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Everything new in ChessBase 17

by Himank Ghosh - 14/01/2023

The latest version of ChessBase, ChessBase 17 was launched on 23rd of November 2022. This time, there are some huge changes to the software, modifications which add significant improvements to ChessBase! The two main programmers of the software - Matthias Wüllenweber and Mathias Feist have added a completely new file format, beauty medals, interactive search, and much more! IM Sagar Shah takes you through all of the new features of ChessBase 17 along with relevant screenshots and a guide of using these new features. Thumbnail: Abhyudaya Ram

What does ChessBase 17 bring to the table?

All the ChessBase 17 new features explained in depth | IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India

Timestamps of the full video with explanations

0:00 - Introduction


0:52 - Beauty Medals + Nakamura games

The Beauty medals are one of the many new features added in ChessBase 17. Let's say you have a database of Hikaru Nakamura's chess games. But how do you find the really exciting hidden treasures in it? ChessBase 17 attributes "beauty" to each game, in four stages. Beauty is awarded between zero and three medals in a new column of the game list. This makes each database sortable by beauty, i.e. the spectacular games are at the top. 

First step - extracting the games you want to work with from the Mega Database 2023 or any other source you want - in this case, games of Nakamura.

One very important thing to remember is - this operation can only be performed when you have the games in ChessBase 17's new Database file format, the .2cbh format. So make sure that your database that you convert your Databases from .cbh/.pgn to .2cbh. For conversion, just copy the games from the old database, create a new .2cbh Database, and paste them there.

Now, just go over to the Games tab, and you can see the Set beauty button! (currently highlighted)

Once you have clicked on set beauty, it'll take a short while to process and order the games, and then you get this:

All the games are now sorted from highest to lowest beauty!

Beauty is mostly determined by the amount of sacrifices in the game. 3 medals indicate the highest amount of beauty - and many of Nakamura's games have 3 medals! This goes to show you that Nakamura is a very aggressive player. Here's the first game in the list:

Wesley So (2779) vs Hikaru Nakamura (2814), Sinquefield Cup 2015

4:00 - Detect sacrifices

Once you have opened any of the games which has 2/3 medals, you might think "What is so great about this game"? Well, there's a very quick way of doing that with the new Sacrifice detector in ChessBase 17.

See a red circle highlighting a red square in the extreme right? That's the sacrifice detector button.

Hitting this button will quickly show you the sacrifices made in this game, highlighting key points with images in notation.

Nakamura's brilliant ...Rf1+ is highlighted now! All the sacrifices are highlighted with relevant diagrams by just clicking a single button.

The best way to use this feature is to get to know a player. He could be your opponent, or a great player of the past. It very quickly shows you some of their best ideas during the game!

A quick tip - make sure to convert your Mega Database 2023 into the .2cbh format! Just right click on the icon and the first option you see is to convert. It will take roughly 30 minutes-1 hour depending on your computer.

This way, you can actually assign Beauty medals to your whole Mega Database 2023 (it'll take 3-4+ hours, just do it overnight). This is an one-time operation, and will immensely help you later!


5:45 - Beauty Medals in games of Tal

Applying the Sacrifice detector on one of Tal's beautiful games! Bxf7+ just rips open the Black King's defences.

This also becomes training material. Let's say you are a trainer, you want to teach someone. You set beauty medals, click "Detect sacrifices", and you pose a question to the student.

Just look at this crazy Tal move - 21. h4!! The White queen can't be taken, because there's Nxc7#. The sacrifice detector brings out a lot of instructive moments from each game!

As a trainer, you can now create high quality learning material for your students in just a few minutes! Here's the full game:

Mikhail Tal vs Jack Miller, Los Angeles Simultaneous 1988

7:05 - Beauty Medals in recent games

Let's say you want to assign beauty medals to the games of some ongoing live event. How do you do that?

Just click the live button on the left-hand menu bar of the ChessBase 17 home screen. It will show you the live events which are going on across the world right now!

For example, the 1st Bishan Singh Ji memorial is going on right now in Hyderabad, it's a strong Open Swiss event. If I want to assign beauty medals to it, I'll just copy all the games with ctrl+A followed by ctrl+C, and then create a new .2cbh database, and then paste all these games in the new Database.

