Posted on March 9, 2016 by Wesley Surber

Happy Birthday, GM Robert James Fischer!

He was obsessive, explosive, rude, and some believe that he was a dangerous psychotic. Yet, countless people both inside and outside of the chess world adore the late Bobby Fischer. Today is his birthday, he would have been 72 today and we take a moment today to honor the man who inspired countless people to take up chess around the world! In recognition of his birthday, here is the so-called Game of the Century played in 1956 against Donald Byrne.

Posted on March 8, 2016 by Wesley Surber

The Strange Goings-Ons at FIDE

Back when I started running this blog, started paying closer attention to what was happening with FIDE and the politics of chess. I am not a big fan of politics and I assume that most people are not, but it is hard to resist the temptation to follow the latest drama whether it be a United States political race or controversy in the World Chess Federation. Obviously, Gary Kasparov has made quite a few headlines in recent years over his staunch opposition to the current regime in the World Chess Federation. He took a brutal beating in the 2014 election cycle to elect the new president and is even being accused by Kramnik of being directly responsible for Ilyumzhinov sanctions by the United States Department of Treasury due to his ties with terrorist nations and their leaders.

Therefore, it was no surprise today when I was browsing through Twitter and came across an outstanding article by Chessdom in which the author poured out an immense level of fury over the World Chess Federation’s recent decisions involving the broadcast and exclusive rights of the candidates tournament. This tournament will determine who faces Magnus Carlsen in the 2016 World Chess Championship, and is of great interest to millions of chess players around the world. Before I get into the specifics, I would like to provide you with a link to the tweet that prompted this post. At the end of the day, it is my intention to reaffirm that regardless of your political leaning or your philosophical beliefs: chess belongs to the people!

In my day job we have a saying called BLUF, which stands for Bottom Line Up Front. As clearly indicated by Anton Mihailov’s post on Chessdom, the BLUF is that FIDE and AGON continue to show immense Disrespect and outright contempt for the chess community of the world. Because I am the kind of guy who does not like doing double the work I will not take the time to fully analyze the post, but I highly encourage you to stop over and read it! However, I do not encourage you to go over and read the article simply because I am worried about the future of the world chess Federation or the tournament system as it exists today. Instead, I encourage you to go over and read the article in the context of what Mihailov is trying to say: FIDE, through its corporate sponsors, is continuing its relentless attempt to subvert the freedom of chess players and their fans around the world, and has crossed the line!


Kent Brockman is not a big fan of chess censorship. (Credit: FOX)

Imagine if you will for a moment what would happen if Major League Baseball suddenly decreed that no one was allowed to discuss games in progress in any form on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media website. I think it is safe to say that there would be riots in the streets! This is because MLB appreciates its fans and understands how to harness the power of the fan community to boost interest and to create a personal connection to the game. Because FIDE is just now showing up to the internet world (20 years too late), it believes that it can exert control over information flow like the moves of a chessboard are the key to unlocking the launch codes of a nuclear submarine. FIDE does not respect its players and its community, which is why it is able to treat its fan base with this kind of contempt with absolutely no remorse.

I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I would not shed a tear if the World Chess Federation simply ceased to exist as a result of its own miscalculations. It is curious that an organization charged with supporting a vast community of the finest calculating minds in the world routinely makes some of the worst possible decisions both on and off the board. Chess is counter-culture because it is so accessible, which is why countries like Saudi Arabia and other regimes frequently target it for banishment.


Bobby Fischer had problems with FIDE as well. (Credit: Pawn Sacrifice)

Campfire Chess is proud to be among the tiny chess blogs that make up the dynamic and thriving global chess community. Trust me that if I had the servers and resources, every single move would be beamed into the stratosphere the moment it was made. For now, I leave that to the professionals who have been doing this longer and have the resources. Go forth, my brothers and sisters! The beautiful, hard truth for organizations like FIDE and AGON is this: chess is for the people!

Posted on March 2, 2016 by Wesley Surber

Avoiding the Chessbase Double-Upgrade Snare Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my series on merging the best of Chessbase, Chessbase Magazine, and the Big Database or Megabase! Yesterday’s post showed subscribers how to take the annotated games from CBM and insert them into your reference database to avoid having to upgrade your larger database each year with a secondary purchase from Chessbase. Today, we are going back into our reference database to perform some important housekeeping actions.

DISCLAIMER: As I stated before, it is important to always keep a backup of your data before starting any significant updates or modifications. This is especially true when messing with your reference database. I cannot be held liable if you’re chessbase software becomes a smoking hole in the ground from following these steps. However, if you experience trouble with the steps or have an easier way to perform these actions then please visit Campfire Chess on Facebook and leave comments on this article’s post sharing the details or send me a message on Twitter.

Now, let us begin!


Posted on March 1, 2016 by Wesley Surber

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.


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.