Can you afford to be without Mega 2007?

1/12/2007 – You can still operate your TV set manually or listen to your music on vinyl records. It will still work - up to a point. For chess players however it is essential to keep up with the time. For without an up-to-date database you will find it very hard to succeed or even to survive on a certain level. Review.

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The chess-player’s remote control
By Steve Giddins

It is funny how quickly one gets used to new gadgets, and how indispensable they soon become. Take the case of the TV remote control. Did a time really exist when we didn’t have them? It is hard to imagine how we ever managed. I suppose we must have had functioning knee joints and leg muscles, allowing us to get up from the sofa, traverse the lounge, and physically change the channel on the TV set itself. Weird. As Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen put it, “Ah, the kids o’ today, they don’t know they’re born!”


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The same thing has happened in chess. There was once a time, in bygone years referred to as BC (Before Chessbase), when every chessplayer’s Christmas list included the latest Informator. No sooner had one demolished the turkey and Christmas pud, than one rushed up to one’s room, got out the big wooden chessboard and pieces (remember them?), and started poring over the latest novelties from the world of grandmaster chess. Nowadays, it is all different. From Topalov and Anand downwards, the thing every serious chess player hopes to find in his Christmas stocking is the latest update of Megabase, the Rolls Royce of commercial chess databases. I was one of those lucky players, who, having been a good boy all year, was visited on the night of December 25th by a man with a white beard, bearing a sackful of presents. At the time, I presumed him to be Santa Claus, but it now occurs to me that it could have been Frederic Friedel. Anyway, whoever he was, he kindly left me a copy of Megabase 2007.

This latest version of the database contains just over 3.5 million games, running up to the end of November 2006. Some 60,000 are annotated, most of them by leading GMs and theoreticians. It is interesting to look up some currently popular lines, and see just how many games one can find. Take the following variation:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qc2 c5 6.d5 exd5 7.cxd5 Bb7 8.Bg2

This pawn sacrifice was almost unknown before 2006, and the first significant game played with it was Vallejo Pons – Macieja, Turin Olympiad 2006. Using the command Edit-Find Position reveals that Megabase 2007 contains no less than 17 games from the above position, played in 2006, starting with the Olympiad stem game. The news is not great for Black players, as White has scored a massive 12-2, with just 3 draws.  

Even from a brief perusal of these games, one can draw a number of valuable conclusions. The move 8…Bxd5 has been preferred in the great majority of games, yet two of Black’s three draws came when he played 8…Nxd5. Still more significantly, the Black players involved were Leko and Sargissian, two of the strongest players to have defended the Black position. The last word is the game Aronian-Leko, from the Alekhine Memorial, a game played on November 11th 2006, where Black played 8…Nxd5 and drew.

This much is available from Megabase 2007 itself. But if you install the database with the full ChessBase 9.0 program, open the database window, and then click on Help-Get New Games, the program will search the internet and update your database with the latest games from TWIC (The Week In Chess). I did exactly that on 7 January, and within minutes had three more games starting from the position we are interested in. In one of them, Kunte-Poobesh, played just 16 days ago in the Indian Championship, White played the novelty 10 a3 and won convincingly.

Thus, one can see just how much information is available in Megabase 2007, and how easily and quickly one can research a position and orientate oneself within the various lines. No wonder so many players nowadays are able to play so many different openings!

There is only one small word of warning I should offer, and that relates to games played in leagues. The policy appears to be that these games are only added to Megabase at the end of the season. Thus, if you want a game from the English 4NCL, you will only find games from the season 2005-6, which ended in May 2006. The 2006-7 season started in September 2006, but none of the games played thus far have made it into Megabase 2007. Had they done so, you would have had yet another White win in the above variation, namely this:

Williams,Simon K (2473) - Tan,Desmond (2334) [E15]
4NCL/Div1/HKF1 vs. WGR Sunningdale ENG (2.5), 17.09.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.d5 exd5 8.cxd5 Bxd5 9.Nc3 Bc6 10.e4 d6 11.Bf4 Nh5 12.Bg5 Be7 13.h4 h6 14.Be3 Nd7 15.0–0–0 Qc7 16.g4 Nhf6 17.g5 Ng4 18.Bf4 Nde5 19.Nd5 Qb7 20.Bxe5 Nxe5 21.Nxe5 dxe5 22.Qc3 Bxd5 23.exd5 Bd6 24.f4 exf4 25.gxh6 Rxh6 26.Qxg7 Rg6 27.Qh8+ Kd7 28.Bh3+ Kc7 29.Qh7 Rf8 30.h5 Rg5 31.h6 Rxd5 32.Qg7 f3 33.h7 Rxd1+ 34.Rxd1 Bf4+ 35.Kb1 Qe4+ 36.Ka1 Qe2 37.Rd7+ Kc6 38.Qf6+ Kb5 39.a4+ Kb4 40.Qc3+ 1–0

So, can you afford to be without Megabase 2007? I suppose that if you still listen to your music on vinyl records, use public telephone boxes, and still get up from the sofa and walk across the room, every time you want to change the TV channel, then maybe you can manage without it. But don’t expect your opponents to do so, and don’t be surprised if you get blown off the board by someone, who happily informs you after the game, that your whole opening line had been refuted by a game played in the Timbuktu Open the previous week. The kids o’ today may not know they’re born, but they certainly know their openings! There’s no reason why you should not do so, too.

Mega Database 2007

Mega Database is the exclusive annotated database favoured by chess professionals and ambitious players. The 2007 edition contains more than 3.5 millions games, dating from 1560 to 2006. Naturally all in the highest ChessBase quality standard, with 60,000 games including commentary by top players. The database has the extensive ChessBase opening classification, with more than 100,000 key positions. You have direct access to players, tournaments, middlegame themes, endgames, etc.

Mega Database is the largest top class annotated database in the world. The most recent games of the database are from the middle of November 2006. Mega 2007 also features a new edition of the Playerbase. As usual, this is where most of the work was done. The player index now contains more than 180,000 entries, and the photo database well over 27,000 pictures.

Price: €149.90 incl. VAT order now!
(€129.22 or US $171.87 without VAT, for customers outside the European Union).

Big Database 2007

This contains the same 3.5 millions games as Mega 2007, from 1560 to 2006, in the highest ChessBase quality standard, with the ChessBase opening classification containing over 130,000 key positions, direct access to players, tournaments, middlegame themes, endgames. The difference to Mega 2007 is that Big 2007 does not contain annotated games.

Price: €49.99 incl. VAT – order now!
(€43.09 or US $57.32 without VAT for customers outside the European Union).


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