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Version: 1.01
Professional
Opening
Preparation:
ChessBase
by WGM Raluca Sgrcea
IM Renier Castellanos
Contents:
Lesson 1. How to prepare against an opponent

Lesson 2. How to use the filter list in order to search for specific games

Lesson 3. How to study openings

Lesson 4. How to create a database of your own games

Lesson 5. How to create an opening repertoire


Introduction
Using ChessBase (or any other chess-related software) has become a necessity in todays
chess practice. It is the most used method to study and learn openings, as you can easily
have access to millions of games in a very short time. This means that what people used to
discover in perhaps a week 20 years ago, you can now do in minutes.

Powerful engines that help you to select the right moves can also check your opening
preparation. Besides opening preparation, the program can be used to prepare specifically
against an opponent by reviewing all of his latest games, the frequency of his opening choices
and his style of play. Another common thing among chess players is creating an opening
repertoire, which is, in fact, a collection of small databases on preferred openings.

This way, the openings can be easily updated and new annotations can be added to the existing
files. Finally, this program is very useful in order to keep track of your own games and review
them anytime you want.

For many starting players, not knowing how to use ChessBase properly could be a considerable
disadvantage. This is visible not only during tournaments, but also in the speed of developing
their own chess knowledge. In order to help you improve your ChessBase skills, we are going to
show you how to work with this program:

1. How to prepare against an opponent


2. How to use the filter list in order to search for specific games
3. How to study openings
4. How to create a database of your own games
5. How to create an opening repertoire.

All you need to have is ChessBase and Mega Database or any other updated database.
Introduction
Using ChessBase (or any other chess-related software) has become a necessity in todays
chess practice. It is the most used method to study and learn openings, as you can easily
have access to millions of games in a very short time. This means that what people used to
discover in perhaps a week 20 years ago, you can now do in minutes.

Powerful engines that help you to select the right moves can also check your opening
preparation. Besides opening preparation, the program can be used to prepare specifically
against an opponent by reviewing all of his latest games, the frequency of his opening choices
and his style of play. Another common thing among chess players is creating an opening
repertoire, which is, in fact, a collection of small databases on preferred openings.

This way, the openings can be easily updated and new annotations can be added to the existing
files. Finally, this program is very useful in order to keep track of your own games and review
them anytime you want.

For many starting players, not knowing how to use ChessBase properly could be a considerable
disadvantage. This is visible not only during tournaments, but also in the speed of developing
their own chess knowledge. In order to help you improve your ChessBase skills, we are going to
show you how to work with this program:

1. How to prepare against an opponent


2. How to use the filter list in order to search for specific games
3. How to study openings
4. How to create a database of your own games
5. How to create an opening repertoire.

All you need to have is ChessBase and Mega Database or any other updated database.
Lesson 1: How to Prepare Against an Opponent
Lets suppose you are paired in the next round against IM Renier Castellanos and you have
white. First thing to do is double click on the Database you are using, and then select Filter
List. In the window that opens next you will have to write your opponents name in the Black
box, in our case Castellanos, R.

Remember to deselect Ignore colors. This way you will only get the games he played with
black. From a practical point of view, its useful to look only at the recent games played by your
opponent (last two years at most):

Click OK and, after a short search, ChessBase will show you all the games of your opponent.
You can see if he has games in the opening you are intending to play and what are his usual
opening choices. In order to sort the games by date, just click on Date and you will have the
most recent games first (see the image on the next page).
Another way to do this in ChessBase is going to the Players tab instead of using the filter and
finding the name that is listed in alphabetical order. Then, right click and select Preparation
against Black or Preparation against White.

This feature is more complete, as ChessBase will provide you not only the games, but also a full
tree with statistics.
Lesson 2: How to Use the Filter List
You can use this feature of ChessBase for many purposes. The first and most common idea is
to search for a players games, as we previously showed. However, it has more uses to
search for a specific position, for games with a certain pawn structure or material correlation.

First of all, you double click on your main database and you click on the filter list icon you can
find above:

First, lets look for a specific position. You should select the Position tab:
In order to set the position you are interested in, you should now drag the pieces on the right
into the board. Once you are done, you can see that the Position and Filter activated boxes
will be automatically selected. Also, you can use the Copy board icon to insert a position you
have already open. It will immediately copy itself into the search filter.