While creating a Database, make sure that you pick the type as .2cbh, or the beauty medals feature won't work!

Setting the beauty of 120 available games of the tournament, this was the result:

There are only 2 games with 3 beauty medals, both of them are played by none other than IM Anup Deshmukh!

Take a look at this creative attacking game:

IM Anup Deshmukh (2147) vs Aansh Nandan Nerukar (1691), Round 7

So, Beauty Medals have many uses. One, you can gauge what your opponent is like if you are playing someone tomorrow. Two, you can find best games of any player very quickly. Three, you can find the games of the great masters of the past and use it in a very instructive way.


10:28 - Beauty Medals + Replay Training 

Let's say you want to study the games of the 4th World Champion, Alexander Alekhine. You can pick any game you like, here we have picked the game between Alekhine and Lista from a simultaneous exhibition in 1933, Bratislava. If you hit the replay training button on the top right Notation bar, you get this:

Replay training is an excellent method to learn from the games of the old masters! The idea is to guess the moves of Alekhine from the beginning.

This is not a new feature at all, but Replay training is extremely useful to use on a game which you found to have 2/3 beauty medals. It keeps giving you points on your correct moves and deducts points when you make a mistake.

The program pinpoints the reason of your mistake as well!

Replay training makes your brain work and makes you practice chess in a very active manner.

13:25 - The genius of Anna Muzychuk

IM Sagar Shah takes you through a beautiful game by Anna Muzychuk from Linares, 1990, which he found in seconds using the Beauty medals feature! This King walk is up there with Nigel Short's immortal:

15:07 - Advanced Engine Analysis + Poisoned Pawn

This is another new and amazing feature of ChessBase 17 - the advanced engine analysis. To use this feature, the first step is to select an engine:

A quick shortcut to select your engine is to open a new game, and hit Ctrl+K. This dialogue box will pop up, and you can choose the engine you want to use for Advanced analysis.

After selecting the engine, we now delve into a very popular variation of the Sicilian Najdorf - the poisoned pawn variation. This is one of the sharpest lines out there, and an ideal starting position for advanced engine analysis!

The infamous poisoned pawn line is about to face engine scrutiny!

16:05 - Buddy Engine

Now, if we zoom in a bit, can you see this dog-like symbol just above the engine evaluations?

The highlighted symbol is the Buddy engine button! When it is turned on, it is green and when off, it is Black. For advanced engine analysis, you have to turn it on!

Once the buddy engine starts working, it is going to annotate each and every position here in these lines with certain boxes.

These colorful boxes next to the moves signify those moves as the only moves in that position!

Think about it this way: If the difference in evaluation of line 1 and line 2 is big enough, then the first move becomes the only move. If a line has many only/critical moves in it, many square boxes, you realize it is a very forcing line! So when you are preparing your openings, if a line has many boxes, you want to go for that line because then your opponent has to find many only moves. It is a good idea to wait for some time after turning on the buddy engine, that way the evaluation becomes even more accurate. If you just look at the top line, you will realize there are so many only moves in this variation!

Running your cursor over the engine lines brings that position on the board in a slight transparent form!

What do the colors of the square boxes mean? There are 4 colors of the boxes: Green, Yellow, Red and Black. Green= This move will lead to an advantage, Yellow = This move leads to equality, Red= this move leads to disadvantage, and Black= this is a mating attack.

If you take an even closer look at the squares, you will see they have different shapes inside them!

All of these lines have their own significance. Vertical = easy move to find, From left bottom to right top = relatively easy to find move, from top right to bottom left= not so easy move to find.

An even closer look suggests that the boxes sometimes have multiple colors inside them!

For example, if a box is green on the one side and red on the other, it means finding the right move will give you an advantage, but if you don't find it, you are in big trouble.


20:45 - The new interactive search mask

Let's take a look at another example of these only moves/new engine analysis, and use this as an opportunity to introduce you to the new search mask. So first we open up the Mega Database 2023, and then we do Ctrl+F (filter list).

This is the brand-new Search mask of ChessBase 17!

You can still use the old search mask, by clicking on the Advanced button:

The old search mask used to look like this! If you want to use the old search mask at all times, click on the "Always advanced Dialog" at the bottom. But we strongly recommend using the new one!

