ChessBase 10's Reference tab - part 2

by ChessBase
10/30/2008 – Our series of columns on the new Reference tab features in ChessBase 10 continues with a column devoted to the statistical pane, which integrates information previously found only in separate ChessBase functions. Learn more about it in the latest ChessBase Workshop.

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In the last ChessBase Workshop column we described the process of designating a reference database and loading a default opening book in ChessBase 10. We then used that opening book to step through the moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5, clicked on the "Reference" tab at the top of the Notation pane, and saw this appear in that pane:


We're going to examine each of this three displays to explain and clarify what you're seeing in them. We'll start with the upper display:


This display integrates a variety of information that was available only in separate displays in previous versions of ChessBase. Although this display was available in ChessBase 9. additional information has been added to it in ChessBase 10. The new version of the display combines elements of the opening tree and the Opening Report, elements which were previously only obtainable separately in those different functions.

Using the ChessBase Opening Encyclopedia 2008 as our reference database, we discover that the board position after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 appears 24,228 times in the database (that information is provided at the top of the display).

The first column shows White's candidate moves in this position (and you can increase the size of the display by grabbing the lower border with the mouse and dragging it downward in order to display more candidates; of course, you can also use the scroll bar button to the right to scroll up and down the list). The remaining columns show specific information regarding those candidate moves and allows the user to sort the information by a variety of criteria.

In the previous illustration, the candidate moves are sorted by the number of games in which they appear; 4.c4 is by far the most common response (appearing 14,138 times), so it appears at the top of the list.

The next column to the right is the score, which I've also called the "success rate". As we've mentioned in previous ChessBase Workshop columns, White wins are scored as 100%, Black wins as 0%, and draws as 50%; ergo, high percentages favor White while low percentages favor Black. This is a constant no matter which side is to move (unlike in the "Openings Book" tab where this information is configurable accoring to which side is to move [discussed three columns ago in ChessBase Workshop]). If you click directly on the "Score" column header, you can resort the list according to the numerical evaluation:


Here we notice an interesting fact about White's fourth move candidates: several of them tend to result in drawn games, but also appear so seldom (two to fourteen games) as to make the statistical percentages suspect (especially so given the fact that we're looking at a data pool of more than 24,000 games).

The next column to the right provides the year in which that move was last played. A column of this nature provides a good argument for keeping your database current. This column is also sortable by clicking on the "Last played" column header.

Moving another column to the right we come to "Best Elo". ChessBase looks at the games in which candidate appears and finds the highest Elo rating of all the players who made the candidate move in question. That highest Elo value is displayed in this column. This information is also sortable by clicking on the column header:


This, however, brings us to my usual cautionary advice about blindly following raw numbers. While I think it's safe to say that an amateur player can make the candidate move 4.Bd3 with no problems, you may well run into positions in which a candidate move scores well but which leads to positions which require a great deal of chess knowledge to play correctly. In other words, there will be times in which a position scores wonderfully well for a grandmaster but which may well lead a club-level player down the road to ruin. The moral is this: don't play moves blindly simply on the basis of "good numbers".

The final two columns concern individuals instead of raw statistical data. "Best players" will provide a short list of IM- or GM-level players who have played a particular candidate move; the software looks at the ratings of all players who have selected and played a candidate and shows the names of the players with the highest Elo ratings.

"Frequent players" serves the same purpose, but instead of selecting and displaying names based on just their Elo rating, the ChessBase software will display the names of high-rated players who play the candidate move more frequently relative to the other players in the database.

The player information in this display is a new feature of ChessBase 10. Previous versions of the program required the user to create an Opening Report to get this information; now you can get that info with a single mouse click as part of this pane, integrated with information from the opening tree. In addition to the "what", "how often", and "(statistically) how good", now you can also have the question "Who?" answered with that single mouse click.

We'll look at more of the "Reference" tab's display in the next ChessBase Workshop. Until then, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments on ChessBase Workshop. No tech support questions, please.

© 2008, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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