2016 Christmas Buyer's Guide: Champions and ChessBase

by Albert Silver
12/23/2016 – Concluding the suggested 2016 Christmas Buyer’s Guide, here are fine selections of great games collections by top players with names such as Anand and Kramnik, as well as Master Classes on world champions that now extend to Karpov and Kasparov, two names who dominated chess for 40 years, and of course the flagship programs that have helped make ChessBase what it is, as well as new ones that open a world of possibilities.

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Games collections

There are so many excellent games collections, that to present only a few seems to suggest the others are less worthy, but not so.

This two-DVD set by Viktor Korchnoi is the best of its kind, hands down. Korchnoi's sheer enthusiasm is contagious as he bounces in his chair explaining how much he wanted to win. If you are ever feeling a bit down about chess, watch this to rekindle the fire. Based on his three-book games collection / autobiography, this DVD on volume one might seem to by a lightweight version of the book. However while it might not contain as many games as the book, it makes up for it with Garry Kasparov's personal presentation. You can see the emotions on his face as he relives some of the moments.
On this DVD Vladimir Kramnik retraces his career from talented schoolboy to World Champion in 2006. His commentary is full of useful advice and provides a fascinating insight into the thought processes that govern top level play. This two-DVD collection covers the early steps of Vishy Anand through his first World Championship match in 1995, fighting through two simultaneous cycles, until his victory in Mexico in 2007. Enjoy these great games told in over 8 hours by one of the greatest talents the gam has ever known.

Master Class

This growing series by ChessBase is great fun and fascinating. Each volume covers a world champion, but this is not simply a collection of their games. First you get a thorough breakdown of the champion's openings by a grandmaster, then another grandmaster analyzes his middlegame play, commenting on quirks, tendencies, style, and contributions to modern understanding. Then there is a selection of tactical quizzes by IM Olver Reeh, who also brings a large selection of test positions from that player's career, and of course the endgame play is illustrated by GM Karsten Mueller. Topping that all of is of course a database of all the known games by the players, with as many commented as can be found, and a summary of their careers.

It is fitting that the first volume in this new series was on the legendary Bobby Fischer, but the quality of the content and the videos ensured the series' success. Mikhail Tal is best known for his boundless imagination and courage at the board. This Master Class on his career does him justice, with hundreds of quizzes to solve as well. His nickname the 'Magician of Riga' was well deserved.
Anatoly Karpov was a worthy successor of Fischer, as he proved with an amazing tournament record. His uncanny positional feel and ability to anticipate his opponent's plans and neutralize them are legendary, and he was among the top two players for over three decades. This latest addition to the Master Class collection concerns Garry Kasparov, considered by many as the greatest player ever, compared only to Bobby Fischer at his peak. Enjoy this in-depth look at his enormous theoretical contributions, and his dazzling game.

Classic ChessBase

Was there ever any doubt? The program ChessBase started it all and is an essential tool to every pro under the sun. It started as a plain database program, but has grown into so much more, with online publishing tools, analysis functions, etc. The many packages in the ChessBase Shop with varying prices bring more items at an overall cheaper price. If you had but one other item to add to ChessBase, it would be Mega Database. Not only does it contain millions of games, all well organized with consistent spellings, but has tens of thousands of pictures of the players, tens of thousands of commented games, and a free one-year subscription to update the database every week. It is hundreds of book collections in one.
After years away, presumably a name left for the annals of computer chess, Houdini is back with a new and extremely competitive engine with unique features such as its Tactical Mode. You also get a free 6-month Premium subscription to ChessBase Account and Playchess. Great value. Frankly, this is the ultimate gift to a player, whether someone you know, or yourself. A subscription to ChessBase Magazine is a dream package. Each issue contains videos on openings, commented games, world class analysis by players such as Carlsen, Caruana, Nakamura, and more. There are articles on openings with novel analysis, endgame articles and the list goes on. It even comes with a voucher for the ChessBase Shop!
ChessBase Account Premium 1 Year
Premium subscription used to 'only' offer a one year access to Playchess with right to rating, simuls, ChessBase TV, and the interactive live GM commented games (you can ask the GM questions). Now that also includes everything in ChessBase Account, with the Cloud database features, Fritz, and the utterly brilliant online Video catalogue with hundreds of hours of material, some of which are for sale in the ChessBase Shop. The Opening Encyclopaedia is a bit of a hybrid with a huge database, not quite as vast as Mega, but containing thousands of openings surveys and articles coming from over 15 years of ChessBase Magazine articles. In it are also tens of thousands of commented games. You lose the year of free updates Mega has, but get the amazing wealth of openings material.


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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