Kasparov on 25 Years of ChessBase

by ChessBase
6/8/2011 – He was there at the start – actually before that, when a chess database was just an idea in the minds of a few enthusiasts. And when he saw the first prototype Garry Kasparov immediately pushed for its completion. For the 25th anniversary of ChessBase he sent us a very moving statement, recorded in his study in Moscow, describing the birth of what he calls the ChessBase generation.

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Garry Kasparov on 25 Years of ChessBase

ChessBase is twenty-five years old. Hard to imagine. That was so long ago, when I shared with my German friends an idea of using computers databases to organise chess games — and also to give us a tool to improve the quality of our opening preparation. I have to admit I didn’t expect that Frederic and Matthias would do it so quickly and with such German precision.

My chess career can be divided in a pre-ChessBase era and the period when I pioneered the use of databases and software engines for opening preparation and for checking my ideas. In 1995, in my match against Anand, the famous game ten was the first time I used an opening novelty checked by a — not very sophisticated, by modern standards — chess engine, that gave me confidence that the idea was very good.

I think it is very hard for young players today to imagine that we lived at a time when we had to put all our ideas into dusty notebooks, to have all these notes and to look for the information, making cuts from the magazines, trying to obtain any information available. And it was not in the Nineteenth Century. It was even after Bobby Fischer left chess, in the seventies. I remember in the late seventies Tigran Petrosian was complaining, he was annoyed about the Chess Informant and all these new magazines, telling us younger players that chess is losing its beauty because there is too much preparation being done, there is so much information you should look for. It was really a different game he used to play twenty years before. And he called my generation the “Chess Informator generation”. And when I look today at the top one hundred list, of the best players, I guess that more than half of the players from that list – the top one hundred list from FIDE rating – they were some of them born, and most of them learned how to play chess after the creation of ChessBase. So I think this generation can be called the “ChessBase generation”.

When I left chess, when I stopped playing chess, in March 2005, instead of having all these books with special notes, and notebooks with all sorts of clippings and cuts, I had just one database, more than ten Megabytes, and over 17,000 separated analyses. I am talking only about my analysis database. Of course I had other databases, but they were available for everyone else. So I witnessed this dramatic shift from chess in the pre-ChessBase era to modern chess. I applaud this progress, which made our game far more sophisticated, far more advanced. And speaking of advanced, we should remember Advanced Chess, in which chess players can team up with computers, facing each other in this very strange but explosive and productive combination.

And of course we have the Internet, and the ability to play on the Internet, to watch games on the Internet, to hear the commentaries. So all these things that are so natural today, for chess professionals and chess amateurs, they were very, very new, and mostly dreams twenty-five years ago. And thanks to ChessBase, for making these dreams a reality.

So my first message is of course congratulations, it is a superb job, well done. But from my own experience, I can tell you that complacency may threaten your success. Success very often is the enemy of future success. With all the work you have done ChessBase turned into some kind of Microsoft in the world of chess. So I wish – and this is my second message – that you will move on, by doing your great job, but creating something new and elevating chess computers, chess programs, the virtual world of chess to a new level. Changing the world once is not enough.

So I wish you never-ending success – good luck!

A note to Garry Kasparov from the ChessBase team: We appreciate your final admonition and will take it very seriously. Will you give us three months to introduce the new revolution in chess and computers?

Anniversary articles for 25 years of ChessBase

ChessBase is 25
19.05.2011 – It is difficult to determine the exact date when ChessBase was born. Was it when a science journalist and a future World Champion discussed computer databases? Or when a very talented programmer started to actually write one? We think it was when the two showed the prototype to the World Champion and decided, at his urging, to commercialise the product. That was May 19, 1986.

Greetings from Pál Benkö for 25 years of ChessBase
20.05.2011 – "Congratulations to ChessBase on your 25th anniversary! Your news page is the the first thing I look at every day when I go on the Internet. You do such wonderful work. Keep up your great service for the whole chess world." Heartening words from legendary great chess player, theorist, author and problem composer – who in addition sent six anniversary puzzles for our readers.

ChessBase is 25: Birthday greetings from Anand
01.06.2011 – Our company was born on May 19, 1986, twenty-five years ago, and on May 19, 2011 one of our most loyal friends, World Champion Viswanathan Anand, logged into the Playchess server and sent us a ten-minute birthday greeting. It was quite moving to be reminded of the early days by one who was present at the time – and who has remained a close friend ever since. Must-watch historical video.

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