ChessBase Opening Encyclopedia 2016

by Nagesh Havanur
10/31/2016 – This DVD is a mix of the old and the new. Players like Magnus Carlsen have blurred the borderline between the two and keep experimenting with new systems. You never know what they will play next. The Opening Encyclopedia 2016 has 5,629,050 games, of which more than 84,000 are annotated. There are 5,900 opening surveys by the finest opening specialists, and 931 theory databases. Review by Nagesh Havanur

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Opening Encyclopedia 2016

Review by Nagesh Havanur

Languages: English, German
ISBN: 978-3-86681-531-5
Delivery: Download, Post
Level: Any
Price: €99.90 – €83.95 without VAT (for customers outside the EU); $90.67 (without VAT)

The last word on opening theory is yet to be written. I must have been looking at opening books for decades – the quest for the Holy Grail is still on, even as novelties are found month after month.

It is just not easy to cope with this flood. One important point is to understand what has gone before and what is going on now. It’s here that this Encyclopedia proves itself useful. It has 5,629,050 games, of which more than 84,000 are annotated. There are 5,900 opening surveys taken from past issues of ChessBase Magazine and 931 theory databases. The authors include some of the best in the field, Avrukh, Marin and Rainer Knaak to mention a few.

This Encyclopedia is a mix of the old and the new. That borderline between the two is now being blurred thanks to the influence of Magnus Carlsen who keeps on experimenting. You never know what he plays next. Take a look at the following game that was played only months ago:

[Event "42nd Olympiad 2016"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2016.09.12"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Ghaem Maghami, Ehsan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2857"] [BlackElo "2566"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2016.09.02"] [WhiteTeam "Norway"] [BlackTeam "Iran"] [WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"] [BlackTeamCountry "IRI"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 e6 4. e3 Bd6 5. Bg3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Nbd2 Bxg3 8. hxg3 Qd6 9. Bb5 Bd7 10. Bxc6 Bxc6 11. Ne5 Qc7 12. Qf3 h6 13. Qf4 Qe7 14. g4 Nh7 15. Qg3 Rg8 16. O-O Nf6 17. Rac1 Rc8 18. c4 dxc4 19. dxc5 Qxc5 20. Ndxc4 Ke7 21. b4 Qxb4 22. Nd3 Ne4 23. Nxb4 Nxg3 24. fxg3 Bb5 25. Rxf7+ Kxf7 26. Nd6+ Ke7 27. Nxc8+ Kd7 28. Nxa7 Ba4 29. Nd3 1-0

What can one say about the game? A good grandmaster capable of far better play, is just blown away. Admittedly, it was not his day. But if you play d4 d5 openings with black, this offbeat system should cause concern. 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 (D02).

It’s here that the Encyclopedia helps. In a fine opening survey Rainer Knaak explains how this system can be met and he follows it up with illustrative games. For reasons of space I am only giving the main line:

[Event "Analysis"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "London System"] [Black "...c5 Variation"] [Result "*"] [ECO "D02"] [Annotator "Rainer Knaak"] [PlyCount "20"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 ({deviating from} 2. c4 {that leads to regular lines of Queen's Gambit.}) 2... Nf6 3. Bf4 {[#]} c5 $1 4. e3 (4. c3 Qb6 {transposes.}) 4... Nc6 ({not} 4... Qb6 $2 5. Nc3 Qxb2 6. Nb5 Na6 7. Rb1 Qxa2 8. Ra1 Qb2 9. Rxa6 $18) 5. c3 Qb6 $1 6. Qc2 ({Theory recommends} 6. Qb3 c4 7. Qc2 Bf5 $1 8. Qc1 (8. Qxf5 $4 Qxb2 $19) 8... e6 $11) 6... Bg4 (6... Bf5 {is easily met by} 7. dxc5) 7. Nbd2 e6 8. Be2 Rc8 9. O-O Be7 (9... cxd4 10. exd4 Nxd4 $2 {runs into} 11. Nxd4 Qxd4 12. Be3 $1 Qb4 13. Rfc1 Qa5 14. b4 Qc7 15. Qa4+ $16) 10. Rac1 O-O $11 *

On occasion there may be no opening survey on a particular line you are looking for. Usually this is a line seen in club play. But it can be troublesome all the same. A case in point is the following: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.a4.

Here it’s possible to take the Scheveningen or the Dragon route by transposition. But if you prefer the Najdorf, you have a problem. It’s no longer possible to play …b7-b5. This Encyclopedia shows, there are other ways of creating counterplay on the queenside:

[Event "Analysis"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "6.a4"] [Black "Sicilian Najdorf"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B92"] [Annotator "Nagesh Havanur"] [PlyCount "36"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. a4 {[#]} e5 {an idea of Isaac Boleslavsky} 7. Nb3 (7. Nf3 Be6 8. Ng5 Qc7 9. Nxe6 fxe6 10. Bg5 Nbd7 11. Be2 Be7 $11) 7... Be6 8. Be2 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Kh1 Nc6 11. f4 exf4 12. Bxf4 Rc8 (12... d5 13. e5 Nd7 14. Nxd5 Ndxe5 15. Nxe7+ Qxe7 $11) 13. Nd4 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 d5 15. e5 Bc5 16. Qd3 Nd7 17. Rad1 d4 (17... Nb6 18. Qg3 $16) 18. Ne4 Be7 $11 *

Admittedly the line in this variation can be reached through Classical Sicilian and aspiring players would do well to study the games of Isaac Boleslavsky who showed that Black need not fear the weakness on d5 after playing …e5 in this opening.

Over all, the surveys are good, with clear explanation and concise analysis. There is also fair play, not underestimating chances on either side.

This Encyclopedia offers a vast network of lines in opening theory. With its help you can work on your repertoire. Meanwhile remember that theory is still evolving and you need to update your arsenal with recent games and analysis from time to time. One way of doing it is to look up the opening surveys that regularly appear in ChessBase Magazine.


More information on the Opening Encyclopedia 2016 in the ChessBase Shop

See also: Openings surveys in ChessBase Magazine 174

Prof. Nagesh Havanur (otherwise known as "chessbibliophile") is a senior academic and research scholar. He taught English in Mumbai for three decades and has now settled in Bangalore, India. His interests include chess history, biography and opening theory. He has been writing on the Royal Game for nearly three decades. His articles and reviews have appeared on several web sites and magazines.


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