Opening Encyclopedia 2015 - endless inspiration

by Albert Silver
5/30/2015 – In the ChessBase family of products, the Opening Encyclopedia has earned itself a special place as that Goldilocks item with so much packed into it, it has no peers in price/performance. In it you will find tens of thousands of commented games, a monster database, and detailed surveys and articles by top grandmasters on every opening under the sun.

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The name 'Opening Encyclopedia 2015' should make it an easy item to describe and ultimately review, or so one would think, but the problem is that it is all this and so much more. In a sense the bullet list provided on the product page does a great job, so let's start with that and then take a closer look at each one:

  • over 5.3 million games, with more than 83,500 of them annotated
  • 5798 opening surveys, many of which have been brought up to date
  • access to the games via the large opening key
  • 874 specialised theory databases
  • large opening book of all the games to give you a quick overview and statistics
  • the ChessBase Reader 2013 for access to the whole content of the DVD

The database that accompanies this library of information is huge and should easily be enough to book up on any opening, with statistics, and games galore. 5.3 million games is absolutely enormous, and while it may be short of the 6.1 million that comes with Mega Database 2015, there won't be any master or grandmaster games missing. What may be lacking are the (near) endless games by much lower-category players, so if you are hoping to use this to book up on that club player you are scheduled to meet, then the online database should help fill the gap. Still, whether it be Ruy Lopez himself, or Magnus Carlsen, it is all there.

The 83,500 commented games is also worth noting on. For one thing, this is far more than Mega, one of its standout features (another would be its year-long subscription to weekly updates). How is this possible? This is where the Opening Encyclopedia concept kicks in: the hundreds of surveys and articles also include games chosen and commented by the respective authors, though with a focus on the openings as opposed to a Plain Jane game commentary. In any case, all the top game commentary that have also made Mega the ultimate database will also be found within, meaning analysis by Alekhine, Spassky, Kasparov, Anand, and even Magnus Carlsen.

Among the millions of games are commented struggles by top players, including Magnus Carlsen

The ECO, the reference in systematic organization of openings, which includes no fewer than 500 codes used to represent a line, is covered through and through. Of course, you will find exhaustive articles by top experts such as GM Ftacnik, Psakhis, Ribli, Khalifman, and Anand (yes, the World Champion) to name a few. It comes with a staggering 5800 opening surveys, of which 400 have been updated especially for the 2015 edition. Does that mean all the others are hopelessly out of date? Hardly. For one thing, new articles are included each time, and one should remember that a similar claim was made of the 2014 edition, so the updating is an ongoing process.

Survey of Trompovsky Attack - 5.Nc3 d6 6.Qd2 Nd7
(by Anand, Engqvist, Stohl)

