CHESS ON THE MOVE

Part 3 An Important chess application

10/12/2013

 

Once more I am going to digress from the review programme of the Nexus 7 tablet and chess applications that I set out in Part Two of this series, to bring to your attention an application that is very important for the serious chess player.

In the world of chess engines, databases and general PC chess programmes, ChessBase by the Frankfurt based company of the same name, is arguably the most popular among serious players. Other programmes such as Chess Assistant, Aquarium, SCID etc all have their good points but it would appear that ChessBase holds the centre stage.  It provides all the features that is needed to have a complete reference resource i.e. a growing game base that now contains more than six million games, a user friendly method of searching for games, events and players, an analysis system supported by a highly rated chess engine, an immense opening book, a method of creating databases and saving games etc. etc.  What more does one need?  All this costs in excess of £200, a pretty heavy price for a discerning purchaser.  However there is help at hand in that this company have now produced an android version which does not wholly clone it's parent but affords some of the main features, adequate for the itinerant chess player at a much more attractive price of £6.99!  In fact, cheaper than the cost of this tablet and the application.

 It is rather peculiar that the company do not fervently press their advertisements of this application in the same manner as their other products, so it is easily missed when trawling through their website.

 When you acquire the ChessBase application the first thing you see is the introductory view (on the left), which presumably depicts a range of cabinet computers. 

Going beyond this is probably the most important menu which provides access to the many features it offers - see this view.  ChessBase are continually up-dating the features so it is possible that you may see some images that are slightly  different from those depicted here.

An older version of the image will appear as that depicted on the right.

Pressing "Games" will give you access to a listing of over 6½ million (!!!!) master games, all of which can be viewed by pressing the relevant game in the list that appears.

The games are best viewed by turning the tablet into the landscape position.  This is an important feature of Nexus 7 - the ability to view in both portrait and landscape images. 

Some games contain well informed annotations, which are best read in this format.

Here is a landscape view of the board view.

As you can see this view gives you the opportunity to play the games move by move, search for similar positions and summon up an engine to analyse the position on the board..

To give you an indication of the features that are available, below is a description of the app.

Description
ChessBase Online for Android

* Get instant access to a super fast database server with five million chess games.
* Stay on top of cutting edge chess theory with a database server which is updated weekly.
* Improve your opening skills by checking variations with board and move statistics in one view.
* Prepare easily against more than 270,000 players from top grandmasters to amateurs. Just type in the name and get instant results. 
* Dynamic books with user defined search filters. Ideal for the player’s preparation. 
* Enjoy chess history by replaying 600 annotated master games from 1857 to 2011. The display includes international annotation symbols, coloured squares and arrows.
* Load/save your own PGN files.
* Edit annotated games.
* Easy to work with: you have a game history containing your latest 100 games.
* Use any one of five different sets of pieces on a wooden, marble or metal board.
* Optimal adaptation to high resolution screens on tablets and HD phones.
* Send games by E-Mail.

As you can see, this provides the most important features that are available on the full PC edition.

There is a choice of two chess engines  - StockFish DD and Critter 1.6a.  Neither of these are as strong as the latest Fritz but I suspect, given some time, we might still see a version of Fritz appear.  However, either of these engines are adequate to give some indication of the best moves that can be played in the given position.

I suggest that you give yourself a Christmas present by downloading ChessBase.  Most certainly you will not be disappointed and you will have the ability to find out why your last game went awry by pulling Nexus 7 out of your pocket immediately after you have resigned.

Bill Frost

December 2013

The first article in this series can be seen here and the second here.