Tuesday, February 13, 2018


The buzzword Internet of things sounds terrible but at the same time describes very well a very fast growing new phenomenon. More and more (new) applications are monitored and operated via the internet instead of humans. Also chess has changed. Online databases exist since the beginning of the internet but the pioneer chess.db was the first in 2012 to update at daily basis a database of played games. Suddenly it wasn't necessary anymore to buy expensive databases and update them regularly. By then end of 2013 already 40% of all players and coaches at the world youth-championship in Al Ain were using this online database see statistics chess.db.

Of course Chessbase didn't wait to counterattack and launched its own online database beginning of 2014. They update also daily their database with new games but were able to connect this new tool to their mainproduct Chessbase 14 (still release 12 in the year 2014)  This allowed them to gain back a lot of customers as it is much easier to prepare games using just one program. Later that year Chessbase also launched their cloud applications see part 1 and part 2. Sharing databases between people or just different devices (smartphone, tablet, computer,...) becomes very easy via the cloud.

Personally I am not yet adapting myself to this new internet-revolution. Today the internet-coverage is not yet 100% everywhere. A week ago there was an article at hln that still 39 Walloon cities have no 4G and even making a mobile call is difficult see here. Besides there are often extra costs connected to the internet. You need an internet-provider and the owner of the database can charge you something. Also big online databases have extra limitations as the functions are often restricted to avoid overload of the servers.

So I prefer databases stored directly on the hard-disk of my computer. Of course you lose extra time to regularly update those databases with the newest games or to synchronize your devices. A reaction at my LSV-session about chess-programs was that this seems a very cum-cumbersome task. If you are just an amateur then you don't want to spend daily some time at it. I fully understood this comment as I neither want to do that. To get a maximum return I decided to only twice per year update my databases. I do that just before the only 2 open tournaments (Gent and Leuven) I play each year. For the Belgium interclubs I fill the gaps by quickly checking chess.db to find out if there is something else I should analyze.

The updating process was described in my article using databases. A bit more than 1 hour this process takes and till recently I was satisfied about the results. Until recently as 2 months ago I detected by coincidence via the online chessdatabase that I had missed 2 important reference-games in my database. The first one was played at the Deutsche E-mail-Schachclub.
[Event "VM2007/Rd.2/Gr.A"] [Site "www.desc-online.de"] [Date "2008.05.20"] [Round "2"] [White "Koslowski, Volker"] [Black "Osthus, Reinhard"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [PlyCount "29"] [EventDate "2008.??.??"] [Sourcetitle "UltraCorr3a"] [Source "Chess Mail Ltd"] [Sourcedate "2010.03.06"] [Sourceversion "3"] [Sourceversiondate "2010.03.06"] [Sourcequality "1"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.d4 d6 4.Nc3 a6 5.Be2 b5 6.O-O Bb7 7.Re1 Nd7 8.a4 c6 9.e5 dxe5 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Qxd8+ Rxd8 12.axb5 cxb5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.Nxb5 Nf6 15.Bf1 { (White has a clear edge but resignation seems premature. Probably black abandoned the game. These things happen regularly especially at less familiar servers.) } 1-0
A second game was played at the Lechenicher Chess-server. Black was the Belg Aime Truyens.
[Event "CP.2007.Q.00003"] [Site "LSS"] [Date "2009.01.15"] [Round "?"] [White "Bergmann, Michael"] [Black "Truyens, Aime"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [WhiteElo "2453"] [BlackElo "2138"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2009.01.15"] [Eventtype "tourn (corr)"] [Sourcetitle "UltraCorrX-revised"] [Source "Tim Harding"] [Sourcedate "2017.09.15"] [Sourceversion "2"] [Sourceversiondate "2017.09.15"] [Sourcequality "1"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 a6 4.Nf3 d6 5.Be2 b5 6.O-O Bb7 7.Re1 Nd7 8.a4 c6 9.e5 dxe5 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.Nxe5 { (My analysis considers Bf4 slightly more accurate.) } 12...Bxe5 13.Bf3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Nf6 15.c4 Re8 16.h3 bxa4 17.Rxa4 Nd7 18.Be3 e5 19.Rea1 e4 20.Be2 c5 21.Ra5 Ke7 22.Rb1 Bc8 23.f3 Bb7 { (These type of errors happen sometimes in corrrespondence-chess. A player analyses the game at another board but uses the wrong position.) } 24.Rxb7 1-0
So the killer-novelty which I discussed in my last article, was not so new and was already played twice. That is just 1 specific position in which I found out a gap in my nevertheless freshly updated databases but likely there are many more of them. I am not collecting those type of correspondence-games not played at iccf. I realized that I should do so I started to look around willing to eventually pay a small sum for it.

My first address is of course Chessbase. They offer Corr Database 2018. 1,4 million games but not cheap at all as they ask 189,9 euro. Openingmaster offers us Om Corr. 1,7 million games against a very reasonable 39 euro/ year. However the cheapest offer is not always the best offer. A recent review at chesspub says the service is pretty bad. In the past I've detected openingmaster was often for long periods of time inactive. Finally there is UltraCorr-X made by the Irish Senior International Master Tim Harding. You get 1,7 million games for 52,5 euro including the above games I was missing.

As I had already once bought a correspondence-database from Tim of good quality, I didn't doubt to choose his product again. I didn't regret as again the quality is excellent. One little remark for new users is that you need to remove the encryption after downloading the database to get access. The encryption-key you get from Tim but you need Chessbase to activate it. The Fritz 15 interface can not do this job but I got a hint from one of my students. You can download for free Chessbase reader which does have the feature to activate the key. I strongly recommend UltraCorr-X for any ambitious +2200 fide rated player.


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