First up this month is more on my latest favorite toy: ChessBase 11. Then a look at the latest ChessBase Magazine, and finally two trainers: one on converting a win and another on the Nimzo-Indian. Normally I watch each trainer at least three times before writing my review; however, there was so much material on ChessBase Magazine #146, I had to soften that approach. It was too much chess (at least in a short time period!) even for a long-time chess nut like me!
ChessBase 11 (DVD), ChessBase, Starter Package Price: $198.95 (ChessCafe Price: $182.95)
To begin I will note a frustrating bug. When copying games from one database to another, if you copy the games and then close the source database before pasting them into the target database, the games will not copy. The source database has to stay open. I understand this bug has already been reported to ChessBase and I hope it is being worked on.
One of the newest features of CB11 is one that theory fans will love; an option called theoretical weight, in which TNs are classified by CB11. Based on games I knew had important TNs, I found that the database handled it with great accuracy for the most part. In some cases you will have to know (or keep playing through the database) to find the novelty. You can do this in an opening by clicking on "Reference." For a theoretical novelty in an opening I knew well, I found that the game Rhine-Sprenkle, Midwest Masters 1981, is still the top theoretical novelty in the Nimzowitsch Sicilian. That is the famous game from the Informant and Nunn's Beating the Sicilian; it is also Game #218 in 1000TN!!. I used the database of games in the Tiviakov trainer (reviewed below) and found some interesting ideas for use in my own games as well.
Let's look at the games from the recently completed Bunratty Masters as an example:
At the very right is the column for theoretical weight; you can see the various dots with different shading and sizes. The larger and darker the dot, the greater the theoretical weight. When I click on that column, the games are arranged by their theoretical importance:
And you can see, there were not many theoretical innovations (the dots only get progressively lighter and smaller after the few examples above). By going through the Adams-Short game, and keeping the "Reference" window open, you will find that the TN was White's 9.bxa5:
Previously 9.b5 was preferred (which still looks better to me). My thought is that 9.bxa5 was probably a psychological ploy, but then again, many TNs are. However, my purpose here is to show the "theory mavens" how to scour games from recent tournaments for TNs. Anyone who follows modern theory closely will find this a very useful tool, and even those of us who play more offbeat openings will find it useful in identifying games with novelties.
My assessment of this product: Excellent (six out of six stars)
How to learn the functionality without looking into the manual? Nick Murphy explains how to use the new interface. Just click on the video image to start listening.