ChessBase Magazine 147 review

by Albert Silver
5/5/2012 – Explaining he has had a love affair with ChessBase Magazine ever since its historic inclusion of multimedia material, Albert Silver takes a look at the latest edition, noting its evolution and growth. With fifteen openings articles, endgame articles, move-by-move testing, game comments by the world's best, and over three hours of video material on openings, endgames and more, what is not to like?

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ChessBase Magazine 147 review

By Albert Silver

I have had a love affair with ChessBase Magazine for a very long time, but frankly, I am not alone. It first really came to my attention when I  found out there were videos included in the CD version back in 1997 on the Kasparov-Deep Blue. It gave me goosebumps to see video of an event I had been green with envy others had the privilege of seeing live. The trend set forth a revolution, and suddenly CBM was no longer a pioneering digital curiosity, it was a must have. The following issues brought further videos, though they were not quite as they are today, seamlessly integrated with the games. No, back then you would play through a game, see a multimedia symbol next to a move, and when you got to it, a video would pop open with some excerpt showing Anand or some other player commenting. Eventually, they hit on the idea of tying moves and video together, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The advent of the DVD was obviously essential to break the space limitations a CD had when dealing with multimedia files, but it alone did not guarantee the magazine would evolve as it did. Today it is not only the foremost of its kind, it is the standard all others need to compare themselves to.

Consider the database screen alone:

A plethora of icons shows the rich content

This was my first CBM obtained via the download service in the shop, and my concern was that I would be missing out on the print magazine, albeit receiving the full issue within an hour or two of purchase as opposed to eight to nine days by post. This was soon put to rest as it came with it in PDF version for direct perusal or for printing if such was my taste.

I will not claim to have gone through each and every thing on the DVD, as opposed to usual reviews, simply because there is just too much content to review. However, there really is something for everyone here. If you are new to the magazine and unsure where to start, there are two introductory videos, one by GM Karsten Mueller overviewing the contents and openings, and another by GM Dorian Ragozenco commenting on the tournaments and games covered.

If you are looking for tournament games analyzed by the best players in the world, you will be very well served. In CBM 147, the star tournaments are Wijk aan Zee, the Gibraltar Open, and the Aeroflot Open. In it you will find games chosen and commented by Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Sergey Karjakin, Teimor Radjabov, Loek Van Wely, Victor Bologan, Liem Le Quang, Krishnan Sasikiran, and even Hou Yifan detailing her historic win over Judit Polgar.

Magnus Carlsen chose his win over Gashimov as the one he liked best

If you enjoy those move-by-move tests, GM Daniel King has prepared one where each move is a test position, all with commentary and grades for solutions chosen. Like neat opening traps to spring on your opponent? GM Rainer Knaak presents a nasty one in video from the Exchange Slav that results from natural looking moves, precisely the kind a careless opponent might fall for.

A lesson in tactics is there with 31 assorted positions from tournaments, and Peter Wells, who has commanded the highly-praised Strategy articles for over ten years, discusses the sticky question “Just what do we mean by a harmonious position”? in part one of a promising topic. For endgame wizardy and instruction, there is the steady hand of expert GM Karsten Mueller, who analyzes no fewer than 38 chosen positions, including seven videos which he presents in over 40 minutes.

Finally there are the openings, and again there is a wealth of information for the consumer. To begin with there are thirteen openings surveys covering offbeat lines such as the King’s Indian Torre attack, to more common openings such as the French Advance by Moskalenko, author of the praised ‘The Flexible French’, and original works such as the Grivas’s Grivas Sicilian which has been the subject of a book and a series spanning several issues of CBM.

Shirov undertakes a theoretical survey of the incredibly complicated (and exciting)
Botvinnik System of the last seven to eight months.

This is hardly all though, as there are also the openings videos, and the content is vast. Alexei Shirov brings a video lasting over 50 minutes in which he discusses the chaotic Botvinnik System and overviews the theory that has been played over the last seven to eight months. GM Leonid Kritz also brings a video lasting 18 minutes on the Albin Counter Gambit and some new ideas that have kept it alive. Finally there is the first part of a video by IM Andrew Martin that lasts over 32 minutes on an unusual system in the French he dubs the Eco-French which will be continued in the next issues of CBM.

Finally, it bears mentioning there is also a generous section on correspondence chess with information on where to play and how, as well as a number of games, several of which were commented by the correspondence GMs Roberto Alvarez and Juan Sebastian Morgado.

In view of the sheer quantity of quality content covering so many areas, it seems almost unnecessary to state that it is good value for the $22 it costs. If you love chess, and have never indulged in an issue of ChessBase Magazine, much less a subscription, you are really missing out. Each issue comes with ChessBase reader, so even if you do not own ChessBase or Fritz, you can access the content just fine.

ChessBase Magazine 147 can be purchased at the ChessBase Shop.

A taster subscription with three issues and a bonus DVD can also be purchased

Copyright ChessBase

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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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