Searching is significantly easier with the new search mask with the new autocomplete feature! Let's say you want to take a look at games between Vidit and MVL. Just take a look at this:

Even without typing the full name of the players, just like google autocomplete, suggestive searches are coming!

22:03 - Vidit Gujrathi vs Maxime-Vachier Lagrave

Let's take a look at one of the craziest games between Vidit and MVL - their encounter at the Skilling Open 2020. This is an excellent game to use advanced engine analysis on, because Vidit had some amazing opening preparation! IM Sagar Shah takes you through the intricacies of the game using the Buddy engine, and shows you how well you can prepare your openings with the help of these colored boxes.

24:47 - More features of engine

The buddy engine does not only show you the only moves, it also explains the idea behind each move in words. Sometimes, it's difficult to understand the evaluation very well with all these different colored boxes. But the written explanation clears everything up!

The buddy engine's annotation of the 1st line - gives you the evaluation and the threat!

Earlier, you needed to press X to see the threat of a given move. Not anymore! The Buddy engine shows the threat automatically, and it gets added to the game if you click on it. Another interesting feature is toggle hints! If you click on the Toggle hint button to turn it on, It helps you to think on your own while analysing.

In this position, the correct move is 25. Ra7. The hint is given as "Threaten a Rook move"!

This feature will actually help you to guess certain moves in some positions, or when you are watching live games. Up next is another feature of engine analysis which is very useful.


26:40 - Game between two 12 year olds

IM Sagar Shah takes you through an absolutely crazy game between Vivaan Vijay Saraogi and Md Reyan in the final round of the National Under-12 Championships 2022. In the process, he takes you through the various different ways you can use the buddy engine for your training!

29:25 - Visual evaluation

There's one more feature which is very nice - it is called Visual evaluation. Visual evaluation starts when you right click on the engine pane and turn it on.

An enlarged view of the Visual evaluation pane which opens up after activating it! It helps you understand the position visually.

If you hover your cursor over the visual evaluation pane, you can understand what's going on over the board with just colors.

All of the pieces are highlighted with red, green and yellow. The different colors signify if a piece is strong, weak, or balanced!

As you can see, both the White and Black kings are in red, which means both of them are weak. All the pieces which are in green are good pieces, and all the pieces which are in red are weaknesses. The pieces in yellow are somewhere in between - not too strong, not very weak! The number of Fire symbols at the very bottom indicates the sharpness of the game. Higher the number of fire symbols is, the crazier and sharper the game! Just above that, the number of gear symbols is directly proportional to the mobility of pieces in the game.


30:30 - End of Game button

This is a small new feature which is added in ChessBase 17, but can be quite an important one. Let's take the game between Grandmasters Arjun Erigaisi and Aryan Chopra in the Fagernes Open 2022.

After the move 34.Nxd6, Aryan resigned and Arjun won the game.

To the inexperienced eye, it might not be apparent at first as to why Aryan resigned. Earlier when you had to analyze such a position, you had to enter a new variation after this move. Because if you made the move normally, it would just keep adding to the main game. In order to remove all these problems, a new feature has been introduced - the end of game button.

This small black dot at the bottom of the screen is the end of game button.

If you click here, it shows the last move of the game as end of game. The rest of the variations from that point are kept in a separate point called analysis.

After 34. Nxd6 it is clearly marked as End of game. The moves entered after that point are in gray, clearly marking when the game has ended and what analysis has been done afterwards.

32:10 - Interactive position input

This is another small addition to the new ChessBase 17 which is extremely useful, called Interactive position output. To use this feature, first Open up the Mega Database 2023 and open up the search mask.

After opening up the search menu. click on "Any Position" search. It basically lets you enter a position, and games will open up which had that same position.

But this is an old feature in ChessBase. The new feature is - this search is interactive now! Whenever you add pieces or pawns on the board, a list of suggestive games will come which had that exact position at some point of the game.

Let's say you remember a game between Anand and Gelfand, where Gelfand's Black queen was trapped on h1 and the White queen was on f2. With just these detail, around 5000 games pop up! Your search field is hugely shortened from 9 million games to 5000 games.

