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Avoiding the Chessbase Double-Upgrade Snare Part 1

Longtime readers know that I am a huge fan of Chessbase software. Despite some design quirks, there is no substitute when it comes to managing large databases of games. As much as I would like to hope for a resolution, OS X simply does not have a viable competitor to Chessbase. Check out the insanely popular post The Sad State of Chess on Mac for details. Therefore, I remain bound my Windows machine for doing most of my chess research and study. Over time, I have spent a considerable amount of money on Chessbase software including the database package and multiple course DVDs. MegaBase 2015 came in very handy last year for writing here on the blog with its access to 6.5 million games and countless annotations, but I was apprehensive about upgrading to the 2016 edition when it was released near the end of the year.

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The Chessbase 13 Splash Screen (Credit: Chessbase)

Curious Thoughts and New Insight

I was about to click the button to upgrade my MegaBase edition from 2015 to 2016 when I started considering that I also have a subscription to Chessbase Magazine. Why is this important? Let me explain:

  • Before purchasing in addition of MegaBase, it is important to understand the scope in which you are purchasing games. The MegaBase edition you purchase comes with the most current selection of games up until the time that the database was published and promises one year of free game updates until the next edition of the massive database is published. Many of these games are available online and other database formats, the annotations and cross tables provided in MegaBase are unparalleled. For example, I purchased MegaBase 2015 in late 2014 and was provided free updates by Chessbase until December 2015 when the new edition was published.

  • Things get a little bit easier for those of us with a chessbase magazine subscription. Instead of continuing to upgrade the MegaBase database each year, there is a way to install the games from each volume of chessbase magazine into your database so that you effectively have the most current collection of games available with Grandmaster annotations throughout the year. In this post, I am going to show you how to install games from chessbase magazine into the MegaBase and then do some basic database maintenance to remove duplicate entries and ensure that you are left with only the highest quality annotated games.

First things first, there are a few things we need to assess. You will need to verify that you have the following items before you can proceed:

  • Chessbase Database Software (I recommend version 12 or higher).
  • A version of the Chessbase Big Database or MegaBase. The exact year or version of this database is not important as long as it is capable of being modified by your version of the Chessbase software. Both databases contain approximately 6.4 million games as of the 2016 edition, but the MegaBase is the database that contains almost 70,000 annotated games. Pick your poison.
  • A subscription to Chessbase Magazine. The magazine is available in both printed/DVD or download formats. Personally, I subscribe to the printed/DVD version because I enjoy collecting chess literature and like sitting down without staring at a computer to read chess information at times.
  • And, it goes without saying, enough free space on your hard drive to install the new databases.

Updating Your Reference Database: A General Warning

Before we go any further, it is important to remember that you should never modify your reference database unless you are doing it intentionally. This means that you should never add your own games or combine other databases with your primary reference database if you are using the megabase or big database as your reference. Therefore, this post comes with a DISCLAIMER: I cannot be held responsible for any damage that may occur to your reference database by following these steps. I have tested the steps out in multiple settings using my own addition of Chessbase 12 on my Microsoft Surface 3 and a friend’s copy of Chessbase 13 on his desktop PC. Therefore, I know that it works as long as you follow the steps exactly as they are written. I have included screen shots for the visual learners among us.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: because this is a large and image-intensive post, only the excerpt will show by default on the Campfire homepage. Click the link below to open the full post and tutorial.

Step-By-Step

Let’s get started!

  • As always, it is important to make sure that you are running the most current version of Chessbase and that you are not pending any online updates from the Chessbase server. The option to check for updates is on the File Menu -> Activation -> Update Program.

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  • Next, we need to verify that either MegaBase or Big Database is set as your reference database. To do this, right-click on the database icon in the Chessbase window. From the context menu, select properties. Right-click does not work on some Windows tablets with Chessbase, so if you encounter this problem, left-click to select the database. Then select the Maintenance tab and choose Properties under the Maintenance group. A window will appear that allows you to change many of the database’s basic properties. Ensure that the Reference-DB check box is selected. This will enable the Chessbase Magazine installer to recognize that database as the reference destination. Click OK.

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  • Open a copy of Chessbase Magazine. For instructional purposes I am using Chessbase Magazine 170. On the magazine’s start page, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Just below the somewhat creepy sneer of GM Dorian Rogozenco is an option to install the magazine to your hard drive. Click it.

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  • The Chessbase Magazine installer window will appear. Now, if you want to install the entire magazine to your hard drive then leave all of the check boxes selected and click OK. However, if you are only wanting to update your Megabase or Big Database with the game collections from the magazine, deselect all of the boxes except Copy to Reference Database. Leave that entry selected. Once your options are set, click OK.

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Note that the installation might take a few minutes because your reference database will take time to process and sort the new games as well as rebuild the classification keys and search indexes. When the installation is complete, the installer program will close and return you to the Chessbase Magazine table of contents. Close the Chessbase Magazine window and open your reference database. Now, because of the massive amount of games stored in the reference database it can be nearly impossible to ascertain exactly which games are new and which are from the original database. Since the focus of this post is primarily on adding Chessbase Magazine games to the database, it is best to look for games within the magazine’s reporting time frame and for games within the database that contain annotations or variations. There are a couple of ways to do this and again, I will use CBM 170 as my example:

  • CBM 170 was published in February 2016 and its database covers games from 18-Sep-15 to 29-Dec-15. One of those tournaments was the Qatar Masters Open in Doha (20-Dec-15). Find that entry in your reference database and you should note that the game between Magnus Carlsen and Nino Batsiashvili is annotated. If so, this annotation comes from the game’s entry in CBM 170 and the transfer of games from the magazine to your reference database was a success!

An annotated game from Chessbase Magazine 170 (Credit: Chessbase)

  • Once you have confirmed that your new games are in the reference database, you are effectively done. However, there is some general housekeeping that needs to be done to maintain the integrity of the the database. These housekeeping steps are addressed in part 2.

-w.s.