[Event "Survey"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Trompowsky Attack"] [Black "5.Nc3 d6 6.Qd2 Nd7"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A45"] [Annotator "Anand,Engqvist,Stohl"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2012.03.15"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 e6 3. e4 h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Qd2 Nd7 7. f4 (7. g3 e5 8. Bg2 exd4 9. Nd5 Qd8 10. Qxd4 c6 11. Ne3 Qb6 $11 {1/2-1/2 Lputian,S-Van der Wiel,J/Wijk aan Zee 1999/ (16)}) 7... g5 (7... a6 {Black solve all opening problems and avoid sharp position after 7...g5.8.Nb5} 8. Nf3 b5 (8... Qd8 9. O-O-O b5 10. e5 Bb7 11. d5 (11. Bd3 dxe5 12. f5 Bxf3 13. gxf3 Qg5 14. fxe6 fxe6 15. Qxg5 hxg5 16. Bg6+ Ke7 17. d5 Nf6 18. dxe6 Kxe6 19. Ne4 Nxe4 20. fxe4 Rh4 $15 {1/2 (30) Rodriguez Vila,A (2508)-Vasquez,R (2522) Villa Martelli 2008}) 11... exd5 12. Nxd5 dxe5 13. Re1 Bc5 14. fxe5 Nb6 15. Nxb6 Qxd2+ 16. Kxd2 Bxb6 17. Bd3 O-O-O $15 {1/2-1/2 Ehlvest,J-Franco Ocampo,Z/Dos Hermanas 1998/ (17)}) (8... b6 9. Bd3 g5 10. fxg5 hxg5 11. e5 Qe7 12. Be4 Ra7 13. Qxg5 dxe5 14. Qd2 Bh6 15. Qf2 $132 {0-1 Seret,J-Cerisier,P/Strasbourg 1992/EXT 97 (59)}) 9. e5 dxe5 10. fxe5 Qd8 11. Bd3 Bb7 12. Ne4 Be7 13. O-O-O c5 14. dxc5 Nxc5 15. Nxc5 Bxc5 16. Qe2 Qb6 $15 {1/2-1/2 Mah,K-Berescu,A/Guarapuava 1995/Juniors (32)} 17. Kb1 Rd8 18. Rhf1 O-O 19. Nd2 Be3 20. Rde1 Bxd2 21. Qxd2 Rd4 22. Qe3 Qd8 23. Rf2 Bd5 24. b3 Bc4 $5 $132 {Mah,K-Berescu,A/WchJM-U16 Guarapuava/1995/}) (7... c6 $6 8. e5 $1 {White do it first!} (8. Nf3 e5 $1 (8... Qd8 $6 9. O-O-O a5 10. f5 Nf6 11. fxe6 Bxe6 12. d5 $14 {1-0 Hodgson,J-Mariano,N/Las Vegas 1995/EXT 2000 (18)}) 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. f5 Bb4 (10... Nb6 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. h4 O-O-O 13. Nb1 ( 13. g4 $5 $13) 13... Kb8 14. Qc3 Bd6 15. Qb3 Qe7 16. a4 Bc8 17. a5 Nd7 18. Nbd2 Nf6 19. Bc4 g6 $1 20. fxg6 fxg6 21. Bf7 Ng4 22. Rhf1 Bc5 $36 {Povah,N-Ansell,S/ 4NCL 1997/0-1 (39)}) 11. O-O-O Qe7 12. Qe3 (12. g4 Nf6 13. Bd3 Bd7 14. h3 O-O-O 15. Kb1 Kb8 16. Rhe1 Bc8 17. a3 Ba5 18. b4 Bc7 19. Na4 g6 20. Qc3 gxf5 21. exf5 Rhe8 $15 {0-1 (79) Carlsen,M (2484)-Stefansson,H (2572) Reykjavik 2004}) (12. a3 Ba5 13. Kb1 Nf6 14. Bd3 Bd7 15. Rhe1 b5 16. g4 Bb6 17. h3 O-O-O 18. Na2 Kb8 19. Qc1 c5 20. c4 b4 {1/2 (56) Thorhallsson,T (2459)-Stefansson,H (2572) Reykjavik 2004} 21. Bc2 $11) 12... Nf6 $11 {0-1 Anguix Garrido,J-Villavicencio, A/Las Palmas 1993/EXT 97 (43)} 13. Nd2 Bd7 14. Bc4 b5 15. Be2 O-O 16. g4 Qc5 17. Qxc5 Bxc5 18. h4 Be3 19. Rh3 Bf4 $15 {Anguix Garrido,J-Villavicencio,A/Las Palmas-B 1993/0-1 (43)}) 8... dxe5 (8... Qe7 9. Ne4 dxe5 (9... d5 10. Nd6+ $14) 10. dxe5 Qb4 11. Qxb4 Bxb4+ 12. c3 Be7 13. O-O-O $14 {1-0 Huber,P-Lehmann,S/ Schoeneck 1999/EXT 2000 (43)}) 9. dxe5 Qd8 10. Ne4 Qb6 11. O-O-O Nc5 12. Nd6+ Bxd6 13. exd6 Bd7 14. Qd4 O-O-O 15. Nf3 f6 16. Bc4 Na4 17. b3 Qxd4 18. Nxd4 Nc5 19. Rhe1 Rhe8 20. b4 Na4 21. Nxe6 Bxe6 22. Bxe6+ Kb8 23. c4 $16 {1-0 Hodgson, J-Kellenberger,S/Bern 1994/ (33)}) {Another very interesting plan is connected with complexities and sharp position:} 8. Nb5 (8. Nh3 gxf4 9. Nxf4 c6 {We already know this move target - to play e6-e5} 10. Be2 e5 11. Nh5 Qg5 $6 $14 ({ Much better was} 11... Qg6 $5 $132 {for example:} 12. O-O Be7 13. Ng3 Bg5 14. Qd3 Bf4 $11 15. Nh5 (15. Bh5 Qg5 16. Qf3 Bxg3 17. Bxf7+ Ke7 18. Qxg3 Qxg3 19. hxg3 exd4 $15) 15... Bg5 16. Ng3 Bf4 $11) 12. Qxg5 hxg5 13. d5 $1 {White has certain advantage in view of eventual pressure on f-file and f5,f6 squares weaknesses.} Ke7 14. O-O Nb6 15. a4 {White plays on whole board.} ({Good also} 15. Ng3 $5 $14) 15... a5 (15... g4 16. Nf6 g3 17. hxg3 Bh6 18. Rf3 $14) 16. Ra3 $6 (16. Ng3 $142 $14) (16. Rf2 $6 cxd5 17. exd5 f5 18. Ng3 f4 19. Nge4 Bh6 $132 ) ({Interesting also} 16. g4 $5 $14 {with white squares blockade on the kingside.}) 16... g4 $5 (16... cxd5 17. Rb3 d4 18. Rxb6 dxc3 19. bxc3 $14) 17. Nf6 Bh6 $5 $132 ({Why not} 17... g3 $1 18. hxg3 Bh6 19. Rf3 Bg5 20. Rb3 Nxa4 $1 21. Nxa4 Bxf6 22. Nb6 Ra7 $132) 18. Nxg4 Bxg4 19. Bxg4 Nc4 20. Rb3 Ra7 ({In case of} 20... Rab8 21. dxc6 bxc6 22. Bh5 $5 Rxb3 {White keep small advantage:} 23. Rxf7+ (23. cxb3 Be3+ 24. Kh1 Nd2 $132) 23... Ke6 24. cxb3 Be3+ 25. Kh1 Rxh5 26. Rf3 Nd2 27. Rxe3 Nf1 (27... Rxh2+ 28. Kxh2 Nf1+ 29. Kh3 Nxe3 30. g4 d5 31. Kh4 d4 32. Nb1 Nf1 33. b4 axb4 34. a5 $18) 28. Rh3 Rxh3 29. gxh3 Nd2 30. Kg2 $14) 21. Nd1 Nd2 $15 {0-1 (76) Torre,E (2552)-Miezis,N (2518) Istanbul 2000/}) 8... Kd8 $1 (8... Qd8 $5 9. Qc3 c6 10. d5 Rg8 $1 (10... cxb5 $2 11. Qxh8 $16 { 1-0 Hergott,D-Williams,P/North Bay 1996/EXT 98 (26)}) 11. dxc6 Nc5 12. e5 {1/ 2-1/2 Rogozenko,D-Itkis,B/Kishinev 1998/CBM 64 (12)} d5 13. c7 Qd7 14. fxg5 Rxg5 15. Nf3 Rg4 16. O-O-O Ne4 $44) 9. Nh3 gxf4 10. Nxf4 c6 11. Na3 e5 12. dxe5 dxe5 13. Ne2 Kc7 $132 14. Nc4 Nb6 15. Qa5 Be6 16. Ng3 Rd8 17. Bd3 Bxc4 18. Bxc4 Rd4 19. Rf1 Qg5 20. Rf5 Qe3+ 21. Kf1 Bc5 22. Re1 Qxe1+ 23. Kxe1 Rxc4 24. c3 $18 {1-0 (26)/Danielian,O-Losev,D/Moscow op2/1995/} *

