The easiest way to create an opening repertoire

by Martin Fischer
10/18/2022 – The successful series "How does a chess professional analyse with ChessBase" with Regina Pokorna had shown the final episode on Sunday on the German ChessBase YouTube site. On the other hand, "How to prepare for a tournament like a professional chess player" with Lilit Mkrtchian has just started. In the first episode she shows us how she creates an opening repertoire, and has accumulated almost a terrabyte of opening data over the decades. Martin Fischer now shows us the version that ChessBase originally intended, so that amateur players also have an easier time starting their own repertoire.

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1. Introduction

When I saw the first part of Lilit Mkrtchian's video in which she deals with building up her opening repertoire, I realized once again what one of the most serious differences is between a professional player and an amateur when dealing with chess. It is simply the time and work that the professional (a lot in each case) and the amateur (rather little in each case) can invest. I, for one, have neither the time nor the self-discipline to store several thousand databases, files, on my computer in such a way that I can quickly find them again if necessary.

Nevertheless, I naturally want to manage my opening repertoire, have it under control, build it up sensibly and maintain it sensibly. Especially because time is short. This is possible with the functions of ChessBase and around the opening repertoire.

The most striking advantage in terms of numbers is that you can get by with two databases, the White opening repertoire and the Black opening repertoire. I delegate further organisational work to the programme!

2. Repertoire-Databases

For this article, I will start from scratch and create two corresponding databases. After I have created two corresponding databases, Ich(me)-White and Ich-Black, and the corresponding icons appear on my screen, I select the two icons, right-click on them and define Repertoire Database White and Repertoire Database Black under Properties.

Being a "repertoire database" technically highlights the two and makes them targeted and easier to approach for ongoing work. I will explain this in more detail in the course of the article. Visually, the property as a repertoire database can be recognized by a special symbol, the crossed scimitars:

3. Add repertoire

After you have created the databases in this way, you now have to fill them with content. It has proven useful for me to save individual opening variations instead of individual games. If necessary, I can edit and expand them, depending on how my own repertoire or opening theory develops.

3.1 Special features of an opening database

A look at the list of games in the repertoire database makes it clear that it makes sense to focus here on the information about the content of the variant when saving the games (variants), not so much on the players involved.

A special feature here is the use of the tournament designation. Opening variants are not participants in tournaments. Therefore, the corresponding database field was "misused" to give the games an order number. The system of order numbers was chosen in such a way that new variants that are added can be classified appropriately. When saving, they are initially placed at the end of the list, but with a click on the "Tournament" tab

a sorting can be made according to the order numbers. However, this sorting must then be fixed so that it is available the next time the database is called up. A corresponding function can be found under the tab field Lots and here Fix Sorting.

The easiest way to change or correct the designation of a variation (game) in the game list is to highlight this game in the game list and then press the F2 key. The menu for editing the characteristics of a game appears.

The amount of information displayed in the game list has been adjusted. For example, the information about the Elo numbers is missing in this list. Such an adjustment can be achieved by going to the corresponding tab and pressing the right mouse button. In the menu that then pops up, you select what you want to do:

4. Repertoire report

Another important function opened up by the repertoire database is the possibility of repertoire reports on specific databases. The programme searches the database for games relevant to my repertoire.

4.1 Preparation - Marking critical opening positions

If I mark a certain opening position as important (blue), then I can search every ChessBase database on the computer to see whether it contains games with the "blue" opening position. The games found can then be integrated into the existing opening repertoire at the appropriate place with the help of a few mouse clicks. This important function will be illustrated by means of a concrete example:

In this variant, the move 7.Be2 is to be marked as a critical opening move (blue move). This is achieved by moving the mouse to the move and then clicking on the function "Mark move blue" under Report.

After this change in the annotation, save the game again and the move is marked as a critical opening move.

As already indicated, with the help of the critical opening moves there is now the possibility of having the programme search databases to see whether there are games in this database that are important for my repertoire. A typical example of use is to search the weekly mega update databases to see if there is anything new in my opening repertoire.

Mega Database 2022

The ChessBase Mega Database 2022 is the premiere chess database with over 9.2 million games from 1560 to 2021 in high quality.

4.2 Download updated datenbases

To do this, it is first necessary to connect to the update server. To do this, click on the "New games" feature in the ChessBase start window.

In the following selection question, it is very important to select the option "Classic view".

After connecting to the server, select the current year, in the example 2022, and here the current database, in the example 49.

Then click on "Load selected entries". After a short time a selection box appears and here you select "Keep as single database". You can also do this by selecting several current databases and downloading them. After the loading process is complete, close the server window and you are back at ChessBase.

4.3 Select database for repertoire report

Now you have to select the downloaded update database for the repertoire report. In the default setting of the programme, it is located in the folder .../Documents/ChessBase/Download/Subscription.

4.4 Start repertoire report

Now click on Report and select the function "White Repertoire Report". When you start this, the database is scanned and compared to see if there are games with the critical opening positions.

The programme then creates an HTML file in which the games to which this applies are listed.

As a user, you now have the opportunity to look at each of the games and decide whether you need them for your own opening repertoire. If this is not the case, you simply close the game again and continue with the next game.

4.4 Transferring games into your own repertoire

If you come to the conclusion that you want to transfer the game into your own repertoire, the easiest way is to look again under Report. Now, however, transfer the game to the White repertoire (or to the Black repertoire) according to the feature. If you click on this function, a new menu item opens. On the one hand, you have the option of saving the game found as a new game in the "White Opening Repertoire Database". Or you have the option of integrating the game found into an already existing game (or variation).

In this way, one can work through the hit list resulting from the opening report and then have an up-to-date opening repertoire. Of course, it still makes sense to rework the entries, especially to ensure that what is shown is concentrated on the opening or is at least of sufficient general interest.

Tip: If you have a larger opening repertoire with a correspondingly large number of critical opening moves, the hit list can be very long.

4.5 save html-file.

In this case, it is advisable to save the HTML file as a text file in order to process it completely in several steps.

It is important to select the "Save as" function, as only then will you be given the option to select a database.

4.6 Update analogue opening books

Tip two: If the opening repertoire is based on an opening book that is no longer quite up to date, it is possible to use the Opening Report function to check whether there are any important developments in the games. Let's assume that the stated editorial deadline for the opening book is 31 December 2018. Then it is helpful to filter out all the games from the years 2019-2022 from the Mega database using the search mask and copy them into a separate database. Then you run the opening report for the database and, provided you have sufficiently marked the critical opening moves in the repertoire, you are presented with the important new games that have been played since the book was published.

5. Summary

The ChessBase feature Repertoire Databases relieves the user above all of technical work. Of the time that one wants to or can invest in chess, I am left with the actual chess work, to which the programme takes over a large part of the organisational work. Therefore, if you want to work a lot on your openings, it is worthwhile to look into this feature. For a start, I would recommend creating a small, clearly arranged repertoire database and using it to familiarise yourself extensively with the feature. In any case, I wish you much fun and success with the repertoire databases.


Martin Fischer, born 1962, is a ChessBase staffer who, among other things, organizes and holds seminars throughout Europe and helps administer