Now let's add another search condition - the name of the players. This time, it works!

When you combine the two search techniques, you find the necessary game between Anand and Gelfand from their World Championship match 2012

Take a look at this historic Anand 17-move Anand victory, which is the shortest game in any World Championship match!

But this has more value than just mere searching of a single game through a position. Let's say you want to study games where the Greek gift sacrifice occured. You simply enter the setup for the greek gift in Any position search:

By just putting the White Bishop on h7 and Black King on g8, the skeleton of "Greek gift" so to say, we already get 8000+ games! All of these are instructive games based on the Greek gift sacrifice, and you can learn from them.

This is also a very valuable resource for studying endgames in general. Let's say you want learn Rook+3 pawns vs Rook+ 3 pawns, you just put that position in search:

You find 27 games with this structure - this is the perfect training material!

38:19 - Save as analysis

Let's say you are studying some kind of a Rook endgame, maybe the Lucena position. You are practicing over this position in ChessBase, and you decide to save it.

When you try to save it, a dialogue box pops up asking in which database do you want to save it. But this is not a game!

To store positions like this, we have introduced a new feature "Save as analysis". If you click the Store as analysis button at the bottom, this will be saved as analysis in the database of your liking!

You can save the details of your analysis through this dialog box, and this will be seperate from the other games in the Database!

40:00 - Colour arrows

One feature to know about is earlier when you pressed Alt+left click, it gave you green-colored arrows, for Alt+ctrl + left click it was yellow, and for Alt+Ctrl+Shift+ left click the move arrow was red. But now you get Brand new colors by just replacing the left click with right click in these combinations!

The new board arrow colors introduced are: Blue, light blue and Orange

If you don't like the new thin board arrows, this is the new 2D board design. You can change it in the Board settings to get thick arrows like earlier versions of ChessBase.

Click on the settings button in the Top-right hand corner, and then uncheck the "Use new 2D board" button to get thick arrows.

41:00 - Announce moves

This is a feature you can use according to your own need. Through the menu in the top left-hand corner of the home screen, open the settings and click on Misc.

The first two options are new - Announce moves and speak text annotations!

If you enable this feature, it will read out the moves and text annotations. Think about how you would like to use this move and the text-to-speech feature for your own improvement. This is also a great help for visually impaired players - they don't need to use another software which will read out moves.


42:07 - Change Styles

If you are someone who always uses different styles for your softwares, ChessBase 17 comes with a small dropdown in the top right corner of the homescreen called "style".

There are four different styles available - pick and choose to see the one you like most!

42:35 - the new 2D board features

With the use of the new 2D board, there are some features which are very interesting. If you click on the 3 green lines at the bottom-left of the board, it gives you 4 options to use on the ongoing game - Show attackers and Defenders, heat map, show mobility and Strong and weak squares.

These different arrows show you all the attackers (Green) and defender (red). Have a go at the the other options as well to understand more about the position with colors and symbols!

43:10 - More uses of new search mask

Combining different search filters like Position, player names, year of play, etc. will give you more interesting and to-the-point results! With this new search mask, you can keep refining your search feature. IM Sagar Shah tries to combine such searches on some great players of the past like Fischer and Spassky to understand more about their play. Using the interactive search mask to find games and doing Replay training on them can lead to a very active training session!


46:27 - Understanding 2cbh format

Coming to a feature which might not look very important on the surface, but improves your ability to work manifold, is the new 2cbh format. Here are some of it's major advantages over .cbh files:

- The 2cbh format creates less number of files than the cbh files. 

A .cbh file (left) takes 16 files together in storage. Whereas, the exact same games on the .2cbh file only requires 6 files on storage (right).

- No search booster is required with this format, searches are much faster through the Database! With the new 2cbh format, the reference feature works beautifully.

Searching is way faster with the 2cbh format
- Gives you access to more options like the beauty medals.

It would be a very good idea to convert your databases to the .2cbh format for making the most out of them!

50:20 - Conclusion 


Important links

Get ChessBase 17 here

Mega Database 2023

ChessBase 17+ Mega Database 2023 combo pack

Related news:
Welcome to the amazing world of ChessBase 17

@ 14/11/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)