Lets move on to the Material tab:

Here, you are able to search for almost anything you want to, from doubled pawns to connected
pawns. You just need to select the characteristic you are interested in. Under both white and
black material you can specify whether doubled, passed or connected pawns may or may not
be present.

The exclamation mark means that the selected criterion is not present in the game. Remember
to deselect Ignore colors if you are looking for a certain structure for one side specifically.
For example, if you click on Opposite bishops and also on Doubled pawns for white, the
search will return all the games with the features you selected.

The Manoeuvres tab:

It is used to find games where a specific movement of pieces has occurred. For example, you
can search for games in which the manoeuvre Nd4-b5-a3 has appeared on the board. In this
case, you should click on Insert/New, select the color (W, B or WB), the piece (N), enter
the squares and then repeat the process until you complete the manoeuvre you are looking for.
Your search box will look like this:

You can always combine the search parameters by check marking the boxes below (Game
data, Position, Material, etc). The box Include lines in search will return games where the
criteria you selected show up in commentary as well as in the main game.
The further you advance in your variation, the more specific your opening report will be. For
example, if you add some more moves in the line we are dealing with, such as 9Nd7 10. h4
Nb6 11. Bb3 Na5, the opening report will now be reduced to this exact position. It will begin with
whites possibilities after 11Na5.

Another way of studying an opening is to do the opening research on your own, by entering the
variations you want to learn and running the search engine. Then, you can select all the games
of your search result and merge the most relevant games (for this, you can sort the games by
ELO, as we previously showed). In order to do this, you first select the games you want to
merge, then right click on your selection and click Merge Selected Games.

To create an opening tree, you can do the same selection and click Selection to Book.

The merge action will show all the games you selected as one big annotated game. This way,
when you play over the game, you will see all the possible deviations and moves for each side.
Now, you can delete and promote the annotation as you wish, by right-clicking on the variations
and selecting Promote Variation or Delete Variation. You can also make the lines smaller by
clicking Delete Remaining Moves.
Here is what you should expect to see:

This way, you can clean the file from any unnecessary or useless annotations and make your
selection more personal. Once you have done this, you can click on Save as and keep the
game for future preparations.
The further you advance in your variation, the more specific your opening report will be. For
example, if you add some more moves in the line we are dealing with, such as 9Nd7 10. h4
Nb6 11. Bb3 Na5, the opening report will now be reduced to this exact position. It will begin with
whites possibilities after 11Na5.

Another way of studying an opening is to do the opening research on your own, by entering the
variations you want to learn and running the search engine. Then, you can select all the games
of your search result and merge the most relevant games (for this, you can sort the games by
ELO, as we previously showed). In order to do this, you first select the games you want to
merge, then right click on your selection and click Merge Selected Games.

To create an opening tree, you can do the same selection and click Selection to Book.

The merge action will show all the games you selected as one big annotated game. This way,
when you play over the game, you will see all the possible deviations and moves for each side.
Now, you can delete and promote the annotation as you wish, by right-clicking on the variations
and selecting Promote Variation or Delete Variation. You can also make the lines smaller by
clicking Delete Remaining Moves.
Lesson 5: How to Create an Opening Repertoire
Besides studying openings and preparing specifically against an opponent, most players have a
repertoire. This can be a group of smaller database files containing games only on the
variations that you have decided to play.

For example, lets say your choice of repertoire as white begins with 1.d4. Then, in order to
work deeper in your opening preparation, you should create the separate database files against
each of the blacks possible defenses.

Lets assume that your repertoire as white includes the following variations:

Slav Defense. White plays 3. Nf3 and 4. e3


Queens Gambit Accepted
Benoni Defense. White plays 7. Bf4

This means that you have one or two databases for each of these variations with the games you
consider significant and your own analysis and ideas. This way, it is easier for you to update
your theory and to do research for novelties in critical variations.

