by Steve Lopez

I've been subscribing to chess magazines for a long time, and one of the things I've enjoyed and found useful in annotated games is when the annotator digs up games with similar openings and adds these variations to his notes. It's often pretty useful to see how other player's ideas and plans differed in their treatment of the same opening.

A little-known and underutilized feature of ChessBase 7 allows you to instantly drop similar references into games -- and all it takes is a simple keystroke combination. It's pretty easy to do and can yield some interesting results. This week in ETN, I'll show you how to do it.

The first step is to designate one of your databases as the reference database. This will typically be your master database or largest database. However, I keep several smaller databases on the specific openings I play. If the game to which I want to add opening references is from one of my "pet" openings, I'll use the database on that specific opening (the reason is because my opening databases have additional games and notes from books and magazines that I haven't added to my larger databases).

Here's an important point, however: the database you select as the reference database must have an opening key, otherwise this feature won't work. This is because ChessBase will do a quick opening classification of the game to which you want to add notes and only compare it to games from the reference database that used the same general opening variation; it uses the opening key of the reference database to make this determination and cut down on the amount of work the program must perform.

In the Database window, single-click the database you want to designate as the reference database -- this will put a black box around that database's icon. Then click on the Information button at the bottom of the Database window (this is the button that looks like a white letter "i" inside of a blue dot). In the window that will now appear, you'll see a set of check boxes near the bottom. Put a check in the box next to "Reference database", then click the "OK" button. You'll now see a small symbol that resembles a scrolling sheet of paper as part of your database's icon. This shows that the database has been designated the reference database.

Now open up the game into which you want to drop opening references. All you have to do now is hit CTRL-SHIFT-R on your keyboard (you have to hit these keys simultaneously, not sequentially). ChessBase 7 will now hunt for the games that closely match your game and add them to it as variations.

Once ChessBase has added these variations (which should only take a few seconds), be sure to use "Replace game" in the Game menu to replace your unannotated game with the new annotated version.

Let's take a look at how this works. Here's a screen shot of the notation window for a game I played on one of the chess servers:

After selecting the new ChessBase Opening Encyclopedia as my reference database, I then hit CTRL-SHIFT-R. The gamescore now looks like this:

Man, is this simple or what? ChessBase7 has added references to four games that used openings similar to my game. (By the way, "RR" is the Chess Informant notation for "editorial comment", while "N" is their notation for "novelty"). If I want to check up on these games to view the middlegames and endgames, I just need to do a search for them in my reference database and play through the games.

If you plan to have Fritz/Junior/Hiarcs/Nimzo analyze a game, you'll certainly want to do that before using this feature in ChessBase, since running a full-game analysis elimintes existing annotations from a game. Have your playing program analyze the game first, then have ChessBase add opening references afterwards.

If you'd like a look at the documentation of this feature, it's in the ChessBase 7 Upgrade Manual in Section 12.1.9 on page 21.

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes. If you love gambits, stop by the Chess Kamikaze Home Page and the Yahoo Chess Kamikazes Club.