I have to admit that I have become somewhat of a ChessBase fanboy over the past few months. The first time I can remember using a ChessBase product was a copy of Fritz 8 that I purchased at Hastings Entertainment in Clovis, New Mexico. I was just starting to grow my interest in chess and decided to head out to the store and pick up a program to help me learn. Fritz 8, although long superseded by Fritz 9 to Deep Fritz 14, was a powerful engine that readily defeated me in every game I played. Suffice to say that I was not impressed with it because I was unfamiliar with chess engines, chess interfaces, UCI, PGN, and the full lexicon of digital chess language that I utilize today. I took note that Fritz was created by ChessBase and decided to steer clear for awhile.
My Growing Love for ChessBase
As time has moved on, I have come to recognize the wonderful contributions to preparation and exhibition that ChessBase has brought to the world of digital chess. One night, I intended to purchase a copy of Deep Fritz 14 to assist with analyzing my games, but accidentally added a copy of ChessBase 12 to my order as well. When I sought a refund for the other, the friendly folks at ChessBase contacted me to discuss my concerns with the program and ask if there was anything they could do help. I explained that it was a mistaken purchase, but they encouraged me to try it out first before I decided if I wanted to return it. Since then, ChessBase has been critical to my growth as a player and as a blogger. As I became more reliant on ChessBase for game storage and analysis, I decided to give ChessBase Magazine and try. What I found was a digital utopia of analysis and reporting that caused me to cancel my subscription to New in Chess.
It is no secret that I was ecstatic when I arrived home on Friday evening and found ChessBase Magazine #163 waiting in my mailbox. Each magazine comes in a distinctive color, with #163 (December 2014 to January 2015) being green and featuring Fabiano Caruana, who dominated in several Grand Prix tournaments and at the Sinquefield Cup earlier this year. The booklet that accompanies each edition of ChessBase Magazine is nice and has summaries and cross tables for each tournament, but the real meat of the publication is on the enclosed DVD. On a side note, there is a download only subscription option that includes all of the DVD content and a PDF file of the booklet.
ChessBase Magazine #163
As I said, the meat of ChessBase Magazine is on the DVD that comes with each issue. In CBM 163, there are 1,463 games included in ChessBase databases with many of them being presented with video commentary by grandmasters such as Karsten Müller, Daniel King, and others. In this day and age, it is easy to find commentary on top games by grandmasters on YouTube or other chess websites, but rarely will you find these games annotated and analyzed by grandmasters and provided with commentary and analysis for further study. In this edition, several tournaments from the FIDE Grand Prix are covered including Grand Prix Tashkent and Grand Prix Baku. Daniel King gives four video commentaries on games from Grand Prix Baku and many other games are annotated and included in the database. Here is an example of what comes in CBM 163:
Of course, the video lectures are my favorite part of ChessBase Magazine, but each edition includes a number of tactics and strategy puzzles for the reader to solve. These puzzles come straight from the grandmaster games reviewed in the magazine articles and the reader engages in responsive feedback with the video system within ChessBase. For example, in CBM 163, author Oliver Reeh focuses on exchanges in a series of tactical puzzles designed to fine-tune the reader’s interpretation of appropriate piece exchanges to gain advantage over their opponent.
Finally, there is an excellent collection of “tele-chess” correspondence games presented by Juan Morgado and Roberto Alvarez. The correspondence database contains over 10,000 games with 32 of them annotated for greater emphasis and study. ChessBase Magazine #163 continues a tradition of chess journalism excellence and I highly recommend it for chess players of all levels.