Opening Encyclopedia 2013: a review

by Albert Silver
7/1/2013 – Meet the ultimate openings encyclopedia: ChessBase’s Opening Encyclopedia 2013. It quite literally comes with more material than you could view in a lifetime, or several lifetimes, but don’t let that put you off, since what that means is that it has material to answer your questions in every chess opening there is. Think we are exaggerating? Read the review.

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Opening Encyclopedia 2013

Review by Albert Silver

It is fair to say that the era of the openings encyclopedias as we knew them is long past, and the time when a volume such as the MCO or BCO were the object of intense scrutiny and desire, or even the five-volume ECO cannot keep up with the speed of the internet era and ease of software updates. Still, a player does need some form of guidance to make heads or tails of the vast amount of theory. It is all nice and well to have a multi-million game database, but are you really going to view them? Know what is relevant or not?

Meet the ultimate openings encyclopedia: ChessBase’s Opening Encyclopedia 2013. It quite literally comes with more material than you could view in a lifetime, or several lifetimes, but don’t let that put you off, since what that means is that it has material to answer your questions in every chess opening there is. Think I am exaggerating?

The database alone contains over 4.5 million games. Granted that is a bit short of what Mega database 2013 has, but then again that might be a blessing in disguise since I also found no Under-8 junior championships or the like either (I did look). In that same mammoth database are over 80 thousand commented games, which much like Mega includes deep commented games by most of the top players, whether they be Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand, Garry Kasparov, and many many more.

Still, all this says nothing about what the product’s name promises: Opening Encyclopedia. Within the database are nearly 5400 Openings surveys, covering every opening there is and with immaculate pedigrees. Some of the theoreticians signing them are the world champion Vishy Anand, Peter Svidler, John Nunn, Lubomir Ftacnik, Igor Stohl, Zoltan Ribli, and so on.

Magnus Carlsen annotates in depth one of his games

It is true that this massive collection of surveys, do not all date from this year, and are the result of the perennial work by ChessBase over the decades, and while there are some that date from the late 90s, it is worth adding that more than 500 were analyzed and updated specifically for the 2013 edition.

There are nearly 5400 opening surveys, of which more than 500 were updated for the 2013 edition

The problem with openings surveys though is that while they do represent material selected by these players to show what is most relevant for that line, they do not necessarily go deep in ideas and plans. That is where the next part of the Opening Encyclopedia comes in: the Openings articles. Over the years, ChessBase Magazine has been publishing top-quality articles on openings and lines, some spanning various issues. Here you will find 728 of those articles from the past decade, which include all the detailed commentary, analysis, and opinions of the contributing authors. These too cover pretty much the full gamut of opening theory, and will provide the student ample material to study or complement his study of any line under the sun.

Hundreds of articles on every opening under the sun await you

Don’t think this is only about mainline theory either. Although you will assuredly find every nook and cranny of the Najdorf, Gruenfeld and QGD being scrutinized, you will also find a wealth of material on offbeat lines such as the Fajarowicz Gambit (two articles), the From Gambit, the Evans, the Snake Benoni, the Keres Defense, the Latvian Gambit, the Elephant Gambit (eight articles) and every oddball line that may tickle your fancy. Someone played a gambit or line at your club or online and you had no idea what to do? Rest assured, there is an article here to enlighten you.

Someone played the Elephant Gambit against you? Worry not, Opening Encyclopedia will make you an expert.

Finally, there is a massive openings book, the kind the engines use, but that you can consult, based on the entire 4.5 million games in the database. It will provide you with evaluations and statistics to give you quick results, and you can edit and modify it as you see fit.

Even if you do not own a copy of Fritz or ChessBase to read all this material, there is no need as it comes with the newest 2013 version of ChessBase Reader.

In conclusion, with so much material and of such high quality, the value provided is just fantastic: Millions of games, tens of thousands of commented games by top players, thousands of surveys, hundreds upon hundreds of detailed articles, … it is really impossible to give it anything but two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Opening Encyclopedia 2013 can be found in the ChessBase Shop



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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