ChessBase GmbH is a German company that makes and sells chess software, maintains a chess news site, and operates an internet chess server for online chess. Founded in 1986, it maintains and sells massive databases, containing the moves of recorded chess games. Databases organise data from prior games; engines provide analyses of games while endgame tablebases offer perfect play in some endgames.
Starting in 1983, Frederic Friedel and his colleagues put out a magazine Computer-schach und Spiele covering the emerging hobby of computer chess. In 1985, he invited then world chess champion Garry Kasparov to his house, and Kasparov mused about how a chess database would make it easier for him to prepare for specific opponents. Friedel began working with Bonn physicist Matthias Wüllenweber who created the first such database ChessBase 1.0, software for the Atari ST. The February 1987 issue of Computerschach & Spiele introduced the database program as well as Chessbase magazine, a floppy disk containing chess games edited by GM John Nunn.
The August 1991 issue of Computerschach & Spiele announced that Dutch programmer Frans Morsch's Fritz program would soon be available, sold as software for PCs unlike all of the dedicated chess computers which at the time dominated the ratings lists. This program was marketed initially as Knightstalker in the U.S., and Fritz in the rest of the world. Mathias Feist joined ChessBase, and ported Fritz to DOS and then Microsoft Windows.
In 1994, German GM Rainer Knaak joined ChessBase as a full-time employee, annotating games for Chessbase magazine, and soon authoring game database CD-ROMs on topics such as the Trompowsky Attack or Mating Attacks against 0-0. British GM Daniel King was another early author of such CD-ROMs which eventually grew into the Fritztrainer series of multimedia DVDs.
In the mid-1990s, R&D Publishing in the U.S. released a series of print books in the Chessbase University Opening Series, including Anatoly Karpov and Alexander Beliavsky's The Caro-Kann in Black and White.
In December 1996, ChessBase added Mark Uniacke's Hiarcs 6 chess engine to its product line up, selling it inside the existing Fritz graphical user interface (GUI). In March 1998, ChessBase added Junior 4.6 and Dr. Christian Donninger's Nimzo99. Also that year, ChessBase released Fritz 5 including a 'friend mode' which would automatically scale its strength of play down to the level that it assessed the player was playing. This remains a feature of all of ChessBase's Graphical User Interfaces even now.
In 1999, Stefan Meyer-Kahlen's Shredder had won the world computer chess championship. In April, Meyer-Kahlen and Huber released the Universal Chess Interface (UCI) protocol for engines to communicate with GUIs, to compete with Winboard and Chessbase's. Meyer-Kahlen's contract with Millennium 2000 expired in June, and ChessBase immediately snapped him up, adding Shredder to their product line under a Fritz style GUI, and giving their new GUIs the ability to import UCI engines.
In April 2000, ChessBase released a Young Talents CD featuring the engines Anmon, Goliath Light, Gromit, Ikarus, Patzer, Phalanx and Rudolf Huber's SOS. Christophe Theron's engines Chess Tiger and Gambit Tiger were also released as Chessbase engines that month.
In 2003, ChessBase introduced the Chess Media System, allowing players to produce videos with them playing out moves that can be seen on the user's chessboard within a Chessbase program. Eventually, ChessBase commissioned world champions Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik and Rustam Kasimdzhanov to produce DVDs using the new format. Chessbase also produced Fritztrainer Opening DVDs by the likes of grandmasters Alexei Shirov and Viktor Bologan and a Power Play series by British GM Daniel King for lower level players.
Recent versions of ChessBase and the engine GUIs such as Fritz offer access to cloud engines. ChessBase/Playchess had long had a downloadable client, but they had a web interface by 2013. ChessBase added a tactics trainer web app in 2015. In 2015, ChessBase added a play Fritz web app, as well as My Games for storing one's games.
The company is located in Hamburg, Germany. ChessBaseUSA markets their products in the United States, and some of the most popular programs are sold by licensee Viva Media, now a division of Encore, Inc. In 1998, the German company Data Becker released the program 3D Schach Genie, containing the Shredder engine and Fritz interface. Chessbase India markets their products in India and surrounding countries. Chessbase India is run by International Master(IM) Sagar Shah and his wife Amruta Mokal.
