ChessBase 12 – from a club/county player's perspective

by ChessBase
1/8/2013 – "Getting a ChessBase program for the first time was for me a bit like buying my first SLR Camera," writes Carl Portman. "You know that it will benefit you if you use it properly, but you have to take time to understand it to maximise its potential." Carl got himself our latest program and took his first steps with it. Here are the impressions of an interesting Internet personality.

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Chessbase 12 Review

By Carl Portman

I admit at the start of this review that there is still much I have to learn about Chessbase 12, because there is so much to it – but I know enough to be able to share my considered thoughts with fellow chess players and anyway learning is fun. These are my views only and I take responsibility for them. There is just so much I could say but I have to be fairly brief so as not to overload the reader.

Question - Why should I get Chessbase? I already have Fritz.

The first big question for me (and I know many other chess players) is ‘why should I get Chessbase when I already have Fritz?’ This depends very much upon what you want from your chess. For many people Fritz is enough, because you can (amongst other things)...

  • Play against the computer at various levels
  • Play online at
  • Create databases of games from around the world past and present
  • Input your own and other games for analysis and reference
  • Have tutorials
  • Use the training facilities to improve

So what will Chessbase 12 give you in addition to the above? Firstly I should say that it can be purchased in different packages and your ‘outcome’ will depend on what you choose. The starter, Mega and Premium can all be viewed at the ChessBase website.

If you already have ChessBase 11 it can be upgraded at a reduced price. Let’s say that you take the plunge and begin with the starter package. For that you will get the ChessBase 12 program, a big database with over five million games – and you can download games online until the end of December 2013. Also you get access to the online database and a half year subscription to the excellent ChessBase Magazine. What a great start! All of this for the price of a small service on your car. It’s chess for chess fans and if you are able to you should treat yourself and begin 2013 with a new chess adventure. If you want to add to this there is much more and the details are given at the end of this article.

The Chessbase 12 Interface – logical and intuitive

ChessBase is about a chess journey. You can’t play a game against ChessBase like you can Fritz. It is more of a preparation and chess management tool. If you are really serious about improving your chess and you want to be better able to prepare against opponents, then ChessBase is worth its weight in gold.

There are some things I am still to understand or use such as the ‘engine cloud’, which is deep analysis done by several engines working in parallel. There’s ‘similarity search’, where endings can now be looked for with just one click and displayed according to the position on the board. There’s Deep Analysis which generates many variations and you just leave it running as long as you like. There’s so much more.

Chess Publishing

Is it more than just a big database? Well, the answer is yes, especially with regard to chess publishing. You can do things with ChessBase 12 that you cannot with Fritz, like publish a game online (for example to Facebook) with just a couple of clicks – it’s fantastic.

For example the game below I took at random from the Correspondence database (but it could have been one of my own games to share with friends). I simply clicked on publish to web and this screen comes up. You click on the Facebook logo and in a few seconds you will be publishing your game there – magic!

I will be working out how to publish a game direct to my own chess page on my site (see below), but one step at a time for now! You can see that it actually works by clicking on this link.

When you have a position on the board you can with one click connect to the ChessBase database online to see if the identical position is there. This is a great tool for analysis. As a chess coach it simply means that it is easier for me to share work with students and other folk. I am clear that there are many more publishing possibilities in addition to the above and many ways to share chess information online with other people.

Preparing for an opponent

Now let’s say I want to prepare for an opponent. Okay, this is based on the presumption that your opponent actually has any of their games in the database, but you’ll be surprised how many do. I used the ‘Big Database 2012’ that comes with the starter package and clicked the ‘Prepare against’ button (shown right).

Next, I looked for the person I wanted and in this case a list of 159054 players comes up to scroll through. I now had have several options as shown in the buttons below…

I was black against this person so I clicked on ‘Prepare against white’ found my player (who shall remain unnamed) and his games as white came up – so I immediately had a good idea what he played. You can see below that I might reasonably save loads of time looking at 1.d4 openings because he almost never played it.

Of course this does not mean that he has not played it recently, but it’s a good indicator of a player’s style. This is just one aspect that I will find useful and I will of course use a lot.

Allied to this I can download all new games instantly from online for the next 12 months without having to scratch around various site which takes up valuable time. The program is very intuitive and I think based on Microsoft interface so all the buttons are there, you just have to play around with them to get a feel for how it all comes together. But as I said that’s all part of the fun.