Still, the surveys are hardly the end-all of end-alls. While useful, and detailed, they might not be the ideal starting point to learn a new opening especially if you are not quite of master strength. That is where the 874 articles come in, up from 799 from last year. What is the difference? Frankly, all the difference in the world. One of the greatest resources for deep looks into openings, aside from the specific instructive DVDs in the ChessBase family is ChessBase Magazine with the numerous articles that appear in each edition. As a rule, these really cover the full range of types of openings, and readers will find just about every gambit worth mentioning (and no doubt many you never heard of), but also articles on serious main lines from the Ruy Lopez, to the Slav, to the Gruenfeld. You name it, you will find it.

If you are feeling short of inspiration and seeking something unusual to spring on your opponents online or live, herein you will never  ever have an excuse for repetitive opening play again. Above is a sample taken randomly from the list. Ruy Lopez with 9...Rb8. I initially read 9...Nb8 and wondered why it didn't just say the Breyer, until my brain finally registered the rook was moving to b8, not the knight. Fascinating. The author is GM Dejan Bojkov, so however offbeat it may be, you will leave on solid footing.

Note that this also comes with eight commented games, chosen and annotated specifically for the CBM article

Finally, there is a giant opening book, as used by the chess engines, for consulting and of course using. A question that comes up fairly often, especially by the chess engine aficionados, is whether this might not be the ultimate opening book. The answer is: yes and no. Certainly in sheer scope of the openings within it and the size, it is incredibly impressive. However it was not designed as a direct competitive tool, finetuned to trip and defeat. It is designed to give instant statistics with references to all that there is. If you want to be sure Komodo 9, or whatever your opponent is, will be testing you in your opening of choice, then this opening book may be ideal.

What can one say about a database/opening product that covers so many bases and does so many things so well? As a source for new openings, or simply discovering and seeing all that there is, you will be well-served. Feeling bored? Open up the list of articles and choose one at random. Read up on it, and play it. You will be very hard pressed (a euphemism for impossible) to exhaust its wealth.

The Opening Encyclopedia 2015 can be purchased 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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