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Mining Chess Databases, Part 4

Let’s summarize: we now have the best possible Center Game chess database, but there’s no convenient way to sort through these 10 or 11 thousand chess games. To be clear, the assumption all along is that our game collection is in ChessBase format and that we’re using chess software like Fritz to manage these games. Other good software is available, of course, and it’s also quite possible to get as far as we’ve come without spending a dime. Free chess software is readily available; just get on the phone and call the Internet!

Returning to our 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Center Game chess database, we know from last time that an Openings Key is a good thing. Lest we miss any chance to exploit the mining metaphore, think of Openings Keys as mine cars on tracks, bringing your gold topside. We’re not going to cover transferring or copying keys from one database to another, or anything very technical at all – the Chess Exchange is available for hard core information of all kinds. It should be pointed out, however, that using Fritz (or the fancier ChessBase program) makes it possible to create an Openings Key from scratch.

That’s exactly what we should do, by the way. We want to know each crag, pocket and drift of our chess mine and building an Openings Key is excellent survey work. Once your key is in place, then you’ve graduated from a tin pan chess prospector to a full-fledged junior producer! Another short series on making your own custom Openings Key is in the offing, but for now let’s take a typical shortcut to jump start operations.

Any commercial chess database worth its salt is going to have a specialized Openings Key already installed. It happens that the Center Game Data Library is available, an unannotated collection costing $7.95 and featuring 3,664 games. Looking closely, we find that this chess database is about 10 years old, but even though we get plenty of chess games not in our brand new collection the main benefit is the chess Openings Key, with its 205 classification positions. This key can be expanded to suit individual needs, as we’ll see in a future series.

At this point, assuming you put your coins on the counter, it’s best to simply copy all the games from the chess database we’ve been creating into the commercial database just purchased. Then once more kill and delete the duplicate chess games, and we find ourselves left with a larger more complete chess database – and the games are sorted into 205 variations! By clicking the “Openings” tab in the Fritz database window we can begin to understand the structure of this old chess opening, what variations are most popular and so forth.

Stay tuned – after a short intermission we’ll backtrack and build our very own chess Openings Key.

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