Saving time

The thing about ChessBase is it saves so much time. Here’s a fine example. I have a large chess library. Often I just pull down a book or magazine and rummage around in the dustbin of history. My last chosen tome was the British Chess Magazine from December 1996. In it is a game between Ansell-Crouch, and I was interested in the French Defence variation played. I like to add such games to my personal training database. To do this I have to type the moves in and save it etc. This time I thought, hold on perhaps the game is already in my huge Megabase 2013. I looked under ‘Ansell’ and sure enough the game was there! All I had to do was copy it into my training database. Done in an instant – how cool. I should say that optional Mega Database 13 has the same 5.4 million games as the Big Database, but that over 67,000 have annotations and one year free updates.

Now you might argue that if you have Fritz alone you can build a database and you might (might!) have had that game in it. Sure, but you have to mess about downloading tournaments all the time. With the Mega Database 2013 you get free uploads for the year and someone else has done all the work. Marvellous.

My conclusions

As I said at the start, whether or not you decide to procure Chessbase 12 will depend on several factors, not least financial. But I am able to put the cost in some sort of perspective when one considers just how much a few rounds of golf are or even a day at a Premiership football match. Once purchased you have this resource for months – years even, and it will help you develop your game if you put in the effort. I definitely made a good decision to run ChessBase in addition to Fritz, so it is not either/or for me. I have played in several tournaments and even league matches where opponents have ‘found me’ in ChessBase and prepared a few lines, giving them (I felt) a distinct advantage. This in turn encouraged me to try to find some new opening moves which is good for my chess development.

If you want to improve your game, if you want to be better prepared for chess tournaments and league games, if you want an outstanding chess tool to help you as a coach or if you are publishing online, then I have no hesitation in recommending ChessBase 12.

For me it is a brand new world but one in which I embrace wholeheartedly. These days I use my SLR cameras without a thought, because over time I have become so used to them. I am sure that this will be the case with ChessBase, and I am now an avid user. Each time I turn it on there is something new to find and I look forward to the challenge of trying to improve my own game as a result.

I should finally say that the support from the ChessBase team is nothing short of outstanding. If you have a problem and you cannot resolve it despite going through the help notes that come with the program, then the team will always sort you out. That’s my experience at least. Many thanks indeed to Steffen Giehring and his colleagues for their marvellous customer service.

If you shop around for Chessbase you can get a competitive price. There are many outlets, easily found online. Buy it and enjoy it. Below I give the official product information released from ChessBase.

My Chess CV

I am proud to have achieved at least some things in chess, if not in the rest of my life. This includes...

  • Charlton School Chess Champion (my proudest ever chess moment)
  • Member of seven championship winning teams in Shropshire
  • Played for Shropshire County team many times
  • Shropshire County Individual Champion 1998
  • British Chess Federation County Master title achieved in 1996
  • Played for Oxfordshire County team
  • Organised many high profile events including simultaneous displays by Lev Polugayevsky, Jonathan Speelman, Nigel Davies, Daniel King, Nigel Short (lecture and simul in 2012)
  • Won prizes in several tournaments including in Germany where I played in the Niedersachsen league for three years
  • Played Viktor Korchnoi in a simul at the London Chess Classic 2010
  • I am the Chess Correspondent for the Ministry of Defence
  • Captain of the Ministry of Defence team for the CSSC games
  • I am the Editor of the Combined Services Chess Association Magazine 'OPEN FILE'.
  • Runner Up Victor Ludorum trophy 2012 (Combined Services)
  • English Chess Federation Chess Coach
  • Chess in Schools and the Community Coach
  • Member of the United Kingdom team in the 2012 NATO Chess Championships in France
  • Currently playing actively in the Oxfordshire, Leamington and 4NCL leagues.

Editorial note

We (the editors at ChessBase) have spent some time – actually quite a lot of time – on Carl's web site, and looked at many pages not directly related to chess. Here are some we would like to share with you:

  • Photography – "Photography gives me the opportunity to interact and co-exist with the world around me. Life through a lens brings many pleasures and I believe a wider appreciation if life."

  • Aston Villa – "Just saying the name aloud makes me shiver. Ever since I was able to walk I have supported this great club. It's not just a football team, it is a way of life."

  • Natural History – "I love the natural world. It is a wealth of colour, information and wonder. I never cease to be curious about everything from the smallest ant to the tallest tree. We humans can learn much from nature - respecting it would be a good start."

  • My ICD – "A lot of people keep things medical in confidence, and I totally understand that. However this is me and I figure that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by sharing information and experiences."

