Getting the most out of ChessBase 15: a step-by-step guide #8 – Reference Database

by Nick Murphy
7/8/2020 – ChessBase 15 is the most powerful chess database management software on the planet, but to get the best out of all that potential, the first thing you need is a large, up to date Reference Database. Nick Murphy takes you step by step through setting and updating your reference database.

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What is a Reference Database?
The reference database is the standard database used for searches, classification, opening reports, novelty detection, etc. This will typically be your largest database; I have Mega Database designated as my reference database (of course Big Database is also an excellent choice).

Open the main ChessBase 15 window, and right-click on the icon for the database you’d like to designate as your reference database. From the menu that pops up, click "Properties..."

This will bring up the Properties window. Here you can set the type of database, which will determine the icon that is associated with it. However, we are interested today in the box where it says "Reference-DB". Put a check in that box, and you will see that "Reference" will automatically be selected from the long list of database types. 

Click "OK" and you’ll notice that the icon for your database has now changed.

Updating the reference database.
[it should be obvious – but you do need to be using a computer that is connected to the internet for all this to work!]. 
Now we’ve set the reference database, we need to update it. 
First, make sure you are logged into your ChessBase account within ChessBase 15. If you are not, then ChessBase 15 will prompt you to log in when you first start the program; or you can do it from the "ChessBase Account" section of the Home tab in the main ChessBase 15 screen.

Now, to begin the update process, click on the "New Games" button at the bottom left of the main ChessBase 15 screen.

This opens the games update window.

Now you will need your "Online-Update Reference Database 2020" code. If you bought Mega Database, it will either be in your online ChessBase shop account, or within the DVD case, depending on what format you purchased. If you do not have Mega Database, then you can purchase a code separately from the ChessBase shop here

(Hint: If you have already copied the activation code before reaching the code entry screen, then ChessBase will automatically paste it into the appropriate areas for you]

Next you need to activate your subscription. Click on the "Activate subscription" button on the ribbon.


Here you will see the code entry window. 

This will be familiar to you from installing ChessBase 15 originally. 

Enter your twenty-five character code carefully, five characters per box (as we did during installation). Then enter the four-character code from the green box into the box just below it (that will be unique for you each time – not the one "DEBK" that you see in my example above). When you’re done, click "OK".

When the activation is successful, you will see in the game update window that you are now subscribed to the "Update Megabase 2020".

You start the update process by clicking the "Download Games" button at the top left. 

That’s it! All you need to do is wait for the process to complete, and you can be safe in the knowledge that you now have the most up-to-date version of your reference database that is humanly possible. 

It is worth being aware though, that depending on your internet connection, your computer, and how many games you are updating, the process can take some time (up to an hour in extreme cases). So, it is best to update your reference database plenty of time BEFORE you need to use it. If you have a game against Caruana that begins in five minutes – you should probably just use the games that you already have!

Also, it is good to know that if you have previous subscriptions from an earlier version of Mega Database, you can transfer them using the handy "Transfer Subscriptions" button. Though if you now have a fully updated Big or Mega Database 2020, it already includes all the games from previous updated versions of Big or Mega (2019, 2018 etc). You can go ahead and delete old versions of those databases. However, if you added any games or annotations to those databases independently of the ChessBase games update service, then be aware that those will be lost if you delete them without backing them up or transferring them yourself. This is why I always recommend that people don’t add their own games / annotations to the Mega Database, but keep them in a separate database.

Once you have done this process once, updating when they release further games will be much simpler and quicker, so it’s definitely worth doing this just after you’ve first installed your Mega Database or whatever large database you use. Then you can sit back and enjoy the very latest up to date games.

Nick Murphy is an actor, chess enthusiast, and an acknowledged chess-software expert. Living in London; he has co-authored three DVDs for ChessBase alongside International Master Lorin D'Costa. As well as authoring hundreds of videos on how to get the most from your ChessBase software.


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