The WinChain — a new ChessBase feature

by Arne Kaehler
3/17/2020 – You might not believe it but if you played any competitive chess in your life you probably would have good chances to win should you ever play against Carlsen, Caruana or another top player. Well, sort of! Don't believe us? Try the ChessBase WinChain! | Photo: Public Domain via Pixabay

ChessBase 17 - Mega package ChessBase 17 - Mega package

ChessBase is a personal, stand-alone chess database that has become the standard throughout the world. Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it.


Six degrees of Magnus Carlsen

Have you ever heard of the theory that we are all connected to each other by genealogy?

In a TED talk A.J. Jacobs explained very well why the 7.5 billion people who currently live on earth could well be related to each other and that Kim Kardashian might be a distant relative of you (with just 20 or so links between you and her).

The idea of this connectivity goes back to the Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy and his six degrees of separation theory which Karinthy explained and elaborated in a couple of books. The theory basically points out that we all are only six or less social connections apart from each other. The famous American social psychologist Stanley Milgram took up this idea and tested it in his small-world experiment. On a side note, Milgram was responsible for a couple of ground-breaking experiments in his life, especially the well-known and controversial Milgram Shock Experiment.

But what does this have to do with chess?

Well, maybe you want to know how good your chances would be in a game against Magnus Carlsen. Probably you did not (yet) play against him but maybe you played (and won) against someone who played (and won) against someone who played (and won) against Carlsen. With this WinChain with three links you could claim good chances for a win against Carlsen – or other top players of your choice.

But jokes aside — is this WinChain actually an indicator of your playing strength?

Photo: Magnus Carlsen by Lennard OotesLook at it from this perspective: the fewer links you need in your WinChain to defeat an opponent of your choice, the stronger you possibly are. Here's a challenge: if you use the WinChain to check your chances against Carlsen does your WinChain have four or fewer links?

WinChain vs Magnus Carlsen

Of course, you can enter the name of any player you can think of, but for the WinChain to work the name must be written correctly and the player must have games in the ChessBase database. Try entering the names of players from your local club or from all around the world.

Challenge your friends to find out who has the lowest numbered chain against some random grandmasters.

Photo: Magnus Carlsen by Lennart Ootes

Here are ten famous chess personalities you might want to challenge:

Arne Kaehler, a creative mind who is passionate about board games in general, was born in Hamburg and learned to play chess at a young age. By teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess-related videos on YouTube, Arne was able to expand this passion and has even created an online course for anyone who wants to learn how to play chess. Arne writes for the English and German news sites, but focuses mainly on content for the ChessBase media channels.


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TimSpanton TimSpanton 4/1/2020 10:40
Hartston has more than 800 games in Mega; Korchnoi is butchered as Kortschnoj
Chris Holmes Chris Holmes 3/28/2020 07:03
For some reason, IM William Hartston, who won Gold on 3rd board at the 1970 Siegen Olympiad, was British Champion in 1973 & 1975, & wrote books on Karpov-Korchnoi matches 1974 & 1978, is not in the database. & Korchnoi (spelt thus) is not recognised (perhaps I should try a German spelling ?).

I think this must be the alpha version.
Chris Holmes Chris Holmes 3/28/2020 06:55
There's only Korchnoi (who I drew with in a simul) between me & Carlsen (beaten by Korchnoi in 2004, their only game).

For some reason this reminds me of Erdos Numbers in mathematics, where you have to collaborate on a maths paper with someone who ... who collaborated on a maths paper with Erdos.
TimSpanton TimSpanton 3/27/2020 07:28
Hmm! One also needs the data in ChessBase to be correct.
According to WinChain I am three links away from William Steinitz, while passing through Emanuel Lasker: Timothy Spanton - William Rutherford - Emanuel Lasker - William Steinitz.
The Rutherford in question is someone I played at the Scottish championships in 2017. He was born in 1961, but in the Mega database he is credited with beating Lasker in a simul in 1895.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 3/19/2020 10:52
I've beaten several World Champions and many strong players through this.
Johannes Fischer Johannes Fischer 3/18/2020 07:35
@adbennet @Arne Kaehler @jo-henry
Thanks for link and explanation. The text was changed accordingly.
adbennet adbennet 3/18/2020 05:33
@Arne Kaehler @jo-henry
Please check the math. Four players is three links.ős_number
Halflash Halflash 3/17/2020 10:16
I constructed some funny WinChain in the same idea.
How Paul Morphy won Magnus Carlsen ?... here we go
Morphy => Anderssen => Steinitz => Lasker => Capablanca => Alekhine => Euwe => Fischer => Spassky => Karpov => Carlsen !
I believe there are shorter ways... :D
KevinC KevinC 3/17/2020 08:48
That was fun. :)
jo-henry jo-henry 3/17/2020 06:07
You, Carlsen, and two other players - adds up to four.
adbennet adbennet 3/17/2020 05:29
"maybe you played (and won) against someone who played (and won) against someone who played (and won) against Carlsen. With this WinChain with four links"

Isn't that three?