  • Poetry and Prose – One of the most wonderful things about being human is the power to express our thoughts and feelings through language in written and verbal form.

  • Music – If music be the food of love, stand by for a good rogering...

  • Carl's Planet – "Welcome to my world. In a world where so many people are ignorant of the beauty of nature I am lucky to be able to appreciate it, to be curious. From a cockroach to a dolphin from a stinging nettle to a Brugmansia I find the wonder in everything." (Official web site)

ChessBase is a stand-alone chess database that has become the standard throughout the world. Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door.

What can you do with ChessBase?

Enter, annotate and save games, including variations, text commentary, spoken comments, embedded pictures, soundtracks and even video!

  • Analyse positions with GM-strength engines like Fritz & Crafty (both included).
  • Retrieve games according to opening, player or tournament.
  • Generate tournament cross-tables and statistics of players or openings.
  • Generate a player’s dossier containing all information from the database.
  • Find the new move (theoretical novelty) in a game with just one mouse-click. • Find out which lines are currently fashionable in the position on the board.
  • Generate a comprehensive openings report with main and critical lines, plans and most important games.
  • Search for material distribution, positions, manoeuvres, tactical themes, checkmates and stalemates.
  • Access to the comprehensive ChessBase online database (6 million games - constantly updated)
  • Easy emailing of positions, games or databases. Single click publishing of games on the internet.
  • Create a repertoire database, ChessBase then shows you any new games which involve an opening variation that you play!
  • When you prepare for a specific opponent, you can see at a glance what openings they play and when they modified their repertoire.

New in ChessBase 12

Online player encyclopaedia regularly updated with new Elo ratings/player photos • Access to LiveBook, the Engine Cloud and Let's Check (see Fritz 13 for details) • New “Deep Analysis” feature: ChessBase generates an analysis tree with the best candidate moves and replies. This tree changes dynamically as with time weaker variations are dropped. New Search Facilities: You can now search for similar games to the game on screen. Ask ChessBase to find you games with a similar pawn structure, endgame theme and even manoeuvres! ChessBase can now automatically shows all previous games in an opening by the players of the active game all classified according to the level of similarity with the original game. It makes use of the most recent games from the online database.

Program packages

Chessbase 12 – Starter Package

  • ChessBase 12
  • Integrated CB online database with more than 5 million games
  • Access to player encyclopaedia with over 30,000 pictures
  • Language: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, German
  • plus: ChessBase Big Database 2013. Automatic update until 31st December 2013
  • plus: ChessBase Magazine subscription, half year, 3 issues DVD + print
  • On DVD-ROM or download

179.90 EUR incl. 19% VAT

ChessBase 12 – Mega Package

  • ChessBase 12
  • Integrated CB online database with more than 5 million games
  • Access to player encyclopaedia with over 30,000 pictures
  • Language: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, German
  • plus: ChessBase Mega Database 2013 + automatic update until 31st December 2013
  • plus: ChessBase Magazine subscription for one year (6 issues)
  • On DVD-ROM or download

Euro 269.90 EUR incl. 19% VAT

ChessBase 12 – Premium Package

  • ChessBase 12
  • Integrated CB online database with more than 5 million games
  • Access to player encyclopaedia with over 30,000 pictures
  • Language: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, German
  • plus: ChessBase Mega Database 2013 + automatic update until 31st December 2013
  • plus: ChessBase Magazine subscription for one year (6 issues)
  • plus: DVD Fritz Endgame turbo 3 (9 DVDs)
  • plus: ChessBase CORR 2013
  • plus: 1 year Premium membership
  • Only on DVD-ROM

    Euro 369.90 incl. 19% VAT

CB 12 – Upgrade from ChessBase 11

  • ChessBase 12
  • Integrated CB online database with more than 5 million games
  • Access to player encyclopaedia with over 30,000 pictures
  • Language: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, German
  • On DVD-ROM or download

    Euro 99.00 incl. 19% VAT (CB 11 serial number required)

Programm ChessBase 12 Download

  • Integrated CB online database with more than 5 million games
  • Access to player encyclopaedia with over 30 000 pictures
  • Language: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, German
  • Only as download

    Euro 99.00 incl. 19% VAT

System requirements

Minimum: Pentium III 1 GHz, 512 MB RAM – Windows Vista, XP (Service Pack 3) – DirectX9 graphics card with 256 MB RAM – DVD-ROM drive – Windows Media Player 9 and Internet access to activate the program,, Let's Check, Engine Cloud and updates.

Order ChessBase 12 in our ChessBase Shop

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