Chessbase the program was originally designed for the Atari ST by Matthias Wüllenweber, the physicist/co-founder of the company. Mathias Feist helped port the program to DOS, and has been a key developer ever since. In more recent years, Lutz Nebe, Wolfgang Haar and Jeroen van den Belt have also been involved in program development.
ChessBase uses a proprietary format for storing games (CBH), but can also handle games in portable game notation (PGN). The proprietary format uses less hard drive space and manages information that is not possible in PGN. The software converts files from PGN to ChessBase format, or from ChessBase to PGN.
The program permits searches for games, and positions in games, based on player names, openings, some tactical and strategic motifs, material imbalance, and features of the position. Chessbase can import engines either those such as Fritz or Shredder in native Chessbase format or Universal Chess Interface (UCI) engines such as Stockfish.
Chessbase also maintains ChessBase News, a web site containing chess news, as well as information on their products. The site is available in English, German, Spanish and Hindi.
ChessBase produces many CDs and DVDs, including monographs on famous players, tactical training exercises, and training for specific opening systems. They publish ChessBase Magazine six times per year, which comes on DVD with video clip interviews, articles on opening novelties, database updates (including annotated games), and other articles. All these are designed for viewing within their database software or the free ChessBase Reader.
Related computer programs
Gerritt Reubold's Der Bringer chess program is a rare example of a Chessbase format engine not released by Chessbase itself.
ChessBase has been criticised by various organisations for what they claim is uncredited use of free software created by others. The Stockfish (chess) organisation charged that Fat Fritz 2 is a modified copy of their software (that had originally been uncredited, since rectified) and that ChessBase claims "originality where there is none". Lichess described the same product as "a rip-off".
ChessBase have responded to this criticism by adding references but claiming the new engine differs from Stockfish due to added input from the original Fat Fritz neural network - itself claimed by Lichess to be derived closely from Leela Chess Zero, another open source initiative.
- Chess Assistant
- Chess engines
- Chess Informant
- Fritz (chess)
- Shane's Chess Information Database
- Internet Chess Servers
- Rules of chess
- John Watson, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy: Advances Since Nimzowitsch (London: Gambit Publications, 1998), 8.
- Karsten Muller and Frank Lamprecht, Fundamental Chess Endings: A New Endgame Encyclopedia for the 21st Century (London: Gambit Publications, 2001), 9-10.
- Muller and Lamprecht, 400-406.
- Tim Krabbe, Chess Records http://www.xs4all.nl/~timkr/records/records.htm#list
- Computer-schach & Spiele. 1997#6
- Computer-schach & Spiele. 1998#1
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1998-02-13. Retrieved 2019-06-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- . May 11, 2000 https://web.archive.org/web/20000511021151/http://www.chessbase-online.com/. Archived from the original on 2000-05-11. Missing or empty
- Computer-schach & Spiele. 1998#5
- Computer-schach & Spiele. April May 2000
- "Play Chess Online For Free". December 17, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-12-17.
- "ChessBase Training". May 4, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-05-04.
- "Fritz Chess Program Online". fritz.chessbase.com.
- "ChessBase MyGames". mygames.chessbase.com.
- "ChessBase USA". chessbaseusa.com.
- "Welcome to ChessBase India". Chess News. 2015-11-23. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
- "ChessBase, MegaBase". Retrieved 2020-11-19.
- "Chess News | ChessBase". en.chessbase.com.
- Bernard Hill (August–September 1991). "Chess for the BBC Micro". Beebug. 10 (4): 11.
it is good to see appearing a BBC version of the PC-based product known as "ChessBase"
- "Der Bringer User's Guide Home Page". chess.kearman.com.
- "Stockfish's Statement on Fat Fritz 2". Retrieved 2021-02-19.
- "Fat Fritz 2 is a rip off". Retrieved 2021-02-19.
- "Best of Both Worlds". Retrieved 2021-02-19.