Tactical Analysis: At home and in Live Broadcasts

by Albert Silver
3/17/2017 – Among the several new features introduced in ChessBase 14, possibly the most unexpected was the automated full-game annotation function called ‘Tactical Analysis’. This sort of feature had remained exclusive to the Fritz family of programs until now. Not only do users get to enjoy this, but it is now a service offered for free in the live event coverage. Learn all about it in this How-To guide.

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While there is no question that a nicely annotated game by a master or grandmaster will always outstrip any automatic analysis feature by a program, here are a few reasons why you should want to have it and use it:

When reviewing a game of ours or others, the first thing we look for are the big swings and turning points. AKA blunders of moves played or missed. You can review these manually, but for the most part, running a full once-over with a function like Tactical Analysis will be far quicker. We tend to dwell on some moves more than others, and the next thing we know it we spent 5-10 minutes reviewing a game that may easily have lasted far less time. Computers and engines are so advanced now that even one second per move can yield more than enough depth to catch all the obvious misses.

Consider the position below taken from a recent game between grandmasters. White played the best move 22. e6! and got a large advantage. Komodo 10.3 on a fairly old desktop quad-core processor reaches 19 plies in one second, though it did not need to analyze that deeply to catch it.

Sevian,S - Howell,D (Winter Classic 2017-A)


Remember that Deep Junior and Deep Fritz were already holding the likes of Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov at bay with weaker hardware and software in the mid-2000s, and even this lightning analysis is already beyond what those programs facing the legends were capable of then at standard time controls.

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First let’s take a look at the output of Tactical Analysis to get an idea of what to expect. In it you will see moves played, moves that were correctly avoided, as well as Quiz Positions to test your skills on.

Sevian,S - Howell,D (Tactical Analysis with Komodo 10.3)

The end result is that you get a clear view of what the key moments were in the game and what the best choices were. The quiz positions are always a bit of a mixed bag, with some being ridiculously easy, and others much less so.

For people annotating games for a site (author of this article raises hand), these may not replace the proper notes, but they do provide an excellent starting point to work with.

However, there is even better news: even if you do not own ChessBase 14, you can actually enjoy the results for games being broadcast on Playchess, as most are analyzed and published for free. More on that below.

How to use Tactical Analysis in ChessBase 14

Accessing Tactical Analysis is extremely simple. If you want to analyze a game or several, from a database, click on the database (or open it)...

...then select the game(s) you want from the list. To select more than one game, hold down the Ctrl key and the click on the titles one by one. Right-click on the highlighted game(s) and select Tactical Analysis.

Alternately, if you have a game open in front of you, just click on the Analysis tab at the top, and then select Tactical Analysis

A small pane will open and you choose your options. They are fairly self-explanatory. Just bear in mind that the time is per half-move, so if a game lasted 30 moves, that means 60 to analyze (30 for White, and 30 for Black). ‘Replace’ means it will substitute a game in the database with the newly analyzed one. If you do not check this, it will save it as a separate game.

Tactical Analysis in the Live Broadcasts

If you enjoy watching the games with the new live broadcast page...

...the good news is that most high-rated games will feature Tactical Analysis while the game is running and after.

You can save the games to your computer, not to mention check previous rounds, all with the Tactical Analysis.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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