First you must create the repertoire databases manually (one for each variation). Then, right
click on each database, select Properties and select the symbol you want to show on your
repertoire database. In the picture below, we have selected the Repertoire icon. Now you can
find and copy into the database those games youd like to keep. Your databases should now
look like this:

You can do this for every opening that you decide to work on. Also, you can opt for creating a
bigger database instead of smaller ones. For example, you can have only one database for the
Slav Defense instead of two. This depends on the amount of games you feel comfortable
working with.
Lesson 4: How to Create a Database of Your Own Games
Keeping a database with your own games you played in tournaments is something essential for
any player who wants to make progress. Having quick access to your own analyzed and
annotated games will help you improve your play.

First step is creating a database. You can do this by accessing the application menu and
selecting New and Database:

Now you must select the location where you want your database to be saved, keep the .cbh
extension selected by ChessBase as default, name it My games, for example, and click
Create new.

The icon of the new database will appear on the main window of ChessBase. You can assign a
personal symbol to the icon created, by right clicking on it, selecting Properties and choosing
My games from the default symbols ChessBase has.
Your database should appear like this:

To start entering games in your personal database, open a new board, enter the moves, the
open the ChessBase menu, select Save Game As, find the database you just created (My
games) and click on New/Open. It will look like this:

Here you can enter the details of the game, such as name, dates, tournament, ELO, round and
result of the game. Once you are done, just click OK and the game will be saved in your
database.
To annotate the game, you can just enter variations and, in the dialog box that will show up
every time you make a move out of the main game, select New Variation. For example, in the
image below, the main line is 5.0-0, but you want to introduce 5.d3 as a side line. When you
enter the move, the box in the image below will show up:
You can also add symbols and enter text notes before or after each variation by right clicking on
the moves and choosing from the list.

If you want to annotate your games with colored arrows and squares in order to point out any
ideas, weaknesses and plans in a position, you can do it by using the following key
combinations:

For the yellow color, use Ctrl + Alt + Click on the square to color the square. If you
want to create an arrow, drag the mouse from one square to the other.
For the red color, use Alt +Shift + Click on the square to color the square. If you want
to create an arrow, drag the mouse from one square to the other.
For the green color, use Alt + Click on the square to color the square. If you want to
create an arrow, drag the mouse from one square to the other.

For example, you can make it look like this:

By following the steps we presented above, you now have a complete database of your own
games ready to be reviewed and replayed any time you want.
Lesson 5: How to Create an Opening Repertoire
Besides studying openings and preparing specifically against an opponent, most players have a
repertoire. This can be a group of smaller database files containing games only on the
variations that you have decided to play.

For example, lets say your choice of repertoire as white begins with 1.d4. Then, in order to
work deeper in your opening preparation, you should create the separate database files against
each of the blacks possible defenses.

Lets assume that your repertoire as white includes the following variations:

Slav Defense. White plays 3. Nf3 and 4. e3


Queens Gambit Accepted
Benoni Defense. White plays 7. Bf4

This means that you have one or two databases for each of these variations with the games you
consider significant and your own analysis and ideas. This way, it is easier for you to update
your theory and to do research for novelties in critical variations.

First you must create the repertoire databases manually (one for each variation). Then, right
click on each database, select Properties and select the symbol you want to show on your
repertoire database. In the picture below, we have selected the Repertoire icon. Now you can
find and copy into the database those games youd like to keep. Your databases should now
look like this:

You can do this for every opening that you decide to work on. Also, you can opt for creating a
bigger database instead of smaller ones. For example, you can have only one database for the
Slav Defense instead of two. This depends on the amount of games you feel comfortable
working with.
The picture below shows an example of a bigger database where you have already added
games and analysis of your own:

To keep the database updated, you can copy and paste new games into it.

To print your selection of games and variations as a repertoire, you must first select and merge
the games you want to print. As we showed before, you will get one big game with many
variations. Now, you should go to the ChessBase application menu and select Print, Print
Repertoire.
Your file will be printed similar to any openings encyclopedia. The print preview will look like
this:
By showing the main features of ChessBase employed by the majority of chess professionals,
we hope to have helped those who are still strangers to this software. A proper use of this
program will drastically increase the speed of your progress as a chess player and will arm you
with enough weapons to be well prepared in your tournament games.

There are plenty of other things that ChessBase can do, but the uses mentioned here are the
most important as far as chess training is concerned.