ChessBase 10's Reference tab - part 3

by ChessBase
11/3/2008 – The ChessBase Workshop series on the improved Reference tab functions of ChessBase 10 continues with a look at variation analysis -- a way to get a statistical analysis of a number of variations with a simple mouse click. Find out more in the newest ChessBase Workshop.

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In the last two ChessBase Workshop columns we've been examining the informtion provided by the "Reference" tab in ChessBase 10's Notation pane (so please go back and read those two columns if you've not already done so). Using the database and opening tree from the ChessBase Opening Encyclopedia 2008, we've been looking at White's candidate moves after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5. We've clicked through these moves using the game tree (with the "Openings book" tab selected in the game window), then clicked on the "Reference" tab at the top of the Notation pane.

Last week we looked at the upper display in the pane. Now we'll talk about the middle pane of the three displayed:


Before we proceed, we need to clarify a particular point. Although there are similarities between this display and what you might typically see in the Engine pane, nothing you see in this display is the result of analysis or calculation by a chess engine. All of the numerical values which you'll see in this pane are the result of a straight statistical calculation of the data contained in the opening book you've selected. In other words, this is straight bean counting, plain and simple, which you could do manually for yourself from a database of games (given enough time and patience).

You'll see a number of variations displayed. For each of these variations, you'll see a value after "N="; this value is the number of games in the source database (from which the opening tree/book was created) in which that variation appeared. So, in our illustration above, we see that the continuation 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 was played in 1,299 games in Opening Encyclopedia 2008 (from which the opening book we're using was created).

The percentage provided for each variation is the success rate, always given from White's perspective (in other words, high percentages mean that the variation was better for White while low numbers mean that the line of play was better for Black). Here again it's useful to reiterate that this is based on the results of the games in the database/information in the opening book, not on a chess engine's calculations.

You can increase and decrease the number of variations displayed by using the "magnifying glass" buttons on the right-hand side of this display:


The use should be pretty evident: the magnifying glass showing the "+" sign causes one more variation to be displayed for each time the button is clicked. Every time you click the "-" button, the number of displayed variations will be decreased by one.

If you want to save these variations into the current game notation (accessible by clicking the "Notation" tab), you can right-click in this pane to get a popup menu. "Copy to notation" copies the topmost listed variation into the game notation. "Copy all to notation" copies all of the listed variations into the game notation.

A third button appears on the righthand side of this display:


Clicking on this ".." button produces the following dialogue:


This allows you to set the percentages for the initial display of variations. Setting higher values for "%" means that fewer variations will be displayed in this pane when the "Reference" tab is clicked (think of it this way -- the higher the percentage, the higher the number of games in which a variation needs to appear, hence the lower the number of displayed variations).

"Line length" in this display controls (obviously) how many moves of each variation will be displayed, with higher numbers resulting in longer variations. But there's a tradeoff in using these two settings: the more information you choose to have displayed, the more time will be required for the ChessBase software to generate (i.e. "beancount") and display it. Play around and experiment with these settings until you find a good balance between the amount of information displayed and the amount of time required to collate it.

The "Fonts" buttons let you control the type of font and the size used to display the information in this pane.

Finally we come to the "Critical line"displayed in the information bar at the bottom of this pane:


This is the "critical" variation, based on the statistics contained in the games/opening book. If both White and Black play the moves with the best statistical results (in other words, the "best line of play" based on each played making the moves which obtained best results for them), this is the variation which will result. Also displayed are the statistical result (given from White's viewpoint) and the total number of games in which this variation appeared.

Next time in ChessBase Workshop we're going to look at a brand-spanking-new feature in ChessBase10 which has been a popular user request which has been added to the software. 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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