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Mining Chess Databases, Part 2

In a previous post we agreed that, in this electronic age, improving chess players need need to compile a database of chess games. It’s also clear that a collection of, say, 5 million games represents only a raw vein of ore – so let’s talk about database mining techniques.

We can extract all sorts of things from a giant chess database, including endgame or middlegame themes. If you want to look at King & Rook vs. King, Rook and g-pawn on the fifth rank it’s there. If you’d like to master the classic Bishop sacrifice on h7, it’s there too. But most of us, for good or ill, enjoy studying chess openings – so that’s where we will drill our first exploratory shaft into that jumbo chess database.

Fortunately, the large commercial chess databases come with “opening keys” which help us find the chess games we really want. If you’re interested in the old-fashioned Center Game (1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4) simply scroll down to ECO code C22 under the “Openings” tab and find there about 4,500 played with this chess opening. Excellent!

But that’s only the starting point. To make progress you’ll want to create a special chess database where all your Center Game information will be stored – analysis, games, text documents or whatever. And once you’ve copied those 4,500 examples from the Big Database into your new Center Game collection, you’re ready to learn this chess opening, right? Well…not so fast: in mining terms we now have “proven reserves”, and so the fun really begins!

We’ve hit pay-dirt, but we need to map, expand and exploit our new mineral deposit – and that’s where we’ll pick up next time. Meanwhile, if anyone is unsure about opening keys or moving chess games from one database to another, please check out the Chess Exchange where you’re guaranteed to learn something with every visit.


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