When I heard that the ChessBase Online app for Android was out, I’ll admit I was fairly lukewarm on what I thought it was. Sure, as a chess player, computer nerd, and owner of both an Android phone and Android tablet you’d think I’d be first in line, but I already had a few free chess apps and couldn’t really see the big deal about consulting the online database.
I then read an incredibly enthusiastic user in an online forum, whose description didn’t correspond to what I thought the program did, and decided to plunk down the four Euros and see what the fuss was about. I am really glad I did, as it went far beyond my expectations.
The Home screen of ChessBase Online
The purchase is done the standard way through the Android Market, and as soon as I had closed the deal, I installed it on both machines. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly well it scaled. Most apps I’ve seen tend to look good on either the phone (a very modest 320 x 480 resolution), or the tablet (1024 x 600), but never both. CB Online was clearly designed to look just as sharp on a wide variety of resolutions.
In terms of appearance, it is stock ChessBase, meaning it is elegant, with a very nice board and pieces, and has the usual sound effects including the clicking sound when a piece is captured.
The program itself does indeed access ChessBase’s Online database, however it does far more than list games, or replay them. For one thing, it can access and read PGN files stored on the phone either transferred from your computer, or downloaded online. This I expected, but what I did not know, is that it can read files with variations, text comments, and even the color markers such as arrows and highlighted squares.
It can replay commented games with variations, text, and color markers
When opening it for the first time, I saw an icon for the SD Card (your phone’s hard disk if you will), and after clicking it, was shown a file called GreatGames.pgn I thought this was a small collection of plain game scores of classic games, and again was proven wrong upon perusing it. While I have not looked at many of the games yet, the first half dozen I looked at were extensively commented, and helped show off the software’s abilities.
Though one can navigate using the arrow buttons below, one can also skip ahead to a move by simply clicking on it. It doesn’t stop there, as you can also add variations of your own by simply playing an alternate move, and then saving it to the file. So does that mean you can enter your own games and save them? Yes, it does though this has limited functionality, and saving requires a workaround as it is not actively supported at the moment.
Even so, whether entering your own opening moves, or perusing a saved game on file, this brings to light the Online Database, and it really does shine. Using it can really be broken down into two parts: running searches or consulting the opening statistics.
A sample of the opening statistics
To access the opening statistics, you open a game, then click on a button at the top which switches between the notation and the statistics. The statistics are automatically updated on a move-to-move basis and show the percentage success rates, the average rating of the players, the year it was last played, and a colorful bar showing the breakdown of the wins/draws/losses.
One can search a wide variety of choices, including combinations
of players, events, and years.
As to searching the database, it is impressive. Not only can you make queries such as “Kramnik Dortmund 2011” to see all his games from that tournament, but you can also refine the search results according to color event, and more. Need to make some quick preparation between rounds on a player and the openings? ChessBase Online can probably help you be ready.
Whether you wish to just do some opening consultation based on the statistics of over five million games, do some player researching, or want a program that will replay commented games in all their glory, ChessBase Online for Android is highly recommended and at four Euros (converted to your local currency) is a real bargain.
ChessBase Online for Android can be purchased from the Android Market.