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Mega Database 2012 – Something for Everyone

2/8/2012 – It contains 5.1 million games, 66,000 with annotations by strong players. In the course of this year it will updated itself automatically with 200,000 new games. "Everyone should get this database – it is obviously a must buy for any serious tournament player or analyst who uses ChessBase," writes Steven B. Dowd and gives it six out of six stars in this Chess Cafe review.
 

Something for Everyone

By Steven B. Dowd

This month I review four trainers and the new Mega Database 2012. I had plenty of fun "playing" with the new Megabase, and the trainers are designed primarily for players of lower ratings, but have their value for high-rated club level players as well.

Mega Database 2012 (DVD), ChessBase, $173.95 (ChessCafe Price: $159.95)

Advertising itself as, "the exclusive annotated database," the newest Mega contains more than 5.1 million games from 1560 to 2011. There are 66,000 games with annotations by strong players, with ChessBase opening classification with more than 100,000 key positions, and the ability to access players, tournaments, middlegame themes, and endgames. There is a new edition of the playerbase. The insert states, "as usual, this is where most of the work was done." However, given the many errors that arise in historical games, I am looking forward to the day when this statement is instead, "as usual, great care was exercised in making sure historical games were accurate and annotated by strong players."

I am quite impressed with the database, but my quibble lies with not including the famous game Kujoth-Fashingbauer, Milwaukee 1950; one of the most fascinating non-master games of the last century:

[Event "Milwaukee "] [Site "?"] [Date "1950.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Kujoth"] [Black "Fashingbauer"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B20"] [PlyCount "31"] [SourceDate "2012.02.08"] 1. e4 c5 2. b4 cxb4 3. a3 Nc6 4. axb4 Nf6 5. b5 Nb8 6. e5 Qc7 7. d4 Nd5 8. c4 Nb6 9. c5 Nd5 10. b6 Qd8 {[#]Yes, nothing but pawn moves by White so far - and Black is crushed.} 11. Rxa7 Rxa7 12. bxa7 Qa5+ 13. Nc3 Nxc3 14. axb8=Q Nxd1+ 15. Bd2 Qd8 16. Kxd1 1-0

Is it because the game is still thought by some to be a fabricated game? Kujoth has dealt with that critique himself over the years and there should be little question that it should be included.

The package insert also states that CB11 is required and that "with ChessBase 10 or 11 you can download games for Mega 2012 for the whole year..." However, Mega2012 installed perfectly fine on my CB9, with the only caveat that I could not have received the updates. Nevertheless, using Mega in CB9 is hardly optimal; it is like putting retreaded tires on a Roll-Royce compared to what you get with CB11.

Although I had a long chess life without ChessBase, I cannot imagine one without it today. That being said, I have been a haphazard user of the database, and resolved to become more familiar with its features. For one, I used the database to extract all the featured games for the trainers below. One thing I could not do with CB9 was, for example, to find all of Meduna's games with Black to establish his opening repertoire and win/loss percentage. I was interested because Andrew Martin notes in his opening trainer (reviewed below) that Meduna is a particularly economical player of the black pieces.

With the help of Steffen Giehring from ChessBase I learned how it is done. By the way, I have always received timely help from ChessBase support, often in less than twenty-four hours, even before I started this column. Here is the explanation of how this is done (there are actually two ways to do it!), with illustrations:

In CB 11 there is a prominent button right in the main screen especially for this purpose. It takes three clicks:

That brings up the players index of your Mega right away:

Now you select the player of your choice and simply click on the button "Prepare against White" or "Prepare against Black" on the top. That will bring up the opening statistics for his games and the full list of his games. The opening tree gives detailed information about the number of games, score, when he last played a line, the opponents, etc.:

In CB 10 it works similarly. Open the Mega 2012 and click on the "Players" index. Select the player of your choice and click it with the right mouse. Again, click on "Prepare against White" or "Prepare against Black," etc.

Finally, in both versions, there is also the "Dossier" feature. Right click the player name in the players index and click on "Dossier." This feature takes longer because ChessBase creates a new text with all available information about the player from the database and also from the Players Encyclopedia. Here is a sample of what you get when you search for Meduna:

You can research how well he has done against certain players, how he has performed in certain tournaments, and since I will never play GM Meduna, more importantly, his opening repertoire as black should I wish to see if he is really as economical in his play as Martin indicates. The value in this for players at my level (2200 and below) is that we can find high-class players to emulate, so long as they fit our style. I will speak more about using CB11 in coming months.

Everyone should get this database. It is obviously a must buy for any serious tournament player or analyst who uses ChessBase. There are flaws, mainly as I noted, in its approach to historical games, but many won't consider this serious.

My assessment of this product: Excellent (six out of six stars)

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