The long way of ChessBase Magazine

by ChessBase
5/14/2007 – Do you remember the shoes you wore ten years ago? Porbably not, but probably there is little to be called progress here. Michael Jeffreys went back a decade and gives us some (surprising?) impressons of what ChessBase Magazine looked like once and now. Buy the new CBM 117 right away or step back into history first.

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You’ve come a long way baby!
ChessBase Magazine # 117 (April 2007) - reviewed by Michael Jeffreys

The earliest copy of ChessBase Magazine that I own is # 58, from February 1997. In preparing this review I decided to go back and “just for fun” take a look at what ChessBase Magazine was like a decade ago!

The highlight of # 58 was the multimedia clips of the infamous Kasparov vs. Deep Blue “revenge match.” However, because back then the magazine came on a CD, space was at a premium and so Frederic Friedel spends several paragraphs explaining the tough editing decisions he was forced to make in order to include as much video of the match as possible. By dropping the pixel size (thus making the clips smaller and lower quality) he was able to pack an amazing 1 ¼ hours of video on to the CD—although the length of each clip is quite short, 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

The CD includes several databases, including (appropriately enough) the 12th Aegon “Man vs. Computer” chess tournament. By the way, back then one of the computers that competed was Fritz 4.1, which ended up with 1 win, 2 losses, and 5 draws! (Unlike Fritz 10, which now routinely annihilates even the strongest GMs.) The CD also contains a theory, middlegame, endgame, tactics and correspondence section.

While at the time this CD was cutting edge, when you compare it to what can be done today, well, there is no comparison. And it all has to do with advances in technology. Today’s ChessBase magazines are delivered to you on a DVD, which can hold up to 7x the amount of information as CDs. Also, the digital camera that records the video these days produces a much higher quality image than a camera from 10 years ago. And so with the extra space on the DVD, you now get high quality videos for extended lengths of time, something that just was not possible on those early CDs.

Finally, for those of you who, like me, care about visuals, the overall look and layout has also improved with time. For example, here is a screen shot from CBM # 58:

Now compare the above with this screen shot from CBM# 117:

You don’t need to be LeRoy Neiman to see that the magazines current layout is much more attractive and easier to navigate than it was 10 years ago. What’s more, not only has the look improved, but the content has become a smorgasbord of chess goodies that will keep you happily gobbling up rich material for hours.

To begin with, ChessBase Magazine # 117 comes with its own host. That’s right. GM Karsten Müller in an 11 minute video segment takes you through all the main features of the magazine. This is a nice touch and really gives you a good overview of what’s on the DVD.

Besides giving you annotated games from two super tournaments, Corus Wijk aan Zee and Morelia/Linares, you also get 12 Opening Surveys:

  1. 4.g4 in the English by Michael Krasenkow,
  2. Fianchetto against the Modern Defence by Mihail Marin
  3. 4.Bg5 and 5.f4 against the Pirc by Viktor Moskalenko
  4. A Repertoire for White against the Sicilian Dragon by Dorian Rogozenko
  5. Sicilian Najdorf 6.f4 by Viktor Gavrikov
  6. French Rubinstein 6.Bd3 by Hannes Langrock
  7. Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn by Igor Stohl
  8. Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn by Evgeny Postny
  9. The Vietnamese Variation of the Slav (5…e6) by Laszlo Hazai & Peter Lukacs
  10. Hennig-Schara Gambit in the Queen’s Gambit by Lubomir Ftacnik
  11. Grünfeld Defence, Taimanov Variation by Efstratios Grivas
  12. Nimzo-Indian 4.Qc2 by Laszlo Hazai & Peter Lukacs

As you can see, there is truly something for everyone here whether you play e4 or d4. And in the screenshot below, you can see the nice layout of the surveys:

A handy feature is the “clickable” navigation links off to the left side of the screen that allow you to jump from one section of the DVD to another (see screen shot below):

Besides Müller, other video segments include Rustam Kasimzhanov spending 25 minutes going over the super GM game between Ivanchuk – Topolov from Morelia. Kasim says he had a difficult time picking which game to show, but felt this one was most impressive due the “apparent ease and strategic conviction” with which Ivanchuk beat the Bulgarian’s Sicilian Najdorf Defense.

In another clip, Alexei Shirov spends a full 34 minutes taking you through his win over Miguel Illescas from Pomplona 2006. He said he didn’t know if Illescas would use some of the preparation he had gone over while working with Kramnik, or if he would just play his own line. The game features a Sicilian which Alexei calls “extremely sharp.”

Other segments on the DVD include:

Buy it now...

  • Daniel King’s Move by Move Column – Here you practice guessing the moves played by Black in the game Svidler – Karjakin, Corus Wijk aan Zee 2007. (Make sure you go up to game and click on enable training so that the training timer window pops up when it’s suppose to.)
  • Oliver Reeh on Tactics - Includes tactics from the Aeroflot Tournament in Moscow as well as a video clip of his favorite combination.
  • Peter Wells on Strategy - Features the British GM giving a written lecture with examples on “The delicate art of handling the king.”
  • Karsten Müller on the Endgame - The German GM takes you through 7 instructive endgames via video clips.
  • Telechess – is on Correspondence chess.
  • Rainer Knaak on Opening Traps - A trap in the Sicilian.
  • And New DVD’s – Sample clips of 7 new ChessBase products.

In addition to the DVD, you get a 22 page manuscript (with a black and white photo of Anand playing Carlsen on the cover) which highlights the contents of the magazine in written form.

The Bottom Line
ChessBase Magazine has come a long way. Whereas the CD once limited the size and quality of the video clips, with DVD this is no longer a problem. As a result the video segments are large and crystal clear (and you get over two hours of them!). The overall look as well as the graphical layout has also improved greatly. Today’s magazine is a real pleasure to go through. And while not perfect (when I clicked on the link Ivanchuk – Topolov it brought me to the game Anand – Svidler!?, and the “Clickable” Navigation Links appear only in German on some of the pages), ChessBase Magazine # 117 is loaded with great material on all phases of the game and will bring you hours of pleasure as you work your way through all the instructive content. On the Scale of 1-10, ChessBase Magazine # 117 gets an 8.5.


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