Chess Playing, Chess Database, Chess Training and Add-ons
Chess players who are unfamiliar with ChessBase software frequently ask many of the same questions. We've decided to try answering many of these basic questions in a written (electronic) form. While this article may not answer all of your questions, it'll provide a good start and will answer many of the common basic questions about ChessBase software.
You can categorize ChessBase software into four basic groups:
We'll consider each of these briefly in turn. This will not be an exhaustive review of all of the features of each program (which is basically impossible in the case of a feature-rich program like ChessBase), but a basic summary of their purpose and differences.
ChessBase Chess Playing Programs
The chess playing programs which ChessBase offers (Fritz, Rybka, Hiarcs, Junior, Shredder) have two basic purposes: they allow you to play chess and allow you to have the chess program analyze your past games (to point out how you might have done better). All of the programs come in the same "wrapper" (that is, have the same user interface with menus and commands in the same places and look the same on your screen); the difference is that the chess engine (the chess playing "brain") of each is different, were programmed by different people, and thus play chess a little bit differently from each other. All of the programs contain the same identical features (although the Rybka program does offer a couple of extra advanced analysis features which are not contained in the other playing programs).
All of these programs allow you to play chess against the computer (or against other human players online via the Playchess server; each program includes a one year subscription to Playchess). The chess playing programs offer a variety of handicap modes (so that you're not forced to play against a full-strength Grandmaster level opponent); you can tailor the program's strength to your needs. The game analysis modes, however, do work at full strength, so you have a strong chess coach at your beck and call with which to review your games. These programs can analyze any game, not just ones you play against the computer, so you can even have them review the games you play against other people.
Each program also comes with a large database of chess games, which you can replay and learn from. Although the database search tools of the playing programs aren't as sophisticated as those in ChessBase (and they playing programs' database maintenance tools are very limited), the database functions of these playing programs should be sufficient for the needs of beginning chess players.
All of these programs also contain training modes, which not only offer pre-created opening and endgame drills, but also offer testing modes such as calculation, attack, and defense training which the software can create "on the fly" from any chess game. Thus these training modes are useful for chessplayers of any level, not just beginners.
Note that many of these programs also come in a "Deep" version for owners of higher-end multiprocessor computers.
ChessBase Chess Database Software
ChessBase has been the choice of both chess professionals and amateurs for more than twenty years. ChessBase allows you to utilize and manage any number of databases of any size. It allows you to automatically find and eliminate duplicate games from databases, edit and standardize game headers, search and replay games according to dozens of search criteria, create chess lessons and training tools, enter and save games, publish chess games (in print or on the Web) easily, find games from the latest chess tournaments online - all of which consists of just the tip of the iceberg. The functions of ChessBase are so numerous and varied as to almost defy categorization.
Functions which ChessBase does not contain are the ability to play chess against a computerized opponent (although you can play online against human opposition via the included one year subscription to the Playchess.com server) nor the ability to analyze complete games - you'll still need one of the playing programs for that. However all of theplaying programs previously discussed will "plug into" ChessBase and provide on-screen analysis of individual positions; as you play through a database game, you can call on any of a variety of chess playing programs to provide you with analysis of that board position (ChessBase even includes an older [non-current] version of the Fritz engine for this purpose).
ChessBase comes with a database of literally millions of games from throughout chess history, with more games being added weekly. The ChessBase software provides you with the tools to easily download new games and add them to your database. This provides you with an ongoing updated chess library right on your own computer, fully searchable, indexable, and maintainable with the myriad tools which ChessBase contains.
The ChessBase company also offers a constantly growing list of tutorial software titles. Instructional disks are offered on all phases of chess (opening, middlegame, endgame) as well as various topics (attacking chess, defense, even historical topics such as retrospectives of the careers of several Grandmasters and world champions). These are stand-alone disks which come with a "demo" version of ChessBase that allows you to view the instructional material. However users of ChessBase or any of the chessplaying programs can view the material as well - in fact, these tutorials are best used as "plug ins" with the "full" versions of programs produced by ChessBase.
Although there have been several different instructional formats over the years, the majority of the material released during the last two or three years has been video-based instruction. A video of the teacher appears in a panel on the screen, while the games, moves, and board positions appear on your software's onscreen chessboard. The moves and positions change in response to the teacher's commentary (even displaying colored squares or arrows for emphasis). All you need do is sit back, listen, watch, and learn.
Tutorials are offered for all levels of chess player, from beginners through club level, and even instructional materials for advanced and titled players.
But these will be of interest to you later. If you're just starting out, you should consider one of the playing programs. After you've learned about and tried their limited database features (and found them of use to you), then you'll want to consider the "larger package": ChessBase with its dozens upon dozens of additional features of use to the developing chess player. You'll also wish to look into the various add-ons mentioned above. And the tutorial software which ChessBase offers will be of interest to every player - regardless of your level of play, you should be able to find an instructional disk of interest and benefit to you.
There is a whole host of quality chess software>available. In 1997 IBM launched their Deep Blue super computer. A remarkable chess duel between man and computer was arranged. The match was watched by millions on the net. The reigning chess champion Garry Kasparov was beaten by the computer. The human mind was beaten by a poker playing artificial intelligence program called Polaris during a Poker competition in a Las Vegas casino in 2008.
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