the start position, so we also check the Start position option.

After clicking the OK button, Scid vs. PC will start generating the report.

On my computer, after exactly 1 minute the finished report was shown in a separate window Player Report.

The generated report contains a lot of detailed data.

Already at the very beginning the good information is that there are 331 chess games of our opponent in the Caissabase, which means that the extracted data from these several hundred games will certainly be useful.

Hypothetically, if there were 5, 10 or 20 chess games played by white - the conclusions after further analysis could certainly be less accurate and consequently less useful than in this case, where we have data from 331 games.

For the purposes of this example, we assume that we want to prepare for a match with Spanton, Tim R, in the opening that this chess player chooses most often, that is, we are interested in the number of occurrences in the report.

Let's select from them what is important when preparing for an opponent.

In the report, we go to Section 4. Theory Table, where we look for the opening that occurs most often in our opponent's repertoire.

According to the data, the opening in row number 5 (1. c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7... etc.) occurred 29 times, is the most frequent compared to others according to the Theory Table data.

So let's prepare a surprise for our opponent in the opening he chooses most often. The surprise will be move number 3.

According to the report, black's third move in this opening is 3...e5.

Instead of 3...e5 can black play something else, strong and maybe more interesting ?

At this point in our deliberations you can start a strong chess engine to see what it has to offer.

How to effectively use chess engines in Scid vs. The PC will be described in the next part of this course "Scid vs. PC - Using chess engines"

You can also read the opening report, based on data from Caissabase - the information there can help us choose our third black move.

Let's click on the g3 highlighted in the image below.

After that, the position on the chessboard will be set after white's move 3.g3.

Has a similar chess position been seen before ?

Yes !

While reviewing tournament games, more precisely while analyzing the chess game between Spanton, Tim R vs Brasoy, Aksel.

The conclusion is that we are on the right track to prepare well against our future opponent, because the data from the Theory Table and from tournament practice indicate that this opening is indeed often chosen by him.

Now, select Tools - Opening Report from the toolbar

After less than two minutes on my computer, Scid vs. PC created an Opening Report from all Caissabase data.

We are interested in the data in section 4.2 Moves from the report position.

The data of this section shows that black's move 3...e5 is the most frequently chosen move in this position 26.6% of the time and results in a Score of 44.2%.

Score - means that in this case 44.2% of the chess games after the move 3...e5 were won by black.

So we are looking for a move that will give a Score at least as high as the 44.2% Score, according to the data.

And since we want to surprise our opponent, we look for a move that is rarely chosen.

A promising move for black is 3...f5 which is 13 times less frequent than 3...e5 (Frequency 1677 / 129 = 13) and giving a Score of 46.5%.

The move 3...f5 is even more interesting when we see that it is rarely chosen but by players on the side with an average Elo rating = 2306, i.e. by Chess Masters.


I wonder if in Opening Report we can find chess games with continuations created after black's move 3 ... f5.

If we could find such chess games, it could help us even more prepare for an opponent named Spanton, Tim R.

Below in Opening Report we come across a section with black move 3 ... f5.

We see chess games sorted by the chess players with the highest ranking.

Let's click on the first of these games between Kovchan vs Korobov

A small window will open. By selecting:

  • Browse, we'll review the chess game in a new window.

  • Load, it will be loaded into the main window Scid vs. PC,

  • Merge, it will be linked to the current game in the main window Scid vs. PC.

Click on Browse.

In this way, we chose a candidate for the move - a surprise for our opponent (3 ... f5).

We can also take inspiration for interesting lines by looking at other chess games of strong chess players.

Positional Themes

Based on previous recognition, we know that Spanton, Tim R likes closed openings, prefers calm continuations, and can play effectively.

In the Player Report window, let's see what Scid vs. PC shows.

How can this knowledge be used ?

Opposite casting looks interesting. In only 8% of Spanton, Tim R chess games did this motif occur.

Knowing what kind of chess openings our future opponent chooses, and knowing that in his games Opposite Castling motive occurs rarely (8% of the games), we can direct Black's game in such a way as to lead to a situation on the chessboard with Opposite Castling.

First, let's see how Spanton, Tim R., fared in games with this theme.

Note, especially the games that he lost, counting a small number of moves.

In the Player Report window, click on Opposite castling.

When you click on Opposite casting, the Game List window will show the Spanton, Tim R chess games containing this theme.

The shortest game that our future opponent lost is in the second row from the top in the Game List window. Let's analyze this game.

Opening gambit, white sacrifices a pawn to gain initiative.

At the price of a pawn, white gains a developmental advantage early in the game. The black King still in the middle of the chessboard. White almost ready for further action against the black King.

Black, despite the unprotected position of the King and not having finished the development, tries a vigorous move of the pawn on b5 to equalize the chess game. Unfortunately it's too late. A pawn move on b5 will only weaken black's position further.

And after only a few moves, white's position is completely lost.

How did this happen?

Spanton, Tim R has developed a beautiful game on the chessboard. Until white's fourteenth move, everything was going perfectly, although the game was not easy, full of complications and possible tactical hits.

White's 14th move is a serious mistake, which results in black taking back control of the game.

The beautiful sacrifice of the Rook on f6 unfortunately changed nothing in this game. After another 5 moves of Spanton, Tim R lost game.

After analyzing this interesting game, we known that our future opponent undoubtedly has a lot of chess knowledge, play very well to a certain point led almost to his victory. Unfortunately for him, in a complicated chessboard situation he made a mistake during tactical calculations of his 14th move.

The conclusion to the preparation against this opponent: to bring the situation on the chessboard to the Opposite castling motive, and above all to obtain a tactically complicated position on the chessboard, in which our future opponent can make a mistake during the calculation.

Using the features of the Scid vs. PC program, we can gain knowledge about the chess weaknesses of our potential opponents. In a fast, accurate and efficient way we are able to examine in different ways hundreds or even thousands of chess games.

We can get valuable knowledge that will help us to prepare effectively for the fight with our opponent.


This is the end of the course:

Scid vs. PC - Preparing for